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Michelle Hodgson-Smith
Professor Strickland
ENGL 1010
23 October 2014
Rhetorical Rationale – Midterm Portfolio
In this rationale I will be reflecting upon the essays that comprise my midterm portfolio. I
have written three papers during the first half of the semester, a reflection essay, a visual analysis
essay, and a rhetorical analysis. For each of the papers, I will explain who my target audience
was, what the purpose of my essay was, go over the revision process while writing them, and
explain what the peer review process was like.
My Reflection Essay, entitled The Storm before the Calm, was written with my fellow
students and instructor in mind. However, I also wanted my essay to be understandable by a
pretty general audience. I think my paper would be a good read for a person who may suspect
they have a drinking problem or for a person who is working toward a career in mental health
therapy or drug and alcohol counseling. My visual analysis essay, entitled Sticks and Stones, is
great for a general audience. The subject is verbal abuse, and I think everyone has experienced
that in one form or another. My rhetorical analysis, entitled Articulate Aronson: A Rhetorical
Analysis of The Nurture of Nature, was written with a more scholarly audience in mind. It would
be a good read for someone who is studying rhetorical analysis.
The purpose of The Storm before the Calm was to share with anyone who will listen, an
experience that changed my life. It was a very personal subject for me to talk about but I decided
I was ready to do so. The event I reflected upon was when I quit drinking alcohol. My life was
being adversely affected by alcohol and I took the steps needed to reverse that. My life has
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benefited so much from it and I was happy to open up and share that experience with others. The
purpose of Sticks and Stones was to share a picture with a wonderful message and to really take a
good look at it and analyze the true meaning and value of the message. The message is how
verbal abuse affects people. I think this message is helpful to people who suffer from verbal
abuse and people who abuse others verbally; to open both their eyes to the effects. The purpose
of Articulate Aronson: A Rhetorical Analysis of The Nurture of Nature was to explain how the
author used rhetorical devices to persuade her audience. I think the essay written by Aronson was
had a great message, and I was hoping that the message would also come through in my
rhetorical analysis.
The first draft of my reflection essay was a huge bummer. I rewrote a good portion of it
making it more uplifting. After all, I was trying to convey a positive event, not dwell on the
negative aspects beforehand. I began my visual analysis essay with a focus on physical violence.
But halfway through writing the first draft, I realized that’s not really the message of the picture.
I deleted a couple paragraphs and re-wrote them, focusing instead on verbal abuse. After the peer
review process, I chose to also remove most of my mention of the non-profit organization
associated with the public service announcement I used for visual analysis. I felt it could distract
the audience and wasn’t necessary to prove my thesis. The first draft of my rhetorical analysis
was broken up into bits, a summary of the paper I was analyzing, a paragraph explaining pathos,
ethos, and logos used, and a paragraph explaining other rhetorical devices used. My first revision
peppered the rhetorical devices throughout the summary to make it chronological instead. Then I
had the problem that my paper was too long. I had to go through and cut out everything that
wasn’t absolutely necessary for flow and to prove my thesis; this proved to be more difficult than
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writing the essay in the first place! I did not need to do much revising after the peer review; just a
bit of fine tuning.
The peer review process was a bit rough at first, but proved to be invaluable. While I saw
fewer and fewer papers turned in by fellow group members as the semester wore on, I turned
mine in each time, eager to receive feedback on my writing. Some of the feedback I disagreed
on, and disregarded, but most of it was quite helpful. Reviewing group member’s papers was
also quite helpful in gaining perspective on my own writing.
The first half of the semester has been quite a learning process. I found myself overwhelmed
numerous times, but trudged on and feel wonderful for having done so. I have learned much
about writing rhetorically, including catering my writing to the intended audience and thinking
about the purpose of my writing. I have also learned different ways to write and revise, and how
invaluable peer review is to the writing process.











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Michelle Hodgson-Smith
Professor Strickland
ENGL 1010
21 September 2014
The Storm before the Calm
When I learned that I could do my reflection essay on an experience that changed my life,
I was stoked. I can’t tell you how often I think to myself, “I’m so glad I quit drinking.” And I’m
excited to share my experience. Alcohol had been a central part of my life for over a decade. It
was hard to come to the decision to quit, but quitting was easy once I did. It still amazes me. I
think it was just my time – I was just ready. It took a bit of time to adjust to my new life, but
pretty soon I was reaping the rewards. Quitting drinking has changed my life; I am less anxious,
happier, and my life is less stressful.
Before I quit drinking I had bouts of anxiety. In moderation, alcohol can be used to relax
a person, but as a binge drinker I would overload then deplete my brain of feel-good chemicals
leaving me full of anxiety. The morning (or afternoon) after a night of heavy drinking, I would
wake to an overwhelming sense of dread. My heart would race and I would have butterflies in
my stomach for no reason. Sometimes I would even have panic attacks. One such event
happened when I was on vacation in the summer of 2013. I was in Vancouver, British Columbia,
and I was too afraid to leave my hotel room. It was my first time out of the United States and I
wasted an entire day of my limited time because of alcohol.
Without alcohol I am less anxious. Now I only have what you would call “good”
anxiety, anxiety that encourages me to get my homework done on time and study for exams. I
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now wake every morning feeling calm, refreshed, and ready to start my day. I haven’t had the
opportunity to vacation outside the United States since I quit drinking, but when I do, it is sure to
be more productive and more fun.
Alcohol in moderation can elevate mood. However, alcohol is a depressant, so binge
drinking can result in a depressed state. As a person who suffers from clinical depression,
drinking is not a wise thing for me to do. The day after a night of heavy drinking I would usually
feel too depressed to do much of anything. The depressive state would last around five days,
sapping my confidence, mood, and energy. This resulted in absences from work, school
assignments done poorly, and difficulty keeping my life organized. I didn’t feel I could do the
things that I knew would make my life more fulfilling.
Without alcohol I am happier. I wake up in a stable mood nearly every day now. Most
days I feel like a million bucks. I recently had my quarterly review at work and my stats and
attendance have been immaculate. I have the time, energy, and confidence to complete my
homework assignments to the best of my ability. I am the student I always knew I could be. My
house is tidy…most of the time. My life is in a much more organized state. I volunteer regularly
at a cat rescue that saves homeless cats from euthanasia in local shelters. I love animals, and
volunteering to help them has always been a goal in my life. Now that I no longer drink, I have
the time and energy to be selfless in this way and it makes me feel great.
The life of a heavy drinker can be a stressful one. There were many days that I woke up
so hung-over, so anxious, so depressed that I just couldn’t face my work day. My supervisor
spoke to me about it often. He warned me that if I continued to incur absences, I may end up
terminated. Being too torn up to work was not something I did on purpose, but I needed to get a
handle on it if I wanted to keep my job. Another stressful situation for me was driving. I was
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arrested for a DUI in 2008, and worried I may get another. I did jail time, paid a huge fine, and
lost my driver’s license for three months. I am not proud of the fact that I was so irresponsible. I
am lucky no one was hurt.
Without alcohol my life is less stressful. I have not incurred an absence at work for nine
months. My supervisor has nothing but glowing reviews for my work ethic and attendance. Now
when I see warnings of DUI check points and people doing field sobriety tests on the side of the
road, I feel relieved that I don’t have that stress in my life. It really feels like a huge weight was
lifted from my shoulders when I quit drinking.
Alcohol was a huge part of my life for several years. Quitting has been nothing but a
relief. I no longer feel anxious for no reason, I don’t have long bouts of severe depression, and I
don’t feel stressed for what I could lose. Getting sober was one of the best decisions I’ve made; it
has definitely changed my life for the better.












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Michelle Hodgson-Smith
Professor Strickland
ENGL 1010
3 October 2014
Sticks and Stones
Bullying and name-calling is a huge problem today. Bullying does not discriminate; it
reaches all ages, sizes, genders, classes, races, and sexualities. People are cut down by
derogatory words and phrases that attack themselves as people. Bullying creeps into classrooms,
finds people online, stalks into workplaces, and hides in the corners of homes. A gay man may
be called a “fairy;” a red-head called a “ginger;” a voluptuous woman could be called “fat.”
While your mom thought that reciting the nursery rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my
bones, but words will never hurt me,” will make you feel all better after being called a name, the
truth is that being bullied can have long-lasting emotional effects. The public service
announcement (PSA), Words Hurt contends that verbal abuse can be as harmful to the psyche as
physical abuse and encourages sufferers to seek treatment.
A woman stares straight at you from a drab, gray background with a sad look on her face.
Her big brown eyes are red and bloodshot. Perhaps she has been crying. She wears no makeup.
She appears to be naked although you cannot see more than an inch below her shoulders. Her
straight brown hair has been swept back toward her left shoulder, showing the right side of her
neck. A wound appears on her neck in an interesting shape. It appears to be in the shape of a
sound wave you would see on audio equipment. The skin around the wound looks red and sore.
The wound is scabbed over and is brownish-red in color. You look in the bottom left corner of
the picture and see some white text. You realize that the shape of the wound appears there as
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well along with the word, “slut.” Below it is the following text, “Words hurt. You can’t see them
but the scars from verbal abuse are real and can last for years. Don’t suffer in silence. Log onto
www.kafa.org.lb for support.” Below that in white is the logo for Kafa (a non-profit organization
that seeks the end of violence and exploitation of women in the Middle East) and the text,
“HELPLINE 03 018 019.” Please see Figure 1.

Figure 1. Y&R Dubai. Words Hurt. Bettyobrien.wordpress.com.
20 March 2011. Kafa. Web. 8 Sep. 2014.
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Being verbally abused can take its toll. After a while the victim may start questioning
their own self-worth which can damage their self-esteem. The woman in the picture is stripped of
makeup and naked, this symbolizes the tearing down of her self-esteem. A lowered self-esteem
and continued verbal abuse can lead to depression. The gloomy grey background of the PSA
symbolizes the depression the woman feels from being verbally abused. The sad look and red,
bloodshot eyes also point towards melancholy and depression. The wound on the woman’s neck
symbolizes physically what the verbal abuse has done emotionally. Untreated depression can
lead to self-harm and suicide.
The text is in white, softly urging sufferers to seek help. The text, “words hurt” reminds
us that calling a person a name may not harm someone physically, but it will harm them
psychologically. The text, “you can’t see them but the scars from verbal abuse are real and can
last for years,” tells us that people who suffer from verbal abuse may suffer for far longer than
the actual abuse. The text, “don’t suffer in silence,” urges sufferers to get help for depression and
self-esteem issues that are caused by verbal abuse. Finally, the PSA lists resources for a sufferer
to get help, a telephone number and a website.
In conclusion, verbal abuse and bullying can affect individuals in serious ways. It can
cause a lowered self-esteem, self-worth, and depression. The PSA, Words Hurt makes it very
clear that verbal abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse. The PSA also makes a call to
action, for sufferers to receive help from the abuse they have received.





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Michelle Hodgson-Smith
Professor Strickland
ENGL 1010
17 October 2014
Articulate Aronson:
A Rhetorical Analysis of The Nurture of Nature
If you knew a simple way to improve people’s lives, wouldn’t you be eager to share? Deb
Aronson’s essay, The Nurture of Nature, uses rhetorical devices including Aristotle’s three
appeals and others to explain how contact with nature can relieve anxiety and stress, aid healing,
and increase concentration (119). The Nurture of Nature first appeared in Science and Spirit
magazine’s July/August 2003 issue and was reprinted in the book, Readings for Writers in 2014.
The book, Readings for Writers is a collection of essays for college students. Prior to
each essay is a blurb about the author. So while the author of The Nurture of Nature did not
personally inject ethos into her essay, it was done for her by the publisher. Aronson received her
bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Harvard and her master’s degree in Middle Eastern
anthropology from Yale. She has worked as a news editor, a content coordinator, and a freelance
writer. Her writing has been published numerous times (Aronson 119). Aronson’s background
proves her credibility as her academic and professional experience undoubtedly taught her what
is and is not a credible source.
The next rhetorical device was used after the introductory paragraph. The author uses a
sentence fragment, “here’s how (Aronson 119),” for the entire second paragraph. A sentence
fragment is used to build suspense and emphasis. Its use in this essay readies the audience for an
explanation in a fun and fresh way. This type of rhetorical device would not be used for an
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academic or scientific article, but since this essay was originally written for a magazine with a
general audience readership, it is perfectly acceptable.
The following paragraph explains the first piece of evidence to support her thesis.
Aronson uses one of Aristotle’s appeals, logos, or the appeal to logic by quoting research from a
credible source. The source is Andrea Faber Taylor, an environmental psychologist and
postdoctoral research associate at the University Illinois. Through her research, Taylor has found
that there are two types of attention; directed and involuntary. Aronson explains that directed
attention is used when performing a task, involuntary attention is used when viewing nature.
Directed attention can be draining, causing poor decision-making and destructive impulses;
involuntary attention can restore a person’s directed attention (Aronson 119-20).
The next paragraph of The Nurture of Nature also uses logos. It includes information
about two studies done by Roger Ulrich and his colleagues at the A&M University. Ulrich’s first
study was done on drivers. Some took scenic routes while others drove through man-made
structures. The drivers who took the scenic routes recovered more quickly after stressful driving
events. They also dealt with stress more favorably later on, after the drive. Ulrich’s second study
was done on patients recovering after gallbladder surgery. Patients whose rooms looked over
landscaping needed less pain medication and were discharged quicker than those whose rooms
showed brick walls (Aronson 120).
The next item mentioned also appeals to logos. It states that researchers now focus on
small incremental stressors that add up, not just big life changing events, like divorces. This
information was quoted from Kathleen Wolf from the College of Forest Resources at the
University of Washington (Aronson 120).
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Another study was done by Taylor, who was mentioned earlier in the essay. The study
was done on girls who lived in a low-income housing project. They all had similar situations,
except some could see greenery out their window, while others saw pavement. The study found
that the girls who saw nature out their window could concentrate better and had better impulse
control, which is helpful in resisting peer pressure and in other challenging situations. In addition
to logos, this study appeals to pathos, one of Aristotle’s appeals - the appeal to emotions.
Readers will no doubt find themselves empathizing with the girls’ situation and hope that
because of these findings that their situation may be improved. Aronson used the rhetorical
device, allusion in quoting Taylor, who mentioned that, “you don’t have to live in Sherwood
Forest to enjoy nature’s benefits (120).” Allusion, in this case, is a reference to a well-known
place, the Sherwood Forest, the fictional forest where Robin Hood lives.
The essay wraps up with a conclusion, reiterating her main points. Aronson’s final
sentence is, “Now that’s a magic bullet (120).” Merriam-Webster’s definition of “magic bullet”
is “a drug or treatment that cures a disease quickly and easily without producing bad effects.” As
you can see, use of the term “magic bullet” is hyperbole. Hyperbole is a rhetorical device that
was used in this case to exaggerate the benefits of nature as shown in the information of the
essay.
In her essay, The Nurture of Nature, Deb Aronson used rhetorical devices. The rhetorical
devices used were allusion, hyperbole, and a sentence fragment, as well as Aristotle’s three
appeals, logos, pathos, and ethos. She articulately used these devices to persuade her audience of
her thesis - that glimpsing nature can help reduce stress and anxiety, aid in healing, and improve
concentration.

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Works Cited
Aronson, Deb. “The Nurture of Nature.” Readings for Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,
2014. 119-121. Print.
“Magic bullet.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 October 2014.