What does one learn about in a first year composition class in Appalachian State University? After reading from Dr Kimberly Gunter it is still unclear to this writer. Quotes fromthe end of this paper signified the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to the Death penalty; “Fry ‘Em All” and “The Bleeding Heart” (Gunter, 38). This paper written by Dr. Kimberly Gunter from Appalachian State University initially appears on the surface to be about how the class she has been teaching for the last 15 weeks has looked to understand the death penalty in their state and why they oppose it. In the end Gunter describes how she used a topic that she obviously has strong opinions and emotionswith and has her students learn to write about it. The Title of this paper “In Our Names”: Rewriting the U.S. Death Penalty (32) suggests that maybe there were petitions put together for possible ratifications to the death penalty laws or at least a Billwritten and presented to the state legislators for consideration. There is nothing in the paper suggesting any of that was accomplished.
Gunter takes the reader on a field trip with her class to a Maximum Security prison in North Carolina in a final research effort for a class project the students have been working on. Gunter uses analogies like the equating the air in the prison smelling like a “day of hog-killing” (32) in an attempt to disgust the reader from the beginning with the idea of death row.Gunter continues to describe low life prison guards and overly medicated innocent prisoners. Throwing in one liner comments from students whose life experience equates to growing up in privileged middle class families and having the opportunity to attendan established University like Appalachian State University. Gunter provides partial statistics in an attempt to show the reader her knowledge on the subject of Capital Punishment. As tha paper comes to a conclusion Gunter was attempting to integrate her students into academic writers and focusing on a singular project tied together by the death penalty.
In her writings Gunter shows a bias towards the death penalty invoking images of dead pigs and fowl stenches in the readers mind. Gunter contradicts these images later in the paper when she describes thedeath chamber with a hospital gurney and crisp sheets on it. This is Gunter’s attempt at using a “pathos” argument. Gunter wants to show the humanity side of the death penalty but fails in ways when she quotes a guard “he out and out said rape isn’t much of a problem in that prison, but last year, another guard, a bg barrel-chested sergeant who kept saying ‘I like to fight,’ told me that, while the guards ruled the prison during the day, the prisoners ruled at night, and that prisoner rape was widespread and unchecked while the cell blocks were on nightly lockdown.” (35). This example of rape in prison only helps solidify some readers minds about capital punishment and the inability of offenders to be rehabilitated.
The writer does not use any evidence to support her argument which is not even clearly defined or understood in the paper. The reader finishes reading the work and searches for the true topic of the work, is it about the death penalty, is it about a first year composition class or is it about a transformation of the student to open their minds or take on different perspectives in life? It is never truly defined within the body of the work. There is misinformation in the body of work. Gunter is quoted on page 34 ” We learn that there are no on-site educational programs..” This is untrue according to the Educational Services for the Department of Prisons in North Carolina.
It is difficult to identify if the writer of this work is successful in conveying her point to the reader. There is a use of pathos in the work that will pull on the emotions of the reader, but it is not clear what emotions are to be pulled on or the wrong emotions are enacted. If the purpose of the paper was to showthat young college aged students are able to open their minds or embrace academic writing it was not successfully portrayed or documented in any way.
“Educational Services.” Educational Services. Web. 22 Nov. 2014. .
Gunter, Kimberly K. “I n Our Names”: Rewriting The U.S. Death Penalty.” Writing On The Edge 21.2 (2011): 32-38. Education Research Complete . Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
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