- Imagine you could invite David Foster Wallace into the discussion in our classroom. What questions would you ask him about this essay?
- Was Consider the Lobster written with the specific goal of convincing people to stop eating lobsters? There are a couple moments where the wording suggests that there is almost an agenda behind the writing of this essay, trying to stop people from eating lobsters, mostly because of the way they are cooked and prepared. Mr. Wallace mentions several times in his essay that “readers of a culinary magazine do not want to hear about how they should stop eating certain things”, as Consider the Lobster was originally published. He takes a very clear stance that lobsters should not be eaten anymore, because of the “inhumane” conditions that they are subjected to, so I would ask him if CtL was just meant to inform people about how lobsters are killed for human consumption, or if it was a desperate plea for us to stop eating these creatures.
- Use that experience to think about larger issues, specifically, what are the limits of a written discussion? How might you anticipate your audience’s questions when you write?
- When someone writes something that is meant to be through provoking, readers can not always respond. In today’s day and age, online articles and essays sometimes have comments sections, or ways to contact the authors in the description of whatever they are reading, but even over email or internet comment, the inflection of what the person is asking cannot be interpreted. Personally, I was always taught to write essays and articles as if the person reading had absolutely no clue what I was talking about, stooping down to some of the most basic descriptions of what I am trying to get across when I am writing. Writing is hard when you don’t know that your audience knows exactly what you are talking about, so it is always best to describe what you are talking about so that anyone who may not be as well versed on your topic as you are can understand the points that you are trying to get across.
- In detail, describe your experiences drafting writing projects. And what about revision? What did that look like? What was your process? How did it work for you?
- Writing in the past, I would always start with an outline of what I wanted all my paragraphs to be about and then jump right into the writing. After I finished a draft, I would have a teacher or classmate read it over and suggest any changed to grammar, transitions and overall flow of the paper. I didn’t do much revision other than proofreading on my own and really need to work on my revision skills at a global and local level. My writing and revision process worked well for me in high school, I got good grades on all the papers I handed in, and then I got to college and began doing poorly in my English class, which I thought would be my easiest class. I realized that my writing process needed work and I would not make it in a college class if I did not step up and work harder on revision, unlike in high school. I’m paying closer attention now to my work and trying to make it the best that I can.
The Art of Quoting Response
One of the most important parts of this section I believe is when the author touched on the topic of explaining a quote to the reader. When you’re writing, one of the biggest problems is the reader not understanding what you’re trying to get at with your essay. I personally always write essays as if the person reading has no prior knowledge of what I am writing about, so I can be sure that whoever is reading my work knows exactly what I am talking about by the end of my essay. That is one of the biggest problems about writing, the readers cannot ask questions.
The End of Food Response
- Page 3, Paragraph 2
- I think this passage is interesting because of the thought that it provokes, not the actual information it provides. Widdicombe states “Soylent isn’t coming for our Sunday potlucks. It’s coming for our frozen quesadillas.” If you really think about this though, it’s not just coming for our frozen, low nutritional value foods, it’s coming for people’s jobs. People who grow food and people who make food such as frozen dinners would be out of jobs and income if, hypothetically, everyone were to adopt a Soylent diet. This is a deeper analysis than Widdicombe made in her article, but it is an important repercussion of Soylent that needs to be considered.
- Page 5, Paragraph 4
- This passage would be helpful for the paper we are writing because it touches on one of the ways that Soylent could be beneficial. One way that people don’t really think about climate change is with food. Widdicombe quotes Tim Gore, head of food policy and climate change at Oxfam, a large nonprofit group, in this passage. Gore once said, “The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food…”. This is an important thing to consider, especially if Soylent works as well as its creator says it does. Though it is expensive to get even a week’s supply right now, if it was made more accessible, then the people whose food will be affected the most (the poor and lower middle class) would have an option on how to get the nutrients they need if climate change effects the food supply to an extent where it is harder to come by than it already is.
- Page 9, Paragraph 2
- This passage is important and could be very helpful for the paper we are writing because it touches on the things people would be missing out on if they subsist only on Soylent. Though it is doable, according to doctors, people would be missing out on important things that aren’t necessarily required to survive. It mentions lycopene, the thing that makes tomatoes red that has been connected to lower prostate cancer rates. Widdicombe also mentions that flavonoid compounds, that make blueberries blue, and have been linked to lower rates of diabetes in people who eat blueberries. Walter Willet, chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health, stated to Widdicombe: “It’s a little bit presumptuous to think that we actually know everything that goes into an optimally healthy diet.” This is an important observation because new things about our bodies are being discovered and tested all the time, so in a few years, we might start drinking more Soylent and realize we missed a key factor in a healthy diet that we did not know existed before.
Entering the Conversation Response
This section was actually quite helpful because of the templates it provides. Many people, including myself, find it hard to incorporate the opposite views of others in their writing. When I’m writing an argument piece, I find it difficult to provide any information that would contradict the point that I’m trying to make. That’s why I liked the “agreeing and disagreeing simultaneously” portion of this reading. I think the templates can be very helpful if someone is willing to use them, though many people don’t like them because they are not in their own words, but they are easily edited and tweaked into being your own words and being very useful in writing an argumentative essay.
The most helpful global comments that I received from my group were by way of organization of the essay. It was not moving paragraphs around but moving sentences around in some cases was the best way to help with the flow on of the paragraph; so, these organizational suggestions were the best that I received from my group.
I would say the same for global comments that I gave to my group, though there wasn’t many in my group, their papers were very well organized, but the moving of sentences and paragraphs were the best suggestions I gave my group, based off of how they helped their essays.
One thing that I wish had come up with my group was more of the positive things about each other’s essays. I did not have a lot of critical feedback on my partner’s papers, I had mostly small tweaks and complements about how I liked the choice of wording they made or something along those lines. I feel like when reviewing someone’s work like we did, it is important to point out the pieces that you liked as well.
This kind of peer review is not new to me, but I only experienced it once, maybe twice, before college. It is different, but not very difficult if one really thinks about it. I enjoy this type of review better than the review I did in high school because it is easier to run your piece under a fine toothed comb when there are others helping you, and you are more likely to be happy with the result if you put a lot of work into it.
Starting with What Others are Saying Response
I find it interesting that they mention how there is a push for writers to have their own arguments and thesis come before the summary of what others are saying about the topic. It is important for the reader to know the backstory of the article or essay when there is an argument to be made, rather than just a summary of an event. I like to write a quick summary of what I’m writing about in the intro and I’ve been told it is not the best idea to put it all in the intro, but as long as it’s split up and not just a dump of information. Context is key when writing an essay, so context should always be one of the first things you share with the reader.
I spent the most time revising the organization and placement of quotes and evidence in my paper. When I first wrote my paper, I put all my information in, but I was not sure if it all worked where I placed it. Peer review helped me identify where I most needed to reorganize. If I could change anything about my revision process, I would focus more on local level revision than I did this time, because when I read over my essay I realized I missed a couple small mistakes that could have been easily fixed, despite proofreading it before I printed it out. This type of revision process is different from my previous experience because I did not have much in the way of peer review in the past; it was not mandatory in high school and I have not run into much of it in college so far. I think my approach fit in well with the class expectations because I worked very hard, not only on writing my paper, but in revising and editing it to make it better after I’d finished writing my first draft.
“What’s Motivating the Writer?” Response
This chapter I find particularly interesting because of the way it talks about the shift in having students talk about their reading assignments. I remember from high school that the questions we were asked were usually along the lines of “why do you think the author used this wording” or “what do you think the author means by *insert metaphor here*”. This book focuses more on what made the author want to write this? Critical reading is not just being able to understand what the author was saying, but also understand where the author was coming from when they decided to write the piece that one is reading.
I especially liked this chapter for the “What Nobody has Talked About” section, because it is good to know how to handle a situation like that. It could have helped me with my Soylent essay, when I mentioned jobs as one of the downfalls for Soylent, but Widdicombe had never written anything about jobs in relation to Soylent.
Animals Like Us Response
- Page #1, Paragraph #1-2
- One of the best supports of Herzog’s argument is within the first few paragraphs of the article. While this is still only the setup for the rest, he already points out the strange way that some vegetarians, like Judith Black, consider themselves not to be meat eaters, but still eat seafood, mainly fish. I personally know a lot of people with this view, and while I am not a vegetarian, I think that these people definitely have an incorrect view of how to be a vegetarian, as Joseph Weldon tried to explain to Black.
- Pag #2, Paragraph #3 (This part really got me)
- Jim Thompson had a pet cockatiel. He let her go. He said “I knew she wouldn’t survive, that she probably starved. I guess I was doing it for myself more than for her”. That is a great way to support Herzog’s argument about the twisted views we sometimes have about animals. If he was so for “animals rights” then why would he let the animal go, knowing it would starve. Personally, I think this is reprehensible, but it does show the strange way humans see animals sometimes if he let his beloved pet go, knowing she would die, because he felt bad about keeping her in a cage in his home.
- Page 4, Paragraph #3
- This section highlights the strange way people see animals compared to other animals sometimes as well. The woman who tried to get Herzog in trouble for feeding kittens to his snake lets her cats roam free, ignoring the fact that stray and outdoor cats in this country are an epidemic that is killing birds left and right. Herzog sums this up nicely by adding that “… cats, unlike snakes, are recreational killers”. This, meaning they kill just because they can, shows a strange way of viewing animals by this woman who had the cats. She lets her cats roam free, free to kill birds and other small animals, while criticizing him for having a snake that he feeds meat.
Against Meat Response
- “Some of my happiest childhood memories…”
- Foer describes the best memories that he’s had with food over the years, mentioning sushi and turkey burgers that his mother and father used to eat with him. Relating back to our essays on the Soylent article, Foer touches on the cultural loss that occurs when you give up meat. Foer won’t go on sushi dates with his mother or eat turkey burgers with his father again, because he simply doesn’t eat meat anymore. The experience of being with family will be the same, but the nostalgia and the memories of eating that specific food will not. What Foer gains in giving up meat, it seems, is the satisfaction of sticking to his morals, even if it means giving up something that made his childhood happy. He decided that he thought eating meat was not right, and he stuck to those morals, even in raising his children as vegetarians.
- “While the cultural uses of meat can be replaced…”
- If I am looking at the right question, there is a whole lot of different ways of answering that question. The simplest way to put it is that he’s asking why a human has the right to eat an animal when they are hungry, simply because they want to. I can’t really come up with a thoughtful answer to this question. I believe that humans need protein to survive and meat is the simplest, often the cheapest way to get that protein, as vegetarian/vegan substitutes and other health food are often too expensive for the average American to afford if they are trying to feed a family. I think there are many great and valid reasons for people to choose to not eat meat if they want to. I personally eat meat but not as much as you might think, being at college and having limited options, but I still eat meat and I would never pass up a burger if it was offered to me. But does this mean that my morals are out of whack? Just because I choose to eat meat, I’m on a lower moral ground than any vegetarian?
For my revision process, I did not do so much on a global scale but rather rearranged a few quotes or sentences. The largest organizational struggle I had writing this paper is what source to start my essay off with. Originally, I wanted to start with Animals Like Us because I wanted to make the point about how we treat animals strangely and the thought process of some of the people that DFW references some of the people in his essay, the ones who want the Maine Lobster Festival to end. Now, my paper begins with Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, outlining the problem that some people have with eating meat, lobster specifically, to better lead into the anecdotal evidence in Animals Like Us and have that support DFW and then eventually What the Crow Knows.