Reading Response: Explaining Genre Theory

I have always been under the impression that the term genre is used to classify or categorize a specific group. These specific groups can include a genre of music,  literature genre, or an art genre, that correspond each other in style, form, and subject matter. However, as I was reading Dean’s text on explaining Genre Theory, I was exposed to the complexity and messiness that this word brings about. As I read the first paragraph, I immediately began to ask myself, “what is genre?” and “why is this word so hard to define?” These questions were answered only to a certain degree but I still feel like I do not completely understand what genre means, however, I do understand that there is not a distinct definition. The more I read through the text, the more I saw a connection between genre and discourse. Both of these terms generate historical change, because they are constantly evolving and depend on previous genres or events. Genre and discourse also prove that they belong to several different cultures simultaneously. But how is this possible? What characteristics, attributes, or qualities define a person as being apart of a certain genre community. I think part of the answer lies in the text on page 16, “People who share substantial amounts of time together in common endeavors.” Page 16 also said that, “Devitt also acknowledges that people also form groups with commonalities within cultures and between cultures.” People can relate and associate with each other within certain genres because they gather together around a single repeated interest. I also thought it was interesting when the text said, “genres define cultures as much as cultures define genres.” How do these two concepts coincide with each other? On page 18, this sentence really stood out to me, “Since genres are shaped by situation, they represent the values of participants in that situation.” How exactly are genres shaped by situation? It’s interesting that we also have the ability to shape our own discourses according to our situations. I also thought it was very interesting that, “Many areas of genre theory still need further research and exploration.” I would have assumed that genre is a well understood topic since it is so relevant to literature and language. This text definitely expanded my knowledge to the complex and mess that genre creates, and it also formulated a lot of questions about the term and how it takes on many different meanings. Like discourse, genre is not something that can be taught, simply because it is constantly changing and it is something that just becomes a part of us.


Reading Response: Shitty First Drafts

I thought this text was fantastic. It was so liberating because I’ve always been under the impression that even the “not so great” writers, can sit down and words immediately start to flow out onto the page. It is also a relief to me, because I always feel the need to write more than one draft, simply because I always second guess myself. Ann’s writing has helped me realize that it’s good to write more than one draft, and it is even common for the most phenomenal writer’s to do this. Whenever I’m writing, my mind is constantly questioning itself and making me feel like the way I’m writing will never be good enough. Ironically, I’m even doing this right now! It drives me nuts. However, I feel like the fear and anxiety of writing has definitely improved since college started. Before college, I could make myself panic at the thought of trying to write a decent paper or essay. Writing has become a lot more common for me now and I think this has helped ease my worry. I would have to say that I don’t have any consistent or particular writing rituals, but there are a few things I do before I write and even during. Before I write, I almost always scribble out an outline. Without an outline, I am overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin with my thoughts. I would also prefer to be sitting somewhere comfortable, and my favorite place to write is in the library. I feel like I can really think because it’s so quiet. Music also helps my writing. I tend to zone out and music makes me more productive. Other than that, I typically write two drafts, and if I’m really paranoid, I’ll write three. I feel like my writing rituals are effective for me, because they make me comfortable. If I am under any kind of pressure or stress, I probably need to find another time to write. I feel like I have a love, hate relationship with writing, but as of right now, I’m on pretty good terms with it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I wrote two papers last week and had other writing assignments that I successfully finished on time.

What does it mean to be technologically literate?

I believe that a person who is technologically literate is knowledgeable and well-educated in the areas of computers, cell phones, TV’s, social media, and any other form of communication or electronics. However, after researching other websites about the meaning of what it is to be “technologically literate,” I realized that the term has actually evolved and is continuing to due to the advances that our world has made through technology. To be technologically literate today has definitely changed compared to what it meant even in the 1990’s. Most of this is due to the fact that as technology rapidly advances, it becomes more and more complex, causes some people to adapt to it and learn it, and others to struggle to keep up. Think about it, DVD’s weren’t even around until 1997 and our cell phones and computers have continued to grow smaller over time. Apple has managed to take a huge desktop computer and create a laptop that is less than inch thick and only weighs about two and a half pounds. It’s pretty amazing how advanced we are today and it will be interesting to watch technology continue to evolve over time. I believe that a person who knows how to use technology in the 21st century has the ability to obviously access information, understand it, communicate through/with it, evaluate and formulate it, and most importantly, create it. Technology allows a person to solve problems and has given us unlimited opportunities that we could never achieve on our own. I also learned through the readings that there isn’t one specific definition of technological literacy, similar to the term literacy by itself. Both of them take on many different meanings and it honestly depends on how we interpret it. A person who is technologically literate in one country can be twice as advanced compared to another person who lives somewhere else in the world. With all of the cultures, societies, and eras across the globe, how literate a person is varies, making it difficult to find an absolute definition for it. I would consider myself technologically literate, simply because my generation is highly influenced by technology and the media in our society. It’s not really something I had to put too much effort into learning either, I’ve just conformed to it because it’s always been there. It’s interesting to see my parents generation adapt to the new ways of our culture and try to learn how to use the technology around us.

Reading Response Seven: Literacy, Discourse, & Power

Through reading this article, I feel like my understanding and connections of discourse and power has definitely expanded. Of course I’ve always known that there are different types of discourses to use at certain times, but I had never categorized these literacies and analyzed them from a perspective of power and authority. The reading talked about discourse in professional communities, academic communities, and the cost of being affiliated with these communities. As I read, I felt like my perspective changed about how I feel about being a student and spending most of my life in a classroom. Without even realizing it, I’ve discovered that there have always been certain expectations of me as a student, to speak a certain way, at a certain time, to write a certain way, so I can fit in with a certain group in order to follow the rules of the people who had the power and authority, my teachers. At this point in my life, my group is being a student. I feel like I don’t have very much power or authority over my writing right now and I generally have to write and relate my literacy to the standards of those above me. And more importantly, I have to meet the standards of the people who are giving me the grade. It was really easy for me to relate to the academic communities section because I am a student in college fighting to survive and transform my writing to fit the mold of my professor’s expectations. As I was reading, I began to think about the way I’ve adapted my writing and use of words to fit the context of my teachers. I also began to think about our discussions throughout the semester in this class and how I wouldn’t write a paper in my English class the same way I would write a Facebook message to my cousin in Connecticut. I certainly agree with the text in the sense that students are asked to modify their language to fit that of an academic classroom or discipline. This is something I have to do everyday along with the people who sit next to me in the classroom. We sacrifice a lot as students in order to accept the texts, roles, and contexts of academic discourse and I appreciated the fact that this article recognized that and was almost giving us a voice in that it understood our struggle over power and authority in our society over literacy and discourse.



Literacy Is Power

Notes on Reading Response 7

Reading Response 6: Language & Culture Stories

Reading Response 6:

I really enjoyed reading the Language and Culture stories and comparing them to How To Tame a Wild Tongue and our class discussion yesterday. As I was reading the two stories, there were several observations I made in comparison to How To Tame a Wild Tongue. For instance, in the Korenglish story, the writer says that their father feared that they would grow a heavy Asian accent that is usually carried by Asians who learn English as their second language. This was relevant to Gloria’s story in the sense that she felt Chicano’s are not given the same opportunities as people whose standard language is English. The writer also says that their father believed that what American’s view, as the ‘perfect’ accent would help their social skills as well as future employment in corporate America. We discussed this a little bit in class and talked about the struggle that immigrants face when trying to survive in our society. They are forced to adapt to and adopt our cultural norms. It also stood out to me in Korenglish that the grandmother spoke in an “unofficial language,” which was a combination of Korean and English. The writer said that it is like an exclusive code that only she and her grandmother could understand. This reminded me of How To Tame a Wild Tongue when Gloria said that certain people could only recognize certain variations of the Chicano language and dialect. In the second Language and Culture story, the writer helped reaffirm some of my own views and perspectives on different languages and cultures. They said that, “there are many cultural differences not only in conversations but also in how people behave.” This is proof that culture and behavior go hand in hand. The writer also continued in saying that when they came here from Japan, they realized that they had been generalizing American people according to what they saw when they first came here and their mind was closed to accept the differences. We talked about this in class, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. We described how people who speak English, especially Americans, define other people by where they come from and their cultures. I ashamedly admit that I am guilty of this myself. I struggle with embracing other peoples languages and cultures, simply because all I have ever known is my language and my culture. I wish that I had taken the opportunity more seriously when I was learning Spanish in middle school and high school. I think it’s really important that we see people as themselves and as individuals, and just like the writer said, “we never know what kind of person someone is until we talk to them.” This is a defining truth that we can take from these two stories and How To Tame a Wild Tongue.

Reading Response 6 with Notes

Reading Response 5: How To Tame a Wild Tongue

As I read, How to Tame a Wild Tongue, I was very inspired and interested in learning more about the Chicano culture, language, and discourse. Gloria Anzaldua’s words were so powerful and it was evident that she was passionate about her language and identity. I found it extremely fascinating that Chicano Spanish is as diverse linguistically as it is regionally. Gloria explained that if you want to really hurt her, talk badly about her language. As I came to this point in the text, I began to realize that we are our language. I also began to examine myself and noticed that I can be rather defensive when it comes to my own home language. It makes me who I am today and it’s upsetting that some people would try to diminish that part of me. Before reading this, I had not put much thought into the concept that our language determines our identity, and that language and identity go hand in hand, but I’m grateful that this reality has now been brought to my attention. This was a defining moment when my perspective began to change as Gloria pointed out “to be close to another Chicana is like looking into the mirror.” We take our language for granted in America, mainly due to the fact that it is dominant in our society. English is a very powerful language and not only does it affect the culture of United States citizens, but it also influences the literacy, discourse, and culture of people who are not Americans. In addition to discourse and identity, Gloria explains, “Chicanos and other people suffer economically for not acculturating.” This is quite obvious in our country today. The struggle of identities and borders inside and outside of our country causes people to feel like “outsiders,” or people who don’t belong. There is a constant power struggle for people whose primary language is not English and it saddens me that they feel rejected because of that. It’s important to be considerate of other people’s language, culture, and discourse, simply because their language has every right to survive, just as much as ours does.

Notes for Reading Response 5

Reading Response 4: Literacy Is More Than Reading and Writing

As the semester has progressed, I believe that my perspective on a few things has changed, mostly due to class discussions and class interaction. One of our first class discussions was about the Elements of Literacy article we read. Up until this point, I automatically thought of reading and writing when I heard words like literacy, literate, and literature. However, this class has helped me have a better understanding of the term and that it actually has many different meanings. In class, we talked about how literacy is based on certain time periods and all grammar is a set of rules, recognized by a certain group of people. I also found it really interesting when we learned that we all have a “saving face,” or damage control, meaning that we want to keep a certain image of ourselves at certain times. We are constantly trying to construct how we want to be seen by others. I had never put too much thought into this, probably do to the fact that I do this subconsciously, like many other people. But my sociology professor has also put a lot of emphasis on the fact that our behavior changes due to social behaviors and people act differently when surrounded by different groups of people. It has been easy for me to grasp this concept because it is relevant in two of my classes. This helped better my understanding of discourses as well. We have discussed numerous times that it’s not only important how you say something, but who you are and what you are doing when you say it. With this in mind, I feel like my writing has already improved because of this class and I am beginning to acknowledge that whenever I write, speak, or act, who I am and what I am doing should be obvious to the reader or listener. I have even found myself thinking about literacy and discourses outside of my English class, which is super neat because we are learning about things that relate to the things around us. We are all multiple people at different times. It’s fascinating that we all create our own discourses by adapting to the ones around us and accepting them.  Our discourses are defined by literacy, technology, place, actions, writing, language, beliefs, and values, and we can choose to keep those components a part of us or choose others that will set us apart. I have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge of grammar, language, and literacy, and the things we have read and discussed have changed my personal definition of literacy. Literacy is much more than just reading and writing. Literacy impacts who we are and what we are doing.

Notes on Ch. 1&2: Last Words by George Carlin

Notes from Ch. 1 and 2, Last Words, George Carlin

First paragraph=very interesting and unexpected!

  • George Carlin is a comedian who has no filter, doesn’t really think before he speaks on stage
  • Explains how he was conceived in the second paragraph…Rockaway Beach, New York, 1936.
    • Rockaway Beach had been a favorite weekend retreat  for New York’s alcohol-crazed Irish youth in search of sex and sun.

“My father had trouble metabolizing alcohol. He drank, he got drunk, he hit people.” (Father is possibly an alcoholic)

-Mother claims that his father only hit her once..she didn’t consider it abuse because she had four brothers and her dad was a policeman.

“My mother really loved him. The two of them were crazy about one another.”

-George was made from something good and positive, but believes he was born at an inconvenient time in both of his parent’s lives.

  • He begins to explain on the fourth and fifth page that his mother was going to have an abortion when she discovered she was pregnant. She made an appt. and was laying on the procedure table when all of a sudden, she had a vision.
    • Mary (George’s mother) claimed that she saw the face of her deceased mother, in a painting on the waiting-room wall, which she believed was a sign of disapproval.
    • Proceeded to jump up from the table and leave the abortionist’s office and told her husband, “Pat-I’m going to have this baby.”
  • George admits that his father’s drinking contributed to the chaos of the family but his mother’s selfish attitude made things extremely difficult as well—she’d find out how to press your buttons, was spoiled, self-centered, strong-willed, and demanding.
  • Was born on May 12th, 1937
  • The day he was born was auspicious (characterized by success, favorable)
  • Mary, “They would feed you and you would shoot formula clear across the room. You couldn’t keep anything down.” — George, “This remarkable inability to hold anything back and to spew it clear across a public space had served me well my whole life.”
    • Huge metaphor and foreshadowing of who George is, how he speaks, and his job as a comedian.
  • His older brother, Patrick, considered their first home as “opulent,” meaning luxurious, grand, or classy.
  • George’s mother, despite having all of the materialistic things she desired, was still lonely and told Pat the Elder one night, “what good is it having all this nice stuff if we can’t have meals together, blah blah blah.”
    • Mary decided to leave for good after that. She took the boys with her and went to stay at her father’s house, Dennis Bearey, the gentle ex-policeman.
      • They stayed for two months, George was almost sixty days old but his life on the road had already begun.

-Dennis passes away…

-Before he died, when George was just a few weeks old, he would look at his tiny hand and say, “Future district attorney.”

-Mary was the first of Dennis’ six children and the physical strength she ultimately developed was matched by mental toughness.

1. She was small, vivacious, made friends easily, played piano, was a great dancer, laughed loudly…

2. You didn’t want her for an enemy

  1. She took no crap from the world–clerk, waiter, bus passenger, whatever.

-This all served her well in the business world-in 40+ years of work she only had five bosses.

While her friends soaked up the gin, she soaked up culture. She read widely in the classics with a special fondness for-of course-tragic heroines like Hedda Gabler, Anna Karenina, and Madame Bovary. 

Mary almost single-handedly kept the Broadway theater afloat in the twenties and had as well developed a taste for the thin rot of American pop culture as the lowbrows she tried to distance herself from.

-Her pursuit of high culture was also part of a pattern of social ambition-and certainly of her plans for George.

  • George, “I think my early aversion to reading can be traced to the importance she placed on it and to her use of literary references in the middle of an argument.”
  • Mary would say, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is the ungrateful child!” or “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”
  • “From an early age, I was unimpressed, which was part of a larger pattern in our relationship. She insisted, I resisted. But one message did fall on fertile ground – she passed on to me the love of language, an immense respect for words and their power. 
  • George’s primary discourse: “It made me proud of him and gave me reason to believe that my own very similar sense of what’s important had come directly from him. It’s a connection, a profound one. I don’t have many.”
    • “As conclusive evidence, it’s scanty, but suggests to me that my father saw through the b.s that is the glue of America. That makes me proud. If he transmitted it to me genetically, it was the greatest gift he could have given.”

-Telegram from his father, “Thank God and you for the sunbeam you brought forth, who I pray will outlive all the ill-founded gossip.”

-His father called him a sunbeam.

Ch. 1 summary: “And he got his wish, though there are very few people alive to whom it matters. Not only did I outlive the gossip-by which I’m sure he meant my mother’s quite public and vocal negative opinion of him-but I lived to write this book which will serve as testimony to my old man’s great heart and soul…

A sunbeam. Imagine that!”

Chapter 2:  Holy Mary, Mother of George

  • His mother’s strategy for advancing her life-agenda and realizing her material dreams demanded careful control of the development of her children.
  • Not moral guidance or practical life-advice, but a code that would make her look good and feel comfortable.
    • “Everything you do is a reflection of me.”
  1. She was obsessed with appearances and dependent on the approval of the outside world, in particular that segment of society for whom she worked and that met her approval, the ruling class.
  2. Her vocab. was full of tripe like, “A manis judged by his wife,” and “When you speak, you judge yourself.”
  3. Judgement, judgement, judgement. Judgement of others. Judgement by others.

-George explains that his mother was never a prude…

-Started watching his comedy shows but was a bit ashamed and embarrassed from the two things she held most dear: religion and commerce.

-However, she was a star’s mother.

  • “When I threw my mother out of my life figuratively as a teen, I threw out the good with the bad.”
    • To make a clean break you eliminate everything, but I still find her ambitions hidden in mine-and they’re not necessarily bad.
  • George was forced to live through his mother’s discourses and reach her standards:

1. I still have this longing to be Mary’s model boy.

  1. She is hidden in every cranny of my workroom, requiring me to do things.
  2. What I have to do constantly is take Mary out of things and leave only myself in them. Then decided if I want to do them.

The Old Man & The Sunbeam

I really enjoyed reading Chapters 1 & 2 of Carlin’s, Last Words, memoir. I thought that the first paragraph was quite interesting and very unexpected. As I continued to read though, I realized that even though his choice of words are not ones that I would particularly use, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. When I learned that he was a comedian, I had a much better understanding of why he spoke the way he did. In comedy, his grammar and language are obviously acceptable. I really enjoyed how outspoken and honest he was in the first two chapters. I also enjoyed learning about his mother, Mary. I was so intrigued by her lifestyle and how she soaked up the culture around her during the twenties. When George says, “I think my early aversion to reading can be traced to the importance she placed on it and to her use of literary references in the middle of an argument,” it is evident that his mother’s language and discourse heavily influenced his own. I love how he describes that she passed on to him “the love of language, an immense respect for words and their power.” While his mother’s discourse left such an impact on his life, he goes on to explain his father’s influence as well. As he is describing Patrick Carlin Sr.’s language and beliefs, he says that if his father passed it on genetically, it was the greatest gift he could have given. It is obvious that George’s primary discourse and use of language was heavily influenced by both of his parents. In chapter three titled, “Holy Mary Mother of George,” I was under the impression that George may have been almost forced to live through his mother’s own discourses in order to reach her standards. She was a very strong-willed woman as I learned through the reading who was determined to impress those around her and was very concerned about her appearance. Mary always seemed to focus on judgement…judgement of yourself and judgement of others. George proceeds to say that his mother is “hidden in every cranny of his workroom, requiring him to do things,” and he constantly has to take her out so that he can focus on himself and decide on what he truly wants and desires. This proves that as we grow up, our parents impact our language and discourses in a mighty way, but as George said, “he had to figuratively throw his mother out of his life as a teen, the good and the bad,” in order to find who we truly are and not let the standards of others define our own lives.

A Whole New World (of Literature)

As I was reading James Paul Gee’s chapter on Social Linguistics and Literacies, my eyes were open to a whole new world of literature. For starters, I have never heard of the field called, “the New Literacy Studies.”  I guess it is called “new” because it is a new field of study that has emerged. My perspective on what language is also began to transform and I dug deeper into the text. Gee explains that “language” can be a misleading term: and we are often under the impression that it means grammar and specific “rules” we must follow in order to keep the structure of a language. This really altered my opinion because I have always believed that in communication, it is essential to speak grammatically correct. In the article, he emphasizes that saying the “right” thing at the “right” time and in the “right” place is what truly matters. I was truly amazed at the example he used, when he compared the two different women in their job interviews. I can’t believe that that even though the second woman was considered the “success case,” she did not completely ace the interview herself. Her grammar was generally correct and she was using it in the right way, however, Gee says, “she was expressing the wrong values.” As he further explains his reasoning behind believing so, he points out that she contradicts herself several times throughout the interview. That was something that I did not even pay attention to as she was answering the questions because I was so intrigued by her eloquence and correct use of grammar. I realized first hand that language is not necessarily as important as the combinations of “saying-doing-being-valuing-and-believing” all together.