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Michael McLaughlin

Intermediate Composition

Dr. Andrus

May 30, 2011

Cover Letter

This is a portfolio containing examples of my writing, as well as the writings of my classmates, from my 2011 spring quarter Intermediate Composition class. Among these examples are rough drafts of my blogs and their final drafts. Also included are blogs of my classmates which I have made comments on. All in all, this portfolio is a representation of what I've learned in Dr. Andrus' Intermediate Composition class.

Holly Miller's blog

Lauren Herring's blog



Appiah's Use of "I" (Rough Draft)

Appiah's essay "Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections", is an essay which the better part of an academic quarter could be spent on studying, in say a sociology or philosophy course. The material is dense with information, but easy to read, though certainly not in one go. Taking a few breaks would be recommendable. As I read his essay though, I notice that Appiah tries to work in little breaks here and there, for the reader's benefit.

Such breaks are beneficial to the reader, namely because Appiah uses a style similar to the logical and argumentative style of most philosophical works. While this style is effective at covering all your bases, it can be rather tiresome. Appiah tries to augment that by including summaries here and there. While this technique in and of itself is not impressive, his use of "I" to refer to himself and his role as author is effective. One minute you feel like you are reading your history professor's lecture, the next you feel like you are reading a fellow classmate's take on the lecture and it's significance. Not only that he begins every chunk of informative writings with a reference to himself and his purpose. For example, before he gets into the nitty-gritty of Thomas Jefferson he open with

"The understandings of 'race' I am exploring are American"

and later on he will refer to himself Like in this passage:

"I have quoted so much of Jefferson in part, of course, because Jefferson is an important figure in the history of American debates about racial politics"

Here he has reminded his audience of his original purpose in his exploration of the definition of race: that he is exploring how it affects Americans. Now that Appiah has personally reminded his audience of that fact, he moves on to why he thought Jefferson's Query XIV was: significant.

"In these passages I have cited we see something entirely representative of the best thinking of the day: the running together of biology, and politics, science and morals, fact and value, ethics and aesthetics"

So now Appiah has not only personally reminded the reader of his purpose, he has also opened up on why he thought Jefferson was significant to his purpose. In fact, his style is akin to telling a good story. Any storyteller can open with the tired "Once upon a time..", but a good storyteller can open with "I shall tell you the tale of..." and make that opening their own, putting emphasis where they want. As the tale goes on, the storyteller can pick and choose where to put suspense, or can simply utter "and then" until the transistion hardly registers.

So it is with Appiah. He very easily could have opened with "The understanding of race explored in this essay is limited to the American perspective" or written "Jefferson is significant to the argument that the traditional definition of the word race is faulty because..." blah, blah, blah. Very interesting, sir.




Appiah's Use of "I" (Final Draft)

Appiah's essay "Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections", is an essay which the better part of an academic quarter could be spent on studying, in say a sociology or philosophy course. The material is dense with information, but easy to read, though certainly not in one go. Taking a few breaks would be recommendable. As I read his essay though, I notice that Appiah tries to work in little breaks here and there, for the reader's benefit.

Such breaks are beneficial to the reader, namely because Appiah uses a style similar to the logical and argumentative style of most philosophical works. While this style is effective at covering all your bases, it can be rather tiresome. Appiah tries to augment that by including summaries here and there. While this technique in and of itself is not impressive, his use of "I" to refer to himself and his role as author is effective. One minute you feel like you are reading your history professor's lecture, the next you feel like you are reading a fellow classmate's take on the lecture and it's significance. Not only that he begins every chunk of informative writings with a reference to himself and his purpose. For example, before he gets into the nitty-gritty of Thomas Jefferson he open with

"The understandings of 'race' I am exploring are American"

and later on he will refer to himself Like in this passage:

"I have quoted so much of Jefferson in part, of course, because Jefferson is an important figure in the history of American debates about racial politics"

Here he has reminded his audience of his original purpose in his exploration of the definition of race: that he is exploring how it affects Americans. Now that Appiah has personally reminded his audience of that fact, he moves on to why he thought Jefferson's Query XIV was: significant.

"In these passages I have cited we see something entirely representative of the best thinking of the day: the running together of biology, and politics, science and morals, fact and value, ethics and aesthetics"

So now Appiah has not only personally reminded the reader of his purpose, he has also opened up on why he thought Jefferson was significant to his purpose. In fact, his style is akin to telling a good story. Any storyteller can open with the tired "Once upon a time..", but a good storyteller can open with "I shall tell you the tale of..." and make that opening their own, putting emphasis where they want. As the tale goes on, the storyteller can pick and choose where to put suspense, or can simply utter "and then" until the transition hardly registers.

So it is with Appiah. He very easily could have opened with "The understanding of race explored in this essay is limited to the American perspective" or written "Jefferson is significant to the argument that the traditional definition of the word race is faulty because..." blah, blah, blah. Very interesting, sir. Appiah decided while writing this essay that it's content needed to be understood, and understood fully. He felt, I am sure, that if he talked, so to speak, with his audience on a more personal level that his content would not only be readable, but also appreciable.

In my original, I did not have the conclusion (underlined). I tend to write something a day or two ahead of time then sleep before I got back to it. I find that almost forgetting about what I wrote allows me to critique my work more. I decided to added in this conclusion because I did not want to end sarcastically as I had originally with “So it is with Appiah. He very easily could have opened with "The understanding of race explored in this essay is limited to the American perspective" or written "Jefferson is significant to the argument that the traditional definition of the word race is faulty because..." blah, blah, blah. Very interesting, sir.”. While being sarcastic in a blog has it’s value, being written in an academic setting, it did not feel right to end on that note

.Wideman Blog (Rough Draft)

Freddy looked mad. Real mad. Burn victim anyway, but now he was a demon. Standing there, over her bed, his burnt flesh sticking to his shirt, it made you want to scream. Nancy’s barely able to breathe, her skin, alabaster white now, now sweating bullets. Raspy voice and daggered hand and hateful eyes, Freddy could kill you just as soon look at you. In the dream you’d see him coming a far way off. Three-quarters the way you knew he had your number, just by the way he was walking up to you with a casual anybody. A striped shirt with a brown leather hat perched on top his ghoulish face. Knife-fingered hands. Knives that could rip flesh easy as tearing a paper wall. Knives long enough to go through one side, and poke out the other. Nancy couldn’t get her legs to respond to her urge run. You’d hear about Nancy later as you were walking down Elm Street and think that she’d been killed in her sleep, and not in her dreams.

A Capulet was somebody who lived on the right side of Verona, somebody you didn’t fool with or talk nasty to. Didn’t speak to a Montague at all no matter the place or the occasion. Montague’s say they cannot love again, but one pretty girl and now star-crossed-lovers and Capulet-Montague feuds forgotten. You could find them hanging around anywhere without escorts or chaperones. The Capulet girl had that fair, light, bright, almost naïve countenance and the Montague boy and his big sword but all that was to be destroyed in an instant because they did not communicate and because they had this crazy idea that they couldn’t live without one another and soliloquies and drinking poison and once both are good and forever cold, their love preserved without ever vowing to love one another or making a half-hearted attempt, just cut to the chase so that way when the family’s last speak their names and tears can fall true and the feud can end with servants drunkenly tell William Shakespeare the truth of it all. So it goes.

These passages summarize well known stories that rely on visual displays.

Wideman's prose are reminiscent of Marquez and Cortazar and the stories of magical realism. These stories forgoe the rules of grammar and puntuation to make their meanings clearer than following those rules can allow. The run on sentences create build up, and suspense. The incomplete sentences make the thought all the more absolute. In "The Continuity of Parks", as the murderer approaches his victim, no verbs are used, creating snapshots instead of motion scenes. In "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World", as the women describe how the drowned man must have been in life, the sentences running on and on leaving the reader breathless, as it were, reading their description. These author's, Wideman, Marquez, and Cortazar, understand that rules, in language and writing, are meant to be bent and even broken. They are bent and broken to make their meanings more than just groups of letters on the page.

Wideman Blog

Freddy looked mad. Real mad. Burn victim anyway, but now he was a demon. Standing there, over her bed, his burnt flesh sticking to his shirt, it made you want to scream. Nancy’s barely able to breathe, her skin, alabaster white now, now sweating bullets. Raspy voice and daggered hand and hateful eyes, Freddy could kill you just as soon look at you. In the dream you’d see him coming a far way off. Three-quarters the way you knew he had your number, just by the way he was walking up to you with a casual anybody. A striped shirt with a brown leather hat perched on top his ghoulish face. Knife-fingered hands. Knives that could rip flesh easy as tearing a paper wall. Knives long enough to go through one side, and poke out the other. Nancy couldn’t get her legs to respond to her urge run. You’d hear about Nancy later as you were walking down Elm Street and think that she’d been killed in her sleep, and not in her dreams.

A Capulet was somebody who lived on the right side of Verona, somebody you didn’t fool with or talk nasty to. Didn’t speak to a Montague at all no matter the place or the occasion. Montague’s say they cannot love again, but one pretty girl and now star-crossed-lovers and Capulet-Montague feuds forgotten. You could find them hanging around anywhere without escorts or chaperones. The Capulet girl had that fair, light, bright, almost naïve countenance and the Montague boy and his big sword but all that was to be destroyed in an instant because they did not communicate and because they had this crazy idea that they couldn’t live without one another and soliloquies and drinking poison and once both are good and forever cold, their love preserved without ever vowing to love one another or making a half-hearted attempt, just cut to the chase so that way when the family’s last speak their names and tears can fall true and the feud can end with servants drunkenly tell William Shakespeare the truth of it all. So it goes.

These passages summarize well known stories that rely on visual displays.

Wideman's prose are reminiscent of Marquez and Cortazar and the stories of magical realism. These stories forgo the rules of grammar and punctuation to make their meanings clearer than following those rules can allow. The run on sentences create build up, and suspense. The incomplete sentences make the thought all the more absolute. In "The Continuity of Parks", as the murderer approaches his victim, no verbs are used, creating snapshots instead of motion scenes. In "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World", as the women described how the drowned man must have been in life, the sentences running on and on leaving the reader breathless, as it were, reading their description. These authors, Wideman, Marquez, and Cortazar, understand that rules, in language and writing, are meant to be bent and even broken. They are bent and broken to make their meanings more than just groups of letters on the page.

This was easily my favorite blog. Rewriting these passages was like writing creatively. The first passage was fairly easy to rewrite. The passage relied heavily on setting a tone in the description of a character, which is something I enjoy doing in my own writing, so I went with Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street. The second passage had me stumped. It was a gossipy way of writing. Something I imagined farm women or soldiers in a trench might say, in a general sense. Then I recalled how Romeo and Juliet opened. The play opens with two servants gossiping about the tragedy that befell the Capulets and Monatgues, because of Romeo and Juliet. Once I had picked the topics, the writing was easy.

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