Sometimes the best way to understand how to move forward is to take a look back. Looking back over some of the papers that I have written over my college career I discovered some things that I could have done better, and a few mistakes. I also found some things that I did really well. Two years ago I took an Environmental Literature course. We spent the first half of the semester studying Audubon and writing short essays about what we learned. For the latter part of the semester we took class trips to the university arboretum, sometimes with a guide and other times exploring on our own.
Throught the course of the class I learned how to take my writing skills and combine them with the scientific knowledge that I was learning. The professor was enthusiastc about teaching us how to write about science in a way that was creative and full of emotion and passion, something that I hadn’t realized was possible in writing for science.
This new approach to scientific writing inspired the topic of one of my essays for the course. In the essay I wrote about how scientific writing doesn’t always take the form of the cold, clinical statistics and technical jargon that we are used to. I used Audubon’s Birds of America to provide examples for how scientific writing can be aesthetic and more importantly how English, in regard to writing, and science can sometimes have signifigant overlap.
“In the world of writing it is common for the scientific and the aesthetic to be compared, and in most cases dismissed as completely different entities. But why is this, is one better than the other well certainly not.”
For my paper to be effective I needed to use some of my rhetorical skills. I needed to establish a level of ethos in order to make my discussion relevant. To do so I used what I can now define as Nullius in Verba or “On the word of no man”. I quoted Audubon to support my argument, in the hopes of gaining some authority for myself in the eyes of my audience. To establish Logos I asked the question, as you can see above, what makes one field better than the other and then went on to attempt to explain the ways in which the two fields can work as compliments.
The best part about reflecting over old papers is discovering how far I have come. In the essay that I wrote I didn’t discuss the ways in which technical writers bring English and science together as they create documents. I wasn’t aware that I, an English major, could build a website for a scientific, or any other company that is technically sound as well as aesthetically pleasing. I didn’t fully understand the range of English, and the skills that I would gain in studying it, would give me.
Thanks to a few great professors I understand now. So when my friends studying various sciences joke about my English degree, I laugh right along with them because little do they know we could be working together in the future.