Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

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Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Use this thread for discussion among your Committee.  After this first week, there will be more serious discussions but, this first week, to get started, introduce yourself and try to get to know one another. Over the next sixteen weeks, you're going to be reading and discussing one another's work.  This will be easier if you know something about the folks who will be reading and commenting on what you have to say.  

Begin by letting your committee members know something about yourself in terms of what your plans are for when you finish up the course or finish up at Reynolds.  Where are you in your program of study?  

Are you looking forward to the course?  Why, or why not?

It's OK if you aren't.  Too many students have flashbacks to horrible literature classes where they'd read something great, got into discussing it, only to find out that no matter what they thought the lit was about, it turned out that the important meaning was hiding somewhere in the teacher's head.  This class won't be an exercise into getting at what I think the lit means.  

This also won't be one of those lit classes where any interpretation is as good as another.  Authors write because they want to accomplish something and, usually, because they want to be understood. Most of this course will be about your learning how to put yourself in the author's place and ask, "If I wrote what I just read, what would I be trying to do and how would I want to be understood."  

Just as in everyday life, understanding others is a complicated process.  However, it's how we learn about others and one means we learn about ourselves.  Because it's complicated, understanding others (and ourselves) is often a process we get wrong.  If we didn't ever get an interpretation wrong, there would never be any misunderstandings and we'd never make decision that later turned out to be wrong on a "gut" level.  Worse, understanding others often involves us taking the risk of others getting to know us and taking a long look at ourselves.  We have to really understand ourselves well if we're going to understand why we'd do or say something we didn't do or say.  We have to risk sounding silly or getting an interpretation wrong, that is, if we're going to discuss our interpretations with others and learn from their interpretations. Take it from a teacher who does it every day, taking the chance of sounding silly in front of a group of relative strangers can be scary, but it's one of the risks involved with a greater joy.  It's sort of like asking someone out the first time.  Yes, you might get shot down.  Yes, you might sound silly, but the risk is sooo worth the joy.    

The bottom line?  One of the main reasons we study lit is to practice understanding what others mean in a low stakes environment.  Let's face it: if you get Poe or Emerson wrong, chances are there aren't going to be huge consequences.  It's not like misunderstanding your boss or significant other and getting fired or getting dumped. We read lit to practice how to get higher stakes, critical readings right, and we study lit to learn how to share our interpretations with others and--in the process--learn to take the risks involved.

Very few of us are really, really good at reading and understanding ourselves and others.  I do it for a living.  I've been getting paid to interpret for a couple of decades.  I've got a doctorate in reading and understanding literature, myself, and others.  All this means is I can successfully get into someone else's head with more success than not.  No one gets it right every time, and the world wouldn't be much fun if people didn't do or say things which just don't seem to make sense, that is, until you get to studying and get to know them.  The bottom line is that you're a sophomore in college.  By definition, you're just getting started and learning the tricks involved in learning to know yourself and others.  Worse...many of you have had horrible experiences, some of them in literature classes, which turned you off to the joys of really getting to know others.  The upshot?  Many come into our course expecting not to like it.  You'll have to take my word for it, but the folks who stick it out--most do and earn a high grade--end up enjoying literature more, and most report really enjoying the class.

So, quit reading me and introduce yourself.

Steve
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Amy Wildonger
My name is Amy Wildonger.  I am from Orlando, Florida and have lived in Richmond for two years now.  I came here because of a job transfer.  I am on an Allied Health track here at JSRCC.  Once I get all of my pre-req's done I plan to apply to Nursing programs here in Richmond and in Florida.  I work full time, go to school full time, and have no children.  I enjoy reading and writing so I am trying to enter this class with an open mind cause the "thee, thou, and thy" part of Literature is exhausting to me and that is all I can think of when I think about this class.  Thank goodness I am open minded!!! :)
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
I can do little about the "thee, thou, and thy" part of the literature.  The good thing is that these forms of address were weeded out of most of the American dialects of English by the 1800s, and I've designed the class to move backward through time, so we'll be starting with the Romantics (1820-1870), which came after the "thee, thou, and thy" bit.  So, the first kind of literature we read won't seem too foreign.  

Part of what you'll be learning is how to read the older styles of lit.  By learning to read, I mean literally learning how folks read the older lit, and--in the process--you'll learn to slow down, read slowly, read less at a sitting, and discuss what you read.  Read my explanation about mass communication to Terrence for an explanation of why most folks read differently after 1830 than before.  The short version is that printed material got cheaper after the 1830s.  There was more of it around, and folks began reading more like we do today after the 1830s.

Finally, you'll find I don't expect you to enjoy everything we read or even act like you do.  Like learning how to enjoy good wine or beer, part of what we'll be learning is how to enjoy the good stuff in the older lit.  However, just like some wine will never be to one person's taste, while someone else will love it the first time they drink it, you'll like some of the lit and hate some of it.  It's a matter of taste, and all I expect is that you taste, try, and--as you said in your introduction--keep an open mind.  Sometimes it takes multiple tastes or the right presentation for you to learn to enjoy something you've disliked for a long time.

In any event, I am here to help; so, write with questions and comments.

Steve


Stephen Brandon, PhD
Associate Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)


On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM, Amy Wildonger [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
My name is Amy Wildonger.  I am from Orlando, Florida and have lived in Richmond for two years now.  I came here because of a job transfer.  I am on an Allied Health track here at JSRCC.  Once I get all of my pre-req's done I plan to apply to Nursing programs here in Richmond and in Florida.  I work full time, go to school full time, and have no children.  I enjoy reading and writing so I am trying to enter this class with an open mind cause the "thee, thou, and thy" part of Literature is exhausting to me and that is all I can think of when I think about this class.  Thank goodness I am open minded!!! :)



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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Derek Spinner
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
wassup everyone my name is Derek Spinner this is my third semester at reynolds i plan to transfer to vcu to major in computer science. I work part-time but it feels like a full time job.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Keith Vertrees
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello everyone!

After being laid off when Circuit City went under, I realized it was time to further my education. So here I am! I've been in Richmond since transferring to the Circuit City corporate office back in 2007 and I've fell in love with the area. My expertise is in finances and I'm working toward by BS in Business, and ultimately my MBA.

One of the interesting consequences of learning about our history through modern accounts is that opinions and perspectives that are formed are using the knowledge and sentiment of our modern time. I'm looking forward to understanding more how the events of the past translated into the themes and topics used by authors during the period.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

simmons2766
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hi every body!

My name is Roland I am in my first semester at ODU Richmond.  I currently live in Richmond and I work for the Department of Vetrans Affairs.  I look forward to getting to know the students in this class and share ideas and learn from each other good luck.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Jeff R
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hi, everyone, my name is Jeff.  I'm taking courses liberal arts courses at Reynolds this semester and hope to transfer to U of R next year.  I'm taking seventeen hours this semester, working as much as I can, and planning my wedding which is at the end of May.  I spent six years in the Marines, and after the initial adjustment of college life, I have really enjoyed my classes.  I'm looking forward to this class and have already enjoyed the first reading.  Good luck, everyone.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Rich Sena
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello everyone:

My name is Rich I'm 28 and Enrolled in the chemestry/physics program at school. I supose that I would be considered a sophomore (although that the end seems forever away) with intentions to transfer to either VCU or UVA, and finally culminating in a masters at Cornell(hopefully). I moved down here about four years ago from the Manhatten area to persue a fresh crack at a degree, after a failed attempt at a degree in hospitality... and a girl..you don't think that school was the only motivation did you? The education stuck, the girl... not so much. Altough Richmond is slightly different from where I grew up it really has grown on me.

As far as employment, I'm currently woorking at Can Can Brasserie, in Carytown, have been for aver a year now, before that I bartended downtown at a few nightclubs. Ive worked about every position there is in a restaurant for about fifteen years, and bartended up the east coast for a better part of ten of those. That kind of work history paired with a new found "shine" towards the physical sciences has lead me to choose persuing a degree in gastromic(food) chemestry, and flavor sciences(its a lot cooler than it sounds).

I truly enjoy rhetoric along with the written and spoken word, and I consider myself a fan of both. I don't have any horror stories to speak of, at least not in regards to my literary classes. In fact I suppose I had great teachers, very progressive and forwars thinking, none that imposed their view of what they thought was being said or not said.

When Im not working or learning I like cigars, wine, beer, licquor, and fast cars. Unfortunately I usually cant afford to have all in my posession at once, but Im working on it.

I look forward to the upcoming semester and am delighted to meet all of you.

regards

Rich
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Preston Tran
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello everyone,
This is my second semester of my second year at J. Sarge. I am pursuing a degree in Business Management, but I first need to get my associates in business administration, thus why I am taking this class. However I am very much looking forward to completing this class, because I am a big fan you literature and the english language in general. For many years I wanted to become a journalist for Sports Illustrated, but as time has gone on I have noticed my talent in managing and love for business. I  love writing however so I know i will like this class.

I look forward to getting know all of you.

-Preston Tran
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

devon calloway
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Hello everyone my name is Devon Calloway i was born in tampa florida this is my second year at J.sarge. I am pursing a degree in business administration. I am the oldest boy in a house with three little sisters and my mom.That means i never win anything. I look forward to graduating because i plan to start my own business in a few years. So far school has been very exciting i enjoy learning and hope this class offers me an oppurtunity to expand my knowledge of literature.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Dr. Brandon
Administrator
Devon,

What kind of business are you planning to start?

When we get to him, make sure to pay special attention to Ben Franklin and his autobiography.  In it, he covers a lot of ground, but he talks a lot about starting up in business and learning the printing trade.  It's one of the first rags to riches stories.  In fact, I think Franklin is the prototype for the genre, knew it, and told his story as a kind of explanation of how one can find and grasp opportunity as an American. In short, he was explaining how working hard and building one's self and one's business can help others and create more wealth and opportunity for all.  You can do worse for a role model.

Cool stuff for a guy born in 1706. 

Steve

Stephen Brandon, PhD
Professor, Composition and Rhetoric
J. Sargent Reynolds Community College
Richmond, VA 23221
[hidden email]
[hidden email]

Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what
it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners
or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is.
-Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)



On Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 8:40 PM, devon calloway [via General Assembly Online Discussion Forum, ENG 241, Spring 2011] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello everyone my name is Devon Calloway i was born in tampa florida this is my second year at J.sarge. I am pursing a degree in business administration. I am the oldest boy in a house with three little sisters and my mom.That means i never win anything. I look forward to graduating because i plan to start my own business in a few years. So far school has been very exciting i enjoy learning and hope this class offers me an oppurtunity to expand my knowledge of literature.


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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Keith Vertrees
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
All,

Thanks for all your American essays. I enjoyed reading them all!
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Keith Vertrees
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
Is anyone else going to post essays to your blogs for Week 6? Only saw three posted so far and would like to read a few more before commenting.
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Re: Committee Cafe: Pennsylvania Committee of Correspondence

Keith Vertrees
In reply to this post by Dr. Brandon
All, I'd welcome any commentary or critique on my essay on societal issues and a potential solution. It may be found here.

My solution post may be found here.

Also, Wired just published a story on the very same topic I covered, I'd encourage you to read it if the topic interests you.