Cassie Cortright

What is good writing – Revisited

Good writing is knowing the rhetorical situation in which you will be involved. Rhetoric means the way in which you communicate something. Rhetoric can change one message to mean many different things in many different situations. Each situation calls for a different form of rhetoric, as each places you in a difference discourse community. A discourse community is any group that you are involved in, because it will hold a certain identity that needs to be accommodated to in order to follow the social norm for that group. For instance, you will act different in your classes with your professors than you would with your sport team, sorority or fraternity, or even at home with your roommates. A discourse group dictates how you dress, act, and even write. Writing an academic paper for your professor will be much different than shooting a text to your best friend about the party happening this weekend at your place. Knowing which discourse community you are currently acting in and changing your communication style to correctly fit while writing will yield the best results.

    Coming with knowing the discourse community that you are involved in, you must also be able to know which rhetorical device to use when addressing this specific community. These include logos, ethos, and pathos, each of which are a different way to rhetorically address a situation. Logos, or logical appeal, is a way of making a point that using evidence to back up an argument. For instance, when writing on a public forum discussing corporate social responsibility and trying to make my case to compete strangers, I made sure to make my point by using my personal experiences to show that I had logically knew a different point of view and by challenging others through reasoning. I had decided that “many people had already taken apart… and I decided to take a more simple approach of addressing the fact that he had actually used extremely subjective approach to the situation rather than looking at the broader picture of the good that these companies are actually able to produce in comparison to the individual.”

Ethos, or the trust appeal, is a way to show legitimacy and build trust. For instance, in an assignment where I had to teach beginners how to meditate I told them “Being a recent beginner myself, I wanted to outline the simple steps for other new beginners with still pictures that they could look at and try themselves. Meditation isn’t usually what people think, so I wanted to dispel some assumptions while giving a quick guide!”. Making them comfortable by telling them that I have experience being a beginner and that looking at the images will be the easiest way was the best way for me to tell the audience that I knew what it was like to be a beginner.

Pathos, or the emotional appeal, is a way to connect to the human emotion that we all feel, using words or scenarios that might make somebody feel a certain way that you would like them to feel. For example, when telling my classmates how I felt about writing, I said “writing that moves us and causes us to act or change our mind is writing that carries some sort of identity through it’s style and presentation. You know it’s good when you don’t want to put it down, and when it captures your attention and truthfully holds it. For me, it is in this connection with another’s humanness and the ability to turn ideas into words that constitutes good writing”. By using words that appeal to the readers’ emotions, I was able to carry my point across about my personal connection to writing.

Being able to use each of these in the context of the rhetorical situation will be rewarded with an audience that responds well to your writing. From here, even if you are not writing for an audience using ethos, it is important to always use evidence and reasons behind your assertions. Having sources, stories, or further explanation will always make a more solid piece of writing. After making sure to write towards your audience and in a way that will capture their attention and in which they will best understand, you then must edit your work! Being clean and concise is important, as no matter how correctly you aim your writing at a discourse group, if they cannot read it then it will not be understood.


And here is a video that further explains how a rhetorical situation works! 


How to get into a sorority

1) How to get into a sorority:

When speaking of sororities, the only way to get into one is to go through recruitment. Recruitment is a process that is different at every University due to logistical changes, yet essentially the same. Going through recruitment usually entails three stages, including learning about the sororities sisterhood, philanthropy, and living arrangements. After each day of recruitment, you are either called back or not called back. To show the girls that are essentially interviewing you and getting to know you that you should be a part of their sisterhood would be achieved in a few ways. One would be to listen attentively, hold interesting conversation, ask questions and seem genuinely interested, and connect with them on topics that are relevant to the sorority. Present your best self, no cussing, dress nicely, and appear as though you are professional yet personable, but mostly just that you want to be there. It is a two way choice that is decided between you choosing the top houses that you would like to be in and the house choosing you. If both coincide, then you get to come back each consecutive day to go through the next process. Each day gets more and more formal, you spend more time with each chapter, and the tone gets more serious as you delve deeper into the meaning of each sorority. By the last day, if you both choose each other then you will get a “bid”, meaning you have been conditionally invited to join the sisterhood. Because this invitation is conditional, take it seriously! Still put your best foot forward and realize that you have been invited to join something that is sacred to the rest of the group.

Following the conditional invitation is an initiation period. It can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the sorority and their specific rules. The initiation period involves getting acclimated to the sorority, their rules, their founding ideals, secrets, and basically the social rules within the group. After this period, if deemed successful, and if you feel it a right fit, then you will be initiated during a secret ceremony into the sisterhood. The most important thing to do during this part of the process is to make sure that you study! Knowing all you can, passing the tests that are given to you is extremely important. The second most important thing is to participate in absolutely everything you can. This is the stage that you are basically learning the culture of your sorority. This way, you and the sorority that chose you will both be able to tell if it is a right fit before you make it official! Participating will show your interest and also help you to learn the social cues, acceptances, and practices in your chapter. The more you focus on this step, the easier it will be to socialize into the group.


2) How to extend a deeper reach into the sorority:

Activities that are primarily associated with sororities are sisterhood activities, meetings, and mixers.

A sisterhood activity is something that all of the members of the sorority do together. Planned by someone in the sorority, the girls are invited to spend time together doing something they all enjoy to bond more and become a cohesive group. Sometimes, in cases of large sororities, it can even be to meet girls that members haven’t met yet. Mine was over two hundred girls and every sisterhood event gave me a chance to meet sisters that I hadn’t been able to talk to. Going to these and actively and genuinely participating will make you a more prominent member of your chapter as you begin to make relationships with every separate girl. This is where the effort is put in. Be as helpful and respectful as you can, treating this time with the utmost importance!

A meeting is more of the business training side of a sorority. This is where rules come in, as each member must attend these business meetings in order to participate in the social parts of membership. Most meetings are comprised of updates on financials, social events, help needed, and hearing from other chapters and news within their social circle. Dress appropriately for these meetings. You will need business attire, will need to show up on time, and will need to be quiet and take them seriously. The social aspect cannot come without the organization and business aspect of a sorority. By actively involving yourself in these meetings and sharing your perspective, you will automatically feel as though they are of importance, and therefore will be able to respect them and the time that the women in your chapter spend holding them.

A mixer or formal is when a sorority gets together with outside chapters, mainly fraternities, to socialize in some way. Sometimes activities are participated in, while sometimes there is just dancing and food and everybody dresses up. They are usually themed, so make sure to dress up! You will be associated with the group, can take fun pictures, and will have more fun with your date. While most people think that these events are time to go crazy, there can be dire consequences for getting too drunk or causing any trouble. There are legal and safety issues involved when conduct isn’t held to a high standard, and it is imperative to act your best at these events! No matter the amount of time and effort you have put in at this point, there is still the ability to get kicked out of the sorority for conduct that doesn’t match the overall image that it would like to portray.

3) How to make the sorority mean something deeper long term

Being a part of a sorority, there are certain aspects that keep people strongly associated with and interested long term. These are the reasons that one usually chooses to join a sorority, and can be broken up into community service and philanthropy, scholarship, and different leadership positions.

Each sorority has their own cause, or philanthropy that they raise money for. At least once a year, they put together some sort of event to raise money for their philanthropy. My sorority raises money to build strong women, and personally our chapter does that by creating events that raise money for the Girls on the Run program. Beyond that, many sororities also do community service, raising money and donating time and work to designated charities in their city. Getting involved in creating and putting on these events is not only sometimes mandatory, but also something that will tie you to a deeper meaning within a sorority. Knowing that as a group you can do so much good has a powerful feeling once realized. So make sure to understand your philanthropy and the importance of helping to contribute.

Scholarship refers to each chapter’s idea of academic success. Many of them compete against other sororities to have the best GPA, meaning they study together and overall try to help each other do the best they can in their studies. Sign up to study with a sister, tutor a sister, or hold group meetings at a coffee house. Your grades will improve, as well as those around you.

For professional and personal development, sororities can be helpful in that they are self-running. Meaning each chapter elects women to be in charge of certain aspects, and can learn many desirable leadership skills in finances, organization, event planning, or many other different areas of helping a large group to run successfully. If you successfully integrate into the group by doing all the things mentioned above, you will be able to run for and be voted into a position where you can lead other women to have the best experience possible in your own chapter!







Academic Writing

Academic writing is different than other forms of writing in that its main area of focus is to inform and outline ideas for the academic world to read about, therefore its formatting is meant to cater to this cause. In comparison to other forms of writing, it does a few things better, different and worse.

Academic writing is better at outlining ideas and setting up the reader to know what they will be reading. For example, there is table of contents that outlines the abstract, introduction, experiment, and results. The reader can easily skip to certain parts of the text that they need to read when referring back to it later. For example, in academic texts such as the Ariely, Kamenica, and Prelec’s study, it says things such as:

In this article, we focus on minimal perceived meaning by the labor producing force and investigate how it influences labor supply in controlled laboratory experiments. Our intention is to compare situations with no meaning (or as low a level of meanings as we can create) with situations having some small additional meaning. Thus, our investigations will focus not on occupations highly endowed with meaning, like medicine or teaching, but on the least-common-denominator of meaningfulness that is shared by virtually all compensated activities. (1)

It also is better at being more in depth of explanation with numbers and data to back up its claims and explain the reasoning behind certain assertions. For example, when explaining one of the experiments, instead of just saying how they worked, it goes into more detail by saying:

Subjects become faster as they build more Bionicles. To address this issue, we also use the speed of building the first Bionicle as the measure of productivity. We get qualitatively the same results. Specifically, the correlation is 0.454 (p<0.05) in the Meaningful condition and -0.274 (p=0.24) in Sisyphus. The exact two-sided p-value for the difference is 0.031. Hence, even when the selection effect cannot play a role, subjects’ productivity influences labor supply more strongly in the Meaningful condition. (6)

Academic writing is different in that it writes towards a different audience than most kinds of writing. Being written towards an academic audience creates the need to aim at keeping the attention of those that want direct and straightforward information rather than fluff and implied meanings. With this focus, it is different because it uses more specific writing styles and words to the academic community instead of using laymen’s terms where everybody could understand what was going on. For example, when saying:

While the magnitude of the difference in the implied reservation wages is somewhat surprising, the existence of the effect conforms with intuition. However, a priori intuitions about possible differences in the strength of the relationship between willingness and productivity are more varied. (6)

Another way in which it is different is with giving the thesis first in a summary of an abstract. This is in contrast to most other forms of writing, where the thesis can be found anywhere and does not necessarily thoroughly summarize the topic. Also, the academic writer uses much more quotes and previous academic studies to construct their argument and therefore their writing. For example:

We investigate how perceived meaning influences labor supply. In a laboratory setting, we manipulate the perceived meaning of simple, repetitive tasks and find a strong influence on subjects’ labor supply. Despite the fact that the wage and the task are identical across the conditions in each experiment, subjects in the less meaningful conditions exhibit reservation wages that are consistently much higher than the subjects in the more meaningful conditions. The result replicates across different types of tasks. Moreover, in the more meaningful conditions, subjects’ productivity influences supply more strongly. (1)

In relation to doing things worse, academic writing as a form is worse than most other types of writing in that it does not connect to the human emotion of an audience. It does not pull them in through ethos; rather it keeps them around through logos. For example, the only part of the written study that tries to connect to the emotional side of a reader, but would fail with a normal audience is when it says:

At least in the United States, ‘What do you do?’ has become as common a component of an introduction as the anachronistic ‘How do you do?’ once was, yet identity, pride, and meaning are all left out from standard models of labor supply. (1)

In conclusion, academic writing has a very different way of approaching its audience, and is able to thoroughly inform through the different forms of rhetoric.





Literacy Autobiography – Poetry

If you would rather read instead of watch:

In relation to creative writing, I have always struggled. Even as a kid, every year that it came time to write a “Young Author” book I stressed out over even beginning to think of an idea to base a fictional story on. When it came to poetry lessons, I drudged through the process as I thought about how dumb it was to say something in so many different words that could instead just be clear and concise.

However, as my educational career continued, I became more and more obsessed with books. Although many of them were non-fiction, some weren’t and either way I was enthralled by how a writer could arrange their words to elicit some desired emotion in the reader. I began to learn that I could cry over a book, but never over a movie. Words simply moved me.

Around high school, I began to appreciate poetry. Yet in my Literature and Language classes I still had trouble analyzing it and tearing it apart piece by piece to try and understand the meaning, motivation, rhetorical skills used, and so on. However, I began to envy the writers even more. That they could express emotion and appeal to another’s soul rather than just appeal to their logic with a solidly backed up argument. That writing could be an art and a form of expression in a lyrical sense rather than just a useful one.

It wasn’t until I took a class studying Buddhism and related topics in the mountains of Colorado that I began to understand. In this beautiful place, I saw poetry all around me. The way nature moved and related to the humans visiting. The way the sun greeted every morning and the moon took its’ place at night. The way that complete strangers exchanged acts of kindness and love.

In the summer, I accepted a job offer doing marketing and public relations for the very retreat center that I had stayed at. This time, I had the ability to take classes and workshops for free, along with the privilege of living on this beautiful piece of land for three months. It was in this time that my outlook on creative writing changed.

I attended a writing workshop set in the mind of meditation and mindfulness. The weekend long class was full of people from all different walks of life; those finishing up writing books, people that had never written for enjoyment in their lives, and people like me, floating somewhere in the middle. It was in the first session of this class that I was told to just go outside, see what I was seeing, and write about it. And I was also told that I couldn’t be wrong. The fact that I didn’t need evidence to back up my argument threw me for a loop, but I decided that trying wouldn’t hurt and set out on my adventure.

It was with this piece of writing that I understood the enjoyment of using poetry as a form of expression. Using the beautiful backdrop that I was surrounded with and the new relationships I was forming as inspiration, I began to write as much as I could that summer. Now, whenever I feel strongly about something or don’t have the proper words to explain how I feel to someone, it has become habit to simply write a poem. For me, it is a form of a journal, but this time finally one that I don’t have to force myself to keep. It’s been a solid year now, and I have been writing regularly and enjoying it thoroughly since.

Here are a few of my beginning and favorite pieces.

Visual Argument – Is personal branding important?

This is a visual argument for what it means to brand yourself. I would love to start my own business that caters to the younger audience who is looking to stand out among the crowd of job-seekers by helping them to form a personal brand and implement that brand through new and interactive forms of materials in lieu of the same old resume. The challenge of this kind of ad is showing the visual differences between the branded versus the non-branded job applicant – all without actually showcasing my actual interactive products, in this picture being an online portfolio.

Continue reading

Mindfulness Meditation How-To for Beginners

I decided to make a how-to video on Mindfulness Meditation. Being a recent beginner myself, I wanted to outline the simple steps for other new beginners with still pictures that they could look at and try themselves. Meditation isn’t usually what people think, so I wanted to dispel some assumptions while giving a quick guide!

Public Rhetoric

For my forum posts this week, after much deliberation I decided to write on a thread for something that I was passionate about rather than just a simple hobby. I felt that I would be much better at creating an argument in regards to the situation and shaping it in order to fit my audience. Therefore I chose to research forum threads on Reddit (first time user) for Corporate Social Responsibility, otherwise known as CSR, to make some comments on. I was pleasantly surprised upon finding this blog because some points were made that I had never even thought about, being in favor of CSR, giving me the ability to craft new arguments and try to tailor them to sway the other users on the site. Coincidentally enough, the Reddit that I found this thread on is called Change My View, and states that it is a forum for people who have an opinion on something but accept that they may be wrong or want help changing their view. After I did some research I realized that there is a function in the forum where you can award somebody a “Delta”, or in other words congratulate them for changing your view even on the smallest of points within a subject that is up for debate, along with deletions for off topic or incorrect use of the thread. I found this interesting also as the only forums I have ever seen I steer clear from as they tend to get off topic and fuel passionate discussions down the road of angry arguments instead. After reading the thread that had already been going on for about eight days, I began to build an understanding for the writer of the original CMV question. He was more passionate about personal finance and against big businesses than he was CSR, and tended to present his points in an extremely detailed and logical way to those that opposed him. People that commented on his question with emotional responses got almost condescending replies, as he was only interested in having a lively debate with those that truly understood the situation that he was speaking on. In regards to CSR, it is the career path I would like to take. Along with that I have had some experience with the subject, so I figured that I could try and sway his opinion through a logos argument in which I laid out my experiential learning in the situation along with challenging his point of view through reasoning with his very severe judgement of corporations and the decisions they make in relation to social good models. The main topic the writer proposed:

“I don’t believe that companies should buy into this “give back to the community” corporate social responsibility thing that’s in fashion in my neck of the words. To the extent that I think it’s wrong to do so, rather than just that it’s okay to do so. I believe that society benefits more if these would-be philanthropic companies were to avoid the cost of supporting orphanages etc. and passed the savings on to their customers. Ultimately it is consumers who are in the best position to decide how to use that saved money to benefit society, whether that is through just keeping the savings for themselves (charity starts at home) or through direct donations to the orphanage. Because maybe I’d prefer to donate to the EFF than to an orphanage, because I think that actually helps fix problems rather than just treating symptoms. But all the “socially responsible” companies adopt an orphanage, because that’s the sexy social problem. It makes for good photo opportunities and easy, appeal-to-emotion “look what awesome people we are” ad copy.”

Many people had already taken apart the actual numbers on the saving money aspect with him, and I decided to take a more simple approach of addressing the fact that he had actually used extremely subjective approach to the situation rather than looking at the broader picture of the good that these companies are actually able to produce in comparison to the individual. Usually I would be much more specific in my arguments, but I wanted this point of view to switch to focusing on the bigger picture. I decided it would be best to come at his argument of marketing, branding, and PR from the personal perspective of myself, whom being in this industry feels that these aspects of a company can actually be genuine.

Part of one of my replies:

“If a company is already paying for advertisement and PR, how could aligning their social good model with their branding be a bad thing?

Not only can they do good but they also have the resources, forward momentum, and already established branding that is needed to truly give a social movement campaign the support it needs in being successful. It is becoming less attractive for a company to be selling a product without a purpose.

Not only do social good models, if done right, give a story and show that the company is truly living out it’s values to the customer, but it also creates a pull method to customers that attracts them to the product. And on the flipside the world is also helped in a multitude of ways as people live their everyday lives.

With this business model consumerism meets charity and doing the right thing meets doing the things that you already do. If you are assuming that the money saved will be reinvested personally into charities of choice, then I feel it is safe to assume that the opposite is actually of higher possibility – that these individuals end up investing those few pennies that come back to them in products and services that benefit themselves.

Corporate social responsibility empowers individuals to give back to society through imbedding the act in their everyday lives. They still have the choice where to buy their products and services from, therefore giving them the choice to associate with those companies that they feel they align with in values.”

Another post (in regards to experience):

“I have first-handedly have seen how hard it is to start a nonprofit, and now am first-handedly seeing how a start up for-profit company is run as I now have a position doing public relations and communications for an apparel line that has a strong social good model in line with their values. My biggest takeaway from these two positions is that if for-profit companies can do more good than non-profits, and they are doing good that is true to their company values rather than just as a publicity stunt, why shouldn’t they other than for reasons of personal finance? Which could simply be solved by a customer that does not agree with the practice of CSR not investing their money in the company’s product or service and making the conscious decision to take it somewhere else, therefore saving it from being invested in places that are not of their choice.”

I have yet to receive a reply, but you are able to check out my responses here. My username is cortr100: In regards to the post reviewing a product, I did a review on my new skateboard. Not much going on here, although I do realize that the audience is for people that would be possibly wanting to buy the product, so I decided to focus on Looks like it hasn’t been approved and posted yet, but it will be here when it is.

What do others think good writing is?

Firstly, the article that I chose critiquing how to write is actually a letter written by C.S. Lewis in response to a children’s’ fan letter. In 1956, he laid out five points to good writing when she asked him for some professional writing advice. He cites using clear language, plain direct words, concrete nouns, replacing adjectives for words that make the reader feel the adjectives, and words that fit the subject correctly as the five most important ways to make sure that you are writing correctly. I found it interesting because he is a writer that I enjoy due to his connection and emotion that he portrays to the audience. He hooks you with his eloquence and I was not expecting him to say that the most important parts of writing are making sure that you are clear and concise, teaching in his short lesson that less is more.

Secondly, I chose a video that almost in contrast says that Millennial’s brevity of communication in their writing, due to the conditioning of social media, is causing an inability to secure jobs in the professional world. Jeff Dunn, an Intel campus relations manager says, “Writing skills — people don’t write as much as they used to. They’re texting, so they forget to write in complete sentences and articulate their written skills professionally”. From this point of view it seems as though today, generations above the Millenials see the evolution of technology and our frequency of use as an inhabitant towards our ability in writing.!1aZJu


What is good writing?

For me, writing is about expression. I have always enjoyed argumentative and informative essays while I have struggled with fiction. However, slowly but surely, writing has become a form of art for me, a way to convey meaning and intention. I now enjoy poetry and other forms of prose, and for me writing has become something as a form of human connection. Whether it be to inform, debate, or simply express, I believe that “good” writing is of a quality that is able to be read by your audience and that properly follows whichever format you are using. Writing that moves us and causes us to act or change our mind is writing that carries some sort of identity through it’s style and presentation. You know it’s good when you don’t want to put it down, and when it captures your attention and truthfully holds it. For me, it is in this connection with another’s humanness and the ability to turn ideas into words that constitutes good writing. While the Internet does broadcast to the world everybody’s voice to influence others, I feel that it is actually a useful tool that connects readers to writers in which they are trying to target. The Internet has created many different forms of outlets for written expression and allows for an audience that believes it to be “good” if found and appreciated.







My name is Cassandra Cortright, but I prefer to be addressed as Cassie. I will be a senior in the fall and am double majoring in Strategic Communication and Sociology. I just transferred here during the Winter quarter from Chapman University in Southern California, where  I studied Corporate and Strategic Communications, Sociology, and Leadership Studies. I transferred so I could enjoy the Colorado lifestyle, and absolutely love my new life here in Denver. Spending time outdoors feeds my soul and I appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us here at DU. I also greatly appreciate DU’s study abroad program, as upon finishing my summer classes I will be studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in the fall. My dream career would be to consult corporations on their social good models. I would like to help them align their Public Relations with their branding identity while simultaneously giving back as part of their business model.