Being A Critical Reader-and Writer-in Exceptional Times
I attended the 2.00pm event “Being a critical reader-and writer-in exceptional times” for this months teach-in.
The speaker was a professor from the English Department at Ryerson; Colleen Derkatch.
Professor Derkatch’s specialty is rhetoric so she spoke about rhetoric used by government officials. She first opened up by introducing metaphor as a powerful literary device that can become so normalized in media and popular culture that we, as a whole, forget it’s there. Professor Derkatch cited those who say they or someone they know is “battling cancer” as a common example.
Professor Derkatch then extrapolated on how it is used to ascribe a sort of locus to a problem, saying how it can be used to rally a lot of support as is the case with cancer. According to Professor Derkatch, however, it can also be used for nefarious purposes, such as with the “war on terrorism” or the “war on drugs”. The crux of the argument was that metaphor, and other literary devices can be used to rally the public in exceptional times. These exceptional times, however, are increasing in frequency, normalizing exceptions. Consequently, these literary devices such as metaphor are being used for a significantly high number of malicious acts than seen in the recent past.
Personally, I thought this was some pretty standard COMM101 material: What is Rhetoric and How is it Used? Perhaps that’s just because I am a graduate student. Perhaps not. I can definitely say however, that I very much enjoyed going to school at 2.00pm as opposed to what would have been normally 10.00am. Additionally I liked that I only had to stay for 45 minutes instead of 6 hours. Unfortunately I missed the pizza, but my friend came with me so that was fun. In conclusion, I found the teach-in enjoyable, informative and a good change of scenery, from the usual day-to-day scholastic activities. Thus, The Ryerson School of Journalism should have more teach-ins and serve pizza later in the afternoon.
– Alexa D’Addario, Master of Journalism Candidate.