Common Place Entries

Commonplace Entry 1


  • “Our political philosophies should not deny these “irrational” attachments; they are consecutive of who we are, of our very human being. -City of Rhetoric, pg.22
    • If you replaced one with another, the sentence would start off with “they” and the noun would be unclear. (Who is “they”?) If a period replaced the semicolon, the sentence wouldn’t flow as well because a period indicates a pause; the semicolon acts as the word “because” because it explains why the political philosophies should not be denied.
    • “Architectural regulation is powerful in part because it is unseen; it “allows government to shape our actions without our perceiving that our experience has been deliberately shaped.” -Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment, pg.1940
  • The semicolon relates the sentences better than if a period was there; the semicolon connects the sentences so that the two independent clauses are one thought. If the order of the independent clauses were switched so that they sentence starts with “it”, they subject would be unclear because the sentence would start off with a pronoun.
  1. IC
    • “To make an impact on a writer, you need to do more than make statements that are logical, well supported, and consistent. You must also find a way of entering a conversation with others’ views–with something “they say”. -They Say/I Say, p.4
  • It is better to use a period here rather than a semicolon because the period means breathe because it is the end of the sentence. A semicolon would create a mouthful, feeling like a run-on sentence.
  • “This is not just armchair political philosophy. There is some evidence that modern communities of 5000-10,000 total population are uniquely effective at encouraging and supporting high levels of civic involvement. City of Rhetoric, pg 47
    • The period could easily be replaced by a semicolon, especially because the first sentence is so short. The semicolon would just help the sentences connect better.

Works Cited

Birkenstein, Cathy. Graff, Gerald. “They Say/I Say.” The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. 2005

Fleming, David. “The Placeness of Political Theory.” City of Rhetoric. State University of New York Public Press, 2009, pp.19-35


Commonplace Entry 2


Example One: 

New York Times: “Man is Shot in Charlotte as Unrest Stretches to Second Night”:

“A second night of protests set off by the police killing of a black man spiraled into chaos and violence after nightfall here Wednesday when a demonstration was interrupted by gunfire that gravely wounded a man in the crowd. Law enforcement authorities fired tear gas in a desperate bid to restore order.”


This introduction sets a scene and communicates what happens, however, it does not follow Graff’s model for “They Say/I Say”. It lacks the “they say” because the intro does not have any quotes from someone at the protest in the introduction. Although the journalist does not directly state what he believes, he shares his opinions on the matter through the words “chaos” and “desperate”. As a reader, I know that the writer felt that the situation was hectic, and that he felt that the tear gas restored order. However, a person involved in the situation may not agree that the use of the tear gas was the last resort to “restore order”. In some ways, this opening paragraph is an example of what Graff said not to do. Do not simply state the writer’s argument. The lack of they say makes the writer seem biased: opposed to the situation and protective of the law enforcement.

Example 2:


“Nike has finally announced when it will begin selling its self-lacing sneakers inspired by the shoes worn by Michael J. Fox in Back to The Future II. According to a tweet from the company’s Heidi Burgett, the HyperAdapt 1.0 will be available for “experience & purchase” starting on the 28th of November, but only in select Nike locations in the US. Pricing is still unknown, but expect a “high price tag,” according to a wired feature on the shoe’s development.”

This introduction follows Graff’s form of they say/i say because it presents the information the writer knows along with information from a company member. This introduction is more helpful to me, as a reader, because “they” has a voice, and the writer has less of an opinion. Concurrently, I think that Graff would want a little more “I say” from the journalist.


Works Cited

Fausset, Richard, and Alan Blinder. “Man Is Shot in Charlotte as Unrest Stretches to Second Night.” The New York Times, 21 Sept. 2016.,

Vincent, James. “Nike’s Self-Lacing Sneakers Finally Go on Sale November 28th.” The Verge, 21 Sept. 2016

Commonplace Entry 3

Sentence Structure

“The Queen is never late, everybody else is simply early.”- Queen Clarisse in Princess Diaries 2


Root sentence: “the queen is never late”

The other words are there to support her main claim: “the queen is never late.”

In the root sentence, “the queen” is the main subject and “is” is the main verb.

Jobs of the other words:

  • ” everybody else”: noun that differentiates everyone else from the queen
  • “is”: verb which pertains to the noun “everybody else”
  • “simply early” adjective that describes how “everybody else” arrives

My sentence: I did not take too much time, everybody else just did not take enough.

Commonplace Entry 4

Gender Inclusivity at American University

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-1-12-44-pmThe sign explains to the potential bathroom user that the bathroom is gender inclusive, therefore, anybody of any gender can use this bathroom. A genetically male and female can share the bathroom at the same time. This sign is on the door to the bathroom to warn the user before they enter, rather than being surprised or confused that they are in the wrong bathroom. For example, on my first day at AU, I did not read the sign, so when I walked in and saw a urinal, I ran out because I thought I was in the men’s bathroom. When I looked back at the door for the men’s bathroom sign, I read this which clarified what was happening. This sign is authored by American University Housing and Dining to show the AU community that they support all genders and believe in inclusivity. It makes housing and dining look good, but it also communicates to the reader that the entire environment is inclusive and if anyone feels targeted or not included in any situation, then they know who to go to.

Commonplace Entry 5

Georgia Referendum to Amend State Constitution:

“Shall Property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”


Root sentence: “Property owned by the University of Georgia and is free from taxation.”

Words that jump out: shall, affordable, exempt, taxation

The encoder, AKA the writer, seems to be a source outside of the university. I would infer that the referendum came from a government body and is now found in some type of information pamphlet belonging to the University of Georgia. The intended audience is the college students, for whoever releases the information can use it to attract students to apply to the university and feel better about where their money is going to. The use of the word “shall” stands out because the referendum now sounds more official; it sounds like a proclamation that has come from somebody of high standing. The encoder makes the sentence very complicated but also very specific in order to show how it applies to both the university and the students. Although the sentence is structurally complicated, it is fairly simple and easy to understand because the one “goal” of the sentence, “to continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable,” is written in simple syntax. Therefore, the sentence structure is complicated but the message is clear and easy to understand.

Commonplace Entry 6

David Fleming’s Strong Publics vs. Weak Publics

[A]n education [. . .] that was designed to support a truly direct, deliberative democracy […] would be an education oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision-making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation. (205)

In Fleming’s closing chapter of City of Rhetoric, he argues that schools need to do a better job of teaching students about politics. However, he does not want students to simply learn through presented facts, he wants students to practice using language, listening, understanding, and resolving effectively. These practiced skills would lead to the “strong publics of decision making” that Fleming finds necessary because effectively communicating and listening, will allow people to respond. A proper response correlates to decision making. In politics, there are often candidates who speak to crowds and say, “I believe this is the problem,” and “I think I can fix x by doing y.” While running, these politicians, who were trained through years of school, make these opinion-based promises, but when they get elected into office, the right decisions are not made to deliver what they promised and respond to the demands of the people. The same trend exists for the democracy of people who vote. The American people always form an opinion of both candidates, but when it is time to decide who to pick, they are often confused, and cannot deliberately choose and are upset about the results. This theory of education in relation to politics and decision making was evident in the most recent election which showed that people with higher education voted one way, while people with less education voted the other.

Decision making and opinion formation are different because opinion formation simply presents an individual’s perception of a certain topic. However, decision making actually gets things done and affects others. Concurrently decision making and opinion formation go hand and hand because people often make decisions based off their opinion. In my papers from high school, I made a lot of my arguments based on opinions. For example, I exclaimed that Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest was female because some of the mother-like nurturing characteristics the nymph possessed. However, a different person may have thought that the nymph was male. I do not think that Fleming would disagree with my technique because although I formed an opinion, I still made a decision by calling the character a female. Fleming seems to want to see things get done through decisions. Likewise, he wants decisions in Cabrini Green to be made in order to adequately improve the lives of the people living in such a poor area.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “The Placeness of Political Theory.” City of Rhetoric. State University of New York Public Press, 2009, pp.19-35

Commonplace Entry 7

Student Government Reaches Out to Scared Students at American University

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-2-08-05-pm“Following the U.S. elections on November 8th, a protest which included a flag burning, occurred in our campus the following day. Later during the week, a drawing of a swastika appeared on a classroom wall. With the recent election of the next president of the United States, it became clear that many of our students who have marginalized identities in our community felt a heightened lack of security and safety. To those of us who are people of color, Muslim, Jewish, women, part of the LGBT+ community, transgender or non-binary or have a disability, we face very real and imminent threat to our lives and our livelihood.”

This is the first paragraph of a message sent by the president of the American University Student Government the day after the 2016 election. This email was sent to all students of the university to express condolences to students about the election. The syntax of the first paragraph is very important because it makes people feel as if they are not alone. The president uses the word “us,” communicating that he is also affected by the election and not just extending his condolences out of obligation. Therefore, the person writing the email includes himself in the group of marginalized people who are endangered by the election results. Clearly, the message was revised multiple times to present the best message. With the ever-changing world, there are more classifications of people; thus, the writer needed to address all categories ranging from race, religion, and sex. As a minority, I felt that the message was adequately written to express an understanding of my own emotions and even the people who did not receive the message but were too affected.

Commonplace Entry 8

Ryan Trecartin’s Unique Video Art

Ryan Trecartin is an artist, known for making eccentric videos and posting them on YouTube. I-Be Area is a video series ( that Ryan Trecartin spends lots of time on. He edits the video to add effects that contribute to the theme. To most people, including myself, the videos arscreen-shot-2016-12-10-at-3-13-32-pme very hard to understand because they consist of people screaming and having random outburst; they appear as nonsense videos. Each video has an average of three characters who wear brightly colored and weird clothes. Most characters also wear colored wigs and paint their faces. Thus, it is likely that the audience members are confused after watching his videos. Ryan Trecartin avoids creating a clear rhetorical situation by allowing his viewers to interpret the videos themselves. Each viewer creates a different situation. After watching a few videos from the series, Trecartin’s motive behind the creation of these videos becomes clear. Trecartin creates the videos to observe and comment on the way people react in certain situations. According to the artist himself, he is interested in the process people go through to decide how they will respond. The characters in the video, normally pause before they go on their crazy outburst because they take a second to think about which response is most appropriate for the situation. Therefore, Ryan Trecartin stages these irregular situations to produce a reaction which displays people’s behavioral patterns.  


Works Cited

Lehrer-Graiwer, Sarah. “In the Studio: Ryan Trecartin.” Art In America. 2013

Commonplce Entry 9:

Buzzfeed Article: People’s Opinion on Disney’s Moana



Question: How did you feel when you first heard that Disney was going to make a movie based on Polynesian mythology?


Gina (44, Samoan, Native Hawaiian, European, and Native American):

“I was excited but also skeptical. I didn’t want the culture to get twisted and misrepresented. But I was happy that perhaps there would be a Disney princess who looked like my daughter since none of the other ones are really represented of her.”

Kymon (16, Tongan and Navajo):

“I didn’t believe it at first. I was nervous that they weren’t going to be able to portray the Polynesians in the right way. But at the same time, I was happy that I would be able to share with my friends where at least half of me comes from.”

Sina (31, Samoan, Native Hawaiian, Japanese): I was rolling my eyeballs around and around in my head. I felt like Disney was going to ruin it all again, like Lilo and Stitch, the other Hawaiian animation with an awesome soundtrack, but a weird, hard-to-relate-to storyline.

The responses to the announcement of a movie about a Disney Polynesian princess caused many mixed responses from people of Polynesian and Native descent. The three responses communicate the skepticism that came with the announcement of the movie. As the third interviewee says, they did not want another Lilo and Stitch movie where Disney misrepresented their culture. The movie turned out to be a hit that accurately depicted their culture. However, the attitudes of these people prior to the release of the movie is very interesting. The syntax shows that most Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Samoan people did not believe that Disney could make a movie that correctly displayed their culture. Sina says, “I was rolling my eyeballs around and around in my head.” Her words immediately communicate her stance on the creation of the movie.

Why does Disney struggle so much with producing movies that are not about Western Civilization? Disney is a big corporation that could easily employ people of non- white descent to create accurate stories and represent that person’s culture. Kymon says, “I didn’t believe it at first.” As a minority, I too was surprised that there would be a movie about nonwhite people. I think that these perceptions and expectations are to blame on the movie industry which mainly depicts movies with non-colored people. By making this movie, Disney creates a rhetorical situation that persuades viewers that filmmakers care about all cultures.


Works Cited

Varner, Will. “We Asked Polynesian People What They Thought Of Disney’s ‘Moana.’” Buzzfeed Entertainment. 2016

Commonplace Entry 10

Silly Sentences 

“All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life.”

Although this sentence sounds weird, it is grammatically correct. The subject is “the faith,” and the first “had had” applies to “he.” The second “has had” pertains to the faith. Both “had had” pairs use a past perfect tense. Therefore, the sentence basically means:

All the faith he once possessed, never had an effect on the outcome of his life.

Works Cited

“The 20st Strangest Sentences in the World.” Distractify. 2015