1) History Hidden in Plain Sight

Lexi Yost. “Battered Columns.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
In the heart of Dublin, we reached a building with huge, thick marble pillars, and a gold plaque boasting the title: “The General Post Office”. Still used as a post office today, the Romanesque-building was appealing to my architecture-loving eyes, and I quickly snapped a few pictures of it like the one pictured below.20160724_112748 Like much of the architecture in Dublin, this building was gorgeous. As we stood on the pavement and took pictures of the pillars and methodically precise stonework, the professor piped up from behind: “This building was an important part of Irish History. In 1916, The Easter Rising, a battle between the Irish Rebels and the Brits, happened right here. Countless men died. If you look at the pillars, you can still even see the bullet holes.” With those words, my whole perception of the scene changed. What first appealed to me as grandiose architecture now revealed itself as a battleground survivor in a centuries-old war. Elizabeth Hill Boone points out in the chapter of her article,”Introduction: Writing and Recording Knowledge:” the general assumption is that “a visual system is either ‘art’ at one end or it is ‘writing’ at the other”(Boone, 1). The battle-scarred building is not only art (as it is architecture), but the bullet holes forever encased within the stone make it also a piece of literature. They tell a story of their own, even if it is one without language. It’s all too true that things aren’t always as they appear. Sometimes, the deepest meanings require a more perceptive look, and assumptions must be disregarded.







2) A Door Within a Door… Within a Doorway

Lexi Yost. “Doorways.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
Trinity College is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dublin City. Its historic appearance and Victorian-esque buildings, not to mention having one of the world’s most famous libraries, draws people in from around the world. While self-touring Dublin after visiting the Archeology Museum (another tourist hot-spot for history buffs like me), I decided to head to the college too. I knew from my map I was getting close as I neared a large wall-like building with a door five times my height set into its middle. dsc_0113

To say I was confused as I walked towards the huge door was an understatement. Because, within the large brown door in the doorway of the gigantic building, was another door-less entry. It was, in fact, a door, within a door… within a doorway. My mind instantly formed one correlation: This completely reminded me of Inception. 4dacce11e001fac417fd6710545a2497_largeBecause, through the second door within the doorway, was a small chamber of doors that lead to yet another doorway that brought you right onto the campus of Trinity College. Like a dream within a dream, within a dream, within however many layers of dreams existed within the movie, the doorway mirrored the same perception I interpreted the movie with. Frank J. D’Angelo, the author of the article, “Nineteenth-Century Forms/Modes of Discourse”, states that “…any time a textbook writer defines the aim of exposition as embracing ‘all the means of representing general propositions’ and persuasion as ‘confirming to the mind these general propositions,’ that writer is making use of the laws of association” (D’Angelo, 354). Even though D’Angelo discusses assumptions made within writing textbooks specifically, and how straight-forward, general thinking is seen as the correct way to compile the educational texts, the concepts can still be applied to situations like this one. D’Angelo is keen on exposing the current-traditional way of thinking that is generated from certain forms, or assumed truths, of literature. Though I’m approaching this situation of Inception-like doors through a written post, a different way than D’Angelo’s nineteenth-century img_20160728_181041textbook critique, we seem to agree that favoring rhetoric over current-traditionalism is less binding and general, and comes with more freedom than the former style. Jacqueline Jones Royster, the author of the article “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own,” also explains a similar concept of the way our ideas are formed, and analysis of our own voices and meanings. She writes on our own subjectivity and personal thoughts: “Adopting subjectivity as a defining value, therefore, is instructive. However, the multidimensionality of the instruction also reveals the need for a shift in paradigms, a need that I find especially evident with regard to the notion of “voice”, as a central manifestation of subjectivity” (Miller, 1118). Because we think and reason internally, our own subjective voices are formed based on our perceptions. As Jones explained, this subjectivity can shift with new experiences, just like thoughts can shift from one to another. Because this post’s content is less formal, as it is based on my psychological connection with the Irish college’s doorways and modern film, and would not be considered proper in current-traditional way of thinking. But, because what I am writing is detailing my travel experience and my own association and observations to others, it is not considered a ‘general proposition’, as it is my own individual one. And defying current-traditional way of thinking, in exchange for adapting a rhetorical or expressionist mode of thinking, is the first step of becoming persuasive in rhetoric, and as becoming distinguished as an individual among the conformity placed on literature and society. This out of the box (or out of the book) approach lets us project our own ideas, wants, and goals, onto the world. And just like the character Cobbs (a.k.a. Leonardo DiCaprio) says in Inception: “A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.” 

3) Models, Posters, and Literature

Lexi Yost. “Rhetoric in Digital Forms.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
Digital forms are found everywhere in our daily environments, and Ireland was no exception. Billboards, brochures, brand logos, storefront ads, and building plaques just barely brush the surface of instances I saw every day in Dublin and Galway. But while visiting Dublin’s Archaeology Museum, I noticed how 3-D maps, artifact coding, and even the layout of certain objects could also be seen as digital forms. There’s this stigma of assuming that rhetoric involves written and oral words only. But, in this class, we’ve learned that rhetoric is made possible when an individual is able to persuade an audience while adapting to appeal to them and the context of the situation.


In the picture above, the tour group and myself were gathered in front of one of Loughcrew’s many centuries-old passage tombs. The conservation team that maintained the tombs and the grounds were proud to share the history of the monument. (They were also very happy to answer questions, which I took full advantage of after the tour). Using laminated models of the back of the tomb and the nearby “Hag’s Rock” stone, visual indications, and the Irish wit and humor, the team was able to share the monument’s story in a fun way. Walter J. Ong explains in his article regarding literature and its many diverse audiences,”Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that: “A history of the ways audiences have been called on to fictionalize themselves would be a correlative of the history of literacy genres and literary works, and indeed of culture itself” (Ong, 4). Every place, like the museum, tourist sites, or even the lesser-known tours such as the Loughcrew one, must consider their audiences before writing speeches, indication symbols and references to artifacts, and signs telling about bigger tourist sites.

4) From Harbor to Harbor

Lexi Yost. “Shore to Shore.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
After boarding the boat in Cleggan, I dsc_0809leaned against the railing as the boat pulled away from the dock, and into the Atlantic Ocean. Land fell away until we were surrounded by grey-blue waters. Hazy islands could be momentarily seen in the distance before they disappeared along the journey. After half an hour on the Atlantic, the island of Inishbofin came into sight. And within another five minutes, we pulled into the harbor. Soon we stepped off onto the wooden platform, and I was on a different land entirely than the one I had traveled from.
dsc_0879In class, we’ve discussed how technology shapes the way we think about the world. An exercise where we had to look at a computer desktop and define what the different icons are, and what they are similar to. One of these items was a ‘dock’. The bottom line of the screen that makes up the dock is filled with icons that lead to other links. I was grouped with Dan, and we discussed how the dock is virtually like the docks I had just used to both board and exit the boat. At the first, I was in Cleggan, and at the second, I was in Inishbofin. The icons were like docks because as we scroll our cursors over each icon, we can travel from site to site, or link to link. Hypothetically, it’s like traveling to separate islands or continents, where each icon births different results. Similar to the huge metadata sight, Kairos, everything can be connected by spanning distances. Just like my trip from the Irish mainland to the small island, we passed over those in the distance in favor for our set destination. With the boat (a cursor), we could visit any of the lands (sites) in our area.




5) Black Sheep

Lexi Yost. “Go Your Own Way.” Inishbofin. Ireland, 2016
Inishbofin is the wildest location I’ve ever visited, in the fact that it seems to be virtually untouched from all signs of technological advancement. The only signs of human life besides our group were the dozens of white sheep, branded in blue or red paint. We walked among them for awhile, dsc_1089and along the way, a black sheep emerged from behind a hill The black sheep was so unique, compared to the hundreds of white ones running across the island. The opposite of its peers, the black sheep was different, and stood out in immense contrast from the herd. This concept of being ‘one against many’ is one of the notions at the very heart of rhetoric. Since rhetoric is the ability to be persuasive in teachings with regards to the audience and situational context, it differs from current-traditional thinking. That thinking is seen as negative, and can be represented by ideas of conformity and uniformity. Because of the natural and scattered movements of the sheep, I was reminded of expressivism, which is the natural and non-artificial relaying of thoughts and writing. Peter Elbow investigates this in his article, “Some Thoughts On Expressive Discourse: A Review Essay.” According to his interpretation of his review of Harris’s essay is that expressivism is seen as being dangerous to many in the modern world, especially with regards to education and the disagreement between teachers on expressivist/current-traditional discourses. But expressivism embraced going with your own nature, and rejecting current-traditionalism all together. Like the black sheep, rhetoricians and expressionists both defy the standard way of thinking in exchange for what they individual feel passionate about.

6) Off the Beaten Path

Lexi Yost. “Brave and Bold.” Inishbofin. Ireland, 2016
Through these blog posts, I’ve discussed visiting tourist sites such as Dublin’s archaeology museum, Trinity College, and the General Post Office. Ireland itself is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the world, as the sites, atmosphere, and imagination it fosters is appealing to tourists from around the world. Most come for the well-known attractions, such as the large castles and bustling cities like Dublin and Galway. But, like the black sheep amount the herd of white-sheared ones, being different isn’t a bad thing, and it can  lead to an immeasurable amount of both personal growth, and the growth of others through the sharing of your experiences. Aristotle was prominent among his times rhetoricians because he had an unique viewpoint and method of rhetoric that was unlike his peers’. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy state in their article, “Aristotle’s Rhetoric, that: “Previous theorists of rhetoric gave most of their attention to methods outside the subject”, such as dealing with argumentative disagreements that manipulates the emotion of the audience members (Stanford, 4.4). Because Aristotle went against the grain and instead developed his own techniques, he was able to develop a style that was beneficial to the history of rhetoric. Just like exploring beyond what is known or popular with travel, philosophies or thoughts can work in the same way.

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7) Monuments Repurposed

In Galway, like Dublin, centuries-old buildings were transformed so that they would be able to serve a different purpose. Like the picture above, this pub used to be the site of the Galway council; the courthouse where decisions for the (much smaller then) city were made. Historically, King Charles I was beheaded in front of the building, and the pub took full advantage of the past event and coined the building “The King’s Head”. Because of the King’s beheading, and the indicating name, the old council building has been repurposed into one of the most famous and visited pubs in Galway City. Another example is Lynch 20160806_154703Castle, the building pictured to the left. The exterior still sports the Lynch’s crest and family molding, but it now serves as an AIB Bank along Dublin’s main walk. The History is boasted by a plaque on the outside wall, but the repurposing of the building into a functional financial institution helps bring in local customers, and is added to the map of must-see buildings in Galway. Just like the buildings were repurposed to serve other functions, we had the opportunity to repurpose digital writings into other forms as well. For our repurposing assignment in the Theory and Practice of Writing course, I transformed an old paper on zombie culture and lore into a magazine cover and article page. Though it is different than a building repurposing its function to another business with the same external form, I was able to explore repurposing within different forms (from literary paper to a pop-culture magazine medium). This, like the buildings’ repurposing, attracts different audiences, and functions within a different context than the one it was previously in.

8) The Coffee Experience

Lexi Yost. “COFFEE.” Ireland, 2016

Anyone who knows me knows I love coffee. And not just love it: LOVE it. It is crucial to every morning for me, and sometimes late afternoons as well. In Ireland, I was more than
excited to try different kinds, and explore different brands and businesses of my most favorite drink. Throughout the four main cities we went to, I sampled countless cups of coffee and numerous coffee shops. To remember my ‘coffee experience’, I took a picture of either the cup or the business, and added it to my photo collection. While thinking of different digital forms, I realized that these coffee brands are a great example of them. The logos and brands not only display unique design-work, but in doing so, add a rhetorical spin onto the business itself. It’s no secret that design work is appealing to the customer, and every logo and visualization is meant to signify the brand/business, and to attract potential buyers. But what I found unique about the Irish coffee cups is that they not only used visual design work, but also used certain fonts and literary sayings to brand their product (a rhetorical strategy). Diana George, the author of “From Analysis to Design”, says: “Throughout the history of writing instruction in this country, there has been some attention to the visual nature of written composition… to emphasize the importance of handwriting or penmanship as a visual representation of the writer’s character” (Miller, 1439). The “writer” can also apply to the coffee shops owner, as they want their design work – the scripts, drawings, and fonts – to successfully reflect the wanted atmosphere and personality of the brand.


9) Technology & Travel

Lexi Yost. “Photos and Phones.” Inishbofin. Ireland, 2016
Just like image here shows, my camera is one of my most favorite tools when it comes to travel. I didn’t go a single place in Ireland without it, and it was readily in my hands throughout the entirety of the trip. Preserving memories is a piece of cake when it comes to photos; like the famous saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. But, like we’ve discussed in class, technology has changed rapidly over the years. What started out as handwritten scrolls made its way through typewriters, bulky computers, and now intensely personalized laptops and phones. Modernity depends on this ‘smart’ technology just as I rely on my camera to preserve my memories of the trip. Deborah Brandt and Katie Clinton write in “Limits of the Local” that “literate practices depend on powerful and consolidating technologies – technologies that are themselves susceptible to sometimes abrupt transformations that can destabilize the functions, uses, values, and meanings of literacy anywhere” (Miller, 1322). Technology transforms over time, and constant new models and advancements of the already ‘smart’ phones, computers, and other technology can change the way other technologies (especially similar technologies) are viewed socially and economically.



10) When History Comes Alive

Lexi Yost. “Archeologists Make Great Storytellers.” Boyne Valley. Ireland, 2016
We’ve explored how the past is often resurfaced through revisiting texts and other forms of written or showcased representations. But history can also be demonstrated through visual presentation and storytelling. And, if my travels to Ireland taught me one thing, it’s that the Irish have a wonderfully exciting knack for sharing stories. An example of this is when we were traveling across the bogs of Inishbofin, and following a seasoned archeologist with never-ending jokes and a constant twinkle in his eye. The archeologist lead us up a small mountain (knok, as the locals call them), to sites where the remains of Viking walls, a roundhouse, and an ancient stone cross is located. Instead of just pointing out their locations, the archeologist blindly had us stand in different directions and hold our arms out (which we felt ridiculous doing, but complied). But, like the starry constellations, the distance between our outstretched arms marked the beginnings and ends of the walls, as well as the circumference of the ancient Viking roundhouse. This activity not only engaged us as an audience, but put us physically into what we were learning from the archeologist. We felt like explorers, rediscovering history that seemed, in the moment, almost tangible.

These different approaches appeal to different types of people, and one reason they’re so effective to certain individuals is because of discourse and speech communities. The Irish, although they are a culture, can be seen linguistically as a speech community. Their accents can be adapted, almost every man and woman I met had some sense of humor in everyday conversation, and most (like the archaeologist) enjoyed storytelling. From what I’ve seen, regardless of the general stereotypes of Irish culture, John Swales, an author of “The Concept of Discourse Community,” encapsulates its definition well: a speech community is made up of “shared linguistic forms, shared regulative rules, and shared cultural concepts” (Swales, 470). Because of the definition of speech community as being adaptable and not inflexible like a discourse community, the adaptability of the Irish culture points its community more towards a speech community. Also, since rhetoric, according to Aristotle, relies on the consideration of audiences, having an array of persuasive and educational tactics makes teaching people truly effective. This versatility is key in teaching in an ever-adapting environment, and approaching situations in a way that appeals to a certain audience(s) makes rhetoric possible.

Lexi Yost. “Trim Castle.” Boyne Valley. Ireland, 2016
On my final full day in Ireland, was able to take a day trip to visit Trim Castle (one of the locations where Braveheart was filmed). In front of the castle was a “knight”, greeting the tourists. He not only talked like a medieval soldier, but fully adapted the role. This not only added to the experience of the castle, but gave us a glimpse into what it would have been like in its hay day. Even though the knight was but a single actor, he was able to help our imaginations jump right back into the middle ages, and was able to teach us some linguistic/geographic history while he did so.Because we live in modern times, we retain histographic notes, or over-simplified versions of history, since we are looking back to the past, but can’t see it directly. Our modern lenses don’t allow us to fully envision what living back in medieval times would have been like because of modern influences that make up our psyche. And even though img_20160808_192547the knight actor can’t magically get rid of our lenses (because its obvious he’s an actor), he can fade them a bit, especially for children, through his rhetoric to help us understand a glimpse of what time was like before ours. This just comes to show that rhetoric doesn’t have to be just written literature. It can be found in relaying messages, our interpretations of events, constructed models and charts. It can be found in engaging people to participate in activities, and hands-on learning. And, last but not least, it can also be found in taking on a role (however extreme that may be)that you are deeply passionate about.