The Blogathon!


I had an excellent experience during the “Blogathon” at Bill Mangrum’s house with  the other COMP 250 Scholars. I decided to spend my time exploring my research project options. At first I was thinking that I may want to focus my research project on Forensic Anthropology and how it is affected by language. But, after thinking about ways to link BOTH of my majors (Anthropology and Music) to language, I had an epiphany!

Here is my general project plan: I am going to compose a song with lyrics (because language must be involved!) and then I will link the song concept to anthropology in some way. I will also document the composition project with photographs and link that process to language and anthropology as well. The song, the photos, the lyrics, and the explanation/analysis of the project will all be posted on my blog.

I am excited about this project because I have found a way to incorporate both ofsongwriting-1 my majors! I am quite interested in anthropology and I have an undying passion for songwriting and everything involving music. I am looking forward to this project.


Something About FLC That Never Occurred to Me


I never realized that, within Fort Lewis College, there are four different audiences that will view my blog. I also didn’t realize that all four of these audiences have different values that will determine how they see my work. It’s very difficult (if not downright impossible) to fully satisfy all four of my audiences because their values conflict with one another.



So, I’m going to give you a general idea of each audience and my understanding of its values:

1)  Audience: Administration. Values: The quantification of learning (assessing learning by numbers).

2) Audience: Community of Scholars (my peers). Values: Friends, family, outdoor activities, romantic relationships, jobs, music, movies, college degree, class assignments, pets, and sleep.

3) Audience: Program Area (the writing program as well as the program for each student’s major). Values: Writing Program: Engagement in learning (accomplishing something), making knowledge, the ability to develop an argument using claims, evidence, rebuttals, etc. Major area: The ability to make a connection between your major and writing.

4) Audience: The Professor (Bill Mangrum). Values: Initiative, personal responsibility for learning, self assessment.

Now that I have established each audience and its values, here are some of the conflicts between audiences that scholars in COMP 250/SEC 4 noticed.

Fran Reichert noticed a possible conflict between the administration’s valuing numbers while the program area values actual engagement.

Mike Palmieri said that there is likely a conflict between the professor’s expectation for us to take initiative, while we also value non-academic activities and don;t always get around to taking the initiative to learn.

Caitlin Gaffney complexified the matter by saying that there could also be internal conflict within the scholar (student) about whether they should do homework or something else. Caitlin also pointed out that each audience holds certain priorities over others. That causes conflict for everyone involved.

Kendra Wittwer noted that the professor’s value of self assessment may not agree with the administration’s desire to see grades as numbers on a weekly basis.

Dylan Malewska added that the values of professor, the scholars, and the program area pretty much go against the administration.

Jordan Benton further elaborated on Caitlin’s point that the students’ values conflict with each other, not just internally, but also by each individual student. For example, some students are naturally more inclined to write a paper while other students are more inclined to party down with their friends.

Kennedy Clark mentioned that there was also a level of institutional conflict due to the switch from a 4-credit to a 3-credit system.

After we conversed as a class about conflicting values, Bill posed this question: “A professor in the writing program must post weekly scores on Canvas so students have ready access to feedback, and so students can see their standing in do I provide quantifiable data and give students the freedom to learn?

Though we all struggled to think of an answer for the question, I think Denyce White had the most reasonable answer. She proposed two ways that it could be done.

1) Use the data on each student’s Log Page to evaluate their weekly performance.

2) Each student could do a weekly self-assessment within Canvas.

It looks like the relationship between the administration and the professors is a lot trickier than I thought it was.



Chapter 2 in Writer/Designer was all about analyzing multimodal projects, so I decided to find a multimodal text on the internet and analyze it the way Writer/Designer describes.

This is an advertisement from the Meth Project. They have a variety of advertisements directed at different audiences, but I found this one particularly interesting. Here is the basic information I gathered just by looking at this piece:

Rhetor: Writer/designers working for the Meth Project, as you can see in the lower left corner, and the lower right corner where they have their slogan: “METH. Not even once.”

Audience: Although many of the Meth Project’s ads are directed toward young people, this one is targeting parents. The statement in the advertisement would not appeal to people without children nearly as much as it would to those who have children, because it mentions someone’s daughter.

Purpose: Clearly, this ad is meant to make its audience fear and stay away from meth.  By saying, “Before meth I had a daughter. Now I have a prostitute.” the text implies that meth will make you hurt and betray your own children. No sane parent wants to hurt their own children, so the message serves to steer people away from the drug.  Though I don’t have children, I think this ad has a significant impact on most people who read it.

Context: this came from the internet, but there are probably physical posters in public spaces across the country as well.

Writer/Designer also mentioned the importance of emphasis, contrast, organization, alignment, and proximity in any given text. I directly quoted the book Writer/Designer in the five instances below.

Emphasis means stressing a word or a group of words to give it more importance.”

Contrast is the difference between elements, where the combination of those elements makes one element stand out from another.”

Organization is the way in which elements are arranged to form a coherent unit or functioning whole.”

Alignment literally means how things line up.”

Proximity means closeness in space.”


This chapter dealt with different genres of multimodal projects. While reading through this section of the book, I was drawn to the top of page 48 where it says:

“Pick a text, any text – it may be your favorite song, your office space, a restaurant, or your favorite movie. What mood does it put you in? What pattern does it have? How is it structured? Are the answers to these questions related? Consider other texts or artifacts of the same genre: do they make you feel the same way? Do they have similar patterns of structures?”

I planned to actually do this activity, but I spent too much of my time on task  reading/annotating the book and blogging the above text. But, this prompt did make me really think about music. Many popular songs follow a formal structure, or pattern. The structure often looks like this.

Of course, different songs will put you in different moods depending on the lyrics and musical composition.


Honestly, no matter how many freakin’ times I read this chapter, it just confused me and complicated my life. One thing that really bugged me was getting permission to use a text. YES, that is the proper, courteous thing to do. But there have been so many times that I don’t follow through with this because I really need to use something and it would take too long to get a response from the owner. In a nutshell, this chapter frustrated me.


Teamwork! Yeah! This chapter talked a lot about making a team project work out. Unfortunately, I have never been a fan of group projects and felt nervous even reading about them. but overall, I think this chapter was helpful in explaining how to effectively work in a group.

More on Sister Helen Prejean’s Presentation


Sister Helen Prejean seemed like a very interesting and caring lady. She made the point that people who have committed unspeakable acts are still human beings just like the rest of us. Although I really appreciated her generosity and kindness toward all sorts of people, I was not fully convinced at the end of the presentation that the death penalty should be eliminated.

Now, the death penalty is a very touchy subject. I definitely feel conflicted about it because most of my friends and family members stand against the death penalty. I also understand many of the complications that surround the death penalty, such as:

  • Innocent people facing the death penalty
  • The emotional effect on the guard in charge of killing the prisoner
  • The fact that the victim’s family is not healed because the prisoner is executed
  • The question of whether or not death means justice
  • The prisoner being in a defenseless state when they are executed
  • Every prisoner’s context is different
  • Rich people typically don’t face death row
  • Execution is expensive

While there are tons of flaws and complications surrounding the death penalty, and while it may not agree with many people’s morals and ethics, I agree with the death penalty to an extent; the concept, in theory, makes sense to me. However, I believe that the death penalty should only be applied in certain cases. I feel very strongly about sexual assault and abuse, and I definitely believe that child molesters and violent rapists should be executed.

Murder alone definitely falls into a grey area for me. I think that it really depends on the context and circumstances under which the prisoner killed. For instance, there is a huge difference between murdering someone because they are a different race, and murdering someone because they have taken the lives of your family.

The only execution method in Colorado is lethal injection, which is slightly more humane than other states. In Delaware, for example, they still result to hanging when lethal injection is not available. This may be another reason why the death penalty is such a touchy subject – the methods very between states.


Notes From Sister Helen Prejean’s Presentation


Sister Helen Prejean: Author of Dead Man Walking

-the book has a prequel about “spiritual waking up”

-“His killing was a legal act, because he had killed”

-All the spiritual leaders teach us that love is the way to the divine

-“Dead Man Walking is a special kind of love story. Not of romance, but still of love.”

-Death penalty is accepted the same way racial segregation was accepted. “Honey, this is just the way we gotta do things.

-Sister Helen learned the perspective of those without choices, who could not be heard.

-Sister Helen said that society’s opinion of people on death row is that they are like “disposable human waste.”

-“I looked in his eyes and realized: whatever he had done, he was a human being.”

-The government cannot take away human rights

-Pat and Eddie:both involved in the same murder, but Pat faced the death penalty while Eddie was imprisoned for life.

-Eddie got a reduced sentence for accusing Patrick.

-Everyone knows that the innocent should not face the death penalty. But here’s the REAL QUESTION: should those guilty of an atrocious crime be executed?

-As Sister Helen realized the evil of what Patrick had done, she felt guilty about being his spiritual advisor.

-She met the parents of the victims at the worst possible time: when everyone was showing up to sign the pardon board. Sister Helen was one of the three people who signed on behalf of Patrick

-Then, she ran right into the parents.

-David’s Dad said there was a lot of pressure for him to be in favor of execution

-“You’ve gotta be for the death penalty or you’re gonna look like you didn’t love David”

-David’s dad decided to “go down the road of forgiveness”

-Going down the road of forgiveness is the saving of your own life. You learn to live without hatred.

-How can we possibly get out of the pain?

-We feel such outrage when innocent people get killed.

-Murderers have been saved and healed in the hospital just so they can be executed

-We turn a blind eye to deaths of people who aren’t white

-Rich people don’t get executed

-Poor people are the ones who are executed

-There is a sign in the supreme court that says “Equal Justice Under Law”

-Apparently, that isn’t how things actually work.

-It’s hard to comprehend the transition between fully alive and fully dead. Most people are used to expecting the death – it has been progressing for a while

-Patrick told Sister Helen not to watch his death, but she did anyway

-Catholics are pro-life across the board

-The guards who execute prisoners are just doing their job

-Killing a person who has been rendered defenseless

-They put a mask over the face of the person being executed so the nobody sees what electrocution does to the human face

-Execution is EXPENSIVE

-There’s no way to speed up the process – people can be on death row for years

-What happens to the guy who executed the prisoner?

The Evolution of a Written Language


Taken from

I learned about how written languages can adapt over time after reading The Indomitable Language. This was a really neat comic strip about the evolution of the written Cherokee language as it morphed over the course of technology advancement. Apparently, some of the language was “lost” over this development, but has essentially been preserved. The Cherokee language now has standardized fonts and can be used on word processors, cell phones, and internet sites (especially social media).

I have realized that helping a language adapt to technology keeps it alive. Because the fonts are accessible to everyday tools like computers and phones, the language will be kept alive by people of all ages. Members of the Cherokee tribe do not have to use English as their method of communication across devices. That’s pretty cool.

Person vs. Human


Taken from

After reading Why Personhood is Powerful by Mark Peters, I realized that there is a significant difference between what it means to be human and what it means to be a person. While anthropology explores the meaning of humanity on biological, cultural, linguistic and archaeological terms, the meaning of personhood is defined by humans and is not related to biological anthropology. The meaning of personhood is something that humans have created, and this has taken place through culture and linguistics.

Peters states in the second sentence of this article that a person is a “battlefield.” In other words, humans viciously debate what sorts of things qualify as a person. Throughout history, the question of what makes up a person has been a heated topic. It used to be that American slaves were only counted as 3/5ths of a person. Now that we have fortunately come to a consensus that race does not play a role in whether or not someone is a considered a person, there are many more complications to address.

What, besides a living, breathing, human being, is a person? A corporation? A fertilized egg? An orca at Sea World? Peters mentions in his article that person is derived from the Latin root persona, meaning “a type of mask used by an actor.”

So really, the word person refers to the character/role of a human, and it could potentially apply to anything else, human or not, that seems capable of wearing a mask.


Alrighty Then….Class notes Followed by Fun Essay Time.

  • Pay attention to fundamentals to majorly improve writing
  • “intended” is not a good substitute for what actually happened
  • “I intended to hang on to the ball, and I was running very well.” Nobody cares.
  • Sweat the details. Form, conventions of disciplines.
  • Set of rules within a discipline to give it order (organize it)
  • Conventions that the community agrees on
  • Conventions don’t come from God
  • MLA is a social agreement. Size of Hockey field is also a social agreement.
  • What we have to do as scholars: quit fighting the rules of the game. Say you want to play the game.
  • Prove yourself competent with the conventions
  • You don’t HAVE to play the game. It’s your choice. You have agency.
  • But if you do choose to play, you have to master the conventions of the community before you question them.
  • As you move up, you are given authority. If you are a master, then you are afforded the privilege of questioning the conventions.
  • The disciplines advance by being challenged
  • Jordan: conventions of rules versus conventions of skill. Complexified Mangrum’s use of the term “convention.”
  • There are unspoken agreements that function as conventions. They have the force of the community, but not necessarily law.
  • Back abstractions up with particulars
  • Inner disciplinary – following rules
  • Matt: Following rules is a matter of life and death for an EMT
  • You’re in a professional environment.
  • Write and review all the time.
  • Adelyn: Are all conventions social?
  • Always understand the question  you’re asking
  • Kennedy: Different homeschooling families have different conventions
  • Even though there are “no rules for homeschooling,” the fact that you can opt out of traditional school is a social agreement.
  • In the field of writing, there are a lot of personal styles.
  • Style: nobody plays a character exactly the same (relating to Alicia’s experience in theater.)
  • Frightening to realize that lots of what we do is done because others think we should
  • How would one actually live without the knowledge and advances of others?
  • Questions should not be construed as resistance
  • Questions are appropriate to the discipline
  • Questions can also be age appropriate
  • What is the exigence (urgent need) that requires some sort of speech?
  • Critically aware of circumstance of setting you’re in
  • Austin: you can’t change it until you master it, but you can challenge it along the way.
  • Cory: “Lone Survivor”
  • Talk to oneself. We think by internalizing many voices. We think we’re thinking alone, but words from other people are creating a dialogue in your head.
  • These kinds of conversations improve writing
  • Scholars are listening, asking questions, and challenging
  • Where you make room for voices, your writing will improve.
  • Homework: Time tasks have been emphasized. For Wednesday, spend exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes doing this: Type up these note from today only and put them on your blog. With remaining time, look at notes an craft an essay.

ALLLRIGHTY THEN…I only have about 40 minutes to look over these notes and write an essay. Here we go!


Because I don’t really have the time to be creative, given the time limitations of the assignment (but I’m not complaining), I’m just going to get straight to the point. This essay covers the basic material we covered in COMP 250 Monday morning during our scholarly class discussion. We (the class) covered a wide spectrum of thoughts surrounding writing, but the most important points to me were the following: 1) Sweating the details. 2) Playing the game .3) Following rules.  4) Talking to oneself. I will cover and explain the significance of each point.

Sweating the Details

Details are extremely important in scholarly writing. Mangrum explained in class that a huge turning point from “bad” writing  to “good” can be demonstrated just by crafting the writing around small  social expectations. These expectations are set in place by the public, and can be different depending on the purpose and context of the writing. The writing must agree with the conventions that the community agrees on. Now, keep in mind that this community is a group of people. Conventions don’t come from God. Conventions are merely social agreements. For example, MLA formatting and the size of a hockey field are both social agreements. If you are sweating the details, you are proving yourself competent with the conventions. As scholars, we must prove ourselves competent and play the game rather than fighting the rules.

Playing the Game

You don’t HAVE to play the game. It’s your choice and you have agency. Not everybody has to be a scholar. But, if you do decide to play the game, you have to follow the rules of the game. Although it is tempting to question the rules because you may not agree with them, you cannot question these things until you have mastered them. Otherwise, no one will listen to you and you won’t be able to play at all. However, you are given authority as you move up. If you are a master, then you are afforded the privilege of questioning the conventions. In fact, the disciplines advance by being challenged.  As a scholar, you can absolutely change the way things work, as long as you are willing to play the game the whole way there.

Following Rules

Rules are not to be ignored in many cases because of their utter importance. To put this in perspective, imagine the consequences of failing to follow the rules if you have the job of an EMT. Following the rules may literally be a matter of life and death. In a professional environment, whether it be at a hospital or in college, comply to the rules and conventions. You have already said yes to the game.

Talking to Oneself

You think that your thoughts are your own. Really, we think by internalizing many voices. Mangrum, in reference to having different voices in his head, said on Monday, “The more, the merrier!” The inner dialogue in your head is not something to be ignored, but something to listen to. Where you make room for voices, your writing will improve.”

I found all four of the points very helpful, and I further understood concepts from last class just be writing about what I had heard. Hopefully these tips will help you too. Thank you for reading!

What I forgot to do before now


Image taken from

Upon reading the agenda for Friday’s blog work, I realized that I haven’t done something very important, which was to address the 5 aspects of multimodal discourse from Writer/Designer! Here they are!

1. Linguistic Mode (the use of words, either written or spoken)

2. Visual Mode (the use of aesthetics through color, images, perspective, etc.)

3. Aural Mode (the use of sound demonstrated through music, vocal tone, accent, volume, etc.)

4. Spatial Mode (the use of arrangement and organization in a text)

5. Gestural Mode (the use of gestures, expressions, body language, and interaction between people)



Multimodal Media All Over Campus



I ran around campus for 45 minutes on Wednesday with my friend and her camera, on a search for multimodal media. Though I wasn’t very satisfied with most of the pictures I took, I’ve selected a few that I found the most interesting.

Veg Society sign in Student Union

This is a sign for the vegetarian society in the Student Union on campus. Being a vegetarian myself, I really appreciate what these guys do and I like to go to their meetings every so often. Though the sign appears to be a fairly quick effort (it’s on a whiteboard, after all), it still communicates a lot to the audience.

The hook is certainly “FREE FOOD” which they cleverly placed at the top in large letters. Because their goal is to make people show up to Veg Society, they probably felt that mentioning free food was the best way to grab the attention of passersby. After all, everyone wants free food. Especially college students.

To add a cheery vibe to the sign, they wrote “All Welcome” and accompanied it with drawings of fruits and veggies. This likely made the sign more effective because it gave people a calm, happy impression about Veg Society.

All together, these elements form the argument:  You should come to Veg Society. We’re nice.

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Safe Zone sign in Theater Building

This is a sign outside of a faculty office in the Theater Building. It advertises that this faculty member is a “Safe Zone Member” who is available to talk to any student about “issues and concerns” regarding their sexual orientation. The typed text is displayed with a pink triangle and rainbow scribble, which likely symbolizes the various orientations as one. Over the rainbow scribble, there are the words “safe zone” which appear to be protecting the rainbow symbolizing LGBTTIQQ2AA. This text is basically saying Come in and talk to me. I accept you no matter what your sexual orientation is, and I want you to feel comfortable and safe.

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Vending machine in Theater Buliding

I felt that this vending machine in the Theater Building was appropriate to label as “multimodal.” I think that its three most prominent features are the Coca-Cola logo on an image of a red can, the water droplets on the can, and ice below the can. All three of these visual elements say more than the logo alone. Together, they make Coke look fresh, refreshing and cool. I think the argument here is Look, there’s a cool, refreshing, icy, tasty coke waiting for you in this vending machine! Come get it!

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Poetry night flyer in Jones Hall

This is a flyer in Jones advertising the poetry club. The point is to get people to come to poetry nights in Noble. The hook in this text is “Writer’s Block?” I found this to be a fairly catchy flyer because I (along with many others) often suffer from writer’s block in my own work. When I first saw this flyer, it appeared to be a quick fix to my problem. Additionally, it has a cute little Calvin and Hobbs comic indicating that the creator of the flyer has a friendly sense of humor. At the bottom, you can see little tabs at the bottom of the page. They say, “Thursdays Noble 160.” The argument in this piece is If you come to Poetry Night, you’ll be inspired to move past your writer’s block.

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Quiet hours sign in Mears Apartments

Here is a poster in Mears Apartments. I think the hook is supposed to be the cat in the image, which happens to be the internet meme called Grumpy Cat. This sign is displaying the designated “quiet hours” for the complex. The argument in this sign seems to be Be quiet during these times or your neighbors and RA will come out with Grumpy Cat expressions and scold you. Shhh.