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Minh Tran 1Minh TranMs.NguyenEnglish 1301Feb 21, 2015‘’Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?’’One of the most important decisions in life is choosing the right major to followand the right approach on studying in college. What should students consider whenmaking that decision: family tradition, financial budget, work market trend, social status,and/or personal interest? Professor Mark Edmundson gives his own answer to thisquestion in the article “Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?”, published onAugust 22nd2011 in Issue 74 of The Oxford Americanand accessed by me on June 29th2014 from the magazine’s online version. The article’s target audience is clearly stated intext: “the incoming class”, or in other words, freshman students experiencing their firstdays in college. Through his message, Mark Edmundson aims to convince, to persuadethose students that the only purpose of college education should be to fulfill yourself: tofind and follow your interest, to not only understand everything you learn but moreimportantly question its value to you.Edmundson begins the article claiming that one has to “fight against theinstitution” to get a good college education. He points out what’s wrong with collegeeducation nowadays: the effort people put into teaching and studying is just at the bareminimum, for college to them is just a bridge leading to more important goals. Besides,the author also claims that students are built up by so many people around: they are made
Minh Tran 2to be “father’s son” or “mother’s daughter”; colleges want them to be “well-roundedstudents, civic leaders, people who know what the system demands, how to keep matterslight.”. Being shaped by others is easy and can still be good, according to Edmundson,but “in the long run, [it] is killing.” That’s why he urges students to “fight”, “to beaggressive and assertive”. He encourages them to bravely follow their interest andquestion the values of everything they learn. His article has some drawbacks in terms oflogos, but I believe Edmundson successfully achieved his goal with strong appeals topathos, given the target audience and the writing context.In “Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?”, diction and syntax play animportant role in triggering audience’s thinking and feelings. It starts on the verybeginning with the title - a deep question suggesting no simple answer. The title makesreaders pause and start to think, and then feel eager to read the message hoping for somedeep insight and explanation. Were the title not interrogative sentence but declarative orimperative ones, it may not have the same effect. Besides, let’s look at the wordsEdmundson uses to describe life in and outside college: Students live life of “celebrities”and graduate to become “servants”; professors “slave” to do incomprehensible scholarwork instead of paying “full-bore attention” to teaching. Those words are highlyimaginative. Together with the repetitive phrase “life is elsewhere”, they successfullypaint a clear picture of the dull boring life in college when one doesn’t “throw himselfheart and soul into” classes. Another example for wise use of diction is inspiring wordssuch as “to fight”, “to struggle and strive”, “to be aggressive and assertive”. These wordssuggest strong will and confidence. They help bring out the desire for real education and