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Taylor Williams, Hayley Meyer, Temi Thompson

Purpose

The intent of this annotated bibliography is to propose a general definition and explanation on purpose. Most have a general idea that purpose is the reason why an author feels the need to write and share their ideas. However, purpose can be understood as a specific topic or idea that compels an author to express a particular thought to a target audience in various forms aside from writing. It is a key element that is critical in the development of any work of writing by an author. An author’s purpose can be influenced by factors such as genre and audience. Having a specific audience is critical for an author to communicate their purpose effectively. In addition, the author decides on a genre that is best suited for the intended purpose and audience. Genre and audience are key in developing purpose. They help add a deeper meaning to the text and make it easier for the audience to synthesize a purpose. In David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech, he uses a specific tone of voice and specific vocabulary in order for his intended audience of a graduating class to understand they shouldn’t live an “all about me” lifestyle (Smith).

Smith, Jermal. "This Is Water - David Foster Wallace." YouTube, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 07 Sept.

2016.

David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech given in a video form intends to show the graduating class the little things in life that are not worth worrying about. The speaker opens with the analogy of two young fish making a snarky remark after an older fish swims past and asks them how the water is. Later on in the speech, the listener can connect this story to the fact that some of the most obvious things in life are hard to see. This is because in everyday life, people think naïvely because it is the most easy, automatic way to go. Throughout the speech, Wallace describes the “day in, day out” life of a graduate and the boredom, routine, and “petty frustration” that come with it. The speaker over-exaggerates his descriptions further allowing the audience to hear how dramatic some people make everyday life. For example, Wallace explains the scenario where a worker has to break from his routine and go to the grocery store where it is busy and confusing. He goes even further to mention the haul of the brown plastic bags in the grocery cart across the “crowded, bumpy parking lot.” While explaining this, the speaker also includes several sightings including a mother yelling at her child; however, the Wallace uses this situation to show the audience how foolishly a human can easily think. Wallace includes the point that that women yelling at her child may be going home to the known fact that her husband is dying of bone cancer. Emotional situations like these allow the listener to not only gain an understanding of Wallace’s point of naïve thinking, but they also allow the audience to question their own actions. Wallace’s commencement speech is intended to show the graduating class that they do not live in an “all about me,” “everyone else is in my way” environment. This commencement speech is full of possible, daily situations one might encounter, but Wallace looks past the surface level annoyance of them and allows the listeners to understand that other people have difficult lives too. His ultimate goal is for the listener to learn how to think wisely

and that you chose how to see life. Because this is a commencement speech, Wallace’s persuasive language compels the audience to live a better life.

Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream…” speech is widely know for the turning point of racism across America. In front of millions, King presented his “dreams” and showed the population blacks deserve the same rights as whites. Throughout his speech, King refers directly to the listeners by using the pronouns “we,” “you,” and “our.” For instance, when speaking about freedom he states, ‘”This is our hope. This is faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.’” As shown in this statement, the speaker uses broad pronouns so the audience feels as if he is speaking directly to them. This allows the audience to feel a sense of importance and may act as a catalyst to action. In other pieces of writing catered to a different audience, the vocabulary, syntax, and tone used may be different. For instance, if Martin Luther King Jr were expressing his ideas to kindergardners, he probably would not use some of the word choice he says in his speech. Furthermore, the inclusion of several sources make the speech seem less opinion based and more logic based. King adds that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence “’[…] promise that all men-yes, black as well as white men- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”’ By doing this, the speaker allows for the opportunity of change to arise. King includes these points to back up his opinion, showing that even the founding fathers didn’t plan for segregation to occur. This speech is full of emotional adjectives, direct pronouns, and outside sources to show the listeners that his dream of his “[…] four little children [along with the rest of the population living…] in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” is achievable and is something that was meant to occur. Because this is a speech, the first audience is listening to the speaker live. This genre may cause the listeners to take an initiative to fix the issue because they can see King’s real emotions as he is speaking. If the audience were to read the speech on paper, obviously, not as much emotion would shine through leaving a lesser amount of people to take action.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. ""I Have a Dream

""

Archives.gov

. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Collins, Billy. "Slowing Down." Choate Rosemary Commencement Address. Wallingford, Connecticut. 3 June 2001. Web. 7 Sept. 2016

Billy Collins was an English Professor, granted the privilege of delivering the commencement speech to graduating class of 2001 at Choate Rosemary. Billy approached the speech with his primary purpose being to entertain and inform the audience. Billy used humor as well as an unconventional outline In order to grasp the attention of a room full of college students anxious to graduate. Right from the start, Billy worked to gain the attention of audience members. He knew commencement speeches are frequently looked upon with a negative connotation; as they tend to be long and boring. Billy started off by recalling the speeches he had to sit through years ago, each one following the same drawn out inspirational quotes coupled with some sort of metaphoric symbolism for the road that lies ahead. “There is the metaphor of the Road- Road with a capital R- as if your years of schooling had been nothing but an elaborate entrance ramp.” During this section of his speech, as Billy recalls past commencement speeches, humor is evidently noted by way of his cynical and sarcastic tone. Because this document is a speech, the tone is rather evident and easy to find. He then told the audience, “I am going to avoid as many of these conventions as possible. I am not going to give you advice that I have not

followed myself, I am not going to tell you anything I am not really sure of.” By establishing his plan to stray away from the conventional speech, Billy is able to gain intrigue from audience members. Billy is very aware of who his audience is, and by using humor, the students who would have been bored and tired of listening to people speak, became interested in learning what Billy had to say. Having grasped the audience’s attention, Billy is then able to inform the audience on his main topic which is to slow down and take in life moment by moment. The quotes that I chosen to pull from his original text have a different impact on my audience reading this paper, compared to billy’s audience who was listening to his speech. This is because the genres and the purpose of each is different. The purpose of me using billy’s quotes is to inform my classmates on the term ‘purpose,’ by providing an example of how Billy’s purpose can be demonstrated through the text. Billy chose his purpose with his audience in mind. Graduating is

a milestone in life, and Billy is playing off the general current emotional state of the audience members by giving a speech on treasuring life’s moments.

Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines. New York: Quill, 2003. Print.

“How to Read Literature like a Professor,” by Thomas C. Foster, is a work of literature that has been used by many English teachers as a required reading assignment, because of the valuable information one can learn by reading it. Although literature and commencement

speeches are different genres, Foster had the same purpose for writing as Billy did, which was to inform and to entertain the audience. Because they are different genres, there approaches were each different. Because Billy was giving a speech, his sarcastic comments and mannerisms made

it much easier for the audience to pick up on the humorous tone. However, Foster has to rely

purely on world choice to convey a humorous and entertaining tone. Foster knew when writing his book that his audience would be primarily students. This is why he worked to make sure humor would get across to the reader in order to make the learning lessons more enjoyable for students to read. In the novel, Foster brings up a different approach to the word “purpose.” He demonstrates various elements found in works of literature, and how they all have a purpose for being included. Foster makes it clear that each aspect in a story had to be chosen by someone to be included. Therefore, if something in a novel seems insignificant, the author chose to include that detail in order to relate back to his/ or her overall main purpose. Foster analyzed numerous famous works of literature to determine that various details may have more underlying meaning than what it actually seems. These underlying meanings all relate back to the author's purpose for writing.

Estrem, Heidi. "Writing Is a Knowledge-Making Activity." N.p., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 7 Sept. 2016.

In this short passage, Estrem begins by explaining that writing is not only defined by what it is, but also by what it can do. She states “[Writing is] about mulling over a problem, thinking with others, and exploring new ideas or bringing disparate ideas together.” According to the passage, authors can often find their purpose through writing frequently, which can help them generate new knowledge that they did not previously acquire, however, writers should not mistake writing as a shortcut to finding new ideas, but simply a means of creating them. Many people feel the need to collect their thoughts and make sure that they are orderly and eloquent

before they begin their process of writing in hopes of mastering the skills of a “good writer.”

Estrem focuses on the idea that writing is in itself the act of thinking in the statement “We don’t simply think first and then write. We write to think.” Broadening our views of how we think the process of writing should be executed and taking the time to appreciate raw, vulnerable pieces of writing such as journals, diagrams, and complex doodles (what we often now refer to as rough drafts) could change the way we define “good writing” and ultimately shift our purpose. Instead of only focusing on what our purpose for writing is, this would emphasize finding a purpose

through writing.

could help improve a more purposeful connection between writers and their pieces of writing. Writing down thoughts and ideas as they come to mind instead of trying to sort through them before choosing which ones are worth to be written down can help a writer grow and help them develop and establish a purpose. Our original definition of purpose ties in with Estrem’sfor the most part, the biggest difference is that she describes a method which can be utilized to find one’s purpose.

Taking the time to understand the knowledge that one can gain from writing

Lunsford, Andrea A. "Writing Addresses, Invokes, And/or Creates Audiences." 20-21. Print.

Lunsford defines writing as “both relational and responsive, always in some way part of an ongoing conversation with others.” There is a rhetorical triangle that is classically used in writing that connects the writer, the audience, and the text or message. Lunsford references Walter Ong, who emphasized the importance for writers to fictionalize their audience in order to properly address them, because for a speech the audience will receive the message immediately, but readers are more removed from it. Writers must consider their audience more carefully now than in the past because of modern technology. With so many pieces of writing on the internet, chances are the audience that looks at a piece of writing will be more than originally intended by the writer. With the advancement of the digital age, the boundaries between the writer and the audience have become significantly less evident as readers can so easily respond to a piece of writing and in that moment become writers as well. Lunsford never actually used the word “purpose” in this passage, however, the implication of the importance of a writer to establish a clear purpose was fairly evident. In order for a writer to get a concise message across to a fictionalized target audience, they must first identify the purpose for which they are writing in the first place so that they can use the purpose as a leverage to direct the flow of writing. This method directly supports my original definition of purpose as it forces the writer to figure out what is compelling them to write, while also forcing them to establish who exactly their audience includes.