In Deliberations, Eli Kozin wrote an article titled Homelessness and Poverty: An Ethnographic Journey onto the Streets of Durham. Like the title suggests, Kozin’s article explores the phenomenon of homelessness. In the article, Kozin conducts interviews with some of the homeless people in Durham, North Carolina. His main objective was to find out was what is being homeless like, how did the people became homeless, why were they still homeless. To find answers to his questions, Kozin had to really do his research. With this said, Kozin decided that the only way for him to fully what homelessness was like was for him to experience it. Thus, Kozin made the commitment to spend a night sleeping on the streets. Kozin night of homelessness was definitely something to remember; after that night Kozin concluded that the homeless life was rough. Kozin also realized that these few people he interviewed were not the only homeless people in the world. Kozin references that three and a half million people experience homelessness on a given. Also Kozin saw that homelessness was not something to be just seen in Durham; he states that homelessness is a phenomenon found almost everywhere across the United States. From Kozin’s research and first hand experience, he saw that something needed to be done about homelessness. With this is mind, Kozin began the Duke Local Advocacy Initiative, a student group that aims at assisting the homeless.
It is hard to believe that Kozin’s great impact started simply from a Writing 20 assignment. We can honestly say Kozin’s work greatly mirrors the goals of Writing 20: to engage with the work of others, articulate a position, and situate writing in specific contexts. Kozin really got into his work; this showed he had a passion and interests in his topic. With this said, I believe the same can be accomplished despite the discipline: i.e. arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. For example, an Ocean Acidification Writing 20 course can be applicable to areas beyond the natural sciences.
In my writings on ocean acidification, I feel I am gaining far more than a science lesson on the topic its ocean acidification. Like Kozin, I have done research in my previous writings, but also like him, I believe it shouldn’t stop there. I hope to explore more within and beyond ocean acidification. With this in mind I am confident I will definitely fulfill the goals of Writing 20.
Hope Winfield’s essay focuses on different aspects surrounding the controversial pro-choice segment of the Catholic Church. Pro-choice activism within the Church emerged around the time following the Roe v. Wade decision. However, even after many requests to do so, the Church refused to acknowledge pro-choice beliefs and instead responded to pro-choice activists with hostility. Instead of accepting their position as dissenters, these activists continued to fight for their stance: that Catholicism means making these sorts of decisions by yourself, and trusting your own spirituality, instead of being told what constitutes an “ethical” decision. In her essay, Winfield takes the position of a historian as she analyzes many of the more specific arguments made by the pro-choice Catholics, explaining their rationale for their anger with the decision-making authorities of the Church. She analyzes and cites from many primary sources, including an encyclical published by Pope Paul VI that became the basis of the Church’s official pro-life stance and the controversial pro-choice Catholic manifesto. Winfield completely abstains from including her own opinions on the topic, but instead, like a true historian, simply rationalizes past events and makes new connections, such as correlating the peak of this activism with the feminist movement. To supplement the organization of her essay, Winfield effectively employs and transitions between subheadings, which are used to highlight each main idea and make her structure clear to the reader. Her writing in general is very clear and to-the-point, avoiding fancy elongated language, but occasionally using figurative language, such as “…came armed for battle with their new interpretations of what it meant to be Catholic”, which differentiates her writing from the standard monotonous history essay. Her entire conclusion was a prime example of figurative language; she ends her essay by thoughtfully comparing the struggles of the Catholic pro-choice activists against the hierarchal church to the colonists of the American Revolution. This unique ending leads the reader in a more philosophical state, as they are left with a “bigger picture” of Catholic pro-choice history.
Scientific writing is very comparable to historical writing in that it is most effective when it relies on straight facts and unbiased interpretation rather than individual opinion and rhetoric. In my own writing, I have learned to abstain from even the slightest exaggeration in order to try to communicate more factually. Related to this type of communication is clarity and conciseness, which we have been working in our scientific writing class. It defines Winfield’s paper and could probably be translated to almost all forms of academic writing as a way to more successfully communicate an argument or explain a topic. With factual writing come sources and citation, and Winfield’s paper exemplifies this, as a citation appears after almost every other sentence. She synthesizes material from a variety a sources, but makes each idea her own by drawing connections and offering well-supported motives. This is also an aspect of writing that I have been working on, during both major projects. Although a piece of historical writing, the techniques in Winfield’s essay can easily be translated as exemplary models for scientific writing, and for many other forms of academic writing as well.
Brandon Levy, author of “On Alcohol”, voices his opinion on why teens choose to drink, despite the illegality of it. Brandon starts his essay with a story from his bar mitzvah when he was thirteen years old. To complete his move to adulthood he was to drink white wine from a chalice. The wine would go down his throat and he would emerge a man. Brandon was enthused by this idea and could not wait to take his first sip of the sweet wine. However, when he went to do so, it was not his lips that felt the wine. It was his tie. The wine had spilled on him. Since this day, a day that entailed much embarrassment, Brandon made the decision not to drink.
This decision is very different from the decision of the majority of his peers who drink until they cannot remember what they did when they wake up the next morning (maybe more like the next afternoon). After arriving at this decision Brandon had never put much thought into why his decision and the decisions of others differed. Why do teens choose to drink?
Brandon explored multiple ideas to answer this question. Did teens wish to defy their parents? Did they think that alcohol consumption would relieve stress? Brandon arrived at the conclusion that underage people drank in order to seem more mature and accelerate the maturation process.
Rather than presenting facts and figures and throwing mass amounts of dense information and statistics at the reader, Brandon presents his argument through personal anecdotes. He presents personal stories to show why he choose not to drink as well as narratives as to why he believes that striving for maturity is the reason behind why teens drink. His story creates imagery and brings the reader in, making them interested in reading his piece and in contemplating his ideas.
This technique of using anecdotes works great in Brandon’s writing. It makes the essay interesting and entertaining without distracting from the message of his work. His ideas and hypothesis’ are very clear and understandable. Despite its success in Brandon’s essay, this technique would not be appropriate for essays such as MP1 and MP2. The goal of these essays was to convey information on a scientific topic, ocean acidification, in order to inform the audience, in hopes that it will increase their awareness for the topic and make them care more about the issue at hand. Using scientific data and information, it would be hard to create an anecdote that you could use to convey your message. Essays such as MP1 and MP2 are better conveyed in a straightforward, fact-like manner.
Though this piece differs greatly from MP1 and MP2 in its deliverance of information, the essays all follow a similar format. The pieces start with an introduction and then move on to the body paragraphs. The piece is then wrapped up with a conclusion. In the body, though we are progressing through different ideas, we keep a connection between all of the ideas and all of the paragraphs so that we do not encounter a disconnect in our writing and there is a flow throughout the paper.
Eli Kozin’s article, “Homelessness and Poverty: An Ethnographic Journey onto the Streets of Durham,” provides an intimate perspective on homelessness. The article is well researched—Kozin references numerous studies highlighting the scope of the issue—but at the same deeply personal, relying heavily on individual accounts to send a message. He challenges the public perception that homelessness is a consequence of laziness by providing evidence that social determinants and the American economic system are to blame. Throughout the article he merges his own experiences among the homeless in Durham with local and national studies on homelessness, using forthright tone to lay bare the need for social change.
The organization of the paper is its most effective tool. Kozin is a master of argument, evoking appeals to pathos, ethos, and logos, in a systematic fashion. He begins with mini-biographies of two homeless men, inducing the sympathies of the reader. He then details his own experiment to recreate homelessness, establishing his credibility as a writer with an intimate understanding of the issue. Finally he identifies six components of homelessness in a logical fashion, utilizing scholarly sources to augment his position. The last two sentences of the final paragraph serve to illustrate his purpose. In them he explains that his article is intended to bring about discourse that will eventually effect change.
The self-stated motive of Deliberations is to highlight the work of authors who take academic writing beyond the confines of an institution and engage with the world. “Homelessness and Poverty” exemplifies this mission; it is simultaneously informative and inspiring, exhibiting depth of research while remaining accessible to the public. Kozin’s message itself is an appeal not only to academics, but to the American people in general. He advocates a transformation in the public attitude towards homelessness, calling for a shift from an apathetic avoidance of the issue to direct discussion and confrontation.
The characteristics of Kozin’s work are similar to the goals of our major writing projects. He engages with the work of others, citing studies to support his position, just as we did in MP1 and MP2. Kozin is particularly effective in articulating a position—he makes it clear that the purpose of his paper is to bring about social reform. Likewise with MP2, we were required to utilize scholarly literature to formulate a thesis on a specific aspect of ocean acidification. Many people chose to articulate a position on the need for policy reform in much the same way as Kozin. Because our projects were situated in a different context, however, certain aspects of our writing would be inappropriate in a Deliberations’ essay. While our articles were directed at the readership of scientific journals, Deliberations emphasizes speaking to a wider audience. The theme of this year’s edition of Deliberations, “Thinking Globally, Writing Locally,” does not exactly coincide with the goals of our Writing 20 course. The topic of ocean acidification requires one to write globally, and it involves a different set of factors from the acidification of local water sources. Despite the difference in focus, it is clear that Kozin went through a similar process of researching, workshopping, revising, and editing that is central to the development of our work.
Although the purpose of Kozin’s article was to demystify homelessness, we can learn just as much from the manner in which he develops his position. While the message of many research papers is obfuscated by jargon and therefore inaccessible to the public, Kozin engages a broad audience while maintaining academic professionalism. As aspiring writers, we strive to achieve the same level of clarity and conciseness Kozin demonstrates in articulating his thesis.