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First 3 Weeks

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on August 16, 2016 at 10:47:32 am







In the first two weeks of class you will go over the syllabus and assignments, explain some basic concepts (rhetorical situation, argument, claims, evidence, appeals, strategies) and apply them to short texts (op-eds and advertisements are useful). In short you will help students start to think about texts as situated and rhetorical (as doing particular kinds of work, achieving specific effects, aiming to persuade particular audiences in a particular context). As obvious as this may seem to you, remember that your students will have spent many years working primarily with textbooks, and in these textbooks knowledge is presented as fixed, settled, uncontested and decontextualized. It is unlikely your students will have been asked to think much about the author of a textbook, her audience, and the way the textbook persuades or draws on rhetorical strategies.

You will model close reading and basic rhetorical analysis. (Don’t feel insecure - as a graduate student you have a lot of experience with close reading). This is best done by working on some short texts in class. There is a collection of short texts and some teaching material (class activities, exercises, and homework) below. You are welcome to use any of these short texts or select texts of your own. The RWS 100 course reader contains handouts and teaching materials that you can use with the short texts (e.g. material on charting, questions to ask a text, how to locate claims, etc.).  

In addition, there are some textbook excerpts you may find useful and can make available to your students.  You do not have to use these – the course reader and material on the wiki should suffice. But if they seem helpful you can read them, use a few sections, or assign some chapters to students. These excerpts are password protected.

  1. Parfitt’s Writing in Response adopts a similar framework to ours.  Chapter 2, "Active Reading" (47-79) introduces close reading, annotating a text, posing questions, analyzing argument, and constructing a “says/does” chart (we use this to get students thinking rhetorically, and similar materials are in our course reader).  Parfitt uses Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” for examples, a text we will read later.
  2. Losh and Alexander’s Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide is designed to look like a comic book. Chapter 1 briefly introduces rhetoric as a field, discusses Aristotelian appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) and outlines some basics of rhetorical analysis. Chapter 2 introduces rhetorical analysis and critical reading.
  3. Lunsford et al’s Everything’s An Argument is a more “traditional” textbook.  Chapter 6, “Rhetorical Analysis” is helpful. You may also find chapter 1, Everything is An Argument a good introduction to the study of argument and rhetorical analysis.



First Weeks: Introducing Concepts & Short Texts 



Week 1 - Introducing the Course & Key Concepts


Weeks 1 - 2: Using Kristof, Rifkin, Bleich, Parry & Other Short Texts to Introduce Concepts & Prepare for Assignment 1


Other Short Texts & Materials - Praxis, FrankenReader, & intro texts

  • You will find a number of short texts you can use in Praxis: A Brief Rhetoric, by Carol Lea Clark. For example, page 22 contains a transcript of Obama's election speech, followed by a detailed analysis of it. If you are interested in using this speech, you may also find this site useful - http://changingminds.org/analysis/obama_victory_speech.htm This contains video of the speech, the full text, and more detailed analysis of it (something like "charting").
  • The FrankenReader - this is a collection of excerpts from popular rhetoric/composition handbooks you may find useful for teaching 100 and 200. It includes a section on short texts that are "charted" (the main moves and strategies are described). The table of contexts is listed on the wiki, but you'll need to go to Blackboard to access the files (there's also a print copy in the RWS office you can photocopy).
  • A helpful guide to introducing rhetoric using examples from advertising, by Sandra Effinger 
  • The rhetoric of football coaches- New York Times story that decribes how Jets coach Rex Ryan inspires his players, focusing on the speeches he gives. The success of the coach is discussed in terms of his rhetoric.  "William McGurn does not follow football. But before he wrote for The Wall Street Journal, he once served as chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He knows what separates a great speech from a good one. It starts with a purpose: to inspire, to explain, to persuade or, in the case of Ryan and most coaches, to exhort. To achieve that purpose, there must be an issue, context, something to overcome. Delivery, structure, all the elements of a great speech, matter only as they relate to purpose. From "Channeling Churchill, Ryan Inspires His Team," by Greg Bishop. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/sports/football/08ryan.html
  • RENAMING & REFRAMING ECONOMIC ISSUES: these two New York Times articles discuss how using language to strategically rename and reframe issues can be powerfully persuasive. The first, ("The Debt Trap") provides a history of how Americans were persuaded to change the way they thought about debt, mortgages, and their homes. (See esp. the section called "Changing the Language") In particular, it considers how the second mortgage (synonymous with financial trouble) was renamed a "home equity loan," and the role of this in a series of marketing campaigns (think also of how high interest loans are renamed "cash advances"). The second ("Bailouts Reframed as ‘Orderly Resolutions’") by economist Robert Schiller, talks about how politicians and the Federal Reserve have come up with a set of terms to rename "bailouts" so that they do not cause outrage.   


Short Texts from Debate Sites

If you want to take you class in more of a traditional debate direction,  there are 3 very useful sites.

  1. IQ Squared, by PBS, presents Oxford-style debates on key topics, and often features some famous names. There's videos and transcripts, and some good debates on the issues we're tackling this semester. See http://intelligencesquaredus.org/, and also http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/global-warming-is-not-a-crisis/ for a debate on global warming. 
  2. Procon.org - maps out common claims on multitude of issues, plus background info, analysis of source reliability, etc. Here's the one on climate change http://climatechange.procon.org/#arguments 
  3. Debatepedia.org - main page contains list of all most currently debated topics. Also has pages specifically on climate change, eg http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_Is_climate_change_chiefly_human-caused%3F



Short Texts about the Environment & Social Justice


Calls to Action


Climate skeptics & their critics - could be used to have students summarize and evaluate positions


Other Short Texts & Materials


Analyzing Multimodal Rhetorics Using Infographics

Teaching Notes, Kristof, “Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?” and “Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals.”

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