In a Tortoiseshell: In this excerpt, Willow develops a rich and multilayered motive for writing about the Martin Hayes Quartet’s album The Blue Room. She begins with a hook that orients the reader to the album and prefigures her motive. She then establishes an explicit personal motive, which is interwoven with her primary source motive. Having made her question clear, she deftly answers it in her thesis and later analysis. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his essay, Sam delves deeply into the implications behind David Hammons’s 1988 piece How Ya Like Me Now? At odds with the rest of Hammons’s works, which involve raw and compelling depictions of Blackness in America, How Ya Like Me Now? is a painting that portrays Jesse Jackson, a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and lifelong activist for justice for Black Americans, as white. The following excerpt highlights the way that Sam layers motive from both his primary and secondary sources to create an exemplary introduction.Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In her exhibition statement for a hypothetical museum exhibit, Shirley prepares her readers to encounter exicon terms visually and spatially. She provides her audience with orienting information on architectural estrangement, with clear motivating questions to guide audience members’ experience of the exhibited objects, with evidence in the form of the objects themselves, and with suggested routes of analysis in the way those objects are displayed in the exhibition space. Overall, Shirley’s exhibition invites hypothetical museum-goers to join a scholarly conversation on architectural estrangement and to find their own argument in the exhibited objects. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his Writing Seminar R3, Arya Maheshwari uses correlation networks to model air pollution data gathered in India. This excerpt, which is a condensed version of his introduction, demonstrates how quantitative papers can effectively utilize global and scholarly motives to communicate the importance of their high technical studies to a lay audience.
In a Tortoiseshell: In his paper for Anthropologies of Climate and Change, Liam Seeley argues that we can rethink our relationship to our changing climate by focusing on how it interacts with our lungs. Climate is not fully external to us, as air enters our bodies with each breath we take. Liam treats the lungs as a metaphor for the functioning of climate on a larger scale; the lungs offer a microcosm of the social and political facets of climate change. His essay has a particularly powerful narrative, driven by stories about how the lungs live in—and are damaged by—the world. Liam’s treatment of narrative is essential to his motive, thesis, and scholarly conversation. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his paper for Aesthetics and Film, David Veldran discusses immoral fictional characters and their potential benefits for improving our moral intuitions. He weaves together a complex scholarly motive, which allows him to clearly demonstrate the necessity of his original argument, “aufheben.”
Strong motive is generally a prerequisite for a strong argument. When authors respond to a particular puzzle or incongruity in their evidence, they narrow the scope of their argument and also clarify its implications. Papers with compelling motives often tap into broader personal or societal narratives. For example, editor Emily Wu points out that Sam Bisno’s paper builds on an incongruity in a painting by David Hammon to explore the artist’s storytelling and its relationship to the Civil Rights Movement. Ayra Maheshwari’s paper on air pollution in India and the accompanying editor commentary also focus on global motive. Conversely, in her discussion of Willow Dalehite’s paper on Irish music, editor Natalia Zorilla emphasizes the personal narratives that motivate Dalehite’s argument. Both Christina Cho’s and Owen Travis’ editor commentaries (discussing David Veldran’s paper for the Philosophy Department’s Aesthetics and Film Junior Seminar and Anais Mobarak’s paper on Hugo Chávez’s mythologization of Simón Bolívar, respectively) focus on scholarly motive. Despite their scholarly framing, both papers engage with the role of narrative in today’s society: the stories we tell, whether through film or political mythology, affect our ethical interpretation of our surroundings.
— Frances Mangina, ’22
In a Tortoiseshell: In these first three paragraphs of her essay on revolutionary action in prison abolition, Meryl Liu provides powerful and efficient orienting for her readers. She introduces relevant historical events, gives context for the scholarly discussion, and defines her own key term that acts as a framework for the remainder of the piece. By illuminating a “unique and intriguing tension” Meryl captures the reader’s interest and primes them for the thesis of her paper, which follows immediately after the excerpt published here. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In this excerpt of her essay on Hugo Chávez’s mythologization of Simón Bolívar, Anais Mobarak demonstrates how best to establish scholarly motive when numerous texts are in conversation. Anais is clear and deft in her explanation of a tension that exists between two scholars, highlighting the relevant points made by each writer. She then plays peacemaker, suggesting a new lens through which to view Chávez and his complex relationship to Bolívar. Continue reading
I love watching South Korean mukbang. It’s a genre of online video in which streamers eat excessive amounts of food (usually very unhealthy) in front of a camera. The term roughly translates to “eating broadcast,” which I think encapsulates the primary purpose of mukbang pretty well. However, the genre also lends itself to a surprising amount of depth. In this post, I’d like to speculate about why one popular mukbang personality—tzuyang—is able to consistently enthrall her 5.58 million subscribers and other YouTube-watching enthusiasts. I find tzuyang’s videos appealing because they seamlessly integrate “textual motive” and other kinds of motive.
Traditionally, mukbang is done in the comfort of one’s home, and the unmoving camera simply captures 1) the food and 2) the person who eats the food. Within this setup, the host answers “textual motive” questions (What does the food taste like? What’s the best way to prepare and eat the food?) by “analyzing” her “primary sources.”
This is tzuyang in a more “classic” mukbang setting.
Although tzuyang has, of course, recorded these more “traditional” mukbang videos, most of her videos actually blur the boundaries between traditional mukbang, vlog, and even documentary. Tzuyang’s most recent video, in which she visits a traditional market in Daejeon, South Korea, exemplifies this genre-bending style. The video was sponsored by the Daejeon Tourism Organization, and it clearly aims to display the appeal, variety, and authenticity of traditional market food. Thus, the video not only focuses on the delicious food (and tzuyang’s astounding appetite) but also captures the environment/atmosphere of the traditional market. Tzuyang, then, embeds her eating within a larger context. In writing, we might think of this move as situating our main analytical work in a “scholarly conversation.”
In another recent video, people in the fish market abandoned their stalls to watch tzuyang eat.
Another aspect of tzuyang’s videos are her interactions/conversations with food stall and restaurant owners. Although many of them recognize tzuyang, they are nevertheless amazed upon seeing how much food she can consume. (These owners, who are generally older, also love to give tzuyang extra side dishes and tea. They treat her like she’s their granddaughter.) These live interactions are both funny and heartwarming; altogether, they add yet another dimension to the “scholarly conversation” of tzuyang’s videos. Some shopkeepers initially express skepticism, while others wholeheartedly cheer tzuyang on. Regardless of what onlookers say, tzuyang responds to all of them through her engagement with food.
This informal analysis now brings me to why I (and millions of others) keep returning to tzuyang’s videos. Although eating remains a focal point of tzuyang’s channel, her videos are also engaging because they show how tzuyang navigates different food landscapes and converses with local people. Together, these elements also allow tzuyang to promote older or lesser-known food locations across South Korea, which have been heavily impacted by the global pandemic. Mukbang videos can have a global motive!
Drawing inspiration from tzuyang’s multilayered videos, I would encourage students to incorporate different layers of motive in their own writing. While watching—or, in my case, describing—how people eat lots of food is somewhat puzzling in itself, this content allows us to simultaneously think about larger environments, communities, and global contexts.
–Christina Cho, ’24