November 2002 (v5 i3)
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Professors Baffled by Crappy Writing
Six thousand freshman papers begin "In this post-9/11 world"
by Trevor Rosen, Editor-in-Chief

CAMPUS — Professors in the College of Liberal Arts' Division of Rhetoric and Composition have no explanation for the sudden increase in horribly written papers submitted by freshmen over the past year, but they've found one common thread: over 6,000 begin with "in this post-9/11 world," and then go on to expound on topics ranging from feminist memes in The Scarlet Letter to the use of free-range chickens in developing countries.

"The problem," said DRC professor Wade Haas, "is really rooted in the opening paragraphs of each paper. Freshmen always find starting a paper difficult-they've been taught for years to open with some lame generalizing statement about the human condition-like 'throughout human history' or 'all men struggle with questions of identity.' There are some surprisingly awful things that we see from freshmen every year, but nothing before 9/11 was ever this formulaic."

The horrible opening sentences have come in droves, apparently spurred by the rhetoric of carefully postured, all-purpose patriotism in the wake of 9/11/01 that has been used to promote everything from mortgage re-financing to the easy loss of civil liberties.

Freda Felcher
RHE 306
October 21,2002
Flannery O'Connor and Al Qaeda: An Unholy Alliance
Now more than ever, in this post 9/11 world, it's important to understand the impact that some stories like Good Country People can sometimes have on people who read them who are American. Americans have difficult issues to face when trying to make sense of the tragedy and help shape their identities in the face of mounting pressures to come to terms. No one does a better job of alienating the American populace by telling the populace that they are all a bunch of yokels with wooden legs that deserve to get stolen than Mrs. Flannery O'Conner, a writer who had a messed-up leg herself and therefore shouldn't talk so much, even if she is just trying to pull out a dynamic, post-structuralist criticism of post-depression American societal stratification themes and messages.
DRC professors have encountered some serious problems in getting students to understand why the opening sentences are flawed, finding that the freshmen resort to hiding behind the tragedy of 9/11, instead of attempting to defend their piss-poor writing.

"I try hard to teach my students about the value of putting something helpful to your argument in every sentence," said Haas, who teaches RHE 309S, "The Rhetoric of 1990's Footwear Advertising." "But every time I try to tell them that starting a paper about Nike's ad campaigns with a sentence like 'now more than ever, in this post 9/11 world, it is important to consider the impact of the Air Pippen' just doesn't work, they start crying and say 'more than 3,000, Dr. Haas, more than 3,000!' What can I do with that?"

Students in the DRC's classes seem to see nothing wrong with their method of introduction.

"We're like, really affected by 9/11," said Wendy Hafle, a nutrition junior and self-described '9/11 survivor.' "I think that themes of alienation and betrayal in Bartleby the Scrivener have a lot to say about what's going on right now with the whole middle east thing. My [E]316K professor told us that thinking that way was wrong… something about a red fish or something. I don't know, I just think he's being insensitive."
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