Final Exam

Daniel Cohen

Section 1:

For the peer review section, I am critiquing Daniel Fermin’s advertisement which attacks the issue of illiteracy in America. I believe his ad would apply to the Ad Populum fallacy, speaking to the issue at hand and critiquing it, category because in this example he is displaying why the issue of why illiteracy is key issue in American sociology, he also gets into explaining that there are advantages and disadvantages to the issue. The reason I believe this ad would go under the Ad Populum category is because Daniel is attacking the reality of a concept, illiteracy, the overriding issue however is income inequality so this fits the Ad Populum structure quite well.

The overall message of this ad is “Don’t Take Literacy for Granted”, in my opinion this is a great way to serve this issue up because we as a society truly do take the ability to read and write for granted. This class is titled “Language as Power”, this ad surely coincides with that because it shows that being able to communicate on an academic and intellectual is not only a skill but a tool, a tool to being successful. Unfortunately, this issue is something that according to this ad affects 32 million Americans. That is an outrage, this country is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of privatized wealth and we still are not on top in the education spectrum. This has a lot to do with the fact that there is a great division between socio-economic levels and people simply do not have access to same educational institutions that people of wealth do.

Daniel examines the disadvantages that illiteracy has presented out country on economic, and social levels and it is true that illiteracy leads to individuals having much harder lives. People who are illiterate are not able to understand simple concepts or read simple things like menus and street signs, this is not only a tremendous social issue but a potential danger to people on the road who cannot read. He also points out that those affected by illiteracy are also a lot more prone to becoming impoverished, if you cannot read or write what kind of job can you work? The truth is, you are going to limited to mostly manual labor. Working jobs that require a lot of labor and hours and limited pay leads to a lower quality of life. By having a lower quality of life, people’s self-esteems are degenerated over time and the issue is becoming intergenerational as it is affecting the children of these illiterate individuals.

Lastly, Daniel examines the causes of illiteracy in America. Firstly, it begins with parents who are not educated themselves. Secondly, it has to do with a lack of books at home and the limited resources provided in low income school districts. Thirdly, it has to do with students becoming discouraged by their below average grades and dropping out of school altogether, this is a tragic reality meanwhile no one is really doing anything about it outside the social activism spectrum.

I think that this ad can be best analyzed by using the Toulmin method, Daniel presents his hypothesis: “Don’t Take Literacy for Granted” (Evidence). His warrant for this is that “32 million Americans are qualified as illiterate”. His claim is that there are disadvantages to this reality, that people are unable to receive access to high paying jobs and capital. The backing is the cause for this which he clearly articulates as being children born to parents with limited schooling and a lack of access to educational resources. The strength of the claim is backed by the Warrant which states that 32 million Americans are affected by income inequality. The rebuttal here is tricky because there is not really an exception to the claim except one; many individuals are illiterate because of criminal backgrounds and such, but this all usually stems from the sociological issue of income inequality. Overall, Daniel did a great job of breaking down the argument through the ad.

Section 2:

For this section I wanted to critique the writing that I had written in September titled: Literacy Narrative Project- Second Draft, this was a writing piece about understanding the concept of academic writing, I discussed how I learned how to write in an academic fashion by learning how to write creatively. Before my sophomore year of high school, I had no interest in writing, I simply wanted to be like every other kid and play video games after school and go to house parties on the weekends. I learned fairly quickly that in high school the people I was surrounding myself were not trying to be themselves. This vicarious endeavor that I was witnessing across many instances was what made me take a great interest in J.D. Salinger’s, The Catcher in the Rye. I read this book through, it was the first time in high school I did not Spark Note the summary of the book. I felt a great connection to the main character Holden. This existentialism that I took from the book made me read more and more.

This piece was good for me, it allowed me to feel more comfortable with my direction in the class and what I wanted to take out of it, which was to improve my overall writing skills. This happened and I feel a lot better about the way I write. But what this piece did for me back in September is it set a distinction between what is academic writing and what is creative/free. I think this piece made me see academic writing as less of a boring exercise and more of an adventure. I think it is a quest made by the writer to convince the reader that what you are saying has relevance to not only what you’re talking about, but to their lives as well.

I think it terms of writing I learned a lot more about myself as a writer, in terms of what I am able to academically as a writer. I think that this class showed me that academic writing when applied to an argumentative perspective for instance can show a lot to the reader about intent. I liked the way I was able to improve my rhetoric, I do not think my rhetoric was sloppy coming into this semester but I certainly thing learning the different methodologies I am in a place where my argumentative skills are more effective.

Section 3:

For this section of the assignment I am using three terms to discuss how they apply to my sociology report on code-switching. Code-Switching- is the action of changing the discourse of the language you are speaking with. James Paul-Gee has great concern with how people perceive the “discourses” around language, he says that discourse are the variables that go into shaping our rhetoric. In short, I think he means to show that language is more of an “art than a science” meaning there is no specific methodology to it, it is more of a representation of feeling. This piece by Gee is an example of a primary source as he conducted independent research and formulated his hypothesis of the various human discourses by gathering extensive information on the topic. This analysis by Gee is crucial to understanding code switching because it shows that code-switching is a valid way of explaining social practices of people. This gets into the purpose aspect, the purpose of Code Switching and why people talk in different discourses. Another author who discusses Code-Switching, Jamali Lysicott, she is trying to show how she speaks different forms of English, some formal, some broken, because she talks a wide range of people who do not all speak the same way. I found it important that she showed why she spoke the broken English: because the English version people want her to speak is the same language that was forced upon her ancestors during slavery in America.

Section 4:

When it comes to conducting a research project there are many elements that go into bringing it from a one-page blank canvas to a substantiate piece of academic writing. The first element is identifying the key aspects of the question, factors that lead you to an independent and dependent variable from there you as the writer need to take a side. Taking a side means forming an argument to go off in proving what it is you are trying to convince the audience of. After you have taken a side, the next step is to find credible sources that will back up your argument correctly so that there are no factual errors in constructing arguments. Once you have done this research it is important to find facts within the sources, peer-reviewed is best, that are going to back up the argument being made. Following the insertion of each fact, there needs to be commentary that supports the overall argument. The final and most important aspect of constructing an argument is assuring that the organization is structured in a way that does not confuse the reader and displays a clear sense of direction in explaining the argument. The best way is to have an introduction, including a thesis. Then body paragraphs that support the overall argument being made with facts and analysis, in an argumentative paper it is best to include a rebuttal paragraph that is then refuted to further support the claim. Finally, a conclusion that summarizes the thesis with the argument and shows the reader other ways in which the argument can be supported. This semester through conducting the “Code-Switching Research Assignment” I was able to grasp the task of formulating an efficient research paper that has argumentative qualities.



Section 5:


Academic Writing is a language, that like any other, is to be mastered?

Academic writing is the writing form that is used to argue various topics that convey a certain topic. I think it can be said that Academic writing is more of a discourse of language then necessarily a language itself. The reason I say this is because there are many different types of writing which make up the overall discourse of writing, academic writing is a subgenre of the overall scope. Academic writing is not like creative writing which is usually a memoir like account of thought, or a story of fiction. Academic writing is the act of identifying a topic, taking a side (although not always) and once a side is taken providing the facts that prove that topic to your argument. Mastering academic writing is a difficult thing to do because mastering something means that you are able to do it perfectly every time. While I don’t refute that this is not achievable by holding yourself to high standards of writing, at this undergraduate level I think it is less common to see mastery of this topic. There are many intricacies to academic writing that make it difficult to master.

How does audience affect what we write (content) and how we write it?

Audience plays a huge role in shaping how we as individual writers act and formulate direction portraying what is to be shown in context. I think that the mock ad assignment really furthered my hindsight to how and in what ways an audience can be influenced by rhetoric. In this case we drew up ads based on the message we wanted to convey to illiteracy in America. There are other ways, as a writer you have to have your audience in mind constantly, writers are very conscience of not making the mistake of triggering their audience. This is a way that content and rhetoric are affected by audience, further, the person writing could be looking to appease his audience so he or she will write things that they know their supporters will enjoy. For example, with Sports, beat writers have a team they follow. Their articles are read directly by the fans of those teams, in many instances the writers will write things that will excite fans of the team whether they are true or not. This is done so this beat writer is more favorable to the fan and as a result he will get more article viewers than other writers in his field. Drawing from this example specifically is why I believe that the content we write about is constructed by how we, as writers, think the audience will respond to it. In other words, a writer will write things based on his relationship to the audience.

Explain how a person can be rhetorically manipulated, and describe some consequences of being rhetorically manipulated.

            Anyone is vulnerable to being rhetorically manipulated by someone, as a result of being manipulated people can be “coerced” into believing in something that is not true. When a person thinks about what it is to be manipulated the thought is usually along the lines of deception, and in so there is an antagonistic feeling to the notion. This is not always the case however, sometimes there are fallacies and emotional triggers that influence us to be manipulated such as a government propaganda. An example of being manipulated can be directed at the idea of logical fallacies, Americans for example is one of the largest market consuming countries in the world. What this means is that Americans buy a lot of “stuff”, now this “stuff” can be things they do not need, insurance, cars etc. Commercials are usually the most direct way of advertising because Americans also watch a lot of television. People are often lead to believe things about the products they are buying through commercials. Commercials describe how the product will benefit your life and why you should buy it, for example cheap airline tickets. You’re at home watching television and an airline commercial comes on, there is a great reduction on the price of tickets. You go ahead and buy them, then the day of your flight when you go to check your bag at the airport the clerk tells you that there are baggage fees. The airline commercial not disclosing these fees is an example of a way people can be manipulated by logical fallacies. This is a logical fallacy because the advertisement was not as cheap as it was lead on to be because of the undisclosed fees.


I thought that this class was especially interactive compared to the other classes I have taken that have covered writing and literature. At of all the activities that have been done this semester, I felt like the peer-review was very helpful and felt that creating a blog really helped too. I felt like the peer review work was great because it gave me a raw, and honest perspective from a person doing the same work. Additionally, it showed me where I make the most mistakes in my writing, for instance grammar needs to improve for me. If my grammar gets to the point of perfection I will be a lot clearer to the audience. I think in addition to that my arguing skills have also improved greatly as I have no issue providing commentary after quotes for example:

“School districts in Greenwich spend about $6,000 more per student on education (Semuels, 2016)”. This shows just how large the gap is between sectors of the social economic scales. Many of these parents in these rich communities do not even bother sending their kids to the public schools receiving the benefits of their wealth.”

This is an excerpt from my Project 3 about illiteracy in America. Here I displayed a fact, then backed it up with credible analysis that is based on a trustworthy source. This fueled my argument that the reason behind illiteracy is income inequality in America. I found the class to also be engaging in general. I felt that a lot of the topics we discussed changed my perspective, like the girl with the YouTube series or the logical fallacy reports. Another assignment I really engaged in was the Podcast assignment. Another aspect of the class that I benefited from was having a personal blog. Having a personal blog allowed me to not only have a more organized array of projects and reflections, but it gave me the chance to reference back on them in order to improve my assignments as the semester went on. Overall, I am really glad I took this class, I was not sure whether or not I would like the class given how early it is and I had never taken a hybrid. However, I found myself not thinking about the clock in class and able to engage past points previously imaginable.

Project 3: Final Edition

The rules of Education are changing.

It used to be free for all.

If you don’t think your bank account balance effects your communities reading levels, you’re behind.

21 percent of adults in the U.S.  read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.

Time for a Change.

   The root of this statistic is one of the major issues that puts our nation’s youth into a precarious situation, the overwhelming inequity in our country which directly plagues public education. Graduation rates have more to do with unequal education opportunities than anything else. The purpose of these ads is to garner support in pressuring law makers to close the “gap” that creates inequality in the education system. The town I went to high school in Long Island has a very large budget annually. The reason for this, taxpayer’s money only goes to this one education district. What if these school districts that have a lot of money already, gave a fraction to a fund that dispersed money to school districts nationwide in need. These districts in need, need money in order to support programs that benefit their students. This issue is not only in my specific town, it stretches nationally: “Students in Greenwich and Darien, Connecticut have easy access to guidance counselors, school psychologists, personal laptops, up-to date textbooks etc. Meanwhile, in towns like New Britain and Bridgeport which are much poorer, facilities are dilapidated, teachers are paid less and there are not extra help centers and guidance counselors” (Semuels, 2016). This clearly highlights the gap between the rich and the poor and how it directly affects education, it is honestly as clear as segregation. Whether it is after school tutoring or sports teams, these extracurricular activities are vital in keeping a young person’s mind focused on their respective priorities. The purpose of the advertisement is to bring hindsight to the fact that people are not able to achieve their full potential without an education. The way to end this issue is by expanding access and resources towards education to low income communities because they’re most vulnerable to this reality. My stance is that I believe that all people deserve the chance to have an education and I do not believe the federal government is doing enough to help on the local level in order to improve education.


I think the intended audience of the ad is not only those people who are disenfranchised by not having the means necessary as a community to have equal education but also those at the top paying the highest taxes in areas that are favored in this dilemma. In a process like such, improving literacy rates start with dispersing funding across all levels of income, budgets should not be voted on by members of the community, they should be set by the median income of that district, that way those parents, who send their kids to private schools, that would normally vote for a lower budget since they do not send their kids to public school. “School districts in Greenwich spend about $6,000 more per student on education (Semuels, 2016)”. This shows just how large the gap is between sectors of the social economic scales. Many of these parents in these rich communities do not even bother sending their kids to the public schools receiving the benefits of their wealth. This exposes another reality; public schools are losing money to private schools in a big way. For example, last year in my hometown there was a vote to increase the Great Neck Public Schools 2018 budget. In an attempt to suppress the success of this initiative, religious members of the community who send their kids to private schools took action. They went around the towns stores, deli’s even bagel stores, any place that sold a local newspaper they went in and bought them all. This was all in an effort to block the budget from passing so they would not face the project 1% tax increase that was due to come in as a result. This attempt failed and the budget passed, but this is a prime example of how the private school community is prying students and money away from public education in the name of profit and superiority. Moreover, Senate needs to do its part in suppressing the efforts of President Trumps agenda to cut taxes placed on charter schools. This tax is aimed to alleviate the federal taxing of private schools in order for them to lower their tuition rate in order to increase enrollment. Rolling these taxes back will only take more money from the funding that goes into the public (education) sector. “Our system does not distribute opportunity equitably,” a landmark 2013 report from a group convened by the former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Equity and Excellence Commission, reported (Semuels, 2016)”. The reality is that this issue between Trump and Private Schools, is in the hands of rich people and the ultimate losers are those are that poor.


If I had to have this ad be displayed in a place it would be Forbes or Bloomberg, yes, the obvious choice would be Scholastic magazine or some educational platform, however, as much as we want to believe that this is an issue of people not wanting to learn how to read, it is more of an issue of children not having an issue to books. A child could have a book and choose to not read it, this is much different than a child sitting with no book unable to read the writing on the wall in front of him. Forbes or Bloomberg would be ideal places because they’re financial magazines, because of this more people connected to money and politics will come across this ad, my belief is that the businessmen of the world do not realize how bad this issue is, and politicians simply do not care. A final reason why this would be a great ad for a financial magazine is due to its unconventionality, you would be more likely to catch an Both realities are the reason so many low income public school students are disenfranchised and unable to read or graduate high school.



Semeuls, Alana . “Good School, Rich School; Bad School, Poor School.” The Atlantic Daily , Atlantic Business Forum, 25 Aug. 2016,