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Understanding Rhetorical Situations

The rhetorical situation is a new vocabulary term for me, as I had always just explained
this concept to students as audience, stakes, and purpose, so Im very glad I have gotten the
chance to read these more nuanced and analytical explorations on rhetoric. I really connected to
this piece of advice in the text: Connect rhetorical situations to the larger contexts in which they
exist. Look at complementary or competing messages related to the topic. Consider other voices
providing different messages. Examine how alternative audiences might react to the message.
What can you discover when you zoom out? (15). Context can sometimes be a problematic term
in the setting of the university. Most students, especially first-year comp students, dont think of
larger contexts besides what they believe the professor would be most used to reading in the
pursuit of the most sure good grade. While interning with Chris Michaels, Ive grown to admire
his encouraging students to interview each other for outside sources for their papers. This model
for learning is more similar to the foundations of the university in which peers were meant to
support and question each other. Im going to incorporate this practice into my own so that I can
work against the context of the professor-student-grade triangle. Especially with regards to an
increasingly interconnected society, students getting prepared for this reality have to have
communication skills that are versatile and diverse, able to serve in interacting with all walks of
life and creeds.
Reflection
When I wrote this response, I was interpreting Bitzer as having written a philosophy
paper because this was one of my first exposures to rhetoric theory. As the class progressed, I
was able to connect rhetorical theory to more pragmatic concerns such as how to teach genre
exploration. The readings that connected assemblages of texts to the situation in the classroom
helped me to understand the overall message.

Navigating Genres
This was a fairly simple reading for us as it was written for the audience of the average
college student, as it explicitly states. Dirk uses informal language throughout the piece, and she
even states that she is excited to have the freedom to do so in directly addressing her readers.
These self-referential digressions aside, the essay makes some interesting, if unstructured points.
Perhaps her most ambitious and direct notion is the suggestion that students must should study
and learn to write in as many genres as they can in their pursuit of writing mastery. She further
acknowledges that there are so many genres that a student could not possibly learn them all in
school. As an educator, I was hoping to get recommendations then on what texts I could use to
help point my students toward self-educations goals, given this issue. I also felt a little confusion
with the melding of rhetoric in the conversation of genre. She quotes Miller, for example, who
states, To consider potential genres is to take seriously the rhetoric in which we are
immersed and the situations in which we find ourselves (qtd in Dirk 254). I wonder what
rhetorical strategies like Ethos, Pathos, and Logos might have to do with genre: do they remain a
kind of constant or do they bend their own rules and/or take on adapted forms depending on

the genre the writer finds him or herself writing? What differing roles does Irony play? I feel as
though the answers to these questions are fairly intuitive, but as an educator I would have liked
to seen this issue broken down more in the interest of providing a framework of genre for my
students.
Reflection
Erin Workman graded this response and stated that metaknowledge of genre is even
more important. If students have a working conceptual knowledge of genre, they are better
equipped to repurpose this knowledge in other writing contexts. This brings up a great point:
assignments should be geared toward helping students be aware of the conventions of genres so
that they may critique them. I intend to design projects to promote metaknowledge of genre as
much as I can.
Teaching Grammar for Writers in a Process Workshop Classroom
This essay had a great amount of practical suggestions for workshop exercises, as well as
insights about the teaching of creative writing in general. I was especially interested in the
concept of Grammar B, a set of formal tools that included what would traditionally be labeled
as bad writing, or as experimental and left to poets not in pursuit of recognition in the
academy. Grammar B includes such formal devices as fragments, labyrinthine sentence
structures, and other devices that would be viewed as errors by traditional instructors. Bishop
quotes Noguchi, who makes the claim that, While formal grammar instruction seems to offer
little in the area of essay organization, it does seem more potentially beneficial in the area of
style (qtd in Bishop 180). This claim is connected to Bishops concepts that the ideal instruction
of grammar prompts students to think of the whys and hows of textual choices (Bishop
181). As someone who has taught grammar from the traditional Bedford Handbook, this sounds
like a great insight to me, and I would have loved to hear more about Bishops thoughts on
grammar instruction before she delved into revision strategies. Of these, I was curious about
radical revisions. This strategy seems like it would be very enjoyable for students, and using it
would avoid the problem of students making cursory revisions in the form of shifting around a
few sentences in order to satisfy the course requirements. I have read some radical translations
of poetry, which I interpret as the poet allowing his or her own writing style to come through in
the process of translation. In the case of a radical revision, Im curious to know the dos and
donts of this strategy, and how one might asses the accomplishments of such moves.

Reflection
Erin responded to some of my comments here by providing some great resources on
genre, including Reiff and Bawarshi's book on Genre, edited collection on
Genre in a Changing World, and Genre across the Curriculum. I looked
over these and they have a great take on genre instruction, and give
some pragmatic tips for how to teach it.

Learning to Praise
Similar to the last essays implicit call for a more scrutinized approach for grading in
Literature and Writing, this essay hones in on the problem of keeping struggling students
motivated to trust their authorial voice and succeed: noticing and praising whatever a stuent
does well improves writing more than kind or amount of correction of what he does badly, and
that it is especially important for the less able writers who need all the encouragement they can
get (qtd in Daiker 155). Praise is thus encouraged to be seen as one of the most effective tools a
teacher can use. I believe this concept holds true for classroom interactions, as well as grading
practices. I myself have made it a habit to try to judge students comments during class as being
correct from one perspective, even if it is not mine, and to praise and encourage that students
efforts in those contexts. I think performing this kind of activity encourages risk taking in
students, and I was happy to see Daiker connecting what he called low apprehensiveness to
students tak[ing] a stand [and] commit[ing] themselves (Daiker 155). He states that students
with high apprehensiveness write fewer words and make fewer statements than low
apprehensives (Daiker 155). Daiker then provides a useful selection of the kind and range of
comments that professors make in the interest of praise. I was impressed by the close reading
these professors performed on the sample essay, and I hope to be able to make similar moves.

Reflection
This remains one of my favorite texts we read and discussed. I was glad my colleagues
agreed that it is of paramount importance to praise students when they do well. Erin asked in her
comments whether risk taking is necessary in the classroom, but I think encouraging students to
take risks in their papers is a valuable lesson and a necessary one. In the business/factory that
American education has become, students should learn not just to impress their professors, but to
fulfill and surpass their own expectations of themselves.
Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers
This text was superb in explicating, using writers own words, processes of revision and
re-writing. I found the metaphors towards the end of the essay especially useful, and I plan on
quoting from this text in my Composition classes when we discuss this important process in
writing. Some metaphors or perhaps interpretative frameworks of the revision process I found
especially useful were the experienced writers theories of how the writer anticipates the future
readers judgements and works to cause a kind of relation in the process of composition: The
anticipation of a readers judgment causes a feeling of dissonance when the writer recognizes
incongruities between intention and execution, and requires these writers to make revisions on all
levels (Sommers 82). I thought this was a perfect explanation of the ideal degree of
thoughtfulness a writer should have while revising. Furthermore, it is exactly the kind of
thoughtfulness that students seem unmotivated to assume. I find that getting students to see the
larger importance of writing and the work they do in college more generally is the most difficult
thing one can do, yet is the most rewarding for student and teacher, at least potentially. Sommers

also used some other language that went along with this current of thought such as cues and
the concepts of the writer being both agent and vehicle. I think the following quote could be
useful to read to students as well; I dont think its too difficult for them to conceptualize:
Revising confuses the beginning and end, the agent and the vehicle; it confuses, in order to find,
the line of argument (Sommers 82). I admire how direct and insistent this essay in emphasizing
that revising is one of, if not the most important processes in writing, and I was happy to see
some big names in theory being quoted as well.

Reflection
Im still impressed by the straightforward yet complex writing in this reading. I still
wonder exactly how to impress on students that the work they do is important. Logan Bearden, in
some of his presentations for this class, talked about his strategy of having students design their
own grading rubric, which I think might be one way to decrease the requirement weight of an
assignment and give more agency to the student.