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 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.

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.

Reading Response 1: Elements of Literacy

What does literacy mean? According to Dictionary.com, (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/literate?s=t) literacy is the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write. Literacy and knowledge are gained through studying a particular subject or field. Unfortunately for some people, being illiterate can imply that they are worthless in society and unfit to be productive citizens in their communities. Some people are not given an equal opportunity at earning a proper education and learning how to read and write which can cause them to struggle their entire lives. I believe that literacy is acquired through education with a large amount of practice along the way. I also believe that achieving literacy is a constant process and there is always room to learn and grow.

During elementary, middle, and high school, my outlook on literacy has obviously changed over the years. I vividly remember being in the first grade and my goal, like many other six year olds, was to “be a big girl” and learn how to read and write. Once I got the hang of these skills, my next goal was to master and perfect them. As my literacy skills improved, I realized that I was not reaching the potential I was capable of. Especially now as a college freshman, I feel like my literacy skills could use a great deal of improvement. Schooled literacy has taught me to read and write in an average way, but I do believe I have not been able to accomplish the standards that are expected of me.

I believe that the reference in the article to Deborah Brandt and her analysis of 21st-century America, describes how literacy affects the way we see ourselves and others in an excellent way. She states that, “literacy is not ‘neutral,’ but rather carries the social value of our time.” This is so true and proves that people tend to find their value in their knowledge and literacy skills. She proceeds to state that “Good children get ahead in school and in life. Good parents read to children…” This portrays the “true” definition of literacy and that “its real value lies in its relationship to productivity and economic well-being.” (The Elements of Literacy).

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