Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Nature of English ... if "English" is the right word?

Pop-Quiz, what does the 'English" in your English 1301 class stand for?

If you said "That stuff where I complain about one page papers before I learn that my senior seminar paper will probably be over ten pages with 15+ sources" well .... kind'a. That is to say, learning about the transition from thinking something is hard and then finding out you had NO IDEA WHAT HARD REALLY WAS is certainly a skill people need to go through. But as for what you call "one page papers?" That is your assignment, not strictly "English." What are you being required to write about on that paper? What kinds of content do you go over? What IS English? What IS writing?

English as a field is a monster-mash of the following thing ...

Speech, ie: learning to talk about how much you love comic books.

English Rhetoric, ie: learning to define the methods you can use to convince somebody you love comics.

Grammatical Studies, ie: properly spelling the words you use in your sentence made to talk about comics.

Poetics, ie: understanding lyrical/rhyming/artistic verses about ... well, some of the things people write comics about.

Literature, ie: the canon of famous/influential works of prose.

Language Studies, ie: learning to gush about foreign comics in their native language.

Latin studies, ie: learning about something no comic was ever written in and about a language no comic was ever spoken about in ... unless you count this as a comic?

Why is English like this? I don't even. What?

In its time the field of "English" has been split between these diverse aspects yet few of these have ever singularly been counted as THE dominant aspect of the field. Theater and History cross into this field from time to time, especially in the field of Literature

A battle between an MLA and an APA advocate. True story.
Many in today's modern university environment focus primarily on English Rhetoric on the 1000-level/Core level (primarily in writing) and in Literature. This means the main focus on when you, the student, come into a University of Texas at Tyler English course you will aim to start by helping you figure out how to best write for your future. In an university environment this has an official and an unofficial purpose.

The official purpose that is the focus of your instructors is to help you meet and exceed the needs on your College Major. Not always, but very often, those entry and upper-level courses in nursing you are taking will assume you have a functional writing ability. It is the role of the English Department to make sure you are properly trained.

When entering the Dark Cave of higher education you confront what you take in with you. The least we can do is make sure you know about MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles.

The unofficial purpose of English is to connect you to the wide, wide world of our literary past and its future. You are in no way obligated to find Rhetoric in comics, film, presidential addresses, and in your Letter of Intent for that PhD ... but it helps. A lot. You'll find, as your absorb more books and writing/rhetoric lessons, that you will be better armed to find out who you want to be. This isn't the same for everyone but many connect to the lost words of our ancient past and to the words of ones blog to find peace.

In whatever way English is important to you, congratulations. You have gained knowledge from one of the most scattered yet important institutes of higher learning. So long as you use that knowledge to better yourself, you win.

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