Jia Tolentino’s essays from, “Trick Mirror, Reflections of Self Delusion“, have really meaningful messages about what we can learn about our current culture. Writing and annotating her essays has made me see her work from various threshold concepts. When reading the selected threshold concept from my group project and reviewing others, I was able to understand the way Tolentino writes compared to the threshold concepts which are relevant to her work. Reading her essays, there were some connections to the small object and larger subject which got me to get into writing through without any knowledge of the threshold concepts. Realizing being a writer is more than drafting a thesis or developing a body paragraph. These concepts are what allows authors like Tolentino to make any piece of writing feel coherent. They not only link to her essays, but also to her interview at “Hofstra’s Great Writers, Great Readings series”, where she talks about herself as a writer virtually. There are many writing concepts that apply to Tolentino, but there are two that demonstrate her ability to write well. 

Just how I wrote my own small object using eyeglasses by using a larger subject of physical activities. I wanted to show how the object can be very useful in ways that were never noticed before or a new experience a person will learn about. Never have I ever thought writing about one simple object can lead a subject being applied to threshold concepts. Tolentino has brought up many objects in her essays from her personal experiences while making references to a situation. In Tolentino’s essay, “I Thee Dread”, she writes about her experiences and opinions with weddings as the small object.The larger subject around it was about culture and why it’s flawed. 

The book being used, “Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies”, is what holds the various threshold concepts that can be found in writing pieces. One threshold concept known as, “Writers’ histories, Processes, and identities vary”, describes how writers can be influenced by their own histories and identities when processing perspectives. They also vary in meaning the writer’s identity will change overtime. The author of the concept, Kathleen Blake Yancey goes in depth in a quote saying, “In the process, each writer begins a lifelong process of balancing individual perspectives and processes with the opportunities, demands, constraints, and genres of specific rhetorical situations and contexts of the larger culture” (Blake Yancey pg. 52). This is an idea a writer like Tolentino would have to do in the writing process. She would have to begin setting up a draft first about her experience with a beginning, middle, and end. Tolentino would have to make multiple drafts before publishing the final. We know as a reader everything sentence or word that is written was not overall rushed in one attempt. Blake Yancey also goes on, “Writers’ identities vary as well, in part through individual and collec- tive identity markers such as gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and physical abilities” (Blake Yancey pg. 53). The quote goes over people’s backgrounds which vary overtime. Tolentino may not have always had the same political viewpoints ever since she was younger. However her life experiences of how traditional culture affects women has led her to claim an identity that opposes those things. Writing about topics or stories will not always differ everybody’s perspectives in life but it’s still interesting to argue about.  

One of her essays has this concept applied. Tolentino’s writing can be analyzed in, “I Thee Dread”, a topic about the use of weddings in our current culture. Basically criticising the quality of weddings being portrayed. The essay begins with her discussing being invited to many weddings over the past nine years and never wanted to get herself married. Us the reader already knows she isn’t married which gives the identity people will obviously know. As her writing here is mostly about feminism, she is going to tackle subjects about sexism and the patriarchy for why weddings are considered problematic in some way. She even established her viewpoints on weddings such from a quote saying “marriage has mostly been bad for women and fantastic for men” (Tolentino pg 282). It may sound like it’s triggering for people on the other side to get mad about. But never in the structure she writes is too aggressive or vague when speaking about her opinions. It goes very calm in the beginning about how she feels about going to weddings and moving forward about why she believes the quality of weddings is bad. It sets up how writers need to balance out not trying to anger the reader if the language is always ripping the subject apart. It may get boring if writing to hate on things for no reason is all it has to say. I even found text from the essay that shows about her early expressions when Tolentino says, “we almost always love the people they marry, and like most wedding cynics” (Tolentino pg. 264). Discussing about her going out to weddings to support friends is just a normal thing a person would do which made me understand her position. Of course, not everybody will agree with her statements on the subjects she writes about, but people would still be open to hear disagreements nobody thought about before. Tolentino’s identity makes sense for understanding her positions while well written.

Another threshold concept Tolentino uses is about, “Writing represents, the world, events, ideas, and feelings”, where we write the way we feel about the world. The audience learns most of the text which Tolentino wants for us to do. Tolentino does well at using a distinguished amount of words that are not frequent. The concept by Charles Bazerman says, “I begin to take greater care in choosing my words. I want to represent facts” (Bazerman 37). Using words properly by forming a sentence to a paragraph is what she can do well. Along when reading her essays, it’s rare for me to even spot every word in a new sentence when it’s structured well. The concept is even about representing the world and events. Tolentino made references to the subject from herself as well for historical events in the previous essay. She writes about the history of the wedding industry hundreds of years ago. I’ve known of some facts about the increase of Americans getting married after World War II, but I never knew about the wedding industry capitalizing on wartime ceremonies as a symbol of all that was precious about America (Tolentino 271). Tolentino accurating citing historical facts without missing the context is good for writing the essay. The reference about World War II has some unexpected surprises which I haven’t even heard of before. It makes sense for her to research for references that strongly support her argument.

The concepts are also related to another Tolentino essay, “The Cult of the Difficult Woman”. There are instances where it shows correlation to the threshold concept I’ve mentioned early about writers vary their identities and histories.Tolentino had viewed many things growing in her life by analyzing sexism and cultural attitudes towards female difficulty. It is clear how the reader knows what political identity she’s from as she writes her book in a progessive viewpoint. She does this well from using references to female celebrities. The text she would bring up are good points about famous celebrities like Britney Spears who seem to be sympathetic to the public. But even justifies her to be required to be, “seductive, innocent, flawless, and bankable” (Tolentino 236). Totentino does consider herself a femminist which is noticeable as she writes about her criticisms about sexism through the past. Her identity is understandable when she speaks about pieces of old literature. Tolentino wants to allow the audience on how these things are portrayed. She mentions people and stories from the Bible where it portrays women such as Eve being a sinner and Delilah seen as a temptress. The essay she explains, “Sunday school teachers spoke kindly of Lot, as the man who had to make difficult chives; in art, he’s portrayed as an Everyman, overcome by the temptations of young female flesh” (Tolentino 238). The word choice and writing makes it clear about her identity to express thoughts about how history wants women to be portrayed as bad luck. She does feel the portrayal of women in that type of writing in traditional culture is wrong. People reading the essay will understand why it can be problematic to many other groups. The writing about these ideas can help the reader know where she is coming from. This even makes the people who read Tolentino’s books advocate for these changes based on what she wrote. 

Tolentino’s interview at, “Hofstra’s Great Writers, Great Readings series”, talks about her experiences when it comes to writing and it can be easily identified from different threshold concepts. In the interview, she stated, “I rely so much on real life to generate to test these questions you know to see if they’re actually interesting to see if there’s part of it that you know” (Tolentino 9:30-9:38). This quote shows how Tolentino depends on writing in the world to challenge someone else’s viewpoints or lecture about it. She even goes on saying, “The only way you can kind of figure out if the topic is sufficiently round and multifaceted for me it was like I got to talk to people about it” (Tolentino 9:52-9:58). After hearing what she said, it’s another way of how to process in writing by collaborating with people about different opinions. It’s not a bad idea to come together as a group to develop ideas handwritten or typed. Working on a project may not always be individual, you can ask questions to help get the task done. Having assistance is useful because you can get the information quicker to cite. Tolentino doesn’t only do her job by researching and jotting notes, she wants to have conversations about the subject.                                                

From what I covered, Tolentino’s writing is compelling about the topics she personally grew up with. It was through the many rhetorical ideas we discussed in class that helped us engage into her writing. There are many other concepts in writing that are easily identified when analysing Tolentino as a writer. Following these ways such as establishing your identity as her being a femminist and believing in progressive ideas start developing arguments to a topic. Her usage of words to not be used frequently and uncommon is what writers should be able to do. It is noticeable once people will take a close look at Tolentino’s essays. When a reader is able to spend time examining her books or essays, they’ll be able to see the useful writing concepts. People who read a blog or any other piece of literature must be able to get engaged in the writing. If a writer doesn’t use any of these ideas and publishes it to everyone, those people reading will not get the message the author wanted. Tolentino has the talent to write about what she feels and lectures that makes her writing fascinating.

Work Cited

Blake Yancey, Kathleen, et al. “Writers’ histories, Processes, and identities vary.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, edited by LINDA ADLER-KASSNER and ELIZABETH WARDLE, University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 2015, pp. 48–58. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15nmjt7.10. Accessed 7 Apr. 2021.

Bazerman, Charles, et al. “Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, edited by LINDA ADLER-KASSNER and ELIZABETH WARDLE, University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 2015, pp. 35–47. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15nmjt7.9. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.

Tolentino, Jia. I Thee Dread. In Trick Mirror Reflections on Self-Delusion (pp. 263-292).  New York Random House 2019.

Jia Tolentino – Great Writers, Great Readings – Hofstra University [Video file]. (2021, February 19). Retrieved April 9, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW8ehl3a3QI&t=4s

Tolentino, Jia. The Cult of the Difficult Woman. In Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusions (pp. 236-262). New York Random House 2019.

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