SSR #3

Tristan Heibel

ENG – 300


14 May 2018

SSR #3


Within the last three chapters of David M. Levy’s Scrolling Forward, he begins by identifying the reliability of the book in a bookstore and the unreliability of the web page. The book has the backing of a publisher that made sure the book was viable for publishing while the web page does not have that. The digital world is messy. Since documents are constantly changing in order to live up to the human need to have ourselves remembered, this transition into the digital has been very difficult. Although digital documents have caused a difficult transition in documents, Levy believes that all of those documents are just as important as the ones that came before. Along with substantial documents, digital documents can “address the great existential questions of human life” (Levy, 184). Scrolling Forward then wraps up in Chapter 11 with a statement on the current state of our society and how we understand documents. Levy believes that society is  moving so much faster than before and how our use of documents identifies a need for many in society to use documents to try and surpass finality.


When reading the last few chapters of Scrolling Forward, it’s difficult not to think back on many of the chapters within the book. One of the more interesting ways that the idea of documents holding onto existence comes into play in Levy’s third chapter, “Leaves of Grass.” Levy identifies the ways in which the poem “Song of Myself,” by Walt Whitman, can be viewed and experienced. In the digital sense, the poem is useful to Levy because they “satisfy my interest in comparative study and lay scholarship,” while his childhood copy hits closer to home (42). Levy writes of his childhood copy, “it is always my childhood copy to which I return for nourishment” (42). The idea of a document holding onto Whitman’s existence not only through scholarly interest, but also through emotional attachment shows how documents persist human existence. Levy shows here how humans really use documents in order to secure a part of themselves in continuity due to how we are able to interpret the same words in different mediums. Whitman’s emotions in “Song of Myself” hold true in both versions. Either form of the document serves as a reminder of his existence in different ways though, in subjectivity and objectivity.

This idea of subjectivity and objectivity in the persisting nature of documents is incredibly evident in the response to The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara. Bambara’s document can easily be seen as a way to concretely remember a spirit and social understanding of racial oppression. Levy states in chapter 10, “Each one of us, by virtue of having a self, is continually struggling to discover ‘ourself’” (186). In a story based around children learning the economic disparity they are living in, Bambara looks to find herself in the economic tier she was born into. She explicitly states within The Lesson, “‘Imagine for a minute what kind of society it is in which some people can spend on a toy what it would cost to feed a family of six or seven’” (Bambara, 5). By identifying in this document the culture and society that enacts these restraints on a part of itself, Bambara securely locks this experience in its continuity. Using a document to do this, in Levy’s terms, solidifies this experience and Bambara in history through emotional connection to a child that must come to terms with the society they were born into. In a more scholarly and objective outlook, this document can live on as a constant reminder of economic disparity with its downfalls.  

Voices of the Self by Kieth Gilyard is another fantastic example of this attempt to solidify a real experience and a real cultural experience in a document. Levy makes it a point to write that “since documents are reflections and materializations of ourselves, their stability, however brief, is an assurance of our own” (189). Gilyard reinforces his argument for the importance and complexity of Black English by using his own experiences to support it. His opinion of this dialect is as follows, “using language as a way of adapting to situations and, to some extent, as a means of defining and controlling situations” (Gilyard, 40). Obviously Gilyard has much appreciation for the concept of Black English, so by using his own life as a way to get this point across, he attempts to solidify himself by materializing his experiences in the text. He, quite literally, seeks to assure his own stability of the concept of Black English and his own experience. With this assurance of both, he identifies Black English as an integral cultural practice that allows many in society to manage their impression. Due to Gilyard’s inherent belief in the importance of Black English, he seeks to solidify himself in continuity and assure himself the security of Black English as a substantial part of his life.

Word Count: 823


  1. In what ways have you tried to solidify yourself in continuity and reassure yourself of the stability of your life (Levy implies that most all humans do this)?
  2. Is this continual method of reassurance possibly creating a universal lexicon for understanding the human experience?
  3. Are there some experiences that are entirely inconsequential and simply exist for the purpose of someone marking their existence?


Levy, D. M. (2016). Scrolling forward: Making sense of documents in the digital age. New York: Arcade Publishing.

Bambara, Toni C. “The Lesson.” Curriculum Resource Solutions, Inc. Web. 12 May 2015.

Gilyard, K. (1991). Voices of the self: A study of language competence. Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press.


5/2 Writing Prompts

  1. Many readers invalidate many characters in “The Great Gatsby” due to their personal disdain for who they are. This doesn’t take into account how the themes are affected by these characterizations. The characters are vain and vapid while most readers may not perceive themselves as so. In reading that the so called “hero” in the book is seen through all these negative aspects makes him more of a villain than anything else. In dodging the aspect that the luxury and materiality of the era is forgotten as a major theme of the novel.
  2. Vegans as a collective activist group for animal rights are often forgotten because of their vehemence and anger. Vegans are a very vocal minority which causes them to be seen as others that are pretty much only a nuisance. This immediately sedates their claims by seeing them as just extremely loud gripers. The sheer fact that they are so vocal makes the majority see them as invalid in their opinions.
  3. In relation to some rebuttals used to avoid an entire argument, I would begin to think about how this works in the Black Lives Matter movement. Those against the movement will state “All Lives Matter” instead of engaging with the fact that many more African Americans are killed per year in the United States than any other racial group. Instead of staring a dialogue that identifies the problems through argumentation, the “All Lives Matter” arguer uses emotional pandering to invalidate the argument that goes along with Black Lives Matter.

SSR #2

Tristan Heibel

ENGL – 300 Texts and Contexts

17 April 2018

SSR #2


Within LuMing Mao’s book, Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie, he makes the argument that Chinese American rhetoric is individualized because of its ability to take on the traditions of both Chinese traditions and American traditions in its rhetoric. In comparing a Chinese fortune cookie to Chinese American rhetoric, he makes the statement that it is “in a border zone where two cultures come into contact with each other, and where rhetorical experiences intermingle” (Mao, 4). Mao draws on examples of this through trying to erase the barrier between the two traditions of rhetoric but not entirely get rid of it. He allows for the context and content of Chinese American rhetoric to better inform its newfound growth in the lexicon of rhetoric. In chapter two, Mao then discusses how both European American and Chinese rhetoric begin to interact together despite anyone’s refusal. To do this, he draws on experiences both fictitious and real to better exemplify how it is utilized.


            Very early on within Mao’s first chapter, “Opening Topics,” he makes the claim that rhetoric can vary based on “historical periods and social and technological contexts – not to mention rhetoricians’ own ideological and ethnic commitments” (Mao, 13). There is a similar ideal that is brought forth in Chapter 7 of What Writing Does and How It Does It, in which Prior states, “Intertextual analysis can provide much data on the writing process; however, there is much that cannot be captured by these methods: exchanges that are missed; the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and sense-making; contexts that do not appear in the text” (Bazerman & Prior, 179). Both Mao and Prior would seem to agree that tactics for writing and the ability to write effectively is devalued without understanding the reasoning and context in which the writer can be found. The relation of outside forces to understanding Chinese American rhetoric could easily be connected to Prior’s stance on how much a writers surroundings and life affect their work. It makes sense then that Mao would identify this because he is writing about Chinese American rhetoric because he is a Chinese American man. Mao grasps the gravity of his heritage and what makes him a rhetorician because of his heritage.

Bazerman makes a point in his chapter on intertextuality in stating that how writers put together works comes from “common stock of language we share with others” (Bazerman & Prior, 83). Writers use this common knowledge in order to allow for further understanding for whomever is reading their work. Mao makes a similar statement in Chinese Fortune Cookies by stating “Chinese American rhetoric can be realized not only by our own practices, but also by our reflections of others’ experiences” (19). Both of the texts draw on the idea that texts are manifestations of experiences that come from the writer but also from the people around the author. Although similar to the previous point, it is necessary to emphasize the people in the equation. Even though culture has a large impact on a writer and what he does, it is very important to understand the people through which the author finding reason and understanding. In order to understand writing, it is important to understand the world around them and the knowledge around them that can help shape a text.

Another comparison to be made between Mao’s Chinese Fortune Cookie and a prior text lies within a concept identified in Do You Speak American? When he cites Gray-Rosendale and Gruber by stating “‘no rhetoric is fully ‘alternative’ but always both rewrites the tradition and inevitably becomes part of it’ (4)” the concept can clearly be linked to the ideal of the descriptivist. These people are described as “those content to describe usage” (MacNeal, 9). Descriptivists see language as a changing and mutable tool. They believe that language will go through many changes and absorb new vocabulary into its lexicon. It would be hard to see Mao as anything but a descriptivist because of the statement above. His stance on how rhetoric that is outside the usual rhetoric utilized would easily translate over to the use of language as a transforming means of communication.

There is also a glaring comparison to be made between Mao’s Chinese Fortune Cookie and Keith Gilyard’s Voices of the Self. The way both writers choose to identify the ethnic element to both of their arguments helps to contextualize their own rhetoric. Gilyard writes, “I have worked with Black students who, for the most part, have been ill-prepared by the public schools to write the Standard English demanded of them” (11). Mao states on the borderlands of rhetoric that they “intermingle with the weight of particular histories that will not fit into the master narrative of a monolithic culture” (20). Both identify ethnic blockers that have stopped their respective communities from advancing in two separate accounts. Gilyard approaches this in his opinion on Black English in comparison to Standard English and Mao with his rhetoric in the grand scheme of all other rhetoric. The ethnic element has barred both communities from being recognized respectfully for their importance to the compilation of texts. In recognizing this, both rhetoricians identified an obstruction that challenges their intellect based on their ethnic background.


  1. Can ethnic language use and rhetoric adapt to become part of the larger group of rhetoric and language instead of being marked as ‘fringe’ or ‘alternative?’
  2. Is there any way for a writer to come from a place other than intertextuality or is everyone forced to only write based on their experiences and the experiences of those around them?
  3. Will rhetoric actually swap places with one of the ‘alternative’ forms and become completely reversed in its dichotomous relationship?

Word Count: 868

Gilyard, K. (1991). Voices of the self: A study of language competence. Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press.

Mao, L. (2014). Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie: The Making of Chinese American Rhetoric. Logan: Utah State University Press.

MacNeil, R. (2008). Do you speak American? Princeton, NJ: FMG Home Video.

Bazerman, C., & Prior, P. (Eds.). (2009). What writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and textual practices. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Paradigm Shift Checkpoint 3 Script “Designer Babies”

ENG – 300 Paradigm Shift Script

[Tristan’s part, spoken in front of the camera with interspersed images at times to contextualize the content of his argument. The pictures will appear every time a new topic arises and then return back to Tristan.]

Designer babies would not be fully identified in terms of what it means for society without first acknowledging its roots. The idea of manipulating the population and its genetics in order to bolster a more superior gene pool has its roots definitively within eugenics. In manipulating the decisions people make instead of their actual genes, the public believed that deviance could be bred out. Eugenics was birthed from Darwin’s theory of evolution in the fact that Darwin identified how if one trait is more useful, it will be passed on. With eugenics, mankind could take an active role in evolution, producing a population that they saw fit for life in their society.

This course of action was considered proper in the time that it manifested and currently there is much more support in the area of designer babies. The manipulation of genes for personality were identified and heavily disparaged on the creation of the first “test tube baby” in 1978. Today, however, many are starting to come around to the idea of altering a human’s character before they’re even born. With the success of genetic manipulation in regards to suppressing genetic disorders, many are wondering how far we can go from there.

In knowing this history that genetic manipulation has, it’s hard not to compare it with how we see the current climate of designer babies. Eugenics was greatly involved with race and how some races are not as worthy to pass on their traits as others are. This was generally directed towards African Americans due to many stigmas that still pervade today. The price tag on genetically manipulating a child before it is born is very much a key indicator in how this may continue into the next generation. Due to systematic oppression, many African American communities are stuck in poverty. As designer babies become more and more utilized, many people in poverty will not have access to this medical practice. This could serve to further entrench poverty disparity when someone can put on a resume that they were genetically modified to have a superior trait.

Much like designer babies stems from the growing ability to manipulate biology. It would be ill advised not to harken back to its positive roots in birth control. As D’Emillio states in his book Intimate Matters on birth control that “biology proved less and less to be destiny” (233). In terms of designer babies, biological predetermination is becoming a reality that will allow us to combat biology for our own purposes or even gains. Is society moving closer to a new problem, or is it simply progressing medically in order to meet the demands of a world that is progressively becoming more and more controllable or safe?

[Lexi’s part, discussing the current state of designer babies, begins and follows near the same structure as Tristan’s.]

Though designer babies remain a highly controversial topic, the surge in interest demonstrates a shift in scientific attitudes. Designer babies are not used to create the “perfect child” with looks selected as if a parent was constructing an American Girl doll, but for health reasons. Researchers in Oregon used embryo editing to “repair a single gene mutation on a single gene…known to cause…heart disease” (Belluck). Heart disease is sometimes fatal, and this genetic editing has potentially saved a child’s life. Belluck concedes that editing embryos for normal human traits, such as eye or hair color, would be much more difficult. This emphasis on designer babies, therefore, is far more indicative of the advancement of modern medicine than an aspiration towards science fiction.

Some, however, feel that the idea of tampering with genetic makeup is dangerous and poses disasterous consequences. Throughout history, stories of superheroes and monsters have made people both cautious and excited with the idea of editing DNA. However, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stands by the older belief that designer babies pose “safety issues [and] ethical issues” (Fecht). The American government has long held a conservative stance on embryonic research (Fecht). This major health institute’s hesitance towards genetic editing demonstrates the uncertainty and fear surrounding this paradigm shift. There is an understandable fear that a line has been crossed, as designer babies are technically unnatural. It is still within the interest and nature of scientists to push the boundaries of the natural world with hopes of improving human life, which is why despite warnings from the NIH, scientists continue to dabble in the field. This crossing of what the NIH terms “ethically questionable lines in research” is particularly prevalent in China.

Chinese scientists appear to be taking the lead on genetic editing. Chinese researchers created a technique called CRISPR/Cas9 designed to edit human embryos (Maldarelli). It is so far the most effective technique in embryo editing. China is showing a clear shift towards valuing medical advancements over the ethical issues cited by the American government. However, as genetic editing is becoming more popular, this shift favoring scientific progress over ethical concerns shows that this will become an increasingly popular trend. Though the modern focus is on medical research, one day people may be able to use this technology to affect trait characteristics. This seems to be the science fantasy of many. The obsession with designer babies in the public eye is not about medical interest, but rather indicative of a growing obsession with image.

[Austin’s part, describing complications, similar to the rest]

When it comes to modifying chromosomes and selecting a baby’s genetic makeup in order to avoid particular defects, or to ensure that a particular gene is present, it is necessary to understand that many complications or health problems can occur because of how relatively new the process is. Also, because the process is uncommon and still being tested globally, the biggest health risk would be that many of the outcomes are still unknown. At this point in time it is hard for doctors to predict the exact outcome with certainty. Doctors say that it is easy to control some traits but controlling other traits can be an extreme risk because they are controlled by dozens to hundreds of genes. For example, modifying the height requires the alteration of 50+ genes, while changing the sex of a baby is much simpler. Because of this, a mistake in just one gene could potentially change the entire outcome of the desired baby. Altering these chromosomes and genes gives an increased risk of mutations and genetic complications for the child, thus causing a lot of disappointment for the parents.


Furthermore, because of how fairly new this process is, it is unknown to doctors and parents as to what will happen to them 10 to 20 years down the road, whether or not they will maintain a healthy life as a normal human being. There is a close watch on a select group of designer babies around the world that could one day be the answer to these worries. One thing that has occurred when creating designer babies is affecting personality traits during the process of gene modification. For example, if the parents want a kind, generous, upstanding citizen, due to the altering of many different genes there is a risk the baby may come out to be mean, disrespectful, and morally skewed. Further research has showed that designer babies tend to suffer socially due to their altered genes, also, the baby may become an outcast and feeling rejected because of the thought of their parents changing them instead of the parents accepting them for who they are. This could affect them on a psychological and emotional level, as well as potentially becoming a harm to society. Finally, the biggest complication or concern with this process is that parents who have decided to create a designer baby may not necessarily receive the baby they asked for. Because of how risky and complicated this process is, the desired traits may be completely different than expected.

[Segen’s part, discussing the future of this phenomenon, again similar to the rest.]

Being able to select the traits of unborn children may seem like an abstract idea to some, but it may soon become a reality because of CRISPR-Cas9. According to the Broad Institute, CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique form of technology that enables researchers to “permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome in order to treat genetic causes of disease” (BI). Emily Mullin of the MIT Technology review previously announced that CRISPR Therapeutics, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be using this gene-editing technology to fix a “genetic defect in patients with beta thalassemia, which is an inherited blood disorder” (Mullin).

In just the past few years, advances in CRISPR have been happening consistently around the world. According to Mullin, various companies have been trying to commercialize the technology in the US and Europe. However, China has already taken advantage of CRISPR technology. According to Rob Stein, a journalist for NPR, “at least eight other Chinese studies of CRISPR for various forms of cancer are listed on a U.S. government website that serves as a clearinghouse for biomedical research worldwide. The list includes studies of CRISPR as a treatment for cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix and prostate” (Stein).

The hope is that CRISPR can be used to cure numerous types of disorders and cancers that do not have treatment options. The goal of the CRISPR technology is to be able to fix genetic errors in a sick persons DNA so that we can actually see where the problem is coming from. Although a lot of people would agree that this all sounds like a great plan, the reality of the situation is that the process of this coming into complete fruition is going to take some time.

That might be the dream, but the reality is far different. Already, investigators have delayed the start dates of clinical trials in the US and Europe. Alexey Bersenev, director of the Advanced Cell Therapy Lab at Yale-New Haven Hospital, says that “2019 could see a dozen or so submissions for clinical trials” (Mulin). Until then, upcoming studies will treat only a small amount of patients with rare diseases.

“Fake News” Class Response

The article “This week proved it: The internet is optimized to do us harm” seeks to identify the internet as an unwelcoming and dangerous place to traverse. The author, Virginia Heffernan, uses many different techniques of intertextuality in order to contextualize and improve her point.

Heffernan uses casual and friendly words in order to establish a more intimate rapport with the reader. She uses certain words and phrases like “the flamingo-haired Christopher Wylie” in order to garner the audiences agreement through a meager joke at someone’s appearance. She goes to the effort of making the reader feel as if they are friends with whomever is relaying this information. It serves to make the article seem like inside information that is being shared in the spirit of gossip.

Within the article are references outside of the text that help build more understanding of what is being presented. Heffernan references other social media outlets that further contextualize how the reader should interpret the focal social media site of the article, Facebook. The author also uses intermediality by cross-referencing television spots with people related to the data that Facebook was subject to. These techniques are linked in the article in order to contextualize and enforce the point of the article.

Even within the title of the article there is references and intertextuality that cause the reader to have a different opinion of what is happening within the article. Terrorist attacks by Muslim focused groups is a lasting stigma that has existed in the American mindset since 9/11. Within the actual news recording clip, there is no actual reference to the protesters religious affiliation. The article, however, uses this incorrect taut in order to play on the long lasting stigma that Muslim’s are a violent group. The article plays on well known stereotypes in order to gain traction and believability.

Checkpoint 1: Group Multi-Media Project

For our multi-media group presentation, Group 3 has chosen to shine light on the issue of designer babies. Many people are beginning to use biological and genetic engineering to produce children that contain desirable traits by the parents standards. Although this will serve to save many children from living with a disability, it can also have a negative social impact. What if this practice becomes so mainstream that average humans will be pushed out. The growing dependence on these “superhumans” could prove to be another form of segregation in society. There is a growing use of this practice though. With the growth in medical sciences, this practice will only continue into the unforeseeable future. Group 3 will emphasize the importance of this growing change in modern cultural artifacts such as films, literature, art, etc. The project will be completed in full by May 2nd with the following checkpoints. Our sources will be gathered by April 2nd, the script for the presentation will be completed by April 9th, our story board will be finished by April 16th with the image selection being completed on April 23.

Group 3 ENGL – 300
Tristan Heibel
Austin Hill
Segen Habte
Lexi Galuska


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