The writer, student, and person that I am right now is completely different from the one that started the semester. This course has made me rethink the way that I view the world. The first time reading Richard Rorty blew me away. The depth in the thinking was unlike anything I had seen. Reading Rorty’s “Getting Rid of the Appearance-Reality Distinction” exposed me to ideas and philosophers who I had never heard of before, setting the stage for what this class was going to be about.
One of the earliest tasks in the year was to create our own writing goals. The aspect of my writing goals that most stands out to me is when I write “I need to work on completely thinking through my ideas before writing them instead of trying to put partially formed ideas onto the paper.” In essence, I was writing that I need to develop a stronger understanding of the exigence of what I was writing about. The incompleteness of my ideas resulted from an unfinished understanding of why anything I was writing had importance.
In this class, the RWDs developed the skill of determining exigence. Through our early RWD reading’s, in particular Casey Boyle’s “…something like a reading ethics…,” I was exposed for the first time to the importance, and even the idea, of discerning the exigence from a reading. After practicing with hypothesis, my ability to uncover the exigence in readings skyrocketed. In addition to being a major part of this class, Boyle’s reading techniques helped me in multiple classes. The more comfortable I became employing Casey Boyle’s reading techniques using hypothesis, the easier understanding difficult text in my other classes became. Complex works by authors such as W. E. B. Du Bois or Saint Augustine became manageable. In many ways, the early RWDs served the purpose of teaching us the foundations of both writing and reading. In addition to stressing the importance of exigence when reading and writing, the later RWDs contained many lessons on the importance of the form-content relationship. A sentence that I am particularly proud came from my RWD #7. The sentence is: “her sight sharpened as she saw the horses rumbling slowly across the field and slowly rumbling, like the drums of their tribe, into all the hearts and the minds.” I never would have been able to make a sentence that provided such an image without the form. This activity stressed the importance of form when creating a certain feel.
The reading analyses implemented the ideas seen in the RWDs in a more formal setting. In the beginning, I did not realize that the writings we had made in our RWDs were drafts for the reading analyses. As a result, my first three reading analyses were entirely new pieces. When compared with my last three, the growth in my writing is evident. The clarity of what I was writing improved, and I had a better understanding of the exigence in each situation. The reading analysis that I am most proud of is my reading analysis #5. Despite its shorter length, I believe this analysis was the most well written. I felt that I had a deep understanding of the exigence and was able to demonstrate my understanding with writing that flowed. Of all of the activities this year, the reading analyses were the most difficult. Many times I started to give an elementary school level summary of the reading and found myself rewriting continuously. Later on in the year when I completed analyses 4-6, I threw off my old habits and constructed solid arguments for what the authors attempted to say.
Sorry RWDs and reading analyses, but the commonplace book takes the crown for my favorite activity of the year. When reading through my commonplace entries, the development in my writing is obvious. I transitioned from discussing large, abstract qualities of the writing, as seen in my first commonplace entry, to discover the small effects that occur in the writing due to form. The commonplace entry I am most proud of is my entry #7. In this entry, I analyzed a seemingly unremarkable sentence and discovered things about it I had not even realized before I began writing. In all honesty, I began writing this entry believing I would discuss how the current sentence structure was not rhetorically effective, and I finished the entry believing it was genius. At this moment, I began to understand the concept of writing to discover.
All of the aspects of the course came together in my essay. In the essay, I had to determine the exigence of my own argument and make sure it was present in my writing. In addition, I needed a deep understanding of the argument that Stanley Fish made in his book, Winning Arguments. If it had not been for Boyle’s article discussing the importance of understanding exigence, my writing would have been very flawed. Overall, my paper implemented many of the ideas that were presented in the course, especially the world of argument. I found my topic to be very fitting for the times, considering the reluctance of the public to take the vaccine.
The main difference between the way I view writing now when compared to the beginning of the semester is my acceptance that certain arguments only work in certain situations. Writing requires an understanding of the rules of each situation. In different contexts, certain forms become effective and other ineffective. Context and form are very important in deciding how the words you write will be received. The importance of the form and context was drilled into my head during this class. Different contexts can give words different meanings. Forms can provide different relationships between words, create emotions, and either omit or include the exigence of an argument. Therefore it is important to consider the role both form and context play in conveying a message when choosing what words to write and how to order them.