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Thinking Rhetorically

Thinking Rhetorically

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Published by T
An introduction to the rhetorical approach to writing for students. Includes core concerns (audience, ethos, genre...), and a bit about arguments.
An introduction to the rhetorical approach to writing for students. Includes core concerns (audience, ethos, genre...), and a bit about arguments.

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Published by: T on Jan 21, 2010
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01/30/2013

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Thinking Rhetorically
 
“The whole world is an argument”
 
Simply defined, rhetoric = strategies we use to influence the opinions or beliefs of other.Or another way to think of rhetoric is any organized, strategic attempt to accomplish something with language.-
 
It can be persuasive (I want to convince you to attend KSU)-
 
It can be informative (I provide you with reports and profiles about life at Kent)-
 
It can be just for fun (I create a photography portfolio about my Kent experiences)We can divide most writing into one of two areas: informative (academic) and recreational (personal)In previous classes, you learned about mostly organizational topics:-
 
Paragraphs - The 5-Paragraph Essay Format-
 
Topic Sentences - Thesis Statements-
 
Introductions - ConclusionsThis semester, you will learn how to think rhetorically. You will learn to be a more
effective
writer.Traditionally, taking a rhetorical approach to writing places emphasis on these key areas:-
 
Genre: What type of writing is this? Wher
e will it appear? How does this affect my audience’s
expectations, the amount of time they will give to me, and what they want to hear?-
 
Audience: Who will read this? What are they expecting from me? What do they already know or thinkabout my subject? How can I get them to listen to me and believe what I am saying is true?-
 
Ethos (voice): Who am I? How do I want to be perceived by my audience? How do I control this?-
 
Structure (organization): Where do I place important information? How can I organize my work for thegreatest effect, or ease of use? Should I include photos, graphs, charts or other information?-
 
Setting: Usually, this is easy (KSU). But what if I put my work online? What if I submit my work to bepublished? How do current or past events effect what I do or don
t write?Course Organization-
 
First, we must examine rhetoric in context. We will look at real-world examples (mostly from ads).-
 
We will experiment by creating our own rhetorical products (arguments, posters, websites, etc.) andlearn to explain the rhetorical functions of our work (why we included certain things, etc.)-
 
We will practice doing our own quantitative research that may give us additional insights.-
 
We will analyze a literary work (“Meet the Natives”) and hopefully use rhetoric to help explain it
.
 
So what do you mean by, “The whole world is an argument”?
 
OK, I don’t mean
everything
is an argument. But, I think that much more of the world is an argument than weusually consider.
First, let’s define
argument as any time when people are working to achieve different goals. For example, if I thinkthat students should go to class for
8 hours a day, but you disagree…
we have created an argument.We can shape this argument as we wish. For example, in an attempt to avoid going to class for 8 hours, a group of students might create a
proposal
that includes only 5 hours of class, but also 2 hours of homework every night.Another group of students, in order to convince me that 8 hours of school is not a good thing, writes a
report
thatincludes results from scientific studies about student efficiency. It turn out that as students
get tired, they don’t
learn very well, so my idea may result in 20 sleeping students.Finally,
in order to gain support for their cause, a third group of students create a Facebook group called “Students
 
Against 8 Hours of School!In the “information” s
ection of the page, they write three paragraphs of reasons why
students should not be in class all day. We might call this a statement of that group’s
position
, or a
position paper.Now, consider these different types of arguments.
They are all tied together by their topic. But they each use a different
genre
to accomplish their goals.Each genre is slightly different. A proposal is not the same as a position paper (it includes a solution to theproblem). And the types of evidence that are appropriate for a Facebook group page would probably be laughedat if they were included in an academic report. So what genre you use will affect the content you end up creating.Consider the audience, ethos, organization, and types of evidence that are appropriate for the two genres listedabove (position paper or report). In different settings (Facebook vs. an academic setting), how do the variousconcerns of the writer change?Audience Ethos (voice) Organization Acceptable EvidenceFacebook Pageposition statementAcademic Reportproviding facts

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