Archive for September, 2005
Reality vs. Actuality: A Construction of the Truth
Mother Teresa and Media Mayhem
Understanding the Science Gender Gap
Chief Seattle’s Real Message
Greetings from the Co-Chairs
We are pleased to see another year of exciting student writing showcased in e.g.!
Since it’s inception in 2002, e.g. has undergone a number of changes. Originally, e.g. was known as the 100-level Writing Contest, which allowed for instructors to nominate the best essays to be selected for this newly created writing award, similar to that offered to writers in 200-level writing courses.
In the last two years, e.g. has evolved from the 100-level Writing Contest to an online journal of student writing that showcases essays that exemplify the type of writing that is stressed in UW’s 100-level writing courses.
This year’s essays were selected by the e.g. committee, which is made up of two co-chairs and several readers, all of whom are experienced 100-level writing instructors. First, essays were nominated by the instructors of English 105, 111, 121, and 131; secondly, the essays were reviewed by the committee in two eliminating rounds; finally, the final 5 essays were selected by the committee for their various strengths.
The final essays all came from English 131 courses this year, though the committee was hoping to be able to select essays that were more representative of student writing in a variety of 100-level courses. The lack of submissions from other courses, made it difficult to achieve this goal for the 2004-2005 year. It is our hope that in the coming years, submissions from Eng 105, 111, and 121 will be more plentiful.
You will notice that the essays selected display an outstanding command of specific aspects of academic writing, though they are by no means “perfect” and without room for further revision and improvement. We hope that you will enjoy reading the essays in this year’s e.g..
If you are an instructor, we hope you that you will use them in your classes as a catalyst for discussions about writing. Please see the instructor pages for ideas on how to integrate essays into your teaching.
We would like to congratulate the authors of these excellent essays for their hard work. We would also like to thank all the instructors who nominated student essays for their participation. Special thanks go out to the 2004-2005 reading committee who volunteered their time and energy to reading the submitted essays and putting together pedagogical strategies for the instructor pages. This year’s e.g. committee included Steven Corbett, Stephen M. Dekovich, Rachel Goldberg, Jasmine Moir, Raymond Oenbring, and Steve Tobias.
Lastly, we invite those of you interested in keeping the journal vital and growing to participate in the coming years!
Riki Thompson & Melanie Kill
Rapid technological advancements and an influx of media in today’s society have connected us in more ways than ever thought possible. Television, movies, newspapers, magazines, the internet, and other forms of the media all contribute to the highly connected global society. This intricate network of communication has vastly expanded our sphere of knowledge and understanding in the cultural context. Through television and the internet, we can access news and events in other countries minutes after they happen. Through pictures and stories, we can learn about the various cultures and practices all the way across the world. However, with this expanded access also come certain limitations. Often overlooked is the fact that the information has been filtered through numerous entities, only allowing us to see through the eyes of the creator, greatly limiting our perceptions of the world. Sometimes subtle and unintentional, other times blatantly obvious and highly structured, the influences of the media present society with a constructed reality, as each article, be it a news story, photograph, or even voice, is strategically selected and presented to convey a certain message. This process becomes destructive when it begins to shape our opinions, perceptions, and ideologies, especially concerning other cultures.
“There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind… but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.”
–Attributed to Chief Seattle
Controversy surrounds the speech Chief Seattle delivered in 1855 during a land treaty negotiation with Governor Issac Stevens. On one hand, we worship Seattle’s eloquent words for their unique insight on the Native American perspective. On the other hand, debate rages over the authenticity of the speech’s only existing recording, a reproduction produced by Dr. Henry Smith thirty years after the event. Many facts about Smith’s situation still remain clouded.
The media and society tend to distort and oversimplify accounts of events and peoples lives to make them appeal to audiences. Joan Didion’s essay “Sentimental Journeys,” analyzes how “sentimental narratives” have “personalized and ultimately obscured” (260) the actual problems that are at the root of society’s dilemmas. According to Didion, sentimental narratives are the distorted, erroneous, biased accounts of events that serve to oversimplify the problems at hand in order (whether it be consciously or unconsciously) to avoid the complexities of the actual case and to disguise the objectionable reality. In “Handicapped by History,” James Loewen presents a similar idea regarding how heroification distorts the real lives of our idolized role models and makes them into “pious, perfect, creatures without conflicts, pain, credibility, or human interest” (463) so “we cannot think straight about them” (464). Sentimentalization and heroification both involve a fabrication of the facts, causing us to lose sight of the real issues we should be recognizing. One person that the media has extensively confused is the Yugoslavian born nun, Agnes Goxha Bojaxhiu, more commonly known as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa and, by association, her organization have been heroified and sentimentalized as “saintly.” This image and publicity, which renders them largely immune to criticism has very real consequences in terms of donations but is problematic because it draws so much attention away from the honorable (and perhaps more effective) work of other mission organizations, limiting the available services to the poor, especially in Calcutta.
“A young boy and his father were in a car accident. Both were injured and rushed to the hospital. They were wheeled into separate operating rooms and two doctors prepped up to work on them, but the doctor assigned to the young boy stared at him in surprise. “I can’t operate on him!” the doctor exclaimed to the staff, “That child is my son!”
This is a classic riddle that was once used in an episode of the T.V. series All in the Family. Its ability to stump intelligent, educated people speaks volumes of the expectations people have for the sex of certain professionals. It is difficult because when we hear the word “doctor”, we reflexively picture a male, because as we see on T.V., in books, on commercials, and our own experiences in the doctor’s office, doctors are men while nurses are women. The connection is never made that the doctor could be female and the boy’s mother.
2004-05 Winner: “The Capitalization of Intelligence: How Spellbound Transforms Education into a Commodity Through Metaphor” by Scott Hanes
A documentary such as Spellbound, chronicling “the story of eight American children” (Spellbound) who competed in the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, can initially seem trifling to most viewers. The subject material is, on the surface, so far removed from everyday experiences that they cannot be understood. As a result, the film is required to recast the National Spelling Bee and its participants in more accessible and familiar roles. Spellbound accomplishes this task by employing a metonymy between the National Spelling Bee and education in general, which in turn constitutes a significant component of the American Dream; through this connection path the back of the box is able to explain that “within the roller coaster ride of the National Spelling Bee can be found the heart of America” (Spellbound). The film substantiates this assertion through its appeals to various aspects of the American Dream; in particular, it keys in on the highly focused competition and unflagging work ethic that define the spellers’ experiences of the National Spelling Bee. These aspects serve to give meaning to the film, but they also obscure the capitalistic leanings of the American Dream and the National Spelling Bee. Nonetheless, they are prevalent in the film; by the standards of the spelling bee, intelligence can be construed as a commodity, not only because it can be quantified by the breadth of one’s vocabulary but also because this vocabulary is more easily obtained as one invests more resources into expanding that vocabulary. Through the National Spelling Bee, Spellbound depoliticizes the educational process by strategically emphasizing the values of hard work and healthy competition, such that it overshadows any socioeconomic factors that might influence a child’s education.
- 2012-2013 Winner: “A Defense of the Legalization of Homosexuality in China” by Junmeng Zhu
- 2012-2013 Winner: “Does What You Like Define Who You Are” by Malie Fujii
- 2011-2012 i.e. Winner: “The impact of tangible evidence” by Rebecca Eskildsen
- 2011-2012 Winner: “A Virtual Exchange of Basketball Culture” by Ameen Tabatabai
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- James on 2010-11 Winner: “Literal and Metaphorical: Racial Themes in Harry Potter” by Kayhan Nejad
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