I’ve taught freshman composition courses for almost two years now, expecting my diverse body of students from multicultural backgrounds to all coalesce and perform to one standard above all others: White Vernacular English (WVE) or White American Vernacular English (WAVE). As writers, we pride ourselves on being open-minded yet authentic, and we hope our students do the same—as long as they adhere to what we consider valid style of writing. Why have the rigid, outdated principles the foundation of college composition was built on not shifted to accept other vernaculars?
by Rebecca Rodriguez
In high school, we are given our first copy of Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers, which we are commanded to worship. It’s not a bad book, by any means, and (if read for anything other than MLA citation instructions) specific information on sentence structure can be found within it. In fact, there is an entire section dedicated to taking wordy sentences and tightening them. ←Example→ There is a section on tightening wordy sentences.
Although fair warning is given that short sentences aren’t always concise, wordiness is considered ultimately taboo. Not only does it focus on eliminating redundancies, but it encourages us, the writers, to cut inflated phrases (e.g. change “At the present time…” into “Now...” or “Currently...”). We also must take every opportunity to reduce a clause into a phrases, or a phrase into a single word. Though we try not to worry about these rules outside of our research papers, it’s too late. Today’s generation of writers have already been brainwashed.
by Ashley Haden
Spending time on a college campus as finals near always leads to hearing familiar complaints in the air. These are complaints about the workload, upcoming exams, and, of course, writing papers. “I hate writing” is one of the most common complaints that I’ve noticed at a wide variety of grade levels. Students will often actively try to avoid writing if possible. Why is this?
by Elizabeth DiPietro
Young Adult (YA) books often get a bad rap for being shallow, underdeveloped, and cliché. There are huge bestselling series that have transcended to films and television shows that fit that description to a T, which only adds to the idea that YA best sellers are cliché money grabs that uneducated teens are desperate to consume. On August 24, 2017, one author decided to test this limit by attempting to steal the #1 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list.
by Joe Magaletta
There’s a story that makes me uncomfortable. A black man has been accused of raping a white woman. We follow the story of an attorney who goes out of his way to try and prove that the woman is making a false allegation, doubting the victim in this situation. It’s an exploration of bias, the justice system, racial inequality, and compassion. These are all ideas that are worth exploring… But now I’m uncomfortable. Therefore, To Kill a Mockingbird shouldn’t be taught in schools.
This is a growing trend: the fear of being offended, of confronting triggers, of having to question ideas and explore points of view that don’t exactly mesh with our own. The political climate is as heated as ever, and the desire to hear the opposition has died down in favor of preaching to the choir.
by Nicolina Givin
I sat on my couch on the fourth of October and flipped through the channels on my television. I caught a glimpse of Emily Blunt grabbing a blonde by the back of her head and dragging her onto the floor. The title, The Girl on the Train, flashed at the end and I was in bewilderment. “That’s a movie now?” I thought to myself. The movie was released to theaters on the eighth. I picked up the novel, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for some time, and opened the cover, ready to finally read what everyone was about to see on the big screen. I could not have the world tell me the plot and ending before I could figure it out myself; I had to finish it before the movie release. Why was I motivated soon after that preview to read the book rather than when I first purchased that book eight months prior? The answer was always sitting there on my bookshelf, but the media pushed me towards it and spoke clearer to me in that thirty-second preview.
by Alexis Zimmerman
There are countless books in Young Adult Literature where the main character must fall in love with the main love interest by the end of the book. These two characters fall in love in the most unrealistic of ways without even knowing each other that well and only having maybe a handful of conversations. Yet for some reason, young readers seem to devour those books. There are so many copies of this cliché and unrealistic type of book sold in the bookstores more often than not that it’s unbearable.
But does the love in these books happen naturally? Can someone fall in love as quickly as these characters fell in love? How do these instances of insta-love affect the younger readers who gravitate towards these particular books? Are they getting the impression that love happens right away, like it does in the books they’re reading?
by John Gross
Throughout time technology has changed how the writer crafts his novel. From pen and paper, to typewriters, to word processing—the tools of the trade are constantly evolving. In today’s world, the writer can craft a sentence and move it around to different places, supplementing paragraphs where he sees fit. This can be a powerful tool, that makes the revision process more fluid and dynamic. An author can be less committed to putting something on a page, where it can be easily reshaped, moved, and removed. While this technology has fundamentally changed how the novelist crafts his work, it hasn’t really changed how the reader consumes it. Sure, we are in a period of time that is showing the rise of e-readers and digital print, but ultimately the novel is being experienced in the same traditional way.
by Rachel Saltzman
It begins in middle school; writing skills are in a crucial stage of development, and so teachers are more focused on systematic writing such as essays, grammatical structures, and proper spelling. At this age, kids are taught what effective, tasteful writing incorporates, and which elementary techniques can be rushed to the curb for good. This is when ‘it’s raining cats and dogs,’ and other cute phrases that are found in children’s books, are banished from any and all forms of writing.
We all know (supposedly) what a cliché is, what it looks and sounds like. But why are clichés considered bad for writing? The common argument is that clichés and common tropes are overused, to the point where most casual readers cringe at the sight of one. If the goal of any writer is to craft a story, essay, or narrative using a unique and well-developed voice, then of course clichés can only impede the process. If these banal phrases, expressions, and ideas have long been exhausted, then where and when were they first used?
by Sarah Knapp
The above videos contain clips from two very different, but two very popular TV shows: RuPaul’s Drag Race and Steven Universe. What do all of these seemingly unrelated scenarios have in common? In each clip, there are quite a few different uses of pronouns, some of which seem confusing or don’t exactly fit our expectations. There is a powerful force at work here: gender is being redefined. Subtly, and sometimes very overtly, the language used to talk about gender is being changed and shaped by the media that surrounds us.
thoughts on writing, art, & new media by glassworks editorial staFF