Category Archives: CUPID News

Culture Shock in the Workplace

Kaitlyn Stahl – Class of 2015

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 1.05.21 AM (1) This semester, I have been working as an editorial intern at Cultureshock Media in London. Cultureshock is a company that specializes in both print and online publishing, and their clients typically pertain to culture such as museums, music venues, or fashion companies. The first half of my semester in the United Kingdom was spent taking classes, but as soon as November came, my schedule shifted into working three full days out of the week. Since then I have worked with clients like British Airways, the British Council, and Sotheby’s magazine. I’ve written newsletter and magazine content, researched cultural events, and created posts for Cultureshock’s art review website ( As someone who wants to go into the publishing industry, this internship felt like the perfect placement.

Still, there were challenges in the beginning as I adjusted to a British workplace. Although everyone speaks English, it still might be hard to interpret what someone really means. If you’ll excuse the wordplay, I definitely experienced culture shock at Cultureshock.

I’ve narrowed my experience to a few aspects that stood out the most to me – both because I wasn’t expecting them and because they’re so prominent.

Food and Drink: Both are very important in British culture. It’s often a topic of conversation and is essential to bonding. First, if someone asks if you want the last biscuit*, you say no. By asking other people in this manner, the person is actually saying that they want it. Knowing this helped me understand their politeness and roundabout way of asking for things, which would definitely help me later. More stereotypically, the British love tea. Instead of the clichéd ‘interns fetching coffee’, you should anticipate learning how to make tea. Whenever someone gets up to make a hot drink, they are expected to ask everyone else if they’d like something as well. Both food and drink come into play at the pub, where the entire office might head on Friday nights. This is a great place to get to know your coworkers on a friendly level and ends up strengthening your working relationship as well.

Office Layout: I’ve been at Cultureshock for a few weeks and I’m still confused as to the company’s hierarchy. This is because the office has an open layout. In a British office, the CEO could be sitting next to an intern, and everyone mingles with each other casually. Our office is an old apartment building, so aside from a separation between upstairs and downstairs, there aren’t any divisions between departments. Making it even harder to differentiate hierarchy, British offices tend to be very young. Age doesn’t necessarily denote seniority.

Receiving Direction: If your supervisor casually suggests you do something by saying “Oh, you might see if you can work on this before tomorrow” or “perhaps it would be a good idea to work on this before tomorrow,” it actually means you need to do it before tomorrow. Similar to the indirect way of asking for the biscuit, the British don’t tend to give specific direction. It is up to the employee to interpret what they want and manage their time well enough to get it done.

Writing: Surprisingly, writing hasn’t been that different. The biggest thing I’ve come across is spelling. In British English, many words with an ‘or’ at the end have a ‘u’ in it, such as humour, rumour, or colour. Also, words with the suffix in ‘ize’ or ‘izing’ are spelled with an ‘s,’ such as traumatising or capitalise. Working with culture, I personally need to remember theater is spelled theatre over here.

These are only a few of the cultural aspects of an international workplace. Although seemingly random, understanding each helped me understand my coworkers better and thus get more out of my internship. By building a relationship through food and drink, I felt more comfortable asking questions to people I wouldn’t have spoken with otherwise. They then became more willing to share some of their expertise with me. The open office also helped foster relationship building and department integration. I am lucky enough to sit next to my supervisor so if I am ever in need of specific direction, I can ask her face-to-face. Furthermore, I’ve been able to improve my communication skills by learning how to interpret her indirectness. Overall, it’s been interesting to see both the differences and the similarities.

*Biscuit is cookie over here.


Also posted in Outside the Classroom, Student Perspective | 3 Comments

The Rhetoric of Appearance

Carolyn Braganca— ENG ’15

When average people think of rhetoric, they tend to think of words—either written or spoken. Students of rhetoric, though, know it extends beyond just words. However, how often do people consider the rhetorical nature of their appearance? After all, psychologists love to point out that much of what you communicate to others is communicated through non-verbal methods.

We live in a society that is very focused on appearance, and there are plenty of critics who support such a focus and there are those who heavily criticize it. While there are people who argue school dress codes should not shame girls who wear revealing outfits, there are also people who say boys should not be allowed to wear saggy pants. There are people who believe people should not judge others based on their weight, and there are people who say people should not be judged based on bodies at all.

For the record, I am indeed aware these criticisms have strong gender patterns. Although I do think the heavy criticism geared towards women is an important topic to discuss, I will not be doing so here—though I certainly encourage you to consider that pattern and comment below.

Whether you think it is fair or not, our appearance matters. Clothes are a basic necessity, so our consumer-based economy provides an outstanding selection of clothes to choose from. There is always a reason why people choose one outfit over another, and that choice is a rhetorical decision people make every day without fully realizing it. What you wear reveals something about you as a person and something about your mood.

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Consider this woman—we’ll call her Rebecca, Becks for short. What are your immediate impressions of Becks based on this outfit? What does this outfit say about Becks’ personality? From what socioeconomic class would you guess she is, based on this outfit?

Why did she choose to wear jeans instead of leggings or sweatpants, and why are they boot-cut jeans instead of flair or skinny? Why did she opt for the black ankle boots instead of Converse or flats? Why a white shirt—why not another color? And why did she tuck the shirt in? Technically, all she needs is a shirt, so why did she add a vest? Why that color and style vest? And why long beads instead of nothing or something more subtle? Why did she style her hair like that—was she too lazy to put it up, or does she think it looks best while down? Why did she do her makeup like that—does she want to look like she isn’t wearing makeup?

Based on Becks’ outfit, what do you think she is doing? Is this what she wears to work? Is she going on a date? Is she simply running some errands? Is she passing a coffee shop at which she knows the person she likes will be?

In choosing that particular outfit, Becks is attempting to influence what others think about her. So what do you think?

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How about this man—we’ll him Lucas, Luke for short. What are your immediate impressions of him? Why would you guess his personality is like? From what socioeconomic class does he look to be?

Why a bright blue suit instead of something more conventional like grey or black or even navy? Why does his jacket match his pants? Why are his pants a tight—does this indicate his age or his profession? Why isn’t his jacket buttoned? Why a white shirt—is he trying to balance an unconventional suit color with a more conventional shirt color? Why did he choose that tie instead of a skinnier one or one with a square bottom? Why did he use that knot? And why a navy tie—why not something more bright or interesting? Why the tie clip?

Based on Luke’s suit, what do you think he is doing? Is this a work outfit? What profession is in—banking, marketing, government? Is this what he wears to an average day in the office? Or is this something he would wear to meet clients? Or is Luke actually preparing to go on a date? How must he feel about his date if he dresses like this? Maybe it’s his anniversary and he booked a reservation at a high-end restaurant.

The point of this is not necessarily that it is okay to judge people based on how they dress. What people wear is a rhetorical decision that reveals something about the wearer—the operative word being something. The factors that go into deciding what to wear include not only your full personality—which influences which clothes you buy—but also your daily mood and context. While the former factor is relatively fixed, the latter two change frequently.

A single outfit is the tip of the iceberg that is who someone really is.

The main point is to make you consider how you dress and what this says about you. How do you represent yourself through your appearance? How does your appearance change based on your rhetorical context? You likely do not wear the same outfit to a job interview and a date or to a party with friends and a party with family. Why not? How do your outfits change, and what do these changes say about how you want others to perceive you?

How does your appearance represent who you are?


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3 Things PWR Can Do For You

Mags Bryant ‘16

I wasn’t always planning on majoring in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, but since declaring, there hasn’t been a moment in which I regret my decision. With registration for the fall semester not far off, I though I would share some of the skills I’ve gained from my coursework. Here are my top how-tos that you can learn in PWR and use in real life!


  1. How to Write a Resume and Cover Letter: In classes like CUPID Studio and Intro PWR I learned how to write effective and professional cover letters and tailor them for specific jobs. One resume does not fit all. I have also learned how to write and design my resume to highlight different skills and experiences depending on what I am using it for. For instance, a resume and cover letter for a camp counselor position will be different than a resume and cover letter for a copy-editor position. In writing a cover letter or resume, it is important that you are communicating effectively and upholding a certain level of professionalism.


  1. How to Communicate Effectively and Professionally: Each course I have taken in PWR has helped me to think about my personal brand and how I communicate. Whether you’re writing a blog post, sending a memo to your co-workers, or emailing a client, it is important to be clear and concise. In classes like Intro PWR, CUPID Studio, you learn the basics of how to best communicate depending on the situation. Each PWR class offers you a chance to work on your communicative skill, often with a variety of contextual situations. You have to communicate differently depending on the circumstances and your sense of awareness is key when trying to assess your situation. Part of communicating effectively and professionally is knowing your audience.


  1. How to Think about Audience: Audience is important in every rhetorical situation and will come into play differently in each PWR class. Intro PWR, CUPID Studio, Travel Writing, and Writing Center Workshop are just a few of the many courses in which you discuss audience. Audience is essential to a rhetorical situation and it only helps you to have the skills to look at it in different ways. Your audience will not be the same every time and you have to learn to write differently depending on your reader. The way you write a grant proposal and the way you write a program newsletter do not cater to the same audiences. Learning how to think about your audience can help you to better tailor your cover letter or resume in addition to helping you figure out what is the most effective means of communicating with your audience.


Although there are many other skills and techniques from PWR that are universally applicable, these three are the most interconnected and form a strong foundation basis. You don’t have to be a PWR major to make use of these important skills!


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Guest Post: Rachel Lewis’ On Gender & Rhetoric

Rachel Lewis ’16

Gender & Rhetoric

When many of us think of rhetoric, we think of Aristotle. We think of Plato. And we think of loads of other white males. Very rarely do we think about the women of rhetoric – and can you blame us? It’s hard enough to get an understanding of what rhetoric is, let alone the people who run the show. It takes a lot of work to even find information about people other than men who were involved in building our understanding of rhetoric. If you’re searching too quickly, you risk glossing over people beyond white men who influenced rhetoric.
So who are these people?
Let’s begin flipping the script by talking about Aspasia. She was the first woman rhetorician that I remember learning about. As is often the case with women in male dominated fields, Aspasia was largely discredited. I was shocked to learn that some believe she was the one who taught Socrates the Socratic method. She’s this really interesting woman because people don’t know very much about her at all. According to Lilith, a feminist e-zine that dedicates itself to exploring the stories of women, “Aspasia was probably a hetaira. There is no English word to accurately translate hetairai, but they were more than courtesans. They were indeed sexual partners, but they were also companions, better educated than other Greek women. They were educated in philosophy, history, politics, science, art and literature, so that they could converse intelligently with sophisticated men. Aspasia was considered by many to be the most beautiful and intelligent of the city’s hetairai.”
But everything about her remains messy. I remain critical of the idea that a woman could only have value if she was linked to the sexualities of other men, and was a woman among men; I am frustrated with the theorizing that Aspasia wasn’t like other women, and didn’t spend her time with other women, but rather entertaining men.
However, there is little out there, or, at least, little accessible material.
Fortunately, there are other women rhetoricians. There’s Diotima, a Greek priestess, who discussed love in great detail. She worked with Socrates as well. There’s Christine de Pizan, who helped shape the conversation about whether women could be rhetoricians despite their sex, intentional or not, just by the fact of her being a woman and a writer.

There’s also Mary Wollstonecraft, who was a woman in more recent history (well, late 1700s) who fought against the idea that men were somehow superior communicators as a result of their sex. She published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” a rather straightforward title that sought to shift education to include women. An extremely feminist woman and great rhetorician, she also benefited the writing world by birthing the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.

Why do these names matter? What difference does it make that women have practiced and theorized about rhetoric? To me, at least, it makes all the difference. Why? Because I am a woman, and I’ve studied rhetoric.
For many, there is value in having role models, and examples. There is a strength in knowing that people like you have once done the thing that you’re interested in doing. Intentional or not, by being recognized rhetoricians, these women helped shape the field into one that was less male and more inclusive. The simple fact that we don’t often call people like Plato “male rhetoricians” but call Aspasia a “female rhetorician” shows that there is room for improvement regarding the inclusivity of the field of rhetoric when it comes to women. In many ways, we still see male as the default.
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What does “feminism” mean?

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Carolyn Braganca—ENG Lit ’15


Emma Watson, Benazir Bhutto, Jennifer Siebel Newsom,  Susan B. Anthony, Nicki Minaj, Betty Friedan, Yoko Ono, Maya  Angelou, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Malala Yousafzi—what  do all of these women have in common? They all support  feminism . . . but do they support the same feminism?

To start with, what is feminism? Seems like a pretty obvious answer—according to the Oxford English Dictionary, feminism is the “advocacy of equality of the sexes and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex.”

If that’s the definition, why are some women reluctant to identify themselves as feminists? According to a recent BuzzFeed survey of 300,000 participants, while 99 percent stated they believe in equality between the genders, only 69 percent identified themselves as feminists. Of the 31 percent that did not identify as feminists, 67 percent stated the term “feminism” did not accurately represent their views.

Why the discrepancy?

Those who study the English language—or any language, for that matter—are well aware of the power words possess. This power, however, is subjective because language is subjective. Even for a word with a standard and accepted definition, every individual interprets the word in subtly—or obviously—different ways.

My definition of feminism is based on my context, on my education and experiences. My brother’s definition of feminism is based on his unique context. No person on the planet can have the exact same context, which means no person’s definition of feminism is the same.

My context is similar to my best friend’s context, which means our definitions are similar but not the same. It would be fairly easy to unite our definitions and determine one standard definition. However, my context is radically different from that of someone who lives in a rural Nigerian village, so our definitions of feminism will likely be very different. How do my best friend and I add the Nigerian’s definition to the standard definition?

If no two people have the same definition of feminism, how can there be one standard and united definition? Does this mean feminism does not exist as one movement but rather as multiple feminisms? Can feminism—or feminisms—succeed if there is not one united definition?

Does there need to be a single definition? I don’t think there does.

The problem with the feminist movement is it assumes there is one definition of feminism and everyone knows what that definition is. Therefore, it is difficult for feminists to garner strong support on a national or international scale because the definition of feminism becomes too diluted to draw many passionate supporters—people can’t connect with a united definition of feminism. This does not mean, however, the feminist movement is futile or doomed to fail.

Feminists need to concentrate more on a local scale—on the small picture. The individual contexts of citizens of a state county, for example, are likely to be more similar and, therefore, easier to blend into a unified but local definition with which more people can connect and identify.

In rhetorical terms, feminists need to focus more on identifying a more specific audience and adjusting their arguments to a context to which their audience will relate and understand. By narrowing their focus, feminists will affect a smaller population in a stronger way instead of a larger population in a weaker way.

The feminist movement will not succeed by waging a war against the international patriarchy. Feminist movements will win small victories in battles against local patriarchies, and these victories will stack up to eventually win the war.

Remember, just because we have lost a few battles doesn’t mean we won’t win the war. Considering we have nothing to lose and everything to gain, the odds are in our favor.


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Literature vs. PWR?

Carolyn Braganca — ENG Lit ’15

At Elon, professional writing and rhetoric (PWR) and literature are two separate concentrations within the English major. When you look at the required courses for each concentration, the two appear completely different. After all, what could visual rhetoric and poetry possibly have in common?

As it turns out, they’re not as different as you may think.

I actually briefly considered concentrating on PWR when I initially chose my major. However, I fell prey to the same assumption I think many people have: rhetoric is dry language while literature is pretty language. I thought PWR made one think while literature made one feel, and I was interested in the latter.

As it turns out, I wasn’t entirely wrong—I wasn’t correct, but I wasn’t wrong either. Rhetoric does make you think, but it also makes you feel. Likewise, literature does make you feel, but it also makes you think. Literature uses rhetoric to tell a story because all stories have some sort of purpose or ever purposes.

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Langston Hughes’s “Harlem” are meant to inform, to educate readers about issues or perspectives of issues of which they are not aware. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” however, are intended mainly to entertain. Each of these writers chose a specific format, specific organization, and specific language to accomplish their purpose and goals. Although, within the English major at Elon University, you would study these texts in the literature concentration, these literary stories can also be studied from a PWR perspective as well.

An iconic political slogan--three guesses whose it is.

An iconic political slogan–three guesses whose it is.

Once you link rhetoric with stories, you can link it with almost any professional field you can imagine. Films tell use rhetoric to tell stories, as does photography, marketing and advertising, branding, and politicians. We live in a world and in a society in which people—both individuals and groups—are trying to tell their stories, and rhetoric helps them do so.

It is easy to compartmentalize academic fields of study, but in reality the lines are significantly more blurred. Although PWR, literature, creative writing, and teacher licensure concentrations approach stories from different perspectives, we all deal with stories. However, stories are not even exclusive to the English department. History, international studies, biology, art, anthropology, journalism, marketing, etc.—all of these majors and more all center on telling stories, and they all use their own rhetoric.

Stories connect people, so don’t let anyone tell you the English major is useless.

Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood are celebrities who endorse Gucci's Guilty perfume.

Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood are celebrities who endorse Gucci’s Guilty perfume.

Karlie Kloss (model) and Mario Testino (photographer) are both well-known in the fashion industry for creating highly visually appealing images.

Karlie Kloss (model) and Mario Testino (photographer) are both well-known in the fashion industry for creating highly visually appealing images.

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Meet the CUPID Associates: Carolyn Braganca


I am Carolyn Braganca, I am a senior English literature major and history minor, and I am so stoked to be a CUPID Associate for the spring semester! Although I am relatively new to professional writing, I love all aspects of writing and look forward to not only expanding my own skills but helping other do so as well.

I am in love with the art of telling stories. Until about a year ago, I thought this love translated to film, television shows, news, and literature—hence my English literature major. During a past internship, however, my supervisor pointed out how my love of narratives would work well in branding, advertising, and marketing. Now I see how pervasive stories are in all aspects of life—law, law enforcement, history, politics, and so many other fields. All one has to do is adjust one’s perspective.

Both my literature and my history courses have taught me two huge lessons: there are always multiple perspectives to every story or event, and those perspectives are revealed through words. Though I always understood the rhetorical power of word choice and phrasing, I understood the power within a literary context. However, my CUPID Studio and Style and Editing courses as well as my experience as a copyeditor for the Pendulum have demonstrated the power of words on a much broader scale. The smallest word and syntactical choices can have monumental repercussions.

Everyone has a story, and I believe you have the right to tell your story with your own words. If you ever need help figuring out the best way to tell your story—or a story—for a particular audience, I would absolutely love to help! Swing by Alamance 318 on Tuesday from 4:15-5:15pm or on Thursday from 5:30-6:30pm, and tell me your story!

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Meet the Cupid Associates: Mags Bryant

Hey there!

My name is Mags Bryant and I am a junior English major with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Professional Writing and Rhetoric. Recently I returned to Elon after spending the fall semester abroad in Ireland studying English at Trinity College Dublin. Although I miss the Emerald Isle terribly, I am really excited to have the opportunity to be a CUPID Associate for the spring semester!

My double concentration and coursework have taught me to view writing (whether it’s creative or professional) in a universally applicable way. I love that as a writer I am challenged and often required to apply my craft in a variety of rhetorical situations. In addition to being a CUPID Associate, I am also a Writing Center Consultant and a Co-Fiction Editor for Elon’s Literary Magazine, Colonnades. As a result of TA-ing Dr. Strickland’s Beat Generation Literature winter term course, I am now conducting undergraduate research on Beat Generation Literature and in part addressing how we approach it in academia and the relevance of the Beats today. I also have interned as a grant writer for Uwharrie Charter Academy in Asheboro, NC and really enjoy travel writing.

Through PWR, I have learned the importance of effective communication and persuasion as well as the value of collaboration. With that in mind,  I am really looking forward to the experience of being an associate this semester and I can’t wait to help you with all things PWR.  You can find me in the CUPID Studio (Alamance 318) every Wednesday from 5:30pm-7:00pm! Hope to see you there!



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Preregistration: What Classes To Take

Beckah Porter ENG: PWR’16 Although registering for classes can be stressful, there are so many PWR classes to look forward to. There is a range of classes that are being offered in the spring that are requirements for all PWR students. In this post I will be going through each of these classes in detail to help students learn what their options are.

If you’re interested in web design, video editing, photography and graphic design, then English 212 Multimedia Rhetoric may appeal to you. In this class students will learn how to best approach interfaces and learn how to design them. Students will learn how to balance between ideas as a writer, but also the readers’ needs in text design. This class is being offered on Monday/Wednesday at 1:40-3:20.

Want to learn how to communicate effectively? Interested in philosophers and historical texts? Take Understanding Rhetoric (English 304) in the spring at 10:30-12:10. Throughout this class students will interact with texts from philosophers and put these texts into modern contexts. Students will be able to compare different texts and learn about the different communication methods and how these methods have transformed and evolved over time.

If you want to grasp the art of professional writing and are interested in the different perspectives of rhetoric Introduction to Professional Writing (English 215) may interest you. Students have the opportunity to gain some practical, hands-on experience through a variety of professional writing projects. Students will apply their practical knowledge that will be obtained in this class to engage in the ongoing discussion about what is rhetoric and how it pertains to the professional world. This class is being offered Tuesday/Thursday 8:00-9:40.

Interested in applying your knowledge to the professional world? Do you want to work with clients to gain necessary experience but also have the help from a professor when needed? CUPID Studio (English 282) may be for you. CUPID Studio allows students to interact with clients to gain skills but also experiences through client-based projects. The workshop values the rhetorical process, research and writing, visual rhetoric design, and audience assessment. Students will actively participate in the editing, designing, and publishing processes. This class is being offered on Monday at 3:35-5:15.

If you want to have an on campus job and are interested in making extra money then Writing Center Workshop (English 319) may interest you. If students pass the class, students are eligible to become a writing center consultant that is located in the library. Not only are students learning about how to become a writing tutor; students are enhancing their own writing abilities. Students develop strong writing skills but are also able to work with others. This class is being offered Tuesday/Thursday 10:30-12:10.

Another PWR requirement for students is a 300 level literature class. There are many opportunities for students to take a literature class that interest them on topics ranging from the renaissance period to topics such as Comedy and Laughter.

Reminder: All PWR students must complete an internship that counts for school credit. In order to do this, the internship must be approved by the school and will be counted as a class; therefore these credits must be paid for.

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Meet the CUPID Associates: Sarah Paterson

Hey there!


My name is Sarah Paterson and I am a senior Professional Writing and Rhetoric major with minors in Political Science, Communications, and Creative Writing. I am so excited to start this semester as a CUPID Associate and would love to help you with design questions, portfolio concerns, or anything else PWR during my lab hours (Sundays from 11:30 – 1:30). I also work in the Writing Center eight hours a week, so if I’m not in Alamance you can probably find me in the library!

When I got to college, I’d never even heard of rhetoric and I intended to come to school for a Cinema degree. After realizing Hollywood wasn’t such a good fit for me, a friend suggested I take the Intro to PWR class, and I was hooked. I liked PWR because it was hands-on and had immediate practical applications. Rhetoric is all about communicating effectively with others, and that’s a skill that’s useful in all areas of life. From Understanding Rhetoric to Writing Center Workshop, my PWR classes and projects (including work for the Conservators’ Center, the Writing Center, and EFFECT) have made me a more ethical, conscientious, and creative writer, designer, and rhetor.

Feel free to stop by the CUPID Studio during our lab hours – my fellow associates and I would be happy to help you with anything PWR!

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