Biss Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In Biss’ essay she started off by writing about the invention of the telephone and how telephone poles became a problem within the community, to the horrific act of killing African Americans. She swerves from these topics , one to another, quite smoothly. She allowed the reader to see the connection between telephone poles and African Americans, she painted the picture. She allowed the reader to see the connection of how the community rejected and despised the telephone poles being built on their sidewalks, as well as the racism going on with African Americans. They were both seen as a bad thing during this time so the connection seen between them was very prominent, to the point of even killing African Americans on telephone poles. This swerve and connection between these two topics induces shock into the reader because most people wouldn’t expect this transition. Even though both topics seem to be disconnected at first they just seem so connected at the same time if you think about it.
  2. When Biss states “The children’s game of telephone depends on the fact that a message passed quietly from one ear to another to another will get distorted at some point along the line”, we all think of the game telephone that we played as a kid. That is the obvious answer when you think of childhood games that relate, but on the other hand this can relate to a childhood “game” of rumors. Kids grow up with things being said left and right and their first instinct is to inform their friends about what they heard. The idea of rumors is hinted at in the statement from Bliss but not exactly said, this allows the reader to think of their own perspective on what she is saying.
  3. A symbol in writing can be many things, symbolism is the ability to use words to paint an abstract idea. Symbolism is great to portray a certain mood or emotion when writing. On the other hand, metaphors in writing are more of an implied comparison, like when you compare two things that are normal to connect or relate to each other. In Biss’s piece the idea of the telephone poles are both a symbol and a metaphor. The telephone poles are a symbol because they portray something “bad” but also “good” , but they are also a metaphor because the author compares them to the murders of African American humans.
  4. After doing some research on Biss I found some interesting things. I found that she is a cacasion female who has been known to write about this type of stuff. After finding these things out about her It doesn’t technically change my perception of the essay because just because she’s not African American doesn’t mean that her connections and points aren’t valid. She obviously doesn’t have first hand experience with racism but she did grow up in Illinois and Iowa, which is known to have had racism in the past, so she could have seen it. In that case, i believe she has a right to write about this type of deep concept because just because she hasn’t experienced this type of attack doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen it with her own eyes.
  5. The last sentence in this essay was a strong form of imagery. It had shown that after all this hell with the connection between telephone poles and the murders of Afican American’s had a bright outcome. It aloud the reader to see even after all the history and past with telephone poles and murders there still was a beautiful outcome. Today we have telephone poles and we see them as a great thing rather than a horrific part of history.

Intro/Conclusion Analysis


After reading both essays, “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace and “Is Empathy Overrated?” by Paul Bloom, I can honestly say i’ve been affected by both. “This is Water” was a commencement speech given by Wallace where he went into detail about how us humans go through life in a “default setting”, as well as going into his beliefs on college education. On the other hand “ Is Empathy Overrated”, Bloom argues that empathy is a powerful tool with many pathways off it, but if used wrong can cloud our morals. To me empathy is the ability to understand and fully process someone else’s feelings and thoughts and arrange them in a way you can correlate a response. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. These conclusions, which Wallace endorses in “This is Water”, adds weight to my argument that there is more than one road in life, meaning that there is not a set path that you are expected to take, you shouldn’t settle for the first one you find. Life is a concept that is seen in today’s society as something with a bunch of rules and how you should follow those steps to be successful in life. I believe these rules and steps given are very mainstream, there’s way too many doors to unlock.

  • I believe the strengths of my introduction paragraph from my second essay include things such as structure as well as adding a good amount of my own voice throughout the paragraph. Some weaknesses I could point out would include going a little deeper into my claims rather than having them so vague. Some things that I improved in this section was adding more detail to what I’ve said as well as connecting the pieces together more thoroughly. I believe my thesis is pretty strong due to the fact that it is noticeable in my writing as well as allowing my voice to come through .


Both pieces by David Foster Wallace and Pual Bloom have left me with a different perspective on life then I did before. The perspectives that Wallace has allowed my eyes to open to is being able to see the different sides of life and how our decisions play a role into being able to claimit. It has given me a chance to realize the ways life can be functioned and processed rather than green-lighting it through. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. There’s two sides to everything spoken in both pieces and I see both sides but overall I’d stand with what David Foster Wallace says about life itself. I agree with some of the things provided by Bloom to an extent because I still believe there is room in life where empathy plays an important role, rather than having empathy seen as something bad all the time. In the end, I support the idea of fixing your own life and making it yours in any way possible, life is precious and it shouldn’t be something seen as a set storyline with no change, but as something that has a breakable barrier for growth.

  • In my opinion, I believe my thesis statement connects and returns quite nicely into my conclusion. I believe I incorporate it into the paragraph in a different way and in a different format than when I first started it. My conclusions always could use some work, so I’d say my conclusion is a little rushed. I definitely could’ve added a little more to this paragraph, allowing myself to extend out a little more.

Cadogan Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


After reading “Walking While Black” it has left me baffled in ways I didn’t know where possible. This piece was a very powerful and strong fight to show how the world is and how it needs to change.  My initial reaction was to be filled with empathy, as we learned from Pual Bloom and his points on empathy and how they come with consequences. This is the correct time and place to give someone empathy especially in a situation where there’s nothing being done wrong or it’s out of their control. This piece not only connects to the African American audience reading but it connects globally, this epidemic is something that has been an ongoing issue for as long as most of us can remember. Once I finished reading the whole essay there was a bunch or sections in his writing that stuck out to me the most, the author said “I could be invisible in Jamaica in a way I can’t be invisible in the United States’ ‘ . This is one of my favorite statements from the writing because it is short and simple but has such a powerful and deep meaning behind it, it allows the reader to really understand the issue. Another section I seem to be intrigued at is when the author talked about how he believed the streets in Jamaica were so much more dangerous than the streets of New Orleans, and then later on describes how his views changed once he realized it was because of the color of his skin. The author described that “New Orleans suddenly felt more dangerous than Jamaica. The sidewalk was a minefield, and every hesitation and self-censored compensation reduced my dignity”. My final reaction to this essay is that I enjoyed how strong the author’s voice was throughout the whole entire essay. In class, we have learned how to incorporate our own voice into our writing and now after reading this piece I see how powerful your voice can be. 

Essay 2 Self Reflection

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In my opinion, the most noticeable strength of my second essay would most definitely be the amount of voice I structured into my essay. I thought my voice was the strongest part of my essay because it allowed me to show my views and opinion on the topic we were required to write about. Especially my voice on “This is Water” and how I related to it. My most glaring weakness of my second essay would probably be putting both pieces in conversation with each other, there definitely can be some room for strengthening that connection.
  2. The most helpful bit of feedback I received from both my classmates and my Professor was the feedback of making sure my claims were strong and focused rather than being vague and unexplained. Another helpful piece of feedback was to go further into what I was saying and explain it a little more.
  3. The revision process from essay 1 to essay 2 was greatly different. In essay 1 I wasn’t all that familiar to peer reviewing so I just focused on the most important parts. In essay 2 my peer reviewing skills increased greatly. It allowed me to go further into my work and not only just focus on the important parts but the small things as well. One strength would definitely be adding my voice in more places in my work and a weakness would probably finding the spots that needed to be fixed more the second time.
  4. The aspect of essay composition I’d like to spend more class-time on is putting texts in conversation with each other and making that connection strongly, rather than vaguely doing so. I believe this will make my writing stronger.
  5.  A strong claim from my essay would be “On the other hand, Wallace  steers away from the idea of empathy or “virtues” but still touches upon it. Wallace states “But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called “virtues.” This is not a matter of virtue — it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting…” (Wallace 2005). I believe this is a strong claim because it relates to both pieces and allows the reader to see my views but the authors as well.

Barclay Paragraph Practice

[C1] Both the speech “This is Water ” by David Foster Wallace and the essay “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom share a common ground and that’s the darkness they both portray in their words. [I] Wallace goes into detail about adult life and [Q1] he states “ how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” ( Wallace pg 5). [E] This quote from Wallace is showing to the reader that most people live a day to day life with one factory setting when they get to adulthood. It shows that many don’t see the other opportunities and other paths a life can have. [T] Bloom’s analysis on empathy plays an important role into the darker thought process both essays possess. [Q2] Bloom later states in his essay “ Actually, in the year of the Sandy Hook killings, more schoolchildren were murdered in one American city — Chicago — than were murdered in Newtown, and yet I’ve never thought about those murdered Chicago children before looking up that figure, and I’m not likely to think about them again . . . while my mind often drifts back to Newtown” (Bloom 2017). [CE] Both these quotes from both Wallace and Bloom play a role in each other and also show a connection to the deeper meaning. Both authors use humor and a darkness to their words that not only allows their point to stick out , but also to get their points across. They use the tactic of using the reader’s emotions to provide explanations to their claims so it keeps the reader reading , sort of like in a persuasive way.

Blooms Reading Response

After thoroughly reading the piece “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom I am left with mixed emotions too what he provides in his essay. My initial response to his essay was that Bloom used very vulgar and aggressive examples for when he provided explanations for his claims. There’s a benefit and downfall to this tho, it could offend some readers but it also helps get the point across to the reader and allows the claim to stick out in the reading. An example of the hard edged explanations given by Bloom was “The murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012” (Bloom). Or even the topic he brings up such as “Intellectually, a white American might believe that a black person matters just as much as a white person, but he or she will typically find it a lot easier to empathize with the plight of the latter than the former” (Bloom).

This essay was about how empathy played into daily life, and how it could change who we are and our views. The essay goes into how empathy is narrow, biased and insensitive, leaving the reader with a strong initial response. Bloom stated that “…empathy spotlights have a narrow focus…spotlights only illuminate what they are pointed at, so empathy reflects our biases… is limited as well in that it focuses on specific individuals” (Bloom). In my opinion, like I said I believe that the author’s main three claims about empathy was that it is narrow, biased, and insensitive. This essay interacts with the other essay we read “ This is Water” because they both have a darker side of writing and thinking so they might have different ideas but they have similar writing styles.

“This is Water”- David Foster Wallace Response

After listening and reading “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace I was left with a variety of emotions. When I was reading the transcript of the speech the first thing that stood out to me was the fact that he didn’t bullshit anything he was saying, he didn’t beat around the bush. He said “speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff” (Wallace). This statement he provided set the tone for the whole entire speech for me, it allowed me to see what I was expected to experience later on in his speech. Another interesting story that stood out to me during this essay was the story he told about someone who is religious and someone who was atheist. This interested me because he went into detail about the atheist who tried the whole religious thing but didn’t believe it even after a major scary event.Wallace stated “And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp” (Wallace). This relates to me because growing up all the kids and families  around me were religious and mine really wasn’t. We tried it. It just wasn’t for us but this doesn’t mean I didn’t believe it? This is related to what we did in english class because we take different perspectives and incorporate them into one idea.

The major topic that Wallace kept bringing up is the value of your Liberal arts degree and the idea of college. I agree with what he is saying, I do agree with the fact that there are grey areas within this controversy. Wallace said “And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” (Wallace). On the other hand, I don’t agree with this statement because this all really depends on what you do and how you go about it. This is all up to you.

Paper One Self Reflection

1.) My thesis was “Although Chen’s essay bears minor similarities to Konnikova’s piece, Chen’s essay challenges Konnikova’s argument due to the idea of relationships built online either benefits of faults a person. Social media is a very controversial topic in today’s society, my own view is that social media can complicate relationships but it can also build relationships depending on how you use it. In this case, the reader gets to see both sides of the arguments in these essays.” In my opinion, I think my thesis was pretty well developed but some weaknesses to the thesis could definitely be structured as well as being a little more specific rather than being so broad. Some strengths to my thesis I think is that it used more appropriate words and it also gets my point across as I needed it too.

2.) What I have learned from writing and constructing this essay was that there isnt just one way to outline and revise an essay. I have been using the same style of a outline since middle school and I always believed that it was the most efficient way to get started, boy was I wrong. This reminded me of my own writing process because it allowed my writing to grow. My writing process started off very childish but then changed into something more professional and essay friendly.

3.) The aspect I focused most on within Global Revision is the topic of voice. Ive always struggled adding my own voice into my essays not only because I dint think that my voice supported what I was saying correctly and efficiently, but also because I just didn’t know where to put it and how to make it sound good. After learning how to do so, I thought my essay sounded and flowed smoother. Some revision tools I used to make adjustments was definitely templates given to us through either “They say I say” or Professor Brod, they were very helpful, and the comments left by my peers. The templates provided allowed me to make my voice sound good when I added it into my paper, but my peers comments allowed me to fully construct what I wanted to say and how to get it across to the reader.

4.) In my opinion, what Id do differently for the next paper would definitely time manage better. I thought that played a huge role in my essay was time, and I know I could of done better in that area If I just allowed more time for my self. Another thing id like to do different this time would be going deeper into what I say in my claims and explaining them more thoroughly. This is important because it show the reader I understand what Im talking about when I write. The whole process of pre-reading to finishing with submitting the essay would long and tedious but it definitely was worth it because Ive learned many new tips and tricks that I can add into my writing for my next essay.

Between the World and Me Reading Response

Question one:

In my opinion the relationship between education and success is the strong bond they have the opportunity to hold together, depending on which path you take. The bond these two topics share are very controversial in today’s society. Some say you can only achieve success with a background in education and schooling but some also say they don’t need school to be successful. The idea of education is different for everyone according to Ta-Nehisi stated “ To be educated in my Baltimore mostly meant always packing an extra number two pencil and working quietly” (Coates 93). To Coates, school and him didn’t get along that well at first but he pointed out the relationship between failing in school as well as how race and class played into it. He pointed out “Fully 60 percent of all young black men who drop out of high school will go to jail” (Coastes 93). This just shows that the school and today’s society is failing not the students.

Question three:

To me after reading Coates essay the solution he used to fix education was the influence of a dream and the support of an outside source that gave him motivation. He states “ …that this fear was connected to this dream out there…” “(Coates 84). Later on in the essay, Coates went into how a grandmother gave him this simple knowledge of how to become a man and a basic understanding of education, this was his outside source of motivation. It states “ Your grandmother taught me how to read at the age of four. She also taught me how to write, by which I mean not simply organizing a set of sentences into a series of paragraphs, but organizing them as means as investigation” (Coates 94). Coates solutions relates to what I do in class because I use these two solutions everyday. I use my dream of making it big and getting a good job after college as a motivation to go to class everyday. I also have outside support and motivation from my friends and family back home that pushed me to do better in my academics.

Adichie, Summary and Paraphrasing

Cameron Capachietti


English 110

All though some may say paraphrasing and summarizing are basically the same thing , they actually have distinctive differences when you write. Paraphrasing involves taking something from other people’s writing and turning it into your own words but still referencing the author. It also should be shorter than the segment you are taking from the author. On the other hand, Summarizing is taking main points and ideas from the author and putting them into your own words, this is usually longer than paraphrasing. So in other words, Paraphrasing is different because it consists mainly of your words but the idea from the author rather than ideas and topic in a longer version which is summarizing. A good summary should consist of the main points of each paragraph within the essay as well as the main evidence given from the author. Another important key component to a good summary is that you should end with a message to the reader.

Paraphrasing is an important part of writing it allows multiple different things to happen within your writing , especially flow. Paraphrasing is important in academic writing because it shows the reader that you understand the source well enough to write it in your own words. Paraphrasing is better than quoting in your academic writing because it shows that you have fully grasped the concept of the writing and allows your work to become more original. In my opinion, paraphrasing looks more clean and professional in your academic writing rather than putting direct quotes in your essays because it shows that you put effort into your writing rather than just slapping other people’s words there.

After watching the TedTalk and listening to Adichie speak, the main take away from what she said to me was that stories are important and that they serve an important purpose, not only in your writing but life as well. She believes that stories can empower and humanize when written or spoken of correctly. Another important message taken away from what Adichie had said is that power is an important key that comes along with stories you either have it or you don’t. Stories can show self respect but it can also take away it at the same time either your writing or telling the story (“Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity (Adichie). ) Stories are an important part of life and it shows for all your life experiences and could even shape who you become in the future. (“All of these stories make me who I am” (Adichie). )