Today’s Student Shout-Out goes to COMS major Steven Slasten, or, I should say, COMS major and published author Steven Slasten! That’s right! An article Steven wrote for Professor DeLaure’s Critical and Rhetorical Methods class, entitled “A Look at the Cycle of Redemption in the Rhetoric Surrounding the Suicide of Tyler Clementi” has been published in USF’s Writing for a Real World.
I asked Professor DeLaure to tell us about Steven’s article. Here is her starred review: “Steven’s essay exemplifies the best of what Rhetorical Criticism as a form can offer: here is an insightful analysis of a collective struggle over meaning-making about a pressing, divisive political issue. As is often the case for high-profile crimes and trials, a social drama played out in the media coverage of Tyler Clementi’s suicide and its aftermath. Steven engages Kenneth Burke’s theory of scapegoating and redemption, drawing deftly from both primary and secondary sources. In clear and elegant prose, he argues that the public discourse surrounding Ravi’s trial has broader significance and, ultimately, troubling ramifications.”
I also asked the author himself to also tell us about his paper:
“This review analyzes the media portrayal of the suicide of Tyler Clementi using Kenneth Burke’s cycle of redemption and Brian Ott and Eric Aoki’s theory of media framing. The review first lays the groundwork of Burke’s theory, and then uses Ott and Aoki’s media framing, in their analysis of the murder of Matthew Shepard, as a follow-up to Burke’s theory and as a point of comparison to the Clementi suicide. The review that follows applies the media surrounding the suicide of Clementi to the steps of Burke’s cycle of redemption with a focus how the media portrayal of the chosen scapegoat shifted from that of a rational adult who engaged in homophobic bullying to that of an immature minor involved in a prank that went too far. The results of this review suggest that the cycle of redemption was not completed in this case, because of a societal inability to choose a perfect scapegoat.”
Wow! Are our students smart or what?
I also asked Steven to tell us about why he decided to write about this topic. “The reason I chose to write on this subject was because I was a freshman at the same time that Clementi was. His first month of college was my first month of college. Yet his ended in a suicide and mine went on normally. I also chose this subject because I was disgusted at the whole event. How could someone be so cold and callous as to invade someone’s privacy in that way? An invasion of privacy that led someone my age to suicide? But as my freshman year went on I got caught up in making friends and going to classes, and my interest in the case waned. In fact, I totally forgot about it until I took Rhetorical Criticism, and randomly came across an article that concerned the verdict in the case. It reignited my interest in the whole event. The fact that a hate crime charge involving homophobia was involved piqued my interest even further, and so I decided I wanted to research the details of the case and that I wanted to write my final paper on it.”
A big congratulations to Steven on his publication! We’re very proud!