Tag Archives: voiceinwriting

x. let’s chat about The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing

If that’s not the deepest-sounding title for an academic article, I dunno what is. I mean, “Breath of Meaning” sounds more Zelda franchise than writing theory, but okie dokie.

Allllllllllrighty, here we go with presentation #2. I’m hoping this one will be less nerve wracking than the first one for me, but let’s be real, I’m gonna be stressing about it the whole day leading up to class.

Same ol’, same ol’.

Let’s jump into it, shall we?

The text I’ll be leading the discussion in (on? in?) is “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing,” an article published in College Composition and Communication by Cynthia L. Selfe in 2009.  Selfe is a humanities professor emeritus at the Department of English at Ohio State University and was co-director of OSU’s Digital Media and Composition summer institute. Her expertise falls in the field of computers and writing. She’s written numerous books, articles, chapters, and edited collections (both solo and collaboratively) on the subjects of technology, language, education, and more. Selfe has won several awards for her contributions to the field.

Suffice it to say, Selfe knows what she’s talking about. She’s got 7 pages of additional notes and 9 pages of references to prove how well-versed she is. And that’s just this article.

But anyway.

Aurality

What the heck is that.

I mean, I could get an idea of its relation to oral/auditory right off the bat, but the exact definition… I’ll leave that to Selfe (646):

Screenshot 2018-11-26 at 00.09.17

So yes, it means a bit more than a simple word mash-up, and the description along pretty much covers the overall use of sound as a form of learning and means for communication in the classroom. There has been debate on the subject, for literal decades–no wait, scratch that–literally hundreds of years, particularly in terms of writing v. speech.

Selfe want the reader to know (several times throughout the article) that she’s not taking sides. She doesn’t want to be a part of the either/or argument, but rather a part of a both/and movement of sorts to have the education system show the equal importance of writing as a medium as well as aurality/speech/oratory/etc.

And that’s the kind of indecisiveness/compromise that’s Right Up My Alley. I wonder if Selfe is a Libra, because that’s some Libra talk.

Those Dang Samples

Throughout the article, Selfe links the reader to a series of 4 Aural Composing Samples. Auditory essays/poems/etc. that go along with her ideas (for lack of a better word, my apologies). The link, which I’ll attach here, wouldn’t work for me, ergo I couldn’t listen to the samples. I also did a search of each of the samples’ titles (Sonya Borton’s A Legacy of Music; Elisa Norris’s “Literacy = Identity: Can You See Me?”; Wendy Wolter Hinshaw’s Yelling Boy; and Daniel Keller’s Lord of the Machines: Reading the Human Computer Relationship), to no avail. All I would get were links to Selfe’s article and reviews of said article. Alas, guess I’ll go off of the mini-descriptions and relate to what I can.

{Little quick fun fact! I get the description for Legacy of Music. My father being a musician, I was brought up in a music-loving household. My parents played Vivaldi and Beethoven and that brat Mozart and Bruce Springsteen for me when I was an infant. I went as far as learning a few instruments and having a deep, inherent love for music up to now, and as far as I’m concerned, music will continue to be a thing in my family’s generations to come, if I have anything to say about it.}

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Aurality: A History

Y’know, any time I write a title like that (“_____: A History”), I just hear first-year Hermione Granger talking about how the ceiling of The Great Hall has been bewitched to look like the night sky, and how she’s read all about it in “Hogwarts: A History.”

Okay, seriously. Now we’re back.

Around the time of the early 18th century, oratory was a big part of American universities’ composition studies. There was a focus on public speaking and communication over the written word, but only Western classical traditions. Today, there is almost complete focus on the written word, but there are more perspectives being brought to the spotlight.

Back then, though, oral communication was more the norm, “linked to the cultural values, power, and practices of privileged families in the colonies who considered facility in oral, face-to-face encounters [such as oratorical performances, debates, orations, and declamations] to be the hallmark of the educated class” (620).

The latter half of the 19th century brought about change with the increase of industry, the emergence of the middle class, and the rise of trades, sciences, and business that made writing and print more necessary. A need for more secular and trade-specialized education made the old forms of education, training in classics, religion, oratory, etc., impossible (621). Brushing arts and humanities aside for STEM… sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Selfe (622) quotes John Clapp then, from a 1913 article of his from the English Journal, regarding aurality’s remaining remnants in composition classes:

“Is there a place in College English classes for exercises in reading, or talking, or both? The question has been raised now and then in the past, almost always to receive a negative answer, particularly from English departments” (21).

Aurality has persisted here and there, but separate, hidden in speech classes, theatre classes, other specified classes in higher education that are generally (usually) apart from the English department. Selfe notes that it was briefly present (but not enough to be substantial) in English classes, saying that “[w]ritten literature, although including artifacts of earlier aural forms (Platonic dialogues, Shakespearean monologues, and poetry, for instance), was studied through silent reading and subjected to written analysis, consumed by the eye rather than the ear” (623). I recall in a Shakespeare class of mine that, instead of reading the printed text of Shakespeare’s plays, we watched the plays and discussed them from there. The purpose was to experience the works how they were initially intended to be experienced.

[Yikes, I didn’t want this section to be this long, but here we are. Just a bit more!]

Selfe brings up learners barred from U.S. universities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, basically all those who weren’t “privileged white males”–women, black, Hispanic/Latino/a people, Native Americans, etc. She states that although these “individuals … learned–through various means and, often, with great sacrifice–to deploy writing skillfully and in ways that resisted the violence of oppression, many also managed to retain a deep and nuanced appreciation for aural traditions as well: in churches and sacred ceremonies, in storytelling and performance contexts, in poetry and song” (623).

She then goes into how Euroamerican elitism, racism, discrimination, and oppression (that our country is just so famous for) had people of color turning toward more aural forms of communication, storytelling, practices, etc. but Selfe then warns the reader to keep in mind that “people of color have historically deployed a wide range of written discourses in masterful and often powerfully oppositional ways while retaining a value on traditional oral discourses and practices.” Selfe later mentions how academic writing has been compromised for these groups of people based on the prevalence of it throughout white colonization history (634).

She calls, then, for teachers to “respect and encourage students to deploy multiple modalities in skillful ways–written, aural, visual–and that they model a respect for and understanding of the various roles each modality can play in human expression, the formation of the individual and group identity, and meaning making,” a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with (624-625). 

Okay, now I’m done.

Artifacts of Aurality

I kinda touched on that earlier, mentioning how aurality has stayed (and is gradually reemerging) in classrooms, but Selfe brings up here that aurality is utilized in classes in the context of the written (voice, tone, rhythm), but not in actual, aloud speech. Aural practices have been whittled down to “conferences, presentations, and class discussions focused on writing,” with writing as the end goal (626).

This came about almost completely, with writing becoming the privileged form of composition, by the end of the 20th century. Nowadays, it’s difficult for people to present an oral presentation without a written text as a guide. Which, like, yeah, that’s a mood.

{Maybe it’s a good thing I minored in music and theatre. The former gave me rhythm and a penchant for criticism, the latter gave me an ear for speech, delivery, and tone. Y’all know how many monologues and scenes I had to do in my acting class? My voice for the performer class? Oof. Haven’t spoken that much in a class since elementary school.}

Writing as Not-Speech

During the latter part of the 19th century, discourse regarding writing v. speech Was A Thing. Basically, there was a big back and forth about which was more important and if both were important together. In 1984, Sarah Liggett concluded that they’re related in various ways, but different significantly. Some researchers saw speech as a less formal form of communication, less reflective, while writing was more deliberate and intellectual. Logic v. Emotion.

Others saw speech as an activity that helps during the writing process–(end goal was still writing, though)–while others said students’ reliance on it was a crutch and detrimental to the process, saying it will drag academic writing down to utilizing informal speech patterns and decreasing the overall quality of it. Bleh. I have thoughts about that.

{Personally, and I’ve mentioned this before, I tend to speak aloud when I write stories as well as academic papers. It’s reassuring to hear your words out loud. Makes it easier for some to find errors in their work, as I’ve learned from working in the writing center.}

The Silence of Voice

Some day I will stop talking about voice in writing. That day is not today.

Use of the word “voice” in writing is… if we’re being LITERAL literal here, lie–it’s meant as a “characteristic of written prose” and it’s… not really the LITERAL voice at all. This is what Selfe claims, and I’m not 100% sure I agree with separating the two so much. Voice in writing v. Literal voice in out speech. I have thoughts on this, too.

“[W]e use the metaphor of voice to talk generally about issues in writing … Sometimes we use voice to talk in neo-Romantic terms about the writer discovering an authentic self and then deploying it in text” (vii) (631).

That’s how I know it. In relation to aurality, though, is the use of the term “voice” a betrayal? Since modern academia had kinda left oratory by the wayside?

… Theory is weird, man.

Aurality in Pop Culture

Students during the post-Cold War era, in their (understandable) paranoia, “often found the texts of television and radio … to resonate more forcefully than written texts of historical eras” (631). Why was this? Difference in types of learning? More direct? Harder to hide a lie in audio/video than in print? Good ol’ rebellion?

On the flip side, the more strict of academics looked down on these aural types of texts. Oh how the turn tables, that academia that once prided oratory above all else now claims it rots students’ minds. Professors tried to have students go “against the infectious effects of popular culture and various forms of mass communication, to encourage them to turn to the written texts of geniuses from the past as a means of discovering their ‘real selves’ (Hill, qtd. in Paine, p. 282) and resisting mass culture (Paine 283)” (632). (This is Not good citation style. Don’t do this. I’m just lowkey lazy.)

Not gonna lie, I got a little chuckle out of Heilman’s quote in this section. His distaste for electronic media was not very subtle and it basically felt like he was saying STRICT CRITICISM > FLASHY LIGHTS AND PRETTY COLORS. I dunno, reminded me of that old Simpsons meme “Old Man Yells At Cloud.” Man, I don’t even watch The Simpsons, what the heck.

Aurality and Pedagogy

In this section, Selfe brings up hearing feedback v. written feedback. She mentions Jeff Sommers, who noted that students who heard recordings of their professors’ feedback were able to get an immediate, more personal response than if they’d gotten written feedback–a “walking tour” of a critique, where they could get a more specified understanding of their words based on non-verbal cues (tone, pace, volume, rhythm, emphasis, etc.). Flashback to my writing center work (again) where students get a lot more out of face-to-face feedback than out of professors’ (often unintelligible) written comments.

Other elements of hints of aurality in class (as mentioned before) include class discussions, group work… both of which are usually forced and can seem… awkward. Eventually, though, they can be stimulating and helpful in a classroom.

Selfe then mentions how, whatever aural/oral work was done (professor conferences, writing center sessions, peer reviewing, etc.), the end goal was always to better writing, not speaking. Writing is still on top. So like. We have some progress, but not really.

Aurality and Digital Environments for Composing

Selfe shifts focus to how global communications thrive from multimodality. The use of video, audio, photography, software and hardware applications, etc. all allow for agencies, organizations, professors, students, etc. to communicate and spread ideas around the world, transcending language barriers.

The multitude of technological resources for audio production to put forth that communication around the world… leads to technology in the classroom (which is a whole different subject in and of itself, let’s be real).

Despite all this, “print continued to prevail as ‘the way’ of knowing (Dunn, Talking 15), the primary means of learning and communicating in composition classrooms” (639). Composition assignments still remain the same today, despite the steady reintroduction of aurality to the classroom.

The End, but not really

Selfe sums up by claiming that a mix of print and aurality in the classroom should be ideal, accommodating multiple learning styles, cultural considerations and appreciations, etc. but not all professors, teachers, or educators in general have access to the kind of technology necessary for multimodality in the classroom. Computer access is generally standard these days, but more advanced editing software and such is more difficult to acquire and master for the classroom. So, a preference for print and written assignments it is, accompanied by (mostly) auditory lecture, across the board, while these technological resources are unevenly distributed.  

In the end, what Selfe is arguing is that there shouldn’t be that either/or debate, but a utilization of multiple forms of composition and communication for students to portray their ideas. Let students express themselves in ways that feel right to them, learn in ways that are the most beneficial to them. “We need to learn from their motivated efforts to communicate with each other, for themselves and for others, often in resistance to the world we have created for them. We need to respect the rhetorical sovereignty of young people from different backgrounds, communities, colors, and cultures, to observe and understand the rhetorical choices they are making, and to offer them new ways of making meaning, new choices, new ways of accomplishing their goals” (642). Despite the uneven technological shortcomings, academia as a whole needs to learn to accommodate for its infinitely wide range of students.

Oof. Okay, I honestly don’t think that I will be able to sum up this richly dense article on my own, so I’ll give you Selfe’s final words:

Screenshot 2018-11-25 at 20.24.11

I’m looking forward to discussing Selfe’s article in class. There was so much to it, and I hope that I will be able to do it justice as I lead our discussion.

–C

P.S. – and just because I like this quote and I couldn’t find a good place to put it, I’m throwing it here:

“Young people need to know that their role as rhetorical agents is open, not artificially foreclosed by the limits of their teachers’ imaginations” (Selfe 645).

v. Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: aka, the most relatable and thrilling academic article i’ve ever read

Maybe I’m just not with the times or I’m too neck-deep in fan fiction to notice that there are some (many? god, I hope so) in academia who have the exact viewpoints and interests that I do.

Golly gee, then, did I pick the right article for when I lead the class discussion.

{Since this is a monster of a post, I’m actually utilizing the Read More tag. This thing’s ingenious, I tell ya.}

“Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality,” by Michelle Gibson, Martha Marinara, and Deborah Meem, published in The Journal of the Conference on College Composition and Communication back in 2000, and then reprinted Feminism and Composition: Critical Sourcebook in 2003, then reprinted again in Teaching Composition: Background Readings, 3rd ed. in 2007. All I can say is Y E S, QUEENS. If I ever get to meet these incredible thinkers, I’d like to shake their hands, because wow. It’s like all my inner thoughts and concerns about class, gender, and sexuality have just been laid out for the world… 18 year ago.

I was 6.

Man, I’m real behind.

Alright, before we get into anything regarding the article–which, may I say again, was one of the best academic readings I’ve had the privilege to encounter in a while–what did you think as you read through it? What was your initial impression? Relatable? Confusing? Totally out of your comfort zone? 

Regarding my initial impression: when I first began reading the piece, I was terrified the jargon was going to go over my head. It didn’t completely, in the end, so that’s good. But there were, I’ll be honest, probably some more complex concepts that I may not have fully grasped. That’s okay, though! Can’t find everything in a readthrough of a text. I hope to revisit this text, though. There’s a lot about the subjects of class, gender, and sexuality that I’d like to keep exploring. Mayhaps for a thesis? Hmmmm?

One more thing before I get into the actual article: I want you to think about some of the ways that you identify/define and present/perform aspects of yourself–(Those can be very different things.)–in a personal sense, in a professional sense, and in your writing. Just… think about it. And think about the effects of those definitions and presentations and performances–on you, and on others.

Okay, I lied. One more thing. Just a bit about the authors, a lot of which can be found at the end of their article. All three women are published (woop!) in journals such as Journal of Teaching Writing, Feminist Teacher, Writing on the Edge, Studies in Popular Culture, Journal of Basic Writing and Women in Literature and Life. They all have, to varying degrees, been involved in women’s and gender studies, LGBT studies, as well as literature, writing, and composition in academia. More info on their more recent happenings can be found on their staff pages, which I will lovingly link here: Gibson, Meem, and Marinara (now Brenckle, I believe?).

Alright! On to the article!

(Also, god forgive me, this came out to be a 3,000 word post and I still didn’t get to cover everything. Sigh.)

An Intro

Now, the way the article is organized is in 3 sections, or 3 “stories,” one by each author: Marinara’s Bi: playing with fixed identities, Meem’s Butch: personal pedagogy and the butch body, and Gibson’s Bar dyke: a cocktail waitress teaches writing. According to their introduction, “[through their] ‘stories,’ [they] hope to complicate the notion that identities can be performed in clean, organized, distinct ways by examining and theorizing our own experiences of class, gender, and sexual identity performance” (70). In writing this piece, they want (I believe) people to portray themselves, analyze those portrayals, and come to a conclusion that not all of those portrayals are clean cut and set in stone. They are up for debate, and academia should accept and appreciate that discourse instead of rejecting it.

But anyway.

Bi

Discovering our identities (and by that plural I mean that each person has multiple identifiable facets of themselves) is a process. Distinguishing the parts of ourselves that differ from the norm–the universal, central, default of a person (whatever that means)–can be challenging, especially if that “real me” Marinara talks about in her piece is comprised of parts that don’t quite fit even the non-default, socially acknowledged definitions of a person (72).

Phew, did that make sense at all?

Marinara looks at the labels people take on throughout the story of their lives–labels that mark them as Other to that default I mentioned: “Gay,” “Straight,” “Working class,” “Middle class,” etc.

What I seem to be getting from Marinara is that there is self-empowerment in these labels, in knowing who you are, but (and this is especially true back in 2000–18 years ago) there are “binary oppositions”–a One Or The Other And That’s It mentality (72).

Nowadays, gender and sexuality are viewed as a spectrum. We have unlimited possibilities with which to define ourselves and differentiate us from the fixed paradigms expected of a person.

Bisexuality, in this narrative, is seen as a socially-unclearly defined middle ground, “an incomplete dominance of either sexual trait, defies easy social categorization; it is an identity without visible rules, almost without referent” (73). Is there freedom in that? Or is there a longing to be defined and to have a name for yourself?

Class, as an identifier, Marinara explores, has less of a middle ground. Just as in her American Dream/”rags to riches” analogy, there’s that “moving up” quality. A transition–though a quick jump instead of a slow climb. With class, there’s the pressure of replacing your class with a new one, a better one. Up and up and up.

With sexuality and gender, though, there is no direction to climb towards. It’s not an upward climb to higher achievement, but more of a feeling around in the dark until you find the right light switch kind of discovery. This one’s too bright. This one’s too dim. This one sounds good in practice but doesn’t feel right. This is the one that should be picked, but again, it’s not right. etc. etc. Does that make sense?

Anyway, Marinara finds that in knowing aspects of ourselves can lead us to telling our stories, comparing them, contrasting, learning. Marinara sums up rather nicely the final sentences of her section:

“Keeping identity from becoming ‘fixed’ leaves room to construct other useful political positions, still more ‘Other’ places from which to speak. Increasing our understanding of those who tell stories from the social margins means exploring contradictions—the changing shapes of difference—so we can locate ourselves within/as the process of negotiating class and sexuality” (79).

[[Before I hop to the next topic, a quick reaction to Marinara’s class’s responses to the David Budbill poem “Roy, McInnes” and their Gender of the Narrator debate. Lately, I’ve been writing narrators/main characters with no discernible gender and there’s a freedom in that, I think. A freedom in being able to create a person outside of any kind of binary definition in regards to stereotypes and just… create a person. One main character of mine went fishing, and I heard someone refer to little Sam as “he”; another narrator of mine was briefly mentioned to be wearing “remnants of … makeup”; and many thought that character was female. Meanwhile, I had given no indication that either of the two were male or female. I’ve had reviewers compliment me upon realizing so. It’s freeing.]]

Butch

Deborah Meem’s section of the paper was split further into a telling of three stories regarding her butch persona and how it impacts her place in academia. She first brings up a chart common to women’s studies that details “two areas: (1) some of an individual’s multiple identities, and (2) the relative experience of privilege associated with each. Through positioning myself on this chart, I was able to articulate to myself for the first time some of the ways I partake of unearned privilege” (79).

I haven’t seen a chart like this before, but it’s interesting to see and sort of broadly get an idea of what kind of unearned privileges I have.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.25.32
(Gibson, Marinara & Meem 83)

By examining herself through the lens of this chart, Meem “began to understand how I occupy both the center and the margins of American society,” as we all should (79).

Before moving on to the stories, on which I will touch only briefly, let’s take a look at that Butch v. Femme binary Meem brings up. There is a history of the word butch and the concept behind it. Whereas butch lesbianism takes on more traditionally, stereotypically masculine qualities in style and personality, femme lesbianism is more traditionally, stereotypically feminine.

Interesting enough, the former type of lesbian persona is seen as powerful while latter type is … invisible. This will be touched on a bit more in Story 2, so stay tuned!

Story 1

Meem talks about a study regarding professors’ standard course evaluations and compared the results by professors’ sex. The results showed the expected, that “the three men averaged higher ratings in instrumental categories (knowledge, fairness) while the four women as a group averaged higher ratings in affective categories (helpfulness, availability).” What really called attention, though, was when the four women’s scores were compared. “Two of the women received much higher affective than instrumental scores while the other two (myself and another woman) [who were much more butch] had instrumental scores as high as the men’s and affective scores just slightly lower than those of the other two women’s” (80).

Meem then goes into talking about the Bem Sex-Role Inventory test “measure the degree of (stereotypical) masculinity and femininity that each of us projects” (81). I was able to find a test online based on the BSRI: the OSRI. Feel free to give it a go! I took it and was kind-of-but-not-really-surprised by my own results:

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.05.06

I’m unsure how close this comes to the BSRI, but it’s interesting to check out in the meanwhile. Odd, though… I didn’t think I’d be as feminine on the chart as I turned out to be.

Story 2

Meem’s second story tells of the day she had to formally come out to her students. “A TV reporter for Cincinnati’s Channel 12 news [asked her] to be a ‘sample dyke at work’ for a feature timed to coincide with National Coming-Out Day” so Meem made a short and sweet announcement to her class the morning of the filming. Unsurprised silence and one young man’s “How do I look?” followed, and they went on with the filming.

While that’s great, and the story of instant acceptance is an endearing one, it’s unfortunate that a woman presenting some traits of masculinity is suddenly obviously known to be a lesbian. As Meem puts it in far more elegant words: “[the] point is that my coming out surprised no one, because, as Kristin Esterburg writes, in all areas ‘the coding of lesbians as not feminine and therefore in some way masculine predominate[s]’ (276). As a butch or masculine woman, I project a ‘lesbian’ persona without formally coming out” (81).

Sigh. Stereotypes and assumptions and all that.

[[I actually have a story to go along with this. When I had my pixie haircut, I was told I looked androgynous and I was like hell yeah. (One little kid even told me I “look like a boy.” I responded by asking if I was a pretty boy and they got very confused, which is a whole other matter entirely. #LetBoysBePretty #LetGirlsHaveShortHair) So anyway, I got confidence from that. My appearance gave me a label, a definition that I was totally fine to present. But one day, when I was getting a trim at the salon I frequent, an older lady in the chair next to me whispered something to her stylist, who was also an older lady. I didn’t hear what the woman in the chair said, but I clearly heard the stylist’s response. “Don’t worry, her mother still loves her.” … I don’t even know how to respond to that, honestly, so I’m just going to leave it at that. Talk about discouragement, though.]]

Story 3

The third story exemplifies the power that comes along with butchness. Masculinity has long been the side of the coin that stereotypically portrays power. A troublesome, know-it-all, male fellow committee member (lovingly nicknamed Professor Bluster) complained to a coworker that Meem was “so bossy!” and boy, did I roll my eyes so hard. Meem, though, is able to spin it in a positive(?) light:

“Had I been a man, he would not have hesitated to bring all committee work to a halt in order to engage in a pissing contest with me. As a butch woman, however, I had a certain power over him; he clearly perceived me as being immune to male feather-ruffling and intimidation. In other words, his usual strategies for getting attention were useless, and all he could do was call me bossy later on” (82).

In a sense, Meem’s butchness left her untouchable–an enigma her male coworker couldn’t figure out how to approach in a sensible manner outside of whiny gossip. I wonder, though, if that’s the best outcome. As someone who detests being spoken of behind my back, I’d rather endure the confrontation, I think.

The downside, though, Meem mentions later: “These responses, plus those from my three stories, indicate that students and faculty see my butchness as powerful, especially as contrasted with femme experience, which is mostly invisible … the relative invisibility of femmes makes it difficult for them to connect with sources of lesbian community in or out of the academy” (82-83).

“Femme” lesbianism isn’t seen at all, because it’s just seen as femininity, which falls into that “default” mentioned earlier for women.

Meem then brings up the chart again from earlier (I’ll be nice and drop it again below), pointing out the relative privilege and oppression the different facets of the chart hold. She actually added the third row to the chart, as well as the final column, noting this at the end of the article. While the “third category complicates the relentless binary oppositions … the sexuality column asserts that even in the context of heterosexual privilege, lesbians and gay men rank higher than bisexual or transgendered people … because in our culture ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ are assumed to be coherent identities, while bisexuality and transgender are so fluid—and contested—as to resist the consistency of definition and the relative safety of coherence” (93). This, unfortunately, still applies today, at least in some circles. Don’t let me near those circles.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.25.32

 

 

I’ll end this section with a final quote and a thought. “If it is true, as Judith Butler says, that fixed ‘identity categories tend to be instruments of regulatory regimes’ then complicating our own multiple identities is a revolutionary act” (84). Again, we want to identify ourselves, but in doing so, we set up borders. So there’s this desperate contradiction going on in our heads of wanting to be defined but not wanting those definitions to bind us so that we can’t explore outside of them. So when we are in fact able to comfortably play around and challenge what identifies us… maybe that’s when we get the power.

Bar Dyke

Gibson’s section details the struggle of relaying and relating to students too much in academia. As she says later on in her section, “as a faculty member submitting a dossier for reappointment, my task is to identify with administrators, not students” (90). BIG, ANNOYED SIGH.

Let me not get ahead of myself, though. In her dossier, Gibson challenged the idea that academics have to have a certain background. Surprise! Scholars are human, too. She claims that, in challenging traditionalist beliefs of universities by portraying our own personal stories while also providing proof of where we are in the academy, we can “deconstruct notions about who university students and faculty are and force the academy to respond more fully to the needs of diverse populations” (85). Hell yeah.

Gibson was advised (by a lovingly named Dr. Gatekeeper) to take out parts of her dossier to have it fit more with the university’s image. And what is that image? “[Tweed]: white, middle class, and heterosexual” (86).

Let’s take a brief pause to look around the room. Think of your other classes, of how diverse in population they are. How diverse in experience. Bear in mind that, of course, this article was written in 2000, so this kind of administrative, elitest mentality wasn’t as legally problematic or ridiculous as it seems today (though still being problematic and ridiculous, of course).

I can count the amount of white friends I have in university on 2 hands. 

I can count the amount of (fully, actualized, outspokenly) straight friends I have in university on 1 hand.

But @ academia, go off, I guess.

Back to Gibson. Her main goal in adding the personal stories of herself and her students into her dossier was that she wanted to “mainstream … the experiences of students who face similar circumstances” and yet Dr. Gatekeeper “explained that [Gibson] needed to develop a better sense of … place in the academy if [she] wanted to advance at an appropriate rate” (90).

First of all, I can’t stand that mentality in both academia and the workplace. “Know your place.” Man, get outta here. Gibson seemed to think the idea was horrid as well, as she goes on to “follow the old feminist adage ‘the personal is political’ and to disobey in the way McNaron suggests we should by ‘having and shaping [my] memories into coherent form’ (8)” (91).

Long story short, she made minor adjustments and submitted the dossier anyway.

Now that’s some bad bitch energy that I can appreciate.

To Conclude

I have gone on for FAR TOO LONG, so I will make this short.

I honestly don’t know how to properly conclude the massive info-dump and ramble that was this post. Is this technically an article review? Is that what this is? Has the length for it. Anyway, Gibson, Marinara, and Meem explore concepts of gender, class, and sexuality I feel we all could utilize in our everyday processes of shaping and understanding ourselves, the way others view us, and our writing.

I go off about voice in writing all the time. That’s not news. And this all just reaffirms my beliefs, honestly. Gibson has it right in quoting “the personal is political.” It’s our voices and our stories that will cause change in the world. We just need the means to define it all. And once we do that, we need to break out of those definitions and keep going. Up and up and through the dark.

So, I’ll end with these wise women’s final words:

The stories we have told here emphasize the shifting nature of our own personal and academic identities.

“Bi”presents herself as between comfortably recognizable identities: neither
wholly at home among her working-class former neighbors nor thoroughly assimilated into the academic middle class, neither safely straight nor stereotypically lesbian.

“Butch”stresses the paradoxical nature of power in the academy, according to which “dyke” becomes less a liability than a “drag” choice that can be traded on.

“Bar Dyke”illustrates the disjuncture among her own need to express herself in an authentic voice, the “tweed” rejection of that voice, and her sense that even what seemed most risky in her self-presentation in fact understated the lived reality.

We offer them not as models for teachers, but rather as possibilities for complicating the experience of Otherness in the academy. (93)

Alrighty. That’ll be all.

Remember to tell your stories, friends.

It’s the best we can do.

— C

 

Work Cited

Michelle Gibson, Deborah Meem, & Martha Marinara (2000). Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality. College Composition and Communication52(1), 69-95.

v. Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: aka, the most relatable and thrilling academic article i’ve ever read

Maybe I’m just not with the times or I’m too neck-deep in fan fiction to notice that there are some (many? god, I hope so) in academia who have the exact viewpoints and interests that I do.

Golly gee, then, did I pick the right article for when I lead the class discussion.

{Since this is a monster of a post, I’m actually utilizing the Read More tag. This thing’s ingenious, I tell ya.}

“Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality,” by Michelle Gibson, Martha Marinara, and Deborah Meem, published in The Journal of the Conference on College Composition and Communication back in 2000, and then reprinted Feminism and Composition: Critical Sourcebook in 2003, then reprinted again in Teaching Composition: Background Readings, 3rd ed. in 2007. All I can say is Y E S, QUEENS. If I ever get to meet these incredible thinkers, I’d like to shake their hands, because wow. It’s like all my inner thoughts and concerns about class, gender, and sexuality have just been laid out for the world… 18 year ago.

I was 6.

Man, I’m real behind.

Alright, before we get into anything regarding the article–which, may I say again, was one of the best academic readings I’ve had the privilege to encounter in a while–what did you think as you read through it? What was your initial impression? Relatable? Confusing? Totally out of your comfort zone? 

Regarding my initial impression: when I first began reading the piece, I was terrified the jargon was going to go over my head. It didn’t completely, in the end, so that’s good. But there were, I’ll be honest, probably some more complex concepts that I may not have fully grasped. That’s okay, though! Can’t find everything in a readthrough of a text. I hope to revisit this text, though. There’s a lot about the subjects of class, gender, and sexuality that I’d like to keep exploring. Mayhaps for a thesis? Hmmmm?

One more thing before I get into the actual article: I want you to think about some of the ways that you identify/define and present/perform aspects of yourself–(Those can be very different things.)–in a personal sense, in a professional sense, and in your writing. Just… think about it. And think about the effects of those definitions and presentations and performances–on you, and on others.

Okay, I lied. One more thing. Just a bit about the authors, a lot of which can be found at the end of their article. All three women are published (woop!) in journals such as Journal of Teaching Writing, Feminist Teacher, Writing on the Edge, Studies in Popular Culture, Journal of Basic Writing and Women in Literature and Life. They all have, to varying degrees, been involved in women’s and gender studies, LGBT studies, as well as literature, writing, and composition in academia. More info on their more recent happenings can be found on their staff pages, which I will lovingly link here: Gibson, Meem, and Marinara (now Brenckle, I believe?).

Alright! On to the article!

(Also, god forgive me, this came out to be a 3,000 word post and I still didn’t get to cover everything. Sigh.)

An Intro

Now, the way the article is organized is in 3 sections, or 3 “stories,” one by each author: Marinara’s Bi: playing with fixed identities, Meem’s Butch: personal pedagogy and the butch body, and Gibson’s Bar dyke: a cocktail waitress teaches writing. According to their introduction, “[through their] ‘stories,’ [they] hope to complicate the notion that identities can be performed in clean, organized, distinct ways by examining and theorizing our own experiences of class, gender, and sexual identity performance” (70). In writing this piece, they want (I believe) people to portray themselves, analyze those portrayals, and come to a conclusion that not all of those portrayals are clean cut and set in stone. They are up for debate, and academia should accept and appreciate that discourse instead of rejecting it.

But anyway.

Bi

Discovering our identities (and by that plural I mean that each person has multiple identifiable facets of themselves) is a process. Distinguishing the parts of ourselves that differ from the norm–the universal, central, default of a person (whatever that means)–can be challenging, especially if that “real me” Marinara talks about in her piece is comprised of parts that don’t quite fit even the non-default, socially acknowledged definitions of a person (72).

Phew, did that make sense at all?

Marinara looks at the labels people take on throughout the story of their lives–labels that mark them as Other to that default I mentioned: “Gay,” “Straight,” “Working class,” “Middle class,” etc.

What I seem to be getting from Marinara is that there is self-empowerment in these labels, in knowing who you are, but (and this is especially true back in 2000–18 years ago) there are “binary oppositions”–a One Or The Other And That’s It mentality (72).

Nowadays, gender and sexuality are viewed as a spectrum. We have unlimited possibilities with which to define ourselves and differentiate us from the fixed paradigms expected of a person.

Bisexuality, in this narrative, is seen as a socially-unclearly defined middle ground, “an incomplete dominance of either sexual trait, defies easy social categorization; it is an identity without visible rules, almost without referent” (73). Is there freedom in that? Or is there a longing to be defined and to have a name for yourself?

Class, as an identifier, Marinara explores, has less of a middle ground. Just as in her American Dream/”rags to riches” analogy, there’s that “moving up” quality. A transition–though a quick jump instead of a slow climb. With class, there’s the pressure of replacing your class with a new one, a better one. Up and up and up.

With sexuality and gender, though, there is no direction to climb towards. It’s not an upward climb to higher achievement, but more of a feeling around in the dark until you find the right light switch kind of discovery. This one’s too bright. This one’s too dim. This one sounds good in practice but doesn’t feel right. This is the one that should be picked, but again, it’s not right. etc. etc. Does that make sense?

Anyway, Marinara finds that in knowing aspects of ourselves can lead us to telling our stories, comparing them, contrasting, learning. Marinara sums up rather nicely the final sentences of her section:

“Keeping identity from becoming ‘fixed’ leaves room to construct other useful political positions, still more ‘Other’ places from which to speak. Increasing our understanding of those who tell stories from the social margins means exploring contradictions—the changing shapes of difference—so we can locate ourselves within/as the process of negotiating class and sexuality” (79).

[[Before I hop to the next topic, a quick reaction to Marinara’s class’s responses to the David Budbill poem “Roy, McInnes” and their Gender of the Narrator debate. Lately, I’ve been writing narrators/main characters with no discernible gender and there’s a freedom in that, I think. A freedom in being able to create a person outside of any kind of binary definition in regards to stereotypes and just… create a person. One main character of mine went fishing, and I heard someone refer to little Sam as “he”; another narrator of mine was briefly mentioned to be wearing “remnants of … makeup”; and many thought that character was female. Meanwhile, I had given no indication that either of the two were male or female. I’ve had reviewers compliment me upon realizing so. It’s freeing.]]

Butch

Deborah Meem’s section of the paper was split further into a telling of three stories regarding her butch persona and how it impacts her place in academia. She first brings up a chart common to women’s studies that details “two areas: (1) some of an individual’s multiple identities, and (2) the relative experience of privilege associated with each. Through positioning myself on this chart, I was able to articulate to myself for the first time some of the ways I partake of unearned privilege” (79).

I haven’t seen a chart like this before, but it’s interesting to see and sort of broadly get an idea of what kind of unearned privileges I have.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.25.32
(Gibson, Marinara & Meem 83)

By examining herself through the lens of this chart, Meem “began to understand how I occupy both the center and the margins of American society,” as we all should (79).

Before moving on to the stories, on which I will touch only briefly, let’s take a look at that Butch v. Femme binary Meem brings up. There is a history of the word butch and the concept behind it. Whereas butch lesbianism takes on more traditionally, stereotypically masculine qualities in style and personality, femme lesbianism is more traditionally, stereotypically feminine.

Interesting enough, the former type of lesbian persona is seen as powerful while latter type is … invisible. This will be touched on a bit more in Story 2, so stay tuned!

Story 1

Meem talks about a study regarding professors’ standard course evaluations and compared the results by professors’ sex. The results showed the expected, that “the three men averaged higher ratings in instrumental categories (knowledge, fairness) while the four women as a group averaged higher ratings in affective categories (helpfulness, availability).” What really called attention, though, was when the four women’s scores were compared. “Two of the women received much higher affective than instrumental scores while the other two (myself and another woman) [who were much more butch] had instrumental scores as high as the men’s and affective scores just slightly lower than those of the other two women’s” (80).

Meem then goes into talking about the Bem Sex-Role Inventory test “measure the degree of (stereotypical) masculinity and femininity that each of us projects” (81). I was able to find a test online based on the BSRI: the OSRI. Feel free to give it a go! I took it and was kind-of-but-not-really-surprised by my own results:

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.05.06

I’m unsure how close this comes to the BSRI, but it’s interesting to check out in the meanwhile. Odd, though… I didn’t think I’d be as feminine on the chart as I turned out to be.

Story 2

Meem’s second story tells of the day she had to formally come out to her students. “A TV reporter for Cincinnati’s Channel 12 news [asked her] to be a ‘sample dyke at work’ for a feature timed to coincide with National Coming-Out Day” so Meem made a short and sweet announcement to her class the morning of the filming. Unsurprised silence and one young man’s “How do I look?” followed, and they went on with the filming.

While that’s great, and the story of instant acceptance is an endearing one, it’s unfortunate that a woman presenting some traits of masculinity is suddenly obviously known to be a lesbian. As Meem puts it in far more elegant words: “[the] point is that my coming out surprised no one, because, as Kristin Esterburg writes, in all areas ‘the coding of lesbians as not feminine and therefore in some way masculine predominate[s]’ (276). As a butch or masculine woman, I project a ‘lesbian’ persona without formally coming out” (81).

Sigh. Stereotypes and assumptions and all that.

[[I actually have a story to go along with this. When I had my pixie haircut, I was told I looked androgynous and I was like hell yeah. (One little kid even told me I “look like a boy.” I responded by asking if I was a pretty boy and they got very confused, which is a whole other matter entirely. #LetBoysBePretty #LetGirlsHaveShortHair) So anyway, I got confidence from that. My appearance gave me a label, a definition that I was totally fine to present. But one day, when I was getting a trim at the salon I frequent, an older lady in the chair next to me whispered something to her stylist, who was also an older lady. I didn’t hear what the woman in the chair said, but I clearly heard the stylist’s response. “Don’t worry, her mother still loves her.” … I don’t even know how to respond to that, honestly, so I’m just going to leave it at that. Talk about discouragement, though.]]

Story 3

The third story exemplifies the power that comes along with butchness. Masculinity has long been the side of the coin that stereotypically portrays power. A troublesome, know-it-all, male fellow committee member (lovingly nicknamed Professor Bluster) complained to a coworker that Meem was “so bossy!” and boy, did I roll my eyes so hard. Meem, though, is able to spin it in a positive(?) light:

“Had I been a man, he would not have hesitated to bring all committee work to a halt in order to engage in a pissing contest with me. As a butch woman, however, I had a certain power over him; he clearly perceived me as being immune to male feather-ruffling and intimidation. In other words, his usual strategies for getting attention were useless, and all he could do was call me bossy later on” (82).

In a sense, Meem’s butchness left her untouchable–an enigma her male coworker couldn’t figure out how to approach in a sensible manner outside of whiny gossip. I wonder, though, if that’s the best outcome. As someone who detests being spoken of behind my back, I’d rather endure the confrontation, I think.

The downside, though, Meem mentions later: “These responses, plus those from my three stories, indicate that students and faculty see my butchness as powerful, especially as contrasted with femme experience, which is mostly invisible … the relative invisibility of femmes makes it difficult for them to connect with sources of lesbian community in or out of the academy” (82-83).

“Femme” lesbianism isn’t seen at all, because it’s just seen as femininity, which falls into that “default” mentioned earlier for women.

Meem then brings up the chart again from earlier (I’ll be nice and drop it again below), pointing out the relative privilege and oppression the different facets of the chart hold. She actually added the third row to the chart, as well as the final column, noting this at the end of the article. While the “third category complicates the relentless binary oppositions … the sexuality column asserts that even in the context of heterosexual privilege, lesbians and gay men rank higher than bisexual or transgendered people … because in our culture ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ are assumed to be coherent identities, while bisexuality and transgender are so fluid—and contested—as to resist the consistency of definition and the relative safety of coherence” (93). This, unfortunately, still applies today, at least in some circles. Don’t let me near those circles.

Screenshot 2018-10-21 at 15.25.32

 

 

I’ll end this section with a final quote and a thought. “If it is true, as Judith Butler says, that fixed ‘identity categories tend to be instruments of regulatory regimes’ then complicating our own multiple identities is a revolutionary act” (84). Again, we want to identify ourselves, but in doing so, we set up borders. So there’s this desperate contradiction going on in our heads of wanting to be defined but not wanting those definitions to bind us so that we can’t explore outside of them. So when we are in fact able to comfortably play around and challenge what identifies us… maybe that’s when we get the power.

Bar Dyke

Gibson’s section details the struggle of relaying and relating to students too much in academia. As she says later on in her section, “as a faculty member submitting a dossier for reappointment, my task is to identify with administrators, not students” (90). BIG, ANNOYED SIGH.

Let me not get ahead of myself, though. In her dossier, Gibson challenged the idea that academics have to have a certain background. Surprise! Scholars are human, too. She claims that, in challenging traditionalist beliefs of universities by portraying our own personal stories while also providing proof of where we are in the academy, we can “deconstruct notions about who university students and faculty are and force the academy to respond more fully to the needs of diverse populations” (85). Hell yeah.

Gibson was advised (by a lovingly named Dr. Gatekeeper) to take out parts of her dossier to have it fit more with the university’s image. And what is that image? “[Tweed]: white, middle class, and heterosexual” (86).

Let’s take a brief pause to look around the room. Think of your other classes, of how diverse in population they are. How diverse in experience. Bear in mind that, of course, this article was written in 2000, so this kind of administrative, elitest mentality wasn’t as legally problematic or ridiculous as it seems today (though still being problematic and ridiculous, of course).

I can count the amount of white friends I have in university on 2 hands. 

I can count the amount of (fully, actualized, outspokenly) straight friends I have in university on 1 hand.

But @ academia, go off, I guess.

Back to Gibson. Her main goal in adding the personal stories of herself and her students into her dossier was that she wanted to “mainstream … the experiences of students who face similar circumstances” and yet Dr. Gatekeeper “explained that [Gibson] needed to develop a better sense of … place in the academy if [she] wanted to advance at an appropriate rate” (90).

First of all, I can’t stand that mentality in both academia and the workplace. “Know your place.” Man, get outta here. Gibson seemed to think the idea was horrid as well, as she goes on to “follow the old feminist adage ‘the personal is political’ and to disobey in the way McNaron suggests we should by ‘having and shaping [my] memories into coherent form’ (8)” (91).

Long story short, she made minor adjustments and submitted the dossier anyway.

Now that’s some bad bitch energy that I can appreciate.

To Conclude

I have gone on for FAR TOO LONG, so I will make this short.

I honestly don’t know how to properly conclude the massive info-dump and ramble that was this post. Is this technically an article review? Is that what this is? Has the length for it. Anyway, Gibson, Marinara, and Meem explore concepts of gender, class, and sexuality I feel we all could utilize in our everyday processes of shaping and understanding ourselves, the way others view us, and our writing.

I go off about voice in writing all the time. That’s not news. And this all just reaffirms my beliefs, honestly. Gibson has it right in quoting “the personal is political.” It’s our voices and our stories that will cause change in the world. We just need the means to define it all. And once we do that, we need to break out of those definitions and keep going. Up and up and through the dark.

So, I’ll end with these wise women’s final words:

The stories we have told here emphasize the shifting nature of our own personal and academic identities.

“Bi”presents herself as between comfortably recognizable identities: neither
wholly at home among her working-class former neighbors nor thoroughly assimilated into the academic middle class, neither safely straight nor stereotypically lesbian.

“Butch”stresses the paradoxical nature of power in the academy, according to which “dyke” becomes less a liability than a “drag” choice that can be traded on.

“Bar Dyke”illustrates the disjuncture among her own need to express herself in an authentic voice, the “tweed” rejection of that voice, and her sense that even what seemed most risky in her self-presentation in fact understated the lived reality.

We offer them not as models for teachers, but rather as possibilities for complicating the experience of Otherness in the academy. (93)

Alrighty. That’ll be all.

Remember to tell your stories, friends.

It’s the best we can do.

— C

 

Work Cited

Michelle Gibson, Deborah Meem, & Martha Marinara (2000). Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality. College Composition and Communication52(1), 69-95.

ii. speak yourself

In this metaphorical world, then, even if we figure out the system, we are stuck. If we want to be heard we are limited to our single note. If we want to sing other notes, we will not be heard.
And yet, if we are brave and persistent enough to sing our note at length–to develop our capacity for resonance–gradually we will be able to ‘sing ourselves in’: to get resonance first into one or more frequencies and then more. Finally, we will be able to sing whatever note we want to sing, even to sing whatever note others want to hear, and to make every note resound with rich power.
Peter Elbow, Power 282
(qtd. in “Voices in Writing” 172)

Whaaaaaaat? I’m starting a blog post with a deep quote and not an awkward “oKAY KIDS WE’RE HERE LET’S GO” ? Unheard of. Unthinkable. Wild.

Maybe I’m learning. Maybe I’m still lowkey, wistfully emotional and riding the high of a double concert weekend. I gotta give my wallet a break, my god.

Anyway. Elbow. I’m really digging this article. Like, wow. I feel like I won’t be able to do it (nor anything else I’m planning on talking about) justice with my paltry commentary.  Here goes nothing, I suppose.

So, from the beginning, I could already see the whole either/or debate Elbow would later talk about throughout the paper. We have those who are all into students/writers having their own voice in writing and that voice is something that should be taught to try to achieve, then we have the skeptics who are like “y’all are just adapting to your audience so it’s not Really You but a You that’s been Socially Constructed to Fit Into A Mold.”

And like. I get it. I get what the skeptics are saying. Yes, people are so altered by society’s expectations of them that they almost don’t become people living for themselves anymore, but people living exclusively for others, even going as far as being a different person for each of those different people… so like, does a Real You even exist at that point?

Fun fact: I read a fanfiction that discussed that whole concept once. One of the best fics I’ve ever read.

Ten points if you could follow that long sentence. Because I’m afraid to reread it again. Regardless, Elbow has the right idea in disagreeing with the either/or debate, because things are never in black and white.

I feel like… we won’t be able to change the fact that we are socially constructed if we don’t try to alter society ourselves. If we don’t try for sincerity in writing and in general, we’ll never get it at all–if that makes sense. It’s completely true that we are changed by our places in society, but that’s a very dour and complacent state of mind to stay in. Real nihilistic, if you ask me. So… it’s fine to focus on your own voice in writing. It can really help with soul-searching and whatnot.

But along that same line, I’d say it’s not wrong to adapt the voice of your writing for your audience. For example, do you think I’m gonna write like this for a legitimate paper? With snark and thinly-veiled exhaustion and maybe one thought too many ?

Nah. I’ll reign it in. But does that mean my academic voice is any more or less Me? There surely is one real voice in me, but can’t it have more than one tone? Adaptability doesn’t always equate “artificiality,” which Elbow brings up a bit later in the article with an interesting quote:

“Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the contrary; for our hearers are prejudiced and think we have some design against them.” (169)

Lemme just @@@@ all those skeptics. Sure, there will be those writers that try to fool their readers into believing that they’re all-knowing, but it’s the writers who put their own selves into their writing that truly get (or should get) listened to.

Later on, Elbow talks about how there are those who believe that text gives no window to the actual self. Interesting. I’d say maybe not the whole self, because pshhh our whole selves aren’t even visible to us to begin with. But… given the right topic, you can have a person writing some pretty honest and soul-bearing stuff.

(I’m reminded of a blog post I did back in the day on fanfiction. That was a wild ride. I still shoot that link at people once in a while.)

Even more later on, Elbow brought up voice in different types of writing. I’m gonna go off about the voice in Internet language. I’m generally active in groupchats and on Twitter, and text-speech and internet lingo is a whole language on its own.

Elbow talks about how “handwriting is more personal and body-connected than typing, so handwritten words are often more experienced as more ‘voiced’ than typed or printed words. With the resources of word processing, people sometimes try to create or bring out a voice by using certain fonts” (176). That’s all well and good, but what about those platforms where you can’t utilize formatting options like fonts, bolding, italicizing, underlining, strikethroughs, etc.? Emoticons and emojis come to mind, but with text alone, more subtle trends come and go.

In fact! Who better to introduce those “Twitter Linguistics” than a student who studied them. A Twitter user conducted a survey (which I participated in) earlier in the year about different linguistic trends utilized online (particularly Twitter) such as “Keyboard Smashes,” “Excessively Long Ellipses,” “Non-Interrogative Question Marks,” etc.–most, if not all, of which I use on a daily basis. The user then posted later, saying that the paper was completed, so there you go! 

Now, all these little trends can help effectively convey one’s voice and attitude over cyberspace. I’ve been told that, in a messenger setting, I can easily be “heard” when I send messages. Whether it’s a rAISE IN VOICE or a……. confused…………. drawn-out….. pause, or??? ?? a disbelieving? ? ? series of not-questions? ????, little text quirks can bring a new context to a person’s voice in writing.

When appropriate, of course. You won’t see me going jfklsjfkldsjkl in an academic paper.

I think that’s all I’ll say for this reading! I can’t wait to go over it more in class. It was actually a really interesting read.

There’s just one more thing I want to touch on before I go.

Last week in class, we watched a TEDtalk about “The danger of a single story” by novelist Chimamanda Adichie:

Hers was an incredible story. I was only able to answer two of the three posed questions during our Twitter discussion:

Before I did, though, I mentioned how I was reminded of a speech I’d heard earlier in the day at the United Nations General Assembly by the leader of popular K-Pop group, BTS. Truthfully, I felt (and feel) a little silly bringing it up, but the message of the speech–about youth, self-empowerment, self-love, and finding your voice to “Speak Yourself” and tell your story–was too important to pass up.

Everyone has a story to tell, after all. One that should be told and should be listened to. It’s something I stand for.

So yeah, voice is important. Probably more important than any of us can comprehend on our own.

See y’all next week.

— C