“This is Water” [Bose]

There are so many genres in our world today that we sometimes don’t realize that we may be writing in a particular genre when given an assignment. For example, this post right here is a genre. As Dirk explains in her article “Navigating Genres,” genres come in all types of forms, but they all share common traits. When writing in a particular genre, Dirk suggests that the writer must understand the location and context of their work.¬†Similarly, in David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water,” he follows these important pieces as he created the speech.

Wallace first considers the location of his speech. He delivers his speech in front of the graduates of Kenyon College. Considering this, Dirk advises that the location highly influences the structure of the speech. In terms of graduation speeches, the graduates are expecting metaphors and references to keep them fully engaged and so they can think deeply. Wallace successfully does this as he opens up with a story about a fish swimming in the water. He grabs the audience’s attention right off the back, which is important in this setting. In this location, the graduates do not to be bored. Knowing that, Wallace incorporates references to stories, like the one about the guys at the bar, and makes sure that these references are clear and concise. The graduates expect to be given advice and hopeful messages, which is where context comes in.

According to Dirk, it is important to consider the context when dealing with a particular genre. This is can be related to the language and message of the piece. In terms of graduation speeches, the majority of the context should be related to advising the graduates for the next chapter in their life. In David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech he successfully does this. He advises the graduates to not neglect the things around them, like a fish might as they swim in water. It is important to not live in our own reality, but to be aware. Aware of the realness all around us. To open our eyes to the beauty around us. Wallace restates these messages over and over to make sure the audience does not miss it. This is an important part of the context of a graduation speech.

Overall, Wallace delivers a successful commencement speech, as he followed Dirk’s guidelines to writing in a particular genre.

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