I was highly looking forward to taking this class my first semester back at Longwood after a semester away. I’ve taken a class with Dr. Guler before and it was my favorite, and seeing that this class was about pop culture, something I really enjoy, it made me excited to be back in the classroom. I enjoyed the structure we used in the classroom – it helped me understand the course’s curriculum, such as the rhetorical methods we used and how to use them. Professional writing and rhetoric have become a passion for me since coming to college, and I learned how to use different methods in order to achieve a better understanding as a rhetor. There have been so many obstacles brought on this semester and without a doubt, I can say that this class is the only class I had that kept any sort of structure.
Rhetoric is one of those ideas that has been shaped and reconstructed in so many different ways throughout history. There is the classical definition of Aristotle that defines rhetoric as the “faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion”, to the many different contemporary definitions we have today. In this class, we’ve gone over rhetorical theories such as Symbolic Convergence theory that focuses on the audience, as well as neo-Marxist theory which focuses on materialism and hegemony. The wonderful thing that I love so much about rhetoric is that it is an ever-changing idea that fits so many concepts. It allows people to think in so many different ways, for so many different outcomes.
Throughout my time as a Professional Writing and Rhetoric student, I have seen a lot more depth in understanding the relationship between nature and the power of rhetoric and persuasion. The theory that has helped me grow that understanding the most is the neo-Marxist perspective. Since this perspective centers around what society deems plausible, okay, or just, it has taught me to see more of the implications of a hegemonic society. When doing my Critical Essay #2 on the movie Carol, I was able to see just how strong the relationship between nature and rhetoric is. In this sense, “nature” is society – it is the thing that dictates all feelings and beliefs. I have been able to see how media influences society and how it can change it for either worse or for better. Rhetoric is meant to make us question these changes and the hierarchy in which they come from; it is meant to make us ask questions in order to better understand, and it is meant to help us give criticism where critique is needed. In this course, I have been able to challenge society and hegemony through my writing and my beliefs, and share those thoughts with my peers. The amazing thing about rhetoric is that I have been able to use it as a means to educate myself in many layers – instead of just understanding what a potential implication means to me, I am able to think about the many potential implications and what they mean to anyone. Being able to discuss ideas such as feminism and having other students engage in those conversations with me has been rewarding, to say the least. I have felt comfortable being myself and not hiding any aspects of myself in the classroom (online or not). That’s why rhetoric is so universal.
I think I have done an exceptional job of using the methods we’ve discussed this semester and analyzing them on my own front. There were some that were definitely more challenging than the others, such as the Symbolic Convergence Theory, but others really helped me shape my understanding of society. The way that this class has been so amazing at feedback has helped all of us become better at being analysts. This class may have been an elective to some, but there is no doubt that with the way this class got things done this semester, we have all become so much better at being rhetors – one thing I remember from Dr. Lettner-Rust in a previous class is a time where she said anyone can be a rhetor. This class is a true testament to that. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to take this class with. I’ve seen so much growth in myself as a writer because of their honest, selfless, and thoughtful feedback through peer reviews and class discussions. We have been a class that cherishes the provoking of though (looking at you, Glenn).
Since this is my passion and something I see myself doing as a journalist, I know I will be able to use the lessons I learned in this class to provide a better sense of understanding in the journalism field. Comm studies may be a direct link to journalism, but I truly believe that professional writing and rhetoric has helped me have a much deeper understanding of words their meaning when I am in my career. I will be able to report on things occurring in a hegemonic society as someone who doesn’t adhere to those ideologies herself, and I will be able to use these things as a means to change the course of history, as small or large as my impact may be.