Final Reflective Essay for English 382

Perhaps the most consistent theme throughout our version of English 382 (I say “version” since it now appears that each subsequent class will have their own unique experience with the class, which is exciting!) has been the idea of the social construct.  From the first week in which we discussed the Matrix, through my group’s week as lecturers and graders dealing with the way society arbitrarily creates race, up until this final conference, where each of us will be discussing various aspects of gender as a social construction, I have found myself challenging several social constructs I once took for granted as reflections of reality, as well as refining my views on other that I had already begun to challenge, such as race.  The ability to think critically about the ways in which societal structures that are not necessarily “natural” are created and maintained is one of the most important things I will take away from this class.

Apart from this important academic knowledge, I have also learned much more practical lessons about how to work with people.  Coming into the class, I was a bit worried by the idea that the lesson plan for my “week” would be a group project, and much more so by the prospect of the midterm and the final exam being collective endeavors with almost the entire class.  I have always disliked group projects, preferring to do my own work so that I could be assured that I could get the grade I wanted without having to carry the load for other people who might not care as much.  This class has instilled faith in me that group projects with intelligent, motivated individuals can actually work efficiently and can seem a lot less like work in the process.  I also realize now that this was great preparation for the “real world” (you know, ‘cause school isn’t real life).  In most work environments, things are accomplished through a team effort, and I guess there’s really no reason why school should be any different.  I feel like the skills I’ve learned negotiating with and working alongside my colleagues will, in a lot of ways, go much farther than abstract concepts I’ve learned through books and lectures, since when real life happens I’ll be mostly working with teams to accomplish tasks rather than working independently.  The renewed faith that groups of people can actually accomplish great things (I’m so proud of the conference!!!!) and the way I’ve learned to work within groups are two of the most important lessons I will carry with me as I continue my life beyond this class.


Final Reflective Essay

Brock R.-

I first want to start by saying that this was one of the most involved English class I have ever had the chance to be apart of. The amount of engagement with the class and the readings was at the perfect level and pace. The blogs that needed to be contributed every week in helping me to stay on top of the readings and learning more about the enlightenment and how the enlightenment affects us today. The tools such as word press made it very easy to complete assignments and the facebook group was also great for directing me and keeping me on track with various goals and steps that needed to be completed for the conference. I felt that although the group presentations of subjects was interesting we could have gone to more places such as Thomas Coopers collection of literary works which I found very cool to see works such as Fitzgerald’s illustrated novel. It was amazing to see both the good and bad art of famous writers and literary geniuses as well. I understand that there are not many places to go but perhaps more guest speakers and others who are versed in the works of the enlightenment would have been fun to host and here there perspective on different subject matter as well.

            I was a big fan of the structure of the class too, being able to do work online and not always need to come to class really made life easier and made me feel more of like an adult, rather than being obligated to do something. The course contract was also a great way to motivate me to keep the A and it was a refreshing method of grading and determining class scores. Mainly, because in my other classes it is relatively unknown what the grade will be until the last minute, but this method was simple and effective. The implication of this type of grading system made me need to worry about one less aspect of my life. The dynamic of the classroom was also very smooth as well as everyone in class was kind and helpful whenever I had concerns or questions about certain aspects of a blog or a project. I felt that leading a classroom discussion also proved to be a challenge as well, preparing the readings and grading the papers was time consuming but enjoyable as well. When I had to teach the material myself there was so much more about gender roles (my topic) than I researched and dived into because I wanted to know exactly what I was talking about. This motivation to find out more also helped me in writing the paper for the conference and so I have learned much more about the topic than I could have imagined. The research also helped develop my researching abilities as well and helped me to really pull out the important parts of a literary piece of work in order to develop a viable and sensible argument. All in all I had a great time and I thank you for the chance to learn in a more flexible and fun environment.  

Final reflection: Madison Johnston

I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to a single class than I have in English 382. From the numerous journals to the midterm project and now, the eve of our big conference I am nothing but pleased to have taken this course this semester. I will say that this class wasn’t easy. Many times I wanted to give up or skip something because I thought I had too much going on, but something kept me coming back for more. I absolutely loved seeing the different sides of people and what they were passionate about. The final project that we’ve been working on has been a combination of the most interesting/ fun project I’ve worked on since being in college. Seeing what exactly goes into a conference like this makes me appreciate other events even more.  I know this sounds cheesy, but after working on this final midterm project I consider these people more than just my classmates. This midterm project has had me excited for weeks. I am looking forward to seeing the faces of everyone whom I’ve met in this class in other English courses to come over the next few years. This class has shown me what the Enlightenment period really was and how different kinds of people saw it. Enlightenment isn’t just something you can grasp overnight; it’s a way of living and learning. 

Final Reflection

Without a doubt, English 382 has been the most interesting course I have taken in the history of my education. The amount of fun I had makes me feel like I didn’t even learn anything, but when I look back, I learned a lot more than I realized, in and out of text. Studying the works of Enlightenment thinkers gave me a strong understanding of the cultural and legal aspects of the Enlightenment era, but the structure of the class itself gave me a deeper overarching perspective. By being free to always voice opinions and ideas in a democratic, level atmosphere generated more comprehensive material than the texts.  We learned from perspective, from contradiction, and from each other. It allowed us to scrutinize the way thought processes work and compare observations with what we saw going on in the minds of Enlightenment thinkers. We were given a broad scope through which to view society, what built it, and how we got where we are today. The most pivotal message I discovered in this class was that reality is relative; that perspective is everything. No one can see exactly what another sees in exactly the same way, and the product is a huge medley of intellectual contribution that ultimately led Enlightened society to get to the bottom of perceived natural truths. In the midst of worldly expansion and discovery, we were losing sight of ourselves and what made us tick and think the things we thought. The works we studied not only helped us understand the mental workings of those from the 18th century, but of ourselves today. I think this is why we became such a tight-knit group, open and willing to discuss with each other and learn together. We may not have all come to agreements on the same truths, but I think, for the most part, we each found our own personal truths in something.

A Modern Lady/Notcha’ Regular Bitch

I wonder in this life,

Shall I be made a scholar or a wife?

Is it justice? Is this fair?

Are my options limited to here or there?


Yo w’as with the push for settling down?!

Don’t claim to know much, but ain’t foolin’ with no clown.

I’ll be yo lovah and yo fighter, but you gotta see

The only playah’ I’m fightin’ for is me!


The youth of society have been quite remiss,

To assume a life of either study OR true love’s kiss.

One should remain open, both are fair game.

To limit one’s life is a pity and a shame.


I told it once, and I’ll tell it again!

When you get where ya goin’ don’t forget where ya been!

Rock dat life of a motha, a teacher, a father or a preacher, a docta or a bride

Jus’ don’t forget tha’ playa’ inside!

Miley Cyrus vs Richardson and Lana Del Rey

Richardson had many interesting points and views when it came to art in his time period. He believed that art was used to improved society as a whole. In his essays,  “Two Discourses- an Essay on the Art of Criticism,” his emphasis was on the way art is full of potential in the ways it effects society. He thinks that people would be better if instead of wasting their time on doing sinful and immoral actions, they should reform themselves through art. He boldly writes, ““if Gentlemen were Lovers of Painting, and Conoisseurs, it would be of great advantage to the Publick.” He is telling his readers that if people spent more time exploring art than doing corrupt actions, our society would improve ten-fold.

Personally, in this aspect of Richardson’s essay I agree completely. If our society nowadays were more interested in books and essays that enriched the mind instead of trashy romance novels and reality TV shows about Jersey Housewives then maybe we wouldn’t live in a world filled with such shallow corruption. Richardson’s words though sadly seem to be an idea of the past that people of the present may never adopt due to their ignorance.

My first piece I have chosen the song “23” by Miley Cyrus:

[Hook: Miley Cyrus]
I’m in the club high off purp with some shades on
Tatted up, mini skirt with my J’s on

[Juicy J x2]
J’s on my feet
J’s on my feet
J’s on my feet
So get like me

[Verse 1: Miley Cyrus]
I be in the club standing on the couch
In them Wolf Greys like it’s my house

Drinking out the bottle, I got no respect
Looking like a model, who just got a check
I back it up, cause I don’t give a fuck
If you’re a lame, that’s a shame you can’t hang with us
I’m MC Hammer fly, you can’t touch
J’s so fly I should work at Flight Club

[Bridge: Miley Cyrus]
Put on my J’s and dance the whole night away
I’m naughty by nature like I’m hip-hop hooray
With my hands in the sky, I wave ‘em from side to side
My feet on the floor, I’m ’bout to turn up now


[Verse 2: Wiz Khalifa]
I be rockin’ J’s or
I be rockin’ Taylors

I got lots of flavors, my kick game is major
More kicks than the players, call me up I’m scorin’
Hit it like a free throwtongue out like I’m Jordan
Smiley, Miley, come swing the thing right by me
Gotta a joint if you wanna get stoned, got choppers if they wanna try me
Pro athlete I’m not no wannabe
Waitress asked how many bottles? I said 23



[Verse 3: Juicy J]
I stay showin’ out, my kick game is a beast
I got thirty pair of J’s that ain’t never been released
Flu game twelve, Space Jam 11
On the hype beast sick, they gon’ need a paramedic
Turn up, turn up, turn up, I get trippy, I stay live
All this purple in my cup, match them grape 5’s
I’m so high, I got three bitches that go bi
I’m so fly, I’m gettin’ head like a blow dryer



Okay, so I will admit, it’s a pretty freaking catchy song. If Richardson listened to this so though, he may go into shock from the meaningless trash that it’s consumed with. This entire song is about how much Miley Cyrus thinks she’s a badass and how “turned up” she can get. This song not only includes references to drugs and alcohol, but it even alludes to sexual acts performed in a disrespectful way. Point blank, if this is the direction music nowadays is going towards… I’m a little frightened…. There is simply no real meaning or virtue that can make a person. Richardson would actually recommend people should not listen to this song, I think he would rather them listen to nothing.

Second Piece I chosen the song is the song “Ride” by Lana Del Rey:

[Music video spoken introduction:]

I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer.
At night I fell asleep with visions of myself, dancing and laughing and crying with them.
Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour, and my memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times.
I was a singer – not a very popular one,
I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.
When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I’d been living, they asked me why – but there’s no use in talking to people who have home.
They have no idea what it’s like to seek safety in other people – for home to be wherever you lay your head.
I was always an unusual girl.
My mother told me I had a chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality; just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean…
And if I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying…
Because I was born to be the other woman.
Who belonged to no one, who belonged to everyone.
Who had nothing, who wanted everything, with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about it, and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me.

I’ve been out on that open road
You can be my full time daddy,
White and gold
Singing blues has been getting old
You can be my full time baby,
Hot or cold

Don’t break me down
I’ve been travelin’ too long
I’ve been trying too hard
With one pretty song

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
So, I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, just ride

Dying young and I’m playing hard
That’s the way my father made his life an art
Drink all day and we talk ’til dark
That’s the way the road dogs do it – ride ’til dark.

Don’t leave me now
Don’t say good bye
Don’t turn around
Leave me high and dry

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, just ride

I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy
I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes
It’s all I’ve got to keep myself sane, baby
So I just ride, I just ride

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, I just ride

[Music video spoken ending:]
Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people, and finally I did on the open road.
We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art.
Live fast. Die young. Be wild. And have fun.
I believe in the country America used to be.
I believe in the person I want to become.
I believe in the freedom of the open road.
And my motto is the same as ever:
“I believe in the kindness of strangers. And when I’m at war with myself I ride, I just ride.”
Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.

First of all, Lana Del Rey is absolutely amazing. Her lyrics to her songs completely blow my mind every single time I listen to them. She pushes the edge. She isn’t afraid to let loose the truth about herself but she does it in the most tasteful way possibly. Her lyrics are more of a lullaby to the mind and Miley Cyrus’s are more of an alarm clock. Just like Richardson says, “We are pushed on by our wills, excited by the determination of our understandings upon a view of the present set of ideas; but these changing perpetually from the impression made upon our senses by external objects from the nature…” Lana Del Rey does exactly this by expressing her ideas through the senses; she uses sound but also evokes a picture in our minds with her vivid wording.

Works Cited:

Rap/Ballad: Discovering New Thoughts

Clear your mind for this period in time, for

Thinking in a different way

Far away our minds shall stray.

Criticized for our new thoughts, we stay strong

For they do not see it, but there is no wrong


Screw what they think, were on our own tip

Coastin towards freethinking, we won’t slip

These words we speak are imbedded in time

For years later people will read and interpret our lines

It’s us against them in this battle of minds

They’re lucky its 1794 or I’d bust a nine


Philosophies of old reformed into new

These thoughts and beliefs are what we see true

Society, Education, and Human Nature

Are areas we philosophers can’t push til later


It’s our time to act

So it’s best to step back

And listen to our words

As we drop some knowledge on you turds.

The truth is here and there’s no turning back

Like an escape tunnel in prison we’ve started from scratch