Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homework #1

     Is literacy being able to read and write, or in today's world is it something more?  From chapter 1 in Everything's a Text, we see that it is much more.  Today, we live in a technological society in which literacy is also defined as many types of communications, or "multimodal" (pg.3 ch.1).    Being literate also means taking into account the type of audience to whom we are addressing.  In the three different exerpts from speeches by Malcom X (pg.11-12, ch.1), I am amazed at the totally different ways in which he speaks to the different audiences.  In the first excerpt, he is speaking to a Detroit Civil Rights group, and as he begins, "Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms..." (Malcom X, pg.11).  This is a direct address to the people he is identifying with in a down-to-earth, informal way, and this is completely different than the following exerpt to the Harvard Law School, where he refers to Shakespeare, and uses a formal, structured way of speaking. The third excerpt from his speech to the Nation of Islam is still yet differing in how he speaks with a spiritual fervor. He asks rhetorical questions, such as "Who will make White America know what God wants?" (Malcom X, pg.12) In each of these speeches, he uses different language to identify with each of the groups
     In chapter 1 of the Pearson Reader, open and closed form is shown by example of two pieces, the first being "A Letter to the Editor" by David Rockwood in which he explains in close form thesis prose how wind power is "based on fantasay rather than fact" (Rockwood, pg.2).  In a way, this piece is so closed form in the author telling me exactly what to think, that I feel it was even more thought provoking than if it had posed both sides of this topic in a more open form.  I whole-heartedly disagree with his whole thesis of "wind power is unreliable", and I have first hand experience to say otherwise. His letter seemed not just written in closed form, but also seemed close-minded.   
     In the other piece, "A Festival of Rain" by Thomas Merton, also caught my attention, but in the opposite way.  Merton uses an open form narrative and personifies rain, saying "It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.  As long as it talks I am going to listen"  (Merton, pg.3). I agree with this way of thinking about nature, and I enjoyed where he took his readers in this story-like essay. Although it is loosely structured, we still understand the general thesis of  his belief certain parts of life being meaningful whether or not they are marketable.

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