Joy Brown Oiler BlogI’m a full-time public relations professional, single mom, graduate student and occasionally irreverent opinionator. Follow me as I continue to tackle UF’s Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Program.

Use Your Words

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9th May

For my last blog post of the academic year (I’ll be back this fall), I thought I’d provide some educational value to your valuable time.

By the time I joined the Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Program in summer 2015, my vocabulary already had improved thanks to the godforsaken GRE requirement. I spent hours with flash cards so that I didn’t have a cursing and crying meltdown in the testing center. But when I actually began studying rhetoric, I realized I was still nothing but a hack, a bad writer with bad clichés and puns and a boatload of wretched hyperbole. It took some more time to get up to speed so that I could express myself somewhat articulately, so that I could hang. It also took a lot of painstaking notes and patience while pouring through books like … Read More »

Vernacular Violence

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26th March

About two months ago, my 6-year-old son suddenly, without explanation, started talking like a Minnesotan. He uses one key phrase.

“I have superhero powers, dontcha know.”

“Dontcha know, can we have donuts for dinner?”

“Mommy, dontcha know, my poop won’t go down the toilet!”

I did not know that, son. Thanks for the information. I’ll take care of that last issue, you betcha.

Sort of cute, right? But why is it cute? What if I had stated he’d begun to speak in African-American English instead? Chicano English? Chinglish?

Language is intensely personal. It’s a primary symbolic gesture for how we express ourselves. But it’s much more than that. It reflects heritage and identity. In many instances, according to prevailing lore, stereotypes, rumors and misinterpretation, it can also represent – often falsely – education level, criminal intent, socioeconomic status, personality, gender, religion and an entire spectrum of … Read More »

Digital Death, or Lack Thereof

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16th February

In a 2013 New York Times feature on Billy Crystal and the actor’s memoir, “Still Foolin’ Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?,” reporter Dave Itzkoff details an awkward, but poignant moment during a public book reading. While relaying a passage from the chapter, “Buying the Plot,” which addresses mortality, Crystal made eye contact with his wife in the audience, got choked up and dropped the iPad he was reading from.

One need not have been present at Crystal’s book reading to at least be marginally impacted. Itzkoff’s sentimental prose captured the scene well, and served as a reminder of death’s inevitability.

Death, as it turns out, is not only one of the most compelling topics in any respect, but also happens to occupy an important space in rhetorical studies. Standing alongside ancient Greece’s original … Read More »

Unvirtuous Findlay: How My Unlikely Master’s Thesis Topic Found Me

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4th January

“Who wants to learn about prostitutes?” That’s the question I enthusiastically ask at the beginning of my presentation on the topic. From their reactions, I can immediately tell which audience members are likely to be interested in what I have to say. Regardless of whether they consider the theme distasteful, I at least have their attention.

Let’s get right to it: along with presenting to groups ranging from senior citizens to Hancock Leadership candidates, I’m writing about Findlay prostitutes for my master’s thesis, which I’ve tentatively titled “Unvirtuous Findlay.” Some rhetorical scholars write about pedagogical practices, some about government surveillance, some about methods of memorializing, and so on. I, for one, am researching a contingent of 19th century women who chose the sex trade as their profession.

You may be wondering why, and if so, I completely understand your confusion. When I … Read More »

Going Nuclear: Why I Never Really Never Left Las Vegas

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14th November

“Van Gogh Never Saw Bikini Atol” by Aja Trier.

In 2006, I got married on a broiling hot 104-degree day in Las Vegas, Nevada. A year later, I went back to learn about thermonuclear explosions. The National Atomic Testing Museum (NATM) is crammed with artifacts related to the atomic bomb. Chronologically arranged, it takes visitors through a bunker-style room with a walkway that meanders past items such as old Geiger counters, gas masks, toys and Civil Defense pamphlets. There are also 1950s-era photos of showgirls in mushroom cloud costumes. During that decade (prior to the government taking matters underground) when the U.S. conducted frequent nuclear weapons tests at the formerly named Nevada Test Site, guests staying in the top rooms of hotels could witness atmospheric explosions conducted up to 100 miles away, and everyone in the city could feel … Read More »

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