The first full week of classes at UNC were a blast… of course content, assignments, and, of course, fun memories. This includes English 105i, Writing in Health in Medicine, with Professor Blom.
In Tuesday’s class, we began by dissecting the rhetorical situation into its four component parts—genre, audience, purpose, and role—and analyzing how each part can influence a composition. Using graphic organizers with one of the four components already filled in, we brainstormed possibilities of the three remaining factors given the scenario. Not only did this activity help draw connections between each component, but also it demonstrated the endless possibilities of rhetorical context. Personally, I appreciated this organizational approach to writing, since I think in a very structured, formulaic way. By breaking down the rhetorical context, I am able to stay focused on my goals during composition instead of getting wrapped up in the writing, losing direction, and ultimately wasting time.
After a comprehensive breakdown of rhetoric, we moved on to analyzing the writing process itself. Once again, we broke this down into pieces: topic selection, background research, prewriting/drafting, revision, editing, and proofreading. For each stage, we highlighted important things to focus on/remember and various tactics to use. I benefited most from our discussion of both prewriting and revision. As a perfectionist, my approach to writing in the past has been trying to sculpt a final draft on my first go-round. As we all know and how “Shitty First Drafts” conveyed last week, this never ends well. Instead, during the prewriting stage, you should spew everything down that comes to your mind and/or utilize methods to organize your thinking, such as outlines, looping, or clustering. For this very blog post, I wrote an outline to structure my ideas. Another very important point I took out of Tuesday’s lecture was that you should never edit before you revise. There is no point perfecting your sentence structure and word choice if your flow of ideas is off, because you will go back and end up changing it anyway. Although I have heard this before, I have a bad habit of, once again, trying to do one go-round revision/editing. This discussion point was a friendly reminder that revision occurs in multiple swoops and that writing is a process.
On Thursday, we transitioned from writing in general to specifically writing in Health in Medicine, what this class is focused on. To begin, we defined the 3 main types of health and medical research—medical science, social health science, and medical humanities research—and identified their shared values. Among these include empirical evidence, peer review, high ethical standards, and transparency with regard to limitations and conflicts of interest. This discussion brought to mind the infamous research paper that claimed the MMR vaccine caused Autism, something I discussed in Biology the same week. This particular study did not conform to many of the values we identified, and as such, was rejected by the public and rescinded by the publisher. Speaking of publishers, we also discussed the various types of sources that medical research can be found: scholarly, popular, and hybrid. In our library class next week, I am looking forward to learning about how to identify and find credible sources.
We ended Thursday’s class with a quick brainstorm of potential topics for our first Unit project, a popular health video essay. From Covid-19 vaccines to REM sleep cycles to vaping health effects, there were so many interesting research topics that stood out to me. I am already so excited to begin diving deeper into medical research, if I can only pick just one topic out first!
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