Analytical Essay: Rhetorical Choices in Mapping Commonplaces

I still remember the first time I came out ot the metro station at Woodley Park/Adams Morgan. I had no clue what to expect of The Church of the Saviour and had to walk 20 minutes to get there. I set my Google Map and proceeded to walk. I was highly concentrated in my environment, I took notes and pictures of what surprised me, what I saw as unusual. The shops, people and even cars I saw walking from the station to The Church of the Saviour. As I got closer to my location I noticed how multicultural the shops at Columbia Road are; I remember seeing Chinese Restaurants, Latin American Parlours and African American hair salons. Furthermore, I remember seeing many liquor shops and check trade offices. Almost at the end of the street, where The Church of the Saviour was supposed to be, there was a brand new “hipster” cafe. I thought to myself “well at least I found a place to have lunch after I finish.” 

I walked a block more and found two different churches: All Souls Church and Community of Hope. I was amazed by how many churches there were in such a small area. amazed how I could not find The Church of the Saviour. So I went into the cafe to have lunch. The menu only contained a few items, the books that were for sale depicted pretty progressive ideas and the artwork exposed portrait minorities figures such as Sonia Sotomayor, Martin Luther King Jr and Cesar Chavez. This was not your typical hipster cafe it had something more the rhetoric in the place spoke more than a simple trend, the place had a life of its own. When I approached the bar to make my order there was an item in the menu that caught my attention, there was a soup that was offered that had no price, it simply said pay what you can. I order a Cappuccino (this item will appear later represent a metaphor for one of the themes explored in this project), I took pictures of the place and the elements I considered important and left.

A couple of days after my first visit to Adams Morgan I went to meet with Professor Hoskins about my location and ask him for help to find my topos/commonplace. I showed him my pictures and a couple of digital archives I had gathered of my location. He helped me shape my investigation and together we Google searched Jubilee Church,  there I discovered that Jubilee Church was a branch of The Church of the Saviour,  an extinct church that branched many non denominational Christian Churches. The Church of the Saviour also founded Potter’s House, the place I had lunch in, then I realized Potter’s House  should be  my commonplace.

One of the most important class we had in the course was the one that as a class we used rhetorical analysis over a couple of university web pages: American University, Georgetown and Arizona State. This exercise inspired me to do the same in my “Rhetorical Analysis of Text Essay”. I analyzed the rherotic  used in Potter’s House webpage in comparison to the one used in Starbucks webpage. While navigating Potter’s House webpage I found a tab that contained a brief history of the place. There I noticed how deeply complex this commonplace was and how great of an impact it had on Adams Morgan. It was my duty to research and find the detailed history of it and elaborate a thesis that showed how this location had been a cultural and social epicenter of the development of Adams Morgan. 

In an informational session with American University Associate Librarian Alex Hodges, I gained key information for my research. He recommended me three databases: Washington Post Historical, American History and Life and ATLA. I found the majority of my resources in those three databases. Even though I new the importance of them I did not began my research with them, it was necessary for me to contextualize myself with rhetorical analysis works before beginning with research that had to do with the history of my commonplace.

I began studying  Lloyd Bitzer one of the greatest American rhetorician of all time,  I used  his work “The Rhetorical Situation” an essay he wrote to explain how context affects the rhetorical discourse of speakers or writers.  This information was necessary to appear in my research, to a great extent I was dealing with information written in different time spaces.Taking this into consideration I needed another source that helped me manage how to treat the rhetoric behind history. So I choose “The Rhetoric of History” by Donald N. McCloskey this research helped me in the development of an argument that needed to contribute with the great amount of persuasion that appears in historical writing. Taking into account the vast majority of my sources were historical I had to have lenses to understand the rhetorics used behind them.

The Washington Post Historical database provided me with the majority of the sources I used in my research in total four, all of them talked about different events at Potter`s House in different time periods. Reconstructing the history of Potter’s House with only news articles would not have been possible. ATLA database contributed with first hand information about The Church of The Saviour, including an interview with Reverend Cosby. The only missing link in my research was the use of detailed information in the social transformation of Adams Morgan, American History and Life helped me in that regard.

To show my final project and deliver all the knowledge I gained from this course I choose Instagram to be my platform to present the information. It was not the first option I tried, I began doing a Prezi but found out the majority of my classmates were planning to use it, I wanted something unique that will stand out from the crowd. I remember Professor Hoskins saying many times that if we were going to fail we should “fail spectacularly.” I finished my Instagram and included maps, photos and descriptions about Potter’s House history and role in the Adams Morgan community. I promise I did not failed to deliver, I invite you to discover something unique and inspiring by following the link to the Instagram below.

 

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