Jack Albert Nusenow

An Autumn Effect

Deliberately, but delicately, Stevenson describes everyday sensory experiences like innocuous perception and the passing of time (in Autumn Effect. Vivid imagery becomes more effective and emotional as the expectation for plot driven events in his writing dwindle.

As the writer walks from place to place, we forget to expect what comes next, and instead learn to appreciate his ekphasis (in this work, the art described would be nature itself — the red leaves, touched with yellow specks, hills hooded with beech plantation) just as he is appreciating it in the moment.

The value in Stevenson’s work comes not from the events he explains but in the world he builds around you. As you sink into his words, as he intends, you find yourself walking with him, lacking only the sensory experience. An Autumn Effect is not only a practice in imagery but also a convincing rhetorical push to travel, and if not travel, just walk.

Catherine Dodd Corona

An Autumn Effect

To Travel or Not to Travel

Progymnasmata: Refutation

The reason an individual travels can vary, yet the pull to adventure is felt similarly between all explorers. I, among many others, have felt this pull to the unknown, the exotic or culturally different. To experience what I could not experience in the valley I grew up in. To smell, taste and breath a different kind of life. 

I originally assumed I was like many others, but I discovered that beyond my community there was a longing of comfort instead of experiencing the unknown. Robert Louis Stevenson touches on this difference in his short story An Autumn Effect. As he recalls wandering through the english countryside with fun stops along the way. This passage is beautifully written, almost poetic. Instead of highlighting the obvious and lavish aspects of visiting a new place he touches on the subtle curiosities. These little curiosities, personally, are more gratifying than the picture worthy stops when traveling. I find this aspect of this story to be fundamentally very important, but there are aims in the story that I disagree with.

At one point Stevenson describes a family eating dinner, and explains how mundane going through the motions of everyday life can be. More importantly he writes about these people in an arrogant and demeaning way. He states, “It is a salutary exercise, besides; it is salutary to get out of ourselves and see people living together in perfect unconsciousness of our existence, as they will live when we are gone.” (Stevenson, 1875). Stevenson says it is salutary to see people acting unconsciously which implies that what he is seeing is unpleasant, but it makes him feel better for his curiosities. This is not morally right to impose that one curiosity, the need to travel, is ultimately better than another curiosity, raising a family or cooking. Even though I agree with this statement, I disagree with looking down on it. It is a preference to feel the call of adventure, and the lack of that preference does not mean those people are any less. 

It is frustrating to relate to the need and urge to travel, but to see people like Stevenson look down on others who do not feel that urge. I could not understand why people would not have that curiosity, but when I marinated in thought about it I realized people find solace in the mundane. And more importantly there is nothing wrong with that comfort. If the whole world wanted to discover the unknown and feel that importance of solitude. To follow in the footsteps of Stevenson, Edward Abbey or Chris Mccandles, then there would be much less specialization. Less unknowns to experience. Yes, nature would be intact, ready for discovering, but that urge to isolate and push away from the unconscious norm would lead to loneliness. Really it is a balance. Following the urge to discover the little curiosities out of your neighborhood, valley or home, but to also appreciate the intricate little aspects of a mundane life. I would like to see Stevenson appreciate the comfort of the known, and push the importance of discovery. 

A Side Note on Rhetoric

Progymnasmata: Comparison

This is one hundred percent one of the most beautifully written passages I have read in a while. After reading it then reading The Rhetorical Situation I could appreciate Stevenson rhetoric even more. Bitzer, the author of The Rhetorical Situation, compares rhetoric to a tree, but includes that unlike a tree, rhetoric is fully dependent on its soil. The soil being the text that rhetoric is playing through. I love this metaphor because I can understand that rhetoric is not just situational but also magically sewn through a piece instead of being a stark and obvious factor. It is not something separate from the text but it is really an aspect of the text that can prove its power or lack of power. One aspect of An Autumn Effect is its poetic sentence structure. While the sentence structure is not the rhetoric the beauty of the words put in that order adds to the rhetorical power of that passage. 

Another aspect of An Autumn Effect are the tangents about trees and their beauty. These tangents do not add any fact to the story but the way they are described adds to the substance of the passage. The tangent highlights the importance of what these trees mean. Describing their beauty adds to the aim Stevenson is trying to prove. And in doing so adds to the rhetorical power of the passage. 

My Attempt at Ekiphrase

The visual analysis of a rock in the desert southwest
Progymnasmata: Description

From a memory of an experience I had a month ago:

The smell of dust filters through the window or air conditioning as my tuck barrels down a pin straight desert road. I keep my eyes peeled for the unmarked left turn I have only seen once before and my friend scrolls through song choices. We are just south of Moab, a town I have grown to know well. As a child my family would pass through on our way to raft the Green or San Juan Rivers. Both rivers give me a visceral connection to the desert Southwest. Accept, this is only the second time I have passed through without parental or teacher supervision. 

I finally spot it. Our camping destination. A large bolder about 100 yards away. A colorless mole on the desert visage. To me it is quite boring after being desensitized by canyon walls, arches and buttes. On the other hand my friend exclaims, “look at how cool that rock is! It’s so big”.  I chuckle and respond, “that’s the backside you haven’t seen the cool part”. I turn the truck left onto a less maintained road. Our bodies sway and correspond with the bumps as the massive rubber wheels trample the sand and spit dust out behind them. The road becomes particularly sandy and the gas pedal loses all weight as the wheels lose traction. I switch it to four wheel and the truck jolts out of the sand. I see it as a little warning from the desert not to mess around. We have arrived. 

A juniper tree grows at the base of the rock, speckled in jean colored berries that look too dry to be even close to nourishing. A good thing too being that they are poisonous in large quantities unless distilled into gin, which funnily enough is also poisonous in large quantities. A ring of rocks that make a fire pit sits at the base of the tree. People have added to the structure since the last time I visited. A large log has disappeared, but besides that it looks the same. We step out of the air conditioning we have been enjoying for the four hour drive. The heat kisses our pale skin like the inside of an oven when the door is open. Smells drop in the dry air but I can just make out dust and sage. The rust color rocks radiate the heat back up to us, emphasizing this oven effect. But it is dry heat, and I am not bothered. It makes me nostalgic, I feel very much at home. A weird feeling since the harshness desert does not make it easy to love. Just read Desert Solitaire and you’ll understand. 

I turn back to the rock and tell my friend to “flow me”. We still haven’t seen the good stuff. We round a corner of the bolder. I take my shoes off so my feet can meld with the warm sandstone. It has always shocked me how perfectly my soles and sandstone fit together. It makes me think of how even rock and a human can have a connection. It reminds me that even though I am living and the rock is not, we both have energy and are made from the same star billions of years ago.

There it is. What would normally be a sloping face of a bolder resembling the other side is instead concave. A massive amphitheater reaching 100 feet high. Right now we are alone but I explain how this is a popular climbing site. People will hike up the side, shimmy through a small crack I can barely make out and repel the 100 feet. Then the climber can hike to the back of the inside wall, sinch the rope tight and swing. It is most spectacular at night. I remember holding the rope behind my back, taking a breath and pushing off. Once I passed the ceiling of the rock I felt like I jumped into an ocean of stars. The Milky Way barreling across the sky. The concentration and sheer number of stars was otherworldly. I have trouble finding the words to describe their cosmic power. So shocking I almost cried. 

My friend bursts into laughter, “Holy shit this is so much cooler than I thought it was!” “Right!” I respond, “and No one is here!”. I let out a howl that echoes off the wall and radiates into the vacant air. The most spectacular part of this massive rock is far to the left. The fin of the bolder over time couldn’t bare the wind, so it gave way and let it pass through. Creating an arch. the sun peeks through it’s hole making it difficult to look at and gives it its name Looking Glass Rock. We hike into the belly of the bolder. Slipping on sand, weaving through sage, and saying Hi to the shuttling lizards. I find one doing push ups, one of my favorite childhood memories, and I feel proud that a lizard wants to show his muscles to me. “You wanna sit in the arch or set up camp?” I ask. “You can sit in it!!” She responds. “Yes, and you don’t even need a rope” we continue on and get to the sandstone where it is slightly too steep for sand to pile comfortably. I smear my foot and start to walk straight up. I feel like a desert creature scaling this rock with ease. When I realize that my friend, from Manhattan, does not have this  nostalgic connection with the desert. Even though she will soon discover it’s magic. I tell her to hair pin up the side. Instead of walking straight up she walks along the side at a slight incline then switches making an s shape as she climbs further. We reach the hardest part and take a break. We watch swallows dart in and out of their homes. Flapping their wings in a bat like fashion. This five foot  area between us and the arch is the most daunting part. Still not very hard as my friend brought his  guitar and a six pack up on our last visit. It’s slightly steep and my anxiety spikes but I smear my foot into the side and trust my traction. I take a few careful steps. Placing my foot in the shallow bowls, the wind and carved out and then I am there. Inside the arch. I look up and see the thin ceiling. It’s deep rusted red band with sharp edges cuts through the bright blue sky. I see people have etched their name into the rock. How could they deface something so much older, bigger, and profoundly more important than them. I investigate the carvings one says ROCK and another says Kyle and Sarah. I wonder if Kyle and Sarah are still together, they didn’t even bother to add a heart. I turn to help my friend across the tricky steep bit by going below her and having her use my hand as a foot hold. Then we are both in the arch. The bottom is flat and comfortable to sit. With two ledges that resemble stairs. “Wow” is all my friend can say. 

The view is also spectacular. I can see for miles. I can see highway 101 to my left and to the right is a sea of sage and some scarce juniper. The olive colored bushes fit well with the orange sand. Some other large boulders sit further to the left with the backdrop of the dark blue La Sal mountains. The sun shoots rays into my eyes when I look to the west. It is two hours from setting. We retreat and set up camp, but as our pasta is cooking I notice it’s almost golden hour. We return to the arch to watch the sunset and the colors which were dry get flooded in a caramel film. Enhancing their contrast in a shocking way. The rust red turns to skin peel orange. Not the yellow on the peach but the darkest orange a peach can be. The bright blue sky is charged with pinks and oranges and the sage even glows with renewed contrast. I burst into tears, in a time where I have felt trapped like many others in quarantine. I am overwhelmed with the daunting but exciting feeling of solitude and freedom.


Lucas Enrique Fernandez

Sept 4th Blog Post

Summer Days


Summer is the season of travel. It is during this time where many venture away from their old lives and take a break somewhere abroad to start anew. Last summer I knew I needed an escape from the mundane in my life here in Maryland. Waking up to the sound of lawn mowers buzzing, the feeling of muggy weather, and the sight of monotonous suburbia would not cut it for me this year. While helping my dad collect some ribs off the the sizzling grill I decided I wanted to go visit my family in Puerto Rico.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in San Juan, I breathed a sigh of relief. The seabreeze was exactly what I needed, both soothing and a perfect way to beat the summer heat. After the hellos, hugs, and kisses necessary when seeing your abuelos again, I was finally off on my way to the other side of the island. On the way to Aguadilla, Palm trees sprung from the ground a reminder of where I was and its difference from the home I left behind. Looking out the window from the air-conditioned car I saw beautiful greens, reds, and yellows danced together among the treetops and flowerbeds painting a portrait of harmony.

When we reached the house it seemed as if a matter of urgency came to the table, Spanish filling the corridors of the house, all to make sure the youngest grandson was fed. Soon enough cousins began popping up from the crevices of the island, more hugs and kisses ensued, and the food of Puerto Rico began appearing on the dining table. Rice with consemme, all types of meat, tostones, and sorullitos proudly on display. As the night fell, stars draping the sky the clearest I’d seen them in forever, the friendly banter died down, and under the moon’s gaze, sleep prevailed.

The next day we decided to do a popular summer activity, journeying to the beach. Seeing as we were on an island our selection of beaches was plentiful, however only one could provide the thrill I needed, Jobos beach. My tio is a veteran surfer and thus it was “in my genes” and a requirement I went to the waiting tides. I would wait for the swell of the waves and try to ride the clear water all the way back to the shore. There I could see little kids being buried in the sand by their parents and vendors selling kabobs to those falling prey to their stomachs. On the safety of the soft sand, I could dry off with my abuelos and watch my tio disappear into the waves and reappear on the other side of them. I swear the man is magic in the water.

The last stop made before I left the island was the rainforests. The rainforests are always bustling with life, although a great place to collect your thoughts, silence was nowhere to be found. Mist was flooding in and a storm was brewing but I came there to zipline over the area and I wouldn’t leave if I could help it. Once we reached the peak of the area and waited for the booming thunder and flashes of lightning to subside, I was finally able to get my wish. The view of the treetops from the zipline was magnificent, no words I say could do it justice. The colors of the island, mixed with early morning dew and stormy wetness, along with a passing rainbow surely made it a sight to remember. I had plenty of time to think while on the zipline as it took several minutes and I realized the ability to step out of my life allowed me to have a break and go on a new adventure while simultaneously instilling a sense of yearning towards my home and the normal routine of my life.

After saying my many goodbyes and giving my hugs and kisses, I was back on the plane home. Soon I would be back to the sound of lawn mowers buzzing, the feeling of muggy weather, and the sight of monotonous suburbia. But that was okay. Soon the long summer days would set, and as the leaves fell and the trees began changing color, a new journey would begin.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

First new First Post/Description (#3)

I am only unsure and wary about this post being that I read the readings and yet, I am still confused about how to write on what I want to write, so this is my second non-playful response to the readings and only due to ignorance. Even though I read the readings and wanted to be taking the playful descriptive approach and use the skill in practice, I feel as elaborating and writing on the concept would be beneficial.

The idea of the “Rhetorical Situation” is that writing in a way that can evoke emotion by using descriptive language, and using descriptive language with actions can bind all of that together to make one descriptive rhetorical situation in a writing. It uses writing skills to develop a scene or situation with the “presence of events, persons, or objects”, and using those objects to suggest a theme, (Bitzer, 1992). For example, if someone says that there is a dangerous situation, it is implied that there is an object or subject that can harm them, or that if something is embarrassing in a situation it should feel tense in the context of the situation.

It is not only used in the context of the situation but to make a convincing response with imagery and objects in the scene or situation. For instance, Bronislaw Malinow describes a fisherman in “The Rhetorical Situation”, quoted by Bitzer,

“The canoes glide slowly and noiselessly, punted by men especially good at this task and always used for it. Other experts who know the bottom of the lagoon … are on the look-out for fish. . .. Customary signs, or sounds or words are uttered”, (Bitzer, 1992).

While this is a short example from a bigger passage you can still see the descriptive language and punctuation from the situation. Like the canoes “gliding slowly and noiselessly”, and that there are customary “signs”, “sounds”, and words “uttered” by the fish in the lagoon alone.

In short, “Rhetorical Situation” is the idea and skill of using rhetoric and descriptive writing to develop a situation or scene by binding together descriptive words and actions to make a full picture scene with words. This can make scenes in writing to develop emotions like anger, nervousness, happiness, and make scenes more colorful than they would be without the descriptive language.

Ehren Joseph Layne

Description/Narrative ProGyn – Ehren Joseph Layne

Man never travels out of want: only ever out of need. A need to be seen, to be heard, and to be bread anew – in a new space, man can break off his fetters, open himself to a new him, and experience the world as a baby would. Travel forces man to appreciate being nobody; any man with some money and the means can travel the world, and in those travels that man will not once be called by name. They will say, “You’re American, right?” or “You’re not from around here, right?” or “You sound just like the others jaja”. Not once was I ever called Ehren while I lived in Spain. Over there I was nobody, and in being nobody, I learned more about myself than I every wish I could’ve. 


Think of Spain as a museum – all works are connected by time but none the same. The entrance was full of glamour and decor – most likely the works of the Greeks; it pulled you in, made you feel so small and insignificant in the face of mammoth architecture. The further in you go the more insignificant you feel – culinary works only to be described as haute cuisine, paired with the ambience of a Slam poetry club. Full of smokers, intellectuals, and artists all the like, all independent, all strong and so sure – so sure in themselves, so sure in their ability, and so sure in Spain. I was overwhelmed: why wasn’t I sure? Why didn’t I fit into Spain’s culture? Was I too American? Too black? Was my Spanish too poor? Was how I behaved too thuggish? What was I in the face of a millennia of beauty: rows and rows of works I didn’t have the ability to make? Had I really become nothing while experiencing the culture of someone else? What was it to be nothing in the face of someone: someone so rich with culture, worldly and profound, intelligent yet street smart – was I really nothing to Spain?


What did I want with Spain – or rather, what did I need? Did I need to be seen or heard? Impossible. I was too insignificant to be seen or heard. Was I bread anew? I wish to believe so. I wish to believe that my Spanish got better: I have been speaking with greater fluidity. I wish to believe I adapted to the culture: I regularly take siestas while home. I wish to believe my behavior changed: new conversations always sprout new found friendships(two kisses on the cheek to cement them). I wish to believe I found something beautiful within myself: that very thing was my nothingness. My ability to dissolve into the crowd, to be one with Spain, to no longer be Ehren but more enthusiastically me. To Spain I was nothing, and in her criticism, I found more of me.

Aongus Mui

An Autumn Effect

An Autumn Effect

In the reading An Autumn Effect The author uses the Progymnasmata of Description to paint an image into the reader’s mind. In many instances the author wrote about scenic places, using full detail to display what they might have seen. I think that one of the main reasons the author did this was to awe the reader and try to tell them in writing the view of the place. For instance, “Single trees thrown out against the customary sunset of a Japanese picture… over water and level land” (M. Andre Theuriet) the author describes the setting that he sees and puts it in word for the readers to mentally picture. Another example of this would be “A little faint vapor lay among the slim tree-stems in the bottom of the hollow.” (M. Andre Theuriet) The details are vividly described to help the reader visualize and maybe even take in some of the emotions the writer is feeling. The use of expressive details also assists the writer in channeling his perspective and further increases his persuasiveness by appealing to the reader psychologically. It makes the reader feel more comfortable when mentally put into a pleasant setting, making them more compliant.


Samuel E Evans

“An Autumn Effect” by Stevenson, “The Rhetorical Situation” by Bitzer

Progym: Description

The vales of Buckinghamshire lay in glorious autumnal colors below; winding grassy valleys turning bronze in the changing weather, framed by gently rolling peaks masked by smears of beeches and alder. The trees are half-bare and frosty leaves crackle underfoot, along with beechnuts and shells left by red squirrels and robins.

Below in the valley, beyond the golden fields of barley being harvested for the mills and brewers lays the town. The little hedge-lined lanes of the countryside converge upon the town like rivulets, and in the center is the faintly visible, distinctive spire of an old, stone Anglican church. The homes, sheds, inns, and stores clustered around it are a mix of thatch and slate roofing, and many have pleasantly sagged with old age. In the foreground, a small stream runs around the side of a large hill and past a paddock where the white dots of sheep can be seen, and a farmhand and his dog are sauntering up the hill.

The path, rutted, muddy, but well-worn, leads out of the trees and down the hill into the valley. A small bridge can be seen in the distance where it crosses the stream, and not far beyond the path ends at a road, presumably leading into town. I follow the path, which, set deep into the soft earth of the downs, must be old and long-established. It must have been used for centuries before, previously the main conduit over these hills and towards the lush lowlands below. Now I tread it, as the sun rises in the sky, casting light through the amber leaves and warming my back as I set off down the way.


Stevenson describes the countryside in Buckinghamshire that he walks through somewhat like this. I have also had the happy fortune of being able to go for long walks in this very same area, and many other places in the south of England, as my mother is from the town of Hemel Hempstead which is in neighboring Hertfordshire.

Bitzer also writes that

“rhetorical discourse comes into existence as a response to a situation”, which is also a little bit of what I am attempting here (Bitzer 5).

I have visited countless times at this point, and so I decided this would be a good opportunity to tackle the Description progymnasmatum, basing it both off of my personal experience, but also Stevenson’s description and his writing style. It seemed the perfect opportunity for me to try this rhetorical strategy.

Samuel James Conroy

Creative Narrative Progymnasmata Post

Samuel Conroy

Rhetoric of Travel

September 4, 2020

Professor Comstock

Creative Narrative Progymnasmata

In “An Autumn Effect,” the author departs his town and goes on an adventure into the woods. Upon his travels, the season has changed to fall and is providing a beautiful ambience for the author to travel through. He states, “my whole view brightened considerably in colour, for it was the distance only that was grey and cold, and the distance I could see no longer” (Stevenson 4). Fall is described to be the best time of the year due to the change in color, the calmness of the insects, the movement of certain animals, and the aura of serenity that seemed to come over the land. The story continues of the author’s adventures throughout Great Britain taking in all of the autumnal force, before returning to London on a train to go back to everyday life.


Below is my best attempt to draw the author departing town to go into nature and experience fall:

Paula I Arraiza

Description Progymnasmata

Type of progym: Description

“The whole scene had an indefinable look of being painted, the colour was so abstract and correct, and there was something so sketchy and merely impressional about these distant single trees on the horizon that one was forced to think of it all as of a clever French landscape” (3)

There’s no feeling quite like seeing the colors of leaves changing from bright forest green to golden and burnt orange for the first time. As someone who has lived on a tropical island for her entire life, the moment I first saw a fall landscape will forever be one of my favorite memories. After being stuck inside studying for midterms for an entire weekend, I had almost forgotten what a whiff of fresh air felt like. When I went outside to go into the city to relax after the stress of back to back tests, I was heavily surprised. It felt like everything I was used to had changed within a mere couple of days. The air was colder than what I had felt in years, I felt like I could see my breath even though it wasn’t nearly as cold. The sun was out, yet somehow it wasn’t shining with the golden rays I was used to seeing and feeling on my skin. As I embarked on my journey from Tenleytown to the National Mall, everything around me felt different. I felt this sense of nostalgia I had never felt before since it was something I had never experienced. The ambiance of the day felt like it matched my mood perfectly, relaxed, hopeful yet somehow sentimental. When I sat down in front of the overpriced food trucks filled with tourists having a bite before hopping over to the next museum, I looked up at the sky and noticed it looked monotone and dull, filled with shades of grey instead of the usual bright blue sky I was used to seeing. It was the perfect contrast to the bright yellow and red leaves that filled up the mile length trees circulating the Mall. During a thirty-minute walk from the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum to Capitol Hill, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the beautiful scenery in front of me. I felt like I was living in the midst of Taylor Swift’s Red album, which was blaring in my headphones as I crossed the beautiful city that felt more like home than any other place I’ve been into. With the roman inspired architecture around me contrasted by colors, I had never seen before in nature, for the first time I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be, and never wanted to leave.