Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Revising consentual sexual relationships with Williams.

The original policy on consensual sexual conduct in Eastern's course catalog:

"[1]Sexual relations (which includes contact of a sexual nature) or requests for sexual relations between students and faculty members with whom they also have a current instructional or evaluative relationship are fraught with the potential for exploitation and must be avoided, and are prohibited. [2]The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in an instructional or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect. [3]In their relationships with students, members of the faculty are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism or bias."

I think this whole paragraph exercises what Williams calls "the institutional passive"(39)-- using the passive voice to sound formal and collective. However, I think it's pretty ineffective in this passage and thus should be changed.

My revised version reads:
[1b] Sexual relations (or requests for sexual relations) between faculty members and their current students are prohibited because of the distinct opportunity for exploitation. [2b] A claim of voluntary student consent would be suspect since the instructor is in a position of power and students trust and respect faculty members. [3b] As such, the university expects that faculty members act professionally and responsibly to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias.

1- This sentence is waaay to long. It uses too many clauses with too many modifiers. The initial idea--sexual relations-- is then defined it two more ways, when at most two of those are necessary (as i rewrote it) and one would likely be sufficient. The next part of this sentence is confusing due to the long list of abstract/modifying words used to describe the teacher/student relationship, "with whom they also have", and then goes off the deep end entirely with the use of "fraught" (this is a policy, you want it to be as accessible as possible!) and the unnecessary and confusing repetition of "must be avoided and are prohibited". Prohibited is clearly sufficient.

2- This sentence has many of the same problems as the one before it. It's passive, and wordy. The actual subject of the sentence, student consent, isn't introduced until the very end of the sentence, which Williams discusses as inappropriate in his discussion of beginnings and endings. So I moved the subject to the beginning, and the new information to the end of the sentence. This cleared up most of the wordyness, as many of the extra words were working tolerate the beginning of the sentence to the end.

3- The original sentence is unnecessarily passive, which makes it confusing. The root of this, I think, is that there is no "character" to do any expecting of faculty, so I gave the verb a do-er, the university. This allowed me re phrase the sentence in more active voice. Williams recommends very careful use of passives, and I think this is a good example of that. (pg 37)

in closing, turgid.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mr. Strunk and Mr. White in the essay

Two Strunk and white elements that I agree with:
fifteen and sixteen

Two Strunk and white elements that I disagree with:
eleven and nine

peer review recap 1

I found the process of peer review to be moderately helpful.

I like reading other people's writing, and it often helps me structure my thoughts better. I found it useful to have access to other peoples take on the same topic.

the comments I received were relatively sparse; I'm sure there was a greater volume to be said about it.

the feedback I left was perhaps too specific, I'm sort of worried that the owners of the papers may find my comments too critical. There were often more to say than i said, but i refrained for fear of offending people or appearing a nit-picky knowitall. On the other hand, I wish I had received some very detailed, nit-picky comments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Technologies.

Writing technologies I use on a regular basis:
--Computer Word processing, specifically MS Word
--Pen and paper
--Pencil and paper

All three have very distinct applications, and are not necessarily interchangeable.
I use Word almost exclusively for writing essays for school, and I compose directly in the program, for ease, speed and other reason that sound like they belong in an appliance ad. Pen and paper has two sets of uses for me. First, I use it for noting, both formally in class in informally, i.e. grocery lists. Second, I use pen and paper for personal writing of prose, poetry and venting genres. Though it is on the whole the same technology, I prefer specific materials for doing each-- for class I use a medium point ball point pen and college ruled paper. I find both wide rule and flowing ink pens terrible for note taking. for list making and other more casual notes, I prefer light weight paper, unlined-- I love those 99¢ glue-bound scratch pads that inevitably fall apart. When writing for myself, I use flowing ink pens and much prefer a heavier weight paper; I generally write in sketchbooks designed to hold charcoal and ink. Pencil is reserved for instances where I know I will erase; math, particularly, but also occasionally for in-class essays and nearly always for drawing. I tend to dislike it for other uses because eventually it will smear.
My preferred technologies haven't so much changed over time as they have grown more specific. I think it's fair to say that I have always done most of my writing in pen and pencil (with the occasion crayon, marker, and stick of sidewalk chalk thrown in for good measure) and have just developed the the nerdiness and and love of words on the page to have conscious and exact preferences regarding materials.
It would seem that word processing is the intended catch here. I would imagine that between five and ten years ago, people of my age would have had much to say about how the word processor has changed their life. However, I have more or less grown up with the darn thing. Moreover, I did indeed use it as a kid, not just for school but also for my childhood nerd-ling endeavors such as making a "neighborhood newsletter" that I proudly distributed to all six houses on the country road I grew up on.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What Is Style?

Most simply, of course, "style" is a manner of doing something. As far as I'm concerned though, style has two distinct parts that are, I admit, somewhat incongruous.

The first part is perhaps the most obvious or general, and the easiest to apply in a broad variety of situations: I would argue that style most usually is not just a manner of doing something, but a distinct or individuating manner of doing something. This can be applied as a grouping method (eg, "he wrote in the style of beat poets") or singling ( eg "I recognized the style and immediately knew that my sister had written it"). While we're discussing style in reference to writing, this interpretation also applies to oh, just about everything else that's subjective: clothes, music, art, hair, couches, etc.

The second aspect I would argue is inherent to style is a sense of prescription or uniformity. Mostly, my initial reference here was the MLA style guide: though we all have our own unique "style" of writing, we all adhere to a set of rules. While we can easily see how "style" refers to individuating factors, I believe that it's just as important to acknowledge that "style" also references conforming guidelines. Inherent to "style" is a sense of both specificity and collectivity. this aspect, too, can be applied more generally, however, I imagine that it would be received on the whole with much more resistance than the first point.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3:02 pm

...and the assigned blog was born.