Posts Tagged ‘commonplace’



For my College Writing Class with Professor Hoskins, I have had the unique opportunity to research a commonplace in the D.C. Metropolitan area and observe it through a rhetorical lens. I picked a coffee shop in the Shaw area called Compass Coffee. The cafe originated from an old laundromat and now has multiple locations throughout the city. I explored D.C. through newspaper articles, videos, and first-hand observations.

What makes this project even cooler is that my whole class participated. Here is a map of everyone’s commonplaces and research: Class Google Map

Looking back at my work over the semester, I never realized how exciting and impactful my work was until now. I hope you enjoy looking at my project!

Below are links to each part:

Androgynous as a Commonplace


Adj. 1. being both male and female; hermaphroditic, 2. having both masculine and feminine characteristics, 3. having an ambitious sexual identity

We have all heard our people preach about how we need to “be our own individual” and “do what we want”, which is exactly what we did. The media has such a small coverage on androgyny and understanding it, the media ends up reenforcing mainstream beauty and norms. As Suzanne Tick discusses in her article about gender and society, androgyny has stemmed form a confusion of appearance. Gender is becoming such a fluid term as society comes to term with this new concept. It is no longer just in the media but in our everyday lives. Coming here to AU, my first day I was asked to share my desired pronouns. Androgyny isn’t just a commonplace anymore but a common movement.

This article outlines the most common misconceptions and lies media tells about androgyny.

4 Harmful Lies the Media Is Telling You About Androgyny


George Elliot, Middlemarch

“For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.” – George Elliot, Middlemarch

This quote describes how influential surroundings actually are on an individual. I think this is a very interesting thought. Perhaps, we were raised in a different environment – how different would we actually be? All creatures bear concerns about the external environment. But how could we not? In order to do well you have to be well liked by others. Having a sense of community is vital for happiness. People say they don’t care what others think about them – but that, in itself your inward being is being determined by what is outside (and not caring about its effect).

Fig. 1. This shows how an individual’s mind is effected by those around him. In this case one is influenced by the minds surrounding but it can one can also experience influence by the environment.

The Lives of Animals

“…open your heart and listen to what your heart says.” Do animals have rights? Do human beings have duties toward them regardless of whether they have rights? What kind of souls do animals have? What kind do we have? – The Lives of Animals (1999) by J.M. Coetzee

Fig. 1. The Lives of Animals Book Cover

This quote, taken from Coetzee’s book on The Lives of Animals, shows a few rhetorical methods when talking about animal cruelty. First, the speaker, Costello uses pathos to appeal to the audience’s emotions. She states, “open your heart and listen to what your heart says” Of course, no one is going to “open their heart” and be “okay” with killing animals. She then asks the audience about the kind of “soul animals have” with and asks for the audience to compare it to the soul humans have. This is an extreme use of ethics. If the two are similar we are faced with an internal moral conflict. We would never kill and eat our own kind, and if we are so similar to animals, why is killing and eating them fair? She wants us to relate with animals and show us how terrible killing animals actually is. She also uses the rhetorical strategy of asking a rhetorical question. This is used to subtly influence and persuade the audience. She is not looking for an actual answer but the reaction to the question as she further emphasizes her point.

“Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men” – Plato

“Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men” – Plato

This very interesting quote outlines just how useful using rhetoric is when trying to persuade the reader. The writer uses tools that influence the viewers, such as logos, ethos, and pathos. Here Plato is informing the reader that in using rhetoric you are able to almost control and “rule” viewers. I think this is very interesting and convincing. It makes sense that appealing to ethics (ethos), emotion (pathos) and logic (logus) to allocate a response by either using an individuals character, emotional reasoning, or persuasion by reason. Also, this is very inline with the class topic and everyday discussions.

Detachment through language

Stendhal, who once called the beautiful une promesse de bonheur (Nietzsche p. 104).  (Linked to audio of the phrase!!)

I think this quote is very interesting. Stendhal who is the one who said “the beautiful une promesse de bonheur” which translates to “beauty is but the promise of happiness”. Stendhal is saying that it is possible to love the ugly if they promise you happiness in the future. He is teaching readers that beauty has little to do with physical perfection and lies far from the physical characteristics of the object at hand.

Stendhal uses this quote in French rather than translating it to English (consistent with the rest of the text) because he wants to keep the saying as close to discovering the actual meaning of the words. The speaker, knowing multiple languages, can become detached when simplifying the words enough to translate into another language. Keeping the phrase in French helps make the saying as pure to the original intent as possible.


Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010. Print.


“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!” – Donald Trump

This is a very interesting tweet by Donald Trump. Not only does he insult a celebrity, directly, but also insults the american people. He is saying that, we care more about President Obama and more people would care. He seems very upset that the american people were not more angered (personally, I wasn’t even aware Trump had a gun aimed at him). In addition, he seems to exaggerated his question when he says “aimed and fired the gun”. Trump was never fired at, but he is adding hyperbole for the media attention. Also, he ends the tweet with an exclamation, “Jail Time!”. Here he is attempting to use media to slander @SnoopDogg’s name.


Background: SnoopDogg is a west coast rapper primary known for his achievements in the music industry. His image represents that of a “gangster”.



Bad Luck – A Good Thing?

“You never know what worse luck bad luck has saved you from.” – Cormac McCarthy

It’s true. I really like this quote. It is a positive way of looking at life. No one is denying anyone has bad luck (because we all do),  but they are saying because of that bad luck you may have been saved from something worse. Looking at the sentence structure, I think it is interesting that McCarthy used “worse luck” and “bad luck” in the same sentence. Normally I would use “worse” as a stronger and past tense form of bad in a sentence not including “bad’. Very interesting literally choice but really gets the point across.

Fail Better?!

In Worstward Ho!, Samuel Beckett writes the following:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

What does Beckett say about “failure“? And why does it matter? You might also discuss form here. Why would one of the world’s great writers (poet/novelist/playwright/essayist), use such “simple” structures? How does the sentence structure perhaps affect how we read this? Would the impact be different if it were written in a DC, IC form?  How so? How would it change if he used question marks after the first two sentences? And exclamation points afterward

Beckett is telling the reader that it is okay to fail. If you do fail you try again, but this time you “fail better”. Each time you fail you learn something, thus, getting that much closer to the end goal. The use of simple structures initially makes the text easier to read. With longer sentences containing multiple IC’s and DC’s can result in a distracted reader. Also — the short sentences provide emphasis on the words. The significants is greater than it would be using long sentences.

Using a question mark would cause the reader to ask themselves, when have I tried and failed? Instead, the reader automatically resonates with the statement. “Ever tried. Ever failed.” Of course I have, thinks the reader. There is no question or distraction of thought.

Using an exclamation point would be very aggressive. The reader would almost feel attacked and taken back. The use of a period simply states the subject allowing the reader to relate.