- Our Staff
- For Students
- For Instructors
Updated: 1 hour 6 min ago
SG BaileyTags: FallaciesQuick ActivitiesReviewBrief Assignment Overview:
This assignment is designed to check student comprehension of rhetorical fallacies. It can also be used to begin to discuss rhetorical analysis of images.Lesson Plan Content: Rhetorical Anlysis Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Partial Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Mid-SemesterPedagogical Goals:
This is a quick activity that can follow a lecture on rhetorical fallacies. Students learn to recognize fallacies and discuss how they are operating. Some of the images themselves are useful for analysis which is a nice transition into visual rhetoric.Media Requirements: Media Console/ProjectorRequired Materials:
Some sort of projector & slideshow.
Copies of bingo card (attached)
Slideshow (attached as a powerpoint, but easy to print out & use with a standard projector or doc cam)Course Type: Introductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
Rhetoric 306 is a course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of research and argumentation. They are asked to research a controversy, summarize and analyze the arguments of the major stakeholders in that controversy, and then develop their own arguments.Full Assignment Description:
This is an assignment that can expand or contract -- it might be as short as ten minutes or could go an entire class period (though that seems a lot of time to practice recognizing rhetorical fallacies). I included it immediately after my lecture on rhetorical fallacies and used it to transition to visual rhetorical analysis as well. Reviewing their notes, students were asked to copy the names of the rhetorical fallacies covered in lecture onto their bingo cards. (I used Scare Tactics, Either/Or, Slippery Slope, Sentimental Appeal, Bandwagon, False Authority, Dogmatism, Moral Equivalence, Ad Homenim, Hasty Generalization, Faulty Causality, Begging the Question, Straw Man, Equivocation, Non Sequitur, & Faulty Analogy). They could choose any layout they liked, and repeated two or three terms if they chose to.
As a class, we then went through the rhetorical fallacy slide show. Students were asked to identfy the fallacy at work in the image -- some contain more than one -- and then justify their choice. This led to some useful class discussion and clarification as students advocated for an image falling into one category or another. Once we decided what fallacy each image represented, students marked it off of their cards and we moved on to the next slide. We stopped when someone hit bingo (it took us about ten slides).Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
Print & copy cards. The slideshow is easy to modify depending on which fallacies you want to address.
I did made sure that my lecture contained written examples of fallacies, so students could see how fallacies work in both text and image.Instructions For Students:
Please fill in the squares with the names of rhetorical fallacies.
Call it when you have bingo.Evaluation Suggestions:
This activity itself functions as a check for understanding, so there's no real evaluation necessary (other than calling on quieter students to bring them into the conversation).Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
This went great for me -- I've found that students generally like doing fallacies anyway, but once it was a competition they got pretty serious about it. They made some great points about why an image should qualify as a particular fallacy, and there was good back & forth as they defended their calls.Additional Resources:
Doug CoulsonImage Credit:
Jbrazito's PhotostreamTags: RhetoricWritingPresentationsPeer ReviewBrief Assignment Overview:
Students deliver oral presentations to the class of each others' work and offer constructive commentary on their peer's paper.Lesson Plan Content: Writing ProcessAudiencePeer ReviewPresentations Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Partial Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Late in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
This assignment is intended to facilitate a deeper level of peer review and collaborative learning as well as facilitate classroom discussion regarding the writing process.Media Requirements: No Classroom Technology RequiredRequired Materials:
No classroom technology is required for this assignment, although a media consolae/projector facilitates students who want to use technology in their presentations.Course Type: Advanced Writing CourseIntermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
In his book On the Contrary, rhetoric scholar Thomas Sloane writes, ”Rhetorical thought is—let us admit it—highly perverse and lawyerly in nature.” In this statement, Sloane not only alludes to the closely intertwined history of rhetoric and law from the earliest days of Western thought to the modern era, but highlights the shared promotion by both of these fields of an agonistic “art of controversy” which seeks to facilitate controversy through the practice of arguing both sides of a case, a practice classical rhetoricians called in utramque partem (“on either side”). The principal theorists of classical Greek and Roman rhetoric promoted agonistic contests in which speakers argued opposite sides of disputed issues, often with specifically judicial contexts in mind, and the American legal system’s adversarial system of justice is founded on a contest of accusation and defense between parties in which each seeks to persuade a judge or jury of disputed issues on opposite sides of a case.
Despite the close relationship between rhetoric and law, however, and the fact that the lawyer remains, in the words of legal scholar James Boyd White, “the modern rhetorician in its purest form,” the modern professionalization of law has frequently attempted to deny or repress the rhetorical aspects of legal discourse and the agonistic conflict on which the adversarial system of justice is founded. Instead, modern law has promoted a view of legal discourse as a value-neutral “science” based on logical deduction and immune to social and political influence. This paradoxical relationship between law and rhetoric in modern legal discourse has produced a recent revival of questions about modern law’s denial of rhetoric, including important questions about the role of character and emotion in legal argument, the role of narrative in the analysis of legal evidence, the effect of the adversarial system of justice on social cohesion and division, and the relationship of legal rhetoric to democracy, coercion, and violence.
We’ll study these questions by first examining the forms of argument used in the legal profession today, focusing on arguments regarding the interpretation of circumstantial evidence in legal cases and the analogical, or case-based, form of legal argument known as “legal reasoning” which is used to argue for or against the application of judicial precedent to new cases. Specifically, we’ll study arguments regarding the evidence in controversial trials such as the 1976 Patty Hearst trial, the 1982 Lindy Chamberlain (“Dingo”) trial, the 1992 Randy Weaver (“Ruby Ridge”) trial, and the 1994 trials of Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin (the “West Memphis Three”), as well as arguments and judicial opinions in U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure clause and the minimum standards of effective legal advocacy found in the Sixth Amendment’s right to assistance of counsel. After examining the forms and purposes of legal rhetoric as it is actually employed in the legal profession, we’ll then consider contemporary critiques of the adversary system and the agonistic rhetoric on which it depends, including critiques implicit in public perceptions of the legal system and cultural representations of lawyers.Full Assignment Description:
In this assignment, you will deliver an 8-12 minute oral presentation to the class (1) restating your peer’s paper, (2) identifying the conversation in which your peer’s paper is situated, and (2) offering constructive feedback or questions regarding your peer’s paper that might be helpful for the class to discuss to assist the author. Your peer will in turn deliver a presentation regarding your paper. After each presentation, a brief Q&A period will be permitted for the class to discuss the paper and ask the author questions if desired. The author may respond to questions during this period, but otherwise the author should not intervene to explain their work during the presentation but should instead simply listen to the restatement and commentary offered by the presenter and the class.
You should approach your presentation as a writer sharing a peer’s work with fellow writers and not be overly formal. Your presentation must follow a formal outline, contain the content called for by the protocol below and in the order set forth in the protocol, and be delivered within the stated time limits. When the time limit is up, the presentation will be stopped. You should practice the presentation before you deliver it live to ensure that you can deliver it within the stated time limits. Please note that a paper outline is required and must be handed to me before to your presentation on the day it is scheduled. You’re allowed but not required to use audio-visual materials during your oral presentation as long as they’re not used to substitute for your own extemporaneous commentary during the presentation. You can present sitting down or standing from any location in the classroom that you wish.
*Authors are obligated to deliver a copy of their paper to their presenter no less than 72 hours before the scheduled presentation so that the presenter has adequate time to prepare.
Your presentation should closely approximate the following format:
(1) Describe the paper and identify its central argument(s)/contribution(s) (4-6 minutes). What appears to be the central issue/puzzle that the paper seeks to address? How would you state the paper’s central argument or thesis? How does the author develop the paper? (Provide a very brief summary of the paper and its arrangement.) In what debates/discussions does the paper situate itself? What does the author contribute to the conversation the paper engages.
(2) Identify the evidence/methods the author uses to support the claims made (2 minutes).
(3) Offer constructive feedback (2-6 minutes). Identify one or two broad areas in which the paper might be improved. What might be helpful for the group to discuss to assist the author?Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
No instructor preparation is required.Instructions For Students:
Students are provided the full assignment description set forth above.Evaluation Suggestions:
The assignment is graded based primarily on the basis of completion, contingent only on the students meeting the minimum requirements that the presentation follow a formal outline, contain the content called for by the protocol and in the order set forth in the protocol, and be delivered within the stated time limits.Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
Students have reported some aanxiety both as author and as presenter of a peer's paper, particularly regarding losing control of the presentation and not being in a position to defend their work as author or mischaracterizing their peer's work as presenter. My experience is that students take the presentations more seriously when presenting a peer's work than when presenting their own, however, and in some ways experience less anxiety because they don't have to defend their work. They also appear to value the experience of hearing a peer restate their paper's content, and requiring them to read a peer's paper in sufficient depth to deliver a presentation regarding it haas also proved educational about the writing process.
Katherine CoxImage Credit:
Image Credit: viz.Tags: ObjectivityEvaluating writingToneRegisterViz.Writing examplesBlogsInventionBrief Assignment Overview:
By reading and browsing Viz. posts, students learn the difference between objective analysis and value judgment. This assignment also uses Viz. to teach students that the topics and tone used for rhetorical analysis can be wide-ranging and non- “academic.”
Lesson Plan Content: Visual AnalysisAudienceInventionTopic SelectionStyleRhetorical Anlysis Type of Assignment: Class DiscussionAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Early in the SemesterMid-SemesterPedagogical Goals:
- Foster rhetorical analysis skills by distinguishing objective from opinion-based writing
- Enlarge students’ concept of what is an effective tone for a non-expert audience
- Encourage students to choose unique artifacts for analysis and/or draw inventive connections
- Provide examples of rhetorical analysis
Ideally each student will be able to access the Internet on his or her own computer (but this is not required)Course Type: Advanced Writing CourseIntermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseLiterary Studies CourseCourse Description:
This assignment is chiefly designed with a beginning to intermediate rhetoric and composition course in mind. It can easily be adapted to an introductory literature course, however, by approaching Viz. posts as “close readings.” This would work especially well in a Lit. course with a multi-media requirement (since Viz. posts often incorporate on mixed media).Full Assignment Description:
Start by explaining to students the goals of the day’s discussion.
Next explain what Viz. is: “A blog about visual rhetoric and visual culture whose contributors write short, analytical posts about rhetorically meaningful visual phenomena in the news, in popular culture, in their communities, digital environments, etc.”
Reference Viz.’s audience and compare it to the audience students will be writing for. Point out the similarities (neither audience is necessarily knowledgeable about the subject being discussed) and differences (Viz.’s audience my have an inherent interest in visual media whereas students may not be able to assume this about their audience).
Part 1: Distinguishing Objective Analysis from Value Judgments (20 - 25 minutes)
Explain that bloggers, columnists, editorialists, and non-fiction writers often mix objective analysis with statements that are more subjective. Talk about genre and why or why not this “mixed” form of writing is appropriate for these generic categories and venues.
Spend some time going over how to recognize and distinguish each kind of analysis. The following tables might be useful for this part of the exercise:
- are substantiated
- do not reveal personal bias
- consider multiple perspectives
- depend on personal opinion
- depend on values with shifting definitions (goodness, badness, morality, effectiveness, successfulness, beauty, etc.)
Have students read a pre-selected Viz. post in full. Here are a few good choices:
Next, find a passage that contains an objective statement and one that contains subjective statements. Point out and explain the difference. Ask students to identify other objective and subjective statements in the same blog post. Give students 10 minutes to do this. Afterwards, ask them to report back to the class and explain their determinations. Write one objective claim and one subjective claim on the board and ask the class to compare and contrast.
Explain how students should use objective and subjective claims in their own writing. When is it appropriate to offer one’s opinion? When is it only acceptable to offer a balanced, objective analysis? Can you do both in a single piece of writing?
Part 2: Exploring a Range of Rhetorical Subjects and Tones (30-35 mins)
This part of the activity involves a 10-15 minute lecture and class discussion followed by a 20-minute period in which students find an image and compose their own analysis paragraphs.
Remind students that rhetoric (especially visual rhetoric) can be found everywhere, not just in academic or political arenas. Show them the following Viz. posts to demonstrate that media as diverse as popular film, celebrity gossip magazines, fashion blogs, and architectural drawings can be good sources for rhetorical analysis.
“Reading Django Unchained as Camp”
“Ads on Bodies and Bodies in Ads at SXSW”
“Bel Geddes, Surprising Office Buildings of the Early Twentieth Century, and an American Work Ethic”
“Negotiating Modesty: Reading Mormon Fashion Blogs as Visual Rhetoric”
Next, address tone. What kind of tone is appropriate for deconstructing the press coverage of nude English royals? How about a rhetorical analysis of religious fashion blogs?
After a general discussion, ask your students to break off and find an image from an unusual corner of the Internet (perhaps from a site they visit for recreational reading). Ask them to compose an analysis paragraph about the image’s argument and rhetorical techniques. Tell them to be mindful of tone while they compose the paragraph. Are their issues (of a sexual, political or racial nature) they should be sensitive to? Does the image provoke humor, and should their response mimic its humor? Etc.
These paragraphs may be collected for a grade or shared verbally with the class.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
For Part 1: Set aside about 20 minutes to select a sample viz. post, read it, and extract examples of subjective and objective statements.
For Part 2: Set aside about 30-45 minutes to select and pull out illustrative language from a handful of viz. posts.Instructions For Students:
In this activity you will refer to a UT blog called Viz. Viz. is a blog about visual rhetoric and visual culture. Its contributors write short, analytical posts about rhetorically meaningful visual phenomena in the news, in popular culture, in their communities, digital environments, etc.
Part 1: Distinguishing Objective Analysis from Value Judgments
Bloggers, columnists, editorialists, and non-fiction writers often mix objective analysis with statements that are more subjective. Please read the following post [insert link to pre-selected Viz. post] and answer the following questions.
1. Transcribe two examples of statements that make value judgments.
2. Transcribe two examples of objective analysis.
3. Discuss the difference between the examples you wrote down for 1 and 2. What makes one set subjective and the other objective?
Part 2: Exploring a Range of Rhetorical Subjects and Tones
Rhetoric (especially visual rhetoric) can be found everywhere, not just in academic or political arenas. Media as diverse as popular film, celebrity gossip magazines, fashion blogs, and architectural drawings can serve as good sources for rhetorical analysis.
Think about the variety of blog posts we looked at today. Use the remainder of class to
1. Find an image from an unusual corner of the Internet (perhaps from a site you visit for recreational reading).
2. Compose a paragraph that analyzes the image’s argument and rhetorical techniques as if you were writing for Viz. (Be mindful of tone. Are there issues (of a sexual, political or racial nature) you should be sensitive to? Does the image provoke humor, and should your response mimic its humor? Etc.)Evaluation Suggestions:
The paragraphs from Part 2 may be collected for a grade or shared verbally with the class.
Axel BohmannImage Credit:
M.C. Escher, Drawing HandsTags: Image WritingPhotoshopInventionBrief Assignment Overview:
In this assignment, students work in the visual medium to explore dimensions of associative image logic they can use in their persuasive written compositions. Depending on the focus of the class, the extent of previous exposure sutdents have had to Photoshop and the time you want to dedicate to the assignment, students' images may comprise a product (and graded assignment) of their own. In that case, you should plan for 2-3 class days dedicated to the projectLesson Plan Content: VisualizationWriting ProcessVisual AnalysisInventionStyle Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Late in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
This assignment is geared towards getting students to think about metaphor, imagery and associative logic in crafting their persuasive compositions. Ideally, the outcome will be a guiding image which helps arrange and focus their composition.Media Requirements: Technology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
Every student should have access to a computer with Photoshop installed. Ideally, access should extend beyond the alotted classroom time (i.e. there should be an open computer lab available to students), but this is not strictly necessary.Course Type: Introductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
RHE 306 Rhetoric and Writing: This is an introductory writing class with a mostly freshman student population. The assignment can easily be tweaked to fit any class with a persuasive, inventive writing assignment.Full Assignment Description:
In my 306 class, one option for the final short writing assignment of the semester is for students to briefly describe a guiding image they can use to make their case in the last major written assignment, a persuasive text arguing a position on a chosen controversy to an audience of their choosing. Ideally, this or a similar written assignment should be completed before conducting the exercise described here. At least, students should come to class with an image in mind that they can explore. Also, especially in a 50-minute class, it will be helpful if students have already had an introduction to Photoshop. Since the product of the assignment is not meant to be presented or published, copyright issues need not absolutely be discussed, but the assignment can definitely be turned into an occasion to discuss copyright, fair use and creative commons.
In the first part of the assignment, students spend time searching the web for digital pictures in line with the image they have selected to use for their writing. For instance, one of my student described the Internet as a nightclub and identified Google as the bouncer. This student would likely enter "bouncer" as a search term. Of course, very different images (actual photos, cartoons, memes with text, different color choices, etc.) will come up. This fact is not a problem but should be seen as a first steps in helping students refine their use of images: it exposes them to different connections and contexts in which their image can be used and may open up new ways of thinking about that image. The amount of choices can be a drawback, as students may feel overwhelmed and unsure about making a decision. Therefore you should give them some time to play around during the search process and also emphasize that this is a process-oriented exercise. It doesn't matter what the final product looks like as long as the exercise opens up new perspectives on image logic for them.
Next, have students import their picture into Photoshop and manipulate it to support the claim they want to make. Again, low-end, trashy-looking experiments are encouraged. Taking the example above, it may start with stuff as simple as imposing the Google logo onto the bouncer's jacket or re-naming the nightclub "www," etc. As students continue image-editing, you should encourage them to explore new dimensions of the image. In addition to the bouncer, students could include a line of people queueing to get in. What do these people look like? Do they look at the bouncer, and he at them? Do they talk to each other? etc.
As students progress, they are likely to run into a dead end where they don't know how to continue, and they will also have technical difficulties with Photoshop. You should definitely make yourself available for questions and also get those students who know Photoshop better than others to help their peers. Towards the end of the class period, or at the beginning of your next class, you can make some room for students to present their images. I would suggest making this voluntary. My experience is that students are quite eager to show their media products.
The exercise should conclude with a written reflection homework in which students describe where they were going with their image before and how working in Photoshop has changed and elaborated their image logic, and how they plan to use their chosen image in their persuasive paper. Alternatively, if you want to put more emphasis on multimedia writing, you can ask students to continue working on their Photoshop project outside of class and turn the product into a graded assignment. Just make sure every student has appropriate access to a computer with Photoshop outside of class.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
You should familiarize yourself with Photoshop enough to answer basic student questions. I don't think it's necessary that you are an expert by any standard, but if you have never worked with the program the exercise might turn into chaos. Also, don't be afraid to ask students to help their classmates (and you) with any questions that might come upInstructions For Students:
- Search the web for picture files of the image(s) you have chosen to work with
- Take time to browse through the different search results and notice the different kind of images that come up
- How are they different?
- What aspects of your chosen image do they highlight?
- Do they bring any new aspects to light you might work with?
- After about 10 minutes, you should choose one image with which you will work for the rest of the class period
- Import you image into Photoshop
- Get excited, manipulate:
- superimpose/blend in other images
- rotate, distort dimensions, duplicate
- change colors
- Photoshop does allow you to include text, but try to work without it as much as you can
- Write a brief (maximum 1 page, double-spaced) reflection essay answering the following questions:
- What were the dimensions of your image you highlighted before the Photoshop exercise?
- Did working in Photoshop change any of these, or bring them into a different focus? Did you discover new aspects of the image you can utilize for essay 3?
- How do you plan to use your image in essay 3? Will it guide your entire discussion, work as an example of one specific aspect of the discussion? Will it work best to appeal to reason, logic, or emotion?
If you do this exercise the way it is outlined above, I would strongly suggest keeping the stakes low and not giving a grade on the Photoshop project itself. You may decide to grade the written reflection, if homework assignments make up part of your class's grades. I think the exercise can work great if you are using the learning record, as it emphasizes process and reflection.
Aaron MercierImage Credit:
Piquef: Conde Nast, 2011Tags: Research; logos; argument; rhetorical analysis; invention; thematic classroomBrief Assignment Overview:
This plan puts student into groups of three or four and asks them to collaborate on generating a coherent analytical reading of a New Yorker cover image. The students present their readings to the class and then trade images and present a re-reading. Class ends with the groups reclaiming their original image, incorporating the different reading, and self-assigning research topics. The following class, the groups re-convene and ten present a reading that integrates the two primary readings, bridged and nuanced through external research.Lesson Plan Content: Technologies and Digital EnvironmentsCollaborative Writing SpaceWriting ProcessAnalysisInventionTopic SelectionRhetorical AnlysisResearch Type of Assignment: Class DiscussionIn-class ExerciseHomework AssignmentAssignment Length: Multiple Class PeriodsTimeline for Optimal Use: Early in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
Building descriptive and analytical habits of mind
Identifying and avoiding evaluative modes of reading
Synthesizing divergent ideasMedia Requirements: Adaptable For Use Without Classroom TechnologyMedia Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
Networked classroom or student laptops, and/or a pile of old New Yorkers or similar images. You can also compile and distribute these images digitally.
Media console/document projector for presentationsCourse Type: Intermediate Writing CourseCourse Description:
RHE-309k: Rhetorics of Truthiness is a broadly-conceived thematic intermediate writing course. It teaches the basics of critical reading, research, rhetorical analysis, and academic writing. Thematically, it focuses on the rhetorical strategies and topical questions surrounding the 24 hour news cycle and the question of bias through Stephen Colbert's provocative definition of truthiness: an argumentative quality that makes a claim "feel true" without any necessary connection to fact or 'Truth.'Full Assignment Description:
**Note: this works best if you have made visual rhetoric exercises part of your course structure in the early weeks when you're introducing the "analysis" concept. If you haven't, you can set aside some classtime one or two days ahead of this to get some practice in with other images.
At the beginning of class, the instructor should review the differences between descriptive, evaluative, and analytical reading strategies. Emphasize the ways in which evaluative reading can disguise itself as analytical, and the obstacles to critical thought it can create.
--Divide the class into groups of 3-4
--Distribute New Yorker Covers. It's best if the instructor vets these for topicality, transparency, and complexity. It's a good idea to have a range of difficulties, but each image should have a clear current-events referent and be susceptible to at least two different interpretations. "Money Issue" covers and the covers published during the Occupy movement and major elections cycles are especially rich, although there are plenty of recent covers that take up higher ed and internecine sociocultural tensions that get really interesting too.
--You can have a written prompt if you like, but don't be too presctiptive. I simply tell my students to formulate a one-sentence description that states what the image is of/about, then to generate a kind of critical summary that points to specific visual elements and makes claims about how they contribute to a greater complexity of meaning. While they're working, circulate between the groups. if no one has questions for you, offer them some of your own. Be especially watchful for students who are skipping steps, or not working closely enough with the image, or being too general. Deal with these missteps by asking provocative questions about the grounds of their claims.
--Avoid being over-directive. This exercise is about keeping them in the space of discovery and description as long as possible, so questions should be formulated so as to throw them back into the text rather than push them towards conclusions. The typical undergrad is deeply uncomfortable with this space and if you give too many directions they will simply spit them back at you as "answers" in the presentation.
-- Give the students about fifteen minutes in their first group session to come up with a two-minute presentation. This seems like a relief to them, since they don't think they can fill longer time slots with "just this image." Inevitably, the groups will run over time. Be really strict. Time them with an alarmed stopwatch and cut them off after the two minutes. The fourth group to present will usually come in just at two minutes. This is a teachable moment about the time and space responsible analysis actually requires.
--Have the groups switch images and repeat the process.
--If you're being disciplined about time, you should have about 20-40 minutes to wrap up after the second round of presentations. (Ten minutes of housekeeping and introduction to the exercise, 30 minutes of group prep time, 16-20 minutes of presentation [assuming a class of 20-24 students], four minutes of transitions/slop time have been filled up so far.)
--Wrapping up:Have the groups reclaim their original image. Their assignments for next time will be for each student to find some relevant secondary source and write a 3-sentence description of it and its relevance to the group's image. At the beginning of the next class, the groups get a ten-minute final planning session, then give a 5 minute presentation.
--Give a prompt for this presentation, since it should do several very specific things.
--Present the group's original reading modified to integrate or challenge the second group's reading of the image in question.
-- Present at elast two secondary sources that give theoretical/critical and/or historical context to the image
--Offer a complex, nuanced, and analytical statement of what they believe the image is about, what it says, and how it fits into the larger context of the moment in which it was published.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
--Browse the issues of the New Yorker in general.
--Be aware of the headlines that were current when the issue was published
--Have a stopwatch of some kind
--Be ready to evade requests for over-directive instruction
--Have some inspirational quotes about uncertainty and negative capability handyInstructions For Students:
In general, see the Full Assignment Description
I shy away from elaborate written instructions for this sequence because it's really about establishing comfort with a state of intellectual play. Written instructions become training wheels in this context. Because the stakes are very low, but kind of implicitly present in the whole economy of dialogue and idea exchange, I find such training wheels to be disruptive and counterproductive. Keep it all very verbal for this whole process.Evaluation Suggestions:
This is not a lesson/assignment sequence that requires a lot of evaluation. In fact, evaluating the quality of analytical approaches should be left largely to class discussion. The way I approach this is to thank presenters and then ask the rest of the class where they'd take it next. Presentations that provoke the most energetic conversations become the examples you refer to in later classes, so there's a kind of ongoing reward system that does not punish lower-quality effortsNotes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
This exercise was a hit. Students respond pretty well to being given the thematic reins, and many of them respond really well to the oppportunity to argue. A lot of them remarked that the development of two co-existent readings for the same text, and then being asked to synthesize them, was a real eye-opener.
This exercise is also a great way to establish a collegial and collaborative learning environment. Be present, but keep your role in the realm of moderator/facilitator. Ask questions and insist on time limits for things, but try to avoid "correcting" readings unless they stray into major, fundamental error. Even then, it is usually better rely on the internal economy of the exercise. If one group goes astray, the next might correct them for you. Save these interventions, if necessary, for the endgame.Additional Resources:
PBWorks/ some kind of blogging platform helps, but is not necessary, in bridging the classwork/homework divide. Make sure the group members make plans to be in touch, especially if you make the at-home portion happen over a weekend.
Cole WehrleImage Credit:
Image credit: Cole WehrleTags: Graphic DesignMapsStructureOmniGraffleBrief Assignment Overview:
This lesson plan helps students visualize controversies in order to help them develop structure and argumentation in their own work.Lesson Plan Content: Collaborative Writing SpaceVisualizationWriting ProcessVisual AnalysisArrangementResearchRevisionMind Mapping Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Early in the SemesterMid-SemesterPedagogical Goals:
This assignment is intended to get students thinking about structure and organization as well the narrative in their earlier papers.Media Requirements: Adaptable For Use Without Classroom TechnologyMedia Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
In addition to a standard computer display, a “doc-cam” or other photographic projector is recommended.
You should also queue up this video:Intermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
This excercise was originally designed for use in Rhetoric 306 for in preperation for the first major research paper. It can be adapted to be used in a variaty of rhetoric courses which emphaize research.Full Assignment Description:
Students often struggle with narrative when writing research papers. This assignment invites them to think about their organization in a way that encourages good storytelling and a logical, coherent narrative within the genre of the research paper. Students will first view the RSAnimate video “Changing Education Paradigms” and then discuss the things about the video which made the outline compelling (or that failed to attract their interest) in small groups. The instructor should then allow 5 minutes for students to choose a “sample” controversy, which they will research in their groups. Teachers could supply examples, but I have found that the students find controversial topics pretty easily. Some groups may be inclined towards less substantial controversies, but, for the purposes of this lesson, any controversy will be sufficient. After each group selects their controversy, students should search for opinions and sources related to their chosen controversy. After allotting sufficient time for this research (5-10 minutes) the instructor should reconvene class and discuss methods for visually representing their research. If teaching in a computer classroom with the program OmniGraffle, this portion of the class could include a tutorial on the program and the construction of diagrams. However, students can also just map their research on a sheet of paper. At this point the instructor should discuss different visual techniques and symbols that will help make the presentation clearer and work through an example either with either the instructor station or manually on a classroom board. The instructor can use this time to suggest a variety of tactics. For instance, students may wish to use the left side of their canvas for proponents and the right side for sources who are against whatever they are investigating. Likewise, written sources could be placed in a box, triangles could enclose video sources, while contributing context could be placed in the white space around the paper.
At this point give the students about twenty minutes to create their visual representations. While students are working, the instructor should help them with any computer problems as well as create their own example on the projector, which the students can reference as you work on it. After they are complete (and if they are using computer software) have each group print off a few copies of their image. If done manually you may want to make copies while the students are in groups.
After all of the students have completed their chart, reconvene class. Then, start up the “Doc-Cam” and show the students your visual map of the controversy. Explain any symbols you might have used to outline it. After this explanation, using a highlighter or pen, begin drawing circles for every paragraph so as to enclose your resource. Circles should overlap (you can tell your students that these are points for transition) and be large enough to contain several sources, bits of context, or other relevant material. You may also wish to leave problems in your controversy map such as gaps. You can explain that if students find their paragraph circles stretching long distances across their map they may want to either do more research or else find a way to explain these visual gulfs. Have the groups work through at least a couple of different narratives.
At the end of class, each group should present their controversy. They may use the “doc-cam” to display their map while they guide the class through the narrative that they have constructed. This should take about 20 minutes and run until the end of class.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
If incorporating a tutorial on a program like OmniGraffle, the instructor should become very familiar with the program.Instructions For Students:
The above, longer descripiton contains student instructions.
1. Form groups
2. Choose controversy
3. Find sources
4. Build map
5. Plot narrative
6. Share narrative/"journey"Evaluation Suggestions:
Students could be asked to apply this method to their own work and produce a visual represenation of their own paper.Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
1. I have done this exercise twice now and both times it has worked very well. The students enjoy the break from their standard topics and generally have a good time picking either ultra-serious or silly controversies. This exercise also allows students to better understand how gaps form in their argumentation and research and I have found that their papers, post exercise have significant structural improvements. The lesson can also be adapted to 2.1 and micro (rather than macro) analysis. Instead of the sources constituting the different map elements and students could instead map the rhetorical moves of an individual source.
Laura ThainImage Credit: LogosRhetorical analysisEnthymemeChain of reasoningVisual RhetoricPhotoshopBlingeeBrief Assignment Overview:
This assignment asks students to map out logos with the aid of visualized arguments and, ultimately, to create and explain their own vizualization of a textual argument that helps highlight the elements of logos within that textual argument.Lesson Plan Content: Technologies and Digital EnvironmentsVisualizationVisual AnalysisAnalysisMind Mapping Type of Assignment: Class DiscussionIn-class ExerciseHomework AssignmentAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodOne-Two Class PeriodsTimeline for Optimal Use: Mid-SemesterPedagogical Goals:
This assignments is designed to help students identify and employ logos through visual rhetoric. By the end of the activity, which may take up an entire class period or multiple class periods, students should be able to effectively identify logos in a formal argument and replicate what they've identified in an informal visual argument.Media Requirements: Media Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
If conducted in a classroom that is not enabled with technology for each student, instructors should provide basic drawing materials, such as crayons and butcher paper or markers and posterboard.
Students should also bring in or have access to a copy of a research summary or short writing assignment that asks them to anaylze a textual argument or source.Course Type: Intermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
I teach the Rhetoric of Celebrity, which I break down into three units. Unit 1 deals with descriptive writing; Unit 2 deals with analytical writing; Unit 3 deals with evaluative or critical writing. The activity above is most useful for analytical writing, although it might also be useful in a discussion on critical writing when teaching students how to counter a logos appeal by means of definition, evidence, quality, or policy.Full Assignment Description:
First, the instructor should review or introduce the concept of logos to the class, emphasizing the reliance of a chain of reasoning on the enthymeme. It may be helpful to outline a few simple examples, like the ones Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz use in Everything's an Argument (5th ed.):
“We’d better cancel the picnic because it’s going to rain.” This statement assumes...
- Picnics are normally held outdoors.
- When the weather is bad, it’s best to cancel picnics.
- Rain is bad weather for picnics.
- A 70% chance of rain means that rain is more likely to occur than not.
- When rain is more likely to occur than not, it makes sense to cancel picnics.
- The weather bureau’s predictions are reliable enough to warrant action.
Once the class is comfortable attempting to identify both the chain of reasoning (explicit logos) and the enthymeme (implied premises), choose one of the excellent RSAnimate videos from the Royal Society's Youtube Channel. These talks address a broad variety of topics, many of which may be applicable to the course content. Most of these talks are about 10 minutes in length.
Before you start the video, emphasize that logos provides reasons for an argument, and thus always appears in claim and evidence format. Tell the students you would like them to identify logos appeals within the clip. You may choose to have them record their work on a worksheet. I used a simple worksheet like the one below:
facts and statistics (claim paired with quantitative evidence)
II. Soft Evidence
reason (claim paired with qualitative evidence)
common sense (claims that require no evidence, "self-evident" claims)
If you choose this format, it may be helpful to include empty spaces for CLAIM and EVIDENCE below each header so that the student can practice pairing the two.
Show the video, stopping as often as you feel necessary to allow students to write and process the argument they are witnessing. I find it helpful to encourage thes students to recap the bare-bones summary of the argument at two to three minute intervals.
When the segment concludes, break students up into groups of three or four and have them choose several logos appeals they would like to present to the class. Keep the final "panaroma" illustration on the projector and allow students to identify and describe the logos claims they have chosen, tying those claims to the part of the illustration to which they correspond.
Once the students have shared their findings, ask them, in groups, to refer to a short analytical writing assignment that one of them has already completed. (In my class, we use Research Summary 4.) Instruct them to, as a group, create their own visual representation of the logos appeals in the original text using Photoshop. Students may find it useful to separate out the illustration into panels so that each member can work independently on one piece of the puzzle.
Once students have created an illustration, have each group present and explain the logos appeal they have illustrated, as well as its context, to the class.
Below is a sample project created from this Perez Hilton article on Jennifer Aniston's upcoming nuptials:
This activity typically takes 2 class periods, although portions (image manipulation) could be assigned for homework.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
Usually, at least a quarter of the classroom is proficient in Photoshop, so it can be helpful to put at least one proficient user in each group. The pedagogical payoff of teaching photoshop for a single exercise is slim, so other, easier image manipuation tools may be substituted if students are on the whole unfamiliar with the software. Blingee, Draw Something, Online Flash-based sketch applications, or good ol' fashion art supplies may all be substituted.Instructions For Students:
Students should come to class having read logos material from the instructor's preferred rhetoric textbook.Evaluation Suggestions:
Students commonly confuse identifying a chain of reasoning with summary, so in evaluating presentations, it can be helpful to ask them to identify enthymemes in logos appeals they choose to discuss to keep them thinking analytically, as opposed to descriptively.
Scott NelsonImage Credit:
Fair Use Logo by Odinn 2007 CC-BY-SATags: YouTubeCopyrightBrief Assignment Overview:
As part fo the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, content service providers (such as YouTube) are given safe harbor from prosecution if they take certain steps to prevent copyright infringement. Unfortunately, this has led to a "shoot first and ask questions later" approach on YouTube's part. If you do any sort of video assignments that require students to post to YouTube, you will most likely have to dispute a Content ID automatic takedown. Content ID is YouTube's automated system for flagging copyrighted content. It searches over 20 hours of video footage a minute to look for cpyrighted media "footprints." While it is a marvel of modern technology, the system is imperfect and tends to skew toward the side of major media companies, rather than individual consumers or producers.Lesson Plan Content: Digital Classroom Strategies Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodOne-Two Class PeriodsTimeline for Optimal Use: Useful AnytimePedagogical Goals:
This lesson plan helps students and instructors understand the four Fair Use factors articulated in the Copyright Act of 1976. Ideally, students and instructors should leave this lesson with increased confidence in disputing a false copyright claim. A YouTube Content ID notice can be frightening for anyone, and especially frightening for someone who doesn't understand Fair Use. The notices themselves can have chilling effects on free speech, so it's important to exercise Fair Use principles.Media Requirements: Media Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
For this assignment, you'll need a YouTube account and a video that has been flagged by YouTube's Content ID system. Jenny Howell has an excellent lesson plan on introducing students to iMovie production. Most mashup videos will be flagged by Content ID, especially if the video clips used are from major motion pictures.
For the assignment, students will need to bring in the original video they created as well, as they'll be assessing Fair Use and the video is not available via YouTube (for now).Course Type: Advanced Writing CourseIntermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseLiterary Studies CourseCourse Description:
This lesson plan can be used with any course, provided that course uses YouTube.Full Assignment Description:
As part fo the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, content service providers (such as YouTube) are given safe harbor from prosecution if they take certain steps to prevent copyright infringement. Unfortunately, this has led to a "shoot first and ask questions later" approach on YouTube's part. If you do any sort of video assignments that require students to post to YouTube, you will most likely have to dispute a Content ID automatic takedown. Content ID is YouTube's automated system for flagging copyrighted content. It searches over 20 hours of video footage a minute to look for cpyrighted media "footprints." While it is a marvel of modern technology, the system is imperfect and tends to skew toward the side of major media companies, rather than individual consumers or producers.
A few caveats:
1. It's important to note that Fair Use is ony an affirmative defense; that is, it can only be invoked if a copyright holder has accused you of copyright infringement. In the context of YouTube's Content ID system, what you're essentially doing is telling a human somewhere that the automated system has made a correct match, but it was ok for you to use the media in the first place.
2. It's also important to note that this is a legal matter. If you dispute the claim, the copyright holder can sue you. However, the cpyright holder can sue you even without your dispute, as the Content ID system is only a way to identify possible infringers. This threat of litigation is scary, and it is most often what frightens students and instructors away from exercising their free speech rigths. While you should not interpret this lesson plan as legal advice, it's important to teach students the value of flexing their free speech muscles. If you don't practice these rights, they quietly go away.
3. This step in the process is only to ensure that a human reviews the reasons the video was flagged and taken down. After review by a human, the copyright holder may still issue a DMCA takedown notice, at which point you may dispute even that. This takedown notice counts as a strike against your YouTube account. Three strikes, and YouTube freezes your account and deletes all your videos.
As outlined in the Copyrighjt Act of 1976, Fair Use consists of four factors:
1. The purpose and character of your use. If you have somehow transformed the nature of the original by using it, your use is more likely fair. Commentary, parody, reporting, and education are some uses that tend to fall on the Fair Use side. Most likely, your video has some educational aims, as it was created for a course.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work. Fair Use protects factual works more than fictional ones. If the original work was a clip from a major romantic comedy, then your use is less likely fair. This doesn't mean that you cannot use clips from fictional works. It only means that this factor may not be in your favor.
3. The amount used from the copyrighted work. Shorter is better, but this is a qualitative assessment. Use only the portion ofthe work needed to get your point across. Rarely is use of an entire song or video considered Fair Use.
4. The impact of your video on the market. Does your use of the copyrighted work affect its value? If you are making money off of your creation, your use is less likely Fair Use. In the case of YouTube, an example that isn't Fair Use would be using an entire song to drive traffic to your channel where you have monetized the account (provided advertising). Because your video was created for a class, though, chances are you are not making money off of it.
When students write papers for an audience of one, the teacher, there isn't much risk in running up against copyright law. However, in an increasingly connected world, student expressions collide with media companies' interests. Discussing Fair Use in the abstract is good, but actual practice of free speech in the "real world" beyond academia can have consequences. If we are going to prepare our students to communicate in the 21st century, we must not only have conversations about these risks and rewards, but we need to practice this communication as well.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
This assignment can only be done if there has actually been a Content ID match. Surprisingly, these are pretty common. I've also done a rhetorical analysis of YouTube's content ID system for viz. that you may want to check out ahead of time. In the past, some collegaues I know have assigned students to post to YouTube, only to have those videos removed by Content ID the day before students were to present them. With a little planning, such an incident can be a teaching moment rather than a freak-out moment for students. It's ideal to have students upload their videos a couple of days before you'd like to give this lesson. Conversely, you could create a video mashup of your own, being sure to follow Fair Use guidelines, and upload it to YouTube yourself.Instructions For Students:
Students should work in pairs or small groups. After reviewing the Fair Use guidelines at the US Copyright Office's website, students should view each video and discuss Fair Use for each copyrighted audiovisual element used. Use these questions to help guide you:
- What is the overall purpose of the student's video? What evidence from the video can you point to that supports this purpose?
- For each audiovisual element used, give a one-sentence statement about what it does for the overall video. How is this media being used? To what ends?
- What is the nature of the original work? Is it more factual or more creative?
- How much of the copyrighted work is used? Give a time for each element.
- Would the student's video take any money away from the copyright holder? How so or why not? (Keep in mind, this is potential money. The copyright holder doesn't have to currently be earning money in this way.)
- Could the copyrighted media used be replaced by any other media without changing the meaning or impact?
Once all students' videos have been reviewed, a few should be presented to the class to model the dicsussion. Following this, students should decide whether they think their own video has used outside media under Fair Use guidelines.
Now comes the dispute part. If you truly believe your video was falsely flagged, then you'll want to file a dispute. Log in to your YouTube Account. In the Video Manager, click on "Copyright Notices" on the left menu. If your video has been flagged, you will see something like the picture below:
Image Credit: YouTube
Clicking on any of those links will take you to a page where you can dispute the Content ID block. To do so, click on the "I believe this copyright claim is not valid" link. Here, you can choose one of three reasons why your video should not be removed:
- The Content ID system falsely flagged your material; there is no copyrighted media used in your video.
- Your use of others media is Fair Use.
- You have permission from the copyright holder to use the material.
Most likely, your answer will be #2. Be sure to indicate in the box provided why you think your use is Fair Use.Evaluation Suggestions:
This lesson is not evaluated.
By creating their own Twitter accounts and finding accounts to follow that are related to their research topic, students learn the difference between library resources and online resources like daily news, blogs, and opinion. Lesson Plan Content: Technologies and Digital EnvironmentsSocial NetworkingWriting ProcessResearch Type of Assignment: In-class ExerciseHomework AssignmentAssignment Length: Single Class PeriodMultiple Class PeriodsTimeline for Optimal Use: Early in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
Kendall GerdesImage Credit: ResearchTwitterFree SoftwareBrief Assignment Overview:
By creating their own Twitter accounts and finding accounts to follow that are related to their research topic, students learn the difference between library resources and online resources like daily news, blogs, and opinion.
Research, digital literacyMedia Requirements: Adaptable For Use Without Classroom TechnologyMedia Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
Students need a computer (or conceivably, smartphone) with internet access to sign up for a free Twitter account. When I taught this lesson in a computer mediated classroom, I had a projector screen to introduce students to Twitter.Course Type: Introductory Writing CourseCourse Description:
I used this lesson in my introductory writing course, RHE 306 Rhetoric and Writing.Full Assignment Description:
Students created their own Twitter accounts in class, and I asked them to follow our class Twitter account right away. I use the class account to retweet my students and make short announcements. Then, I asked students to find an active Twitter account (with recent tweets) that is relevant to their research topic. I asked students to follow the account, then tweet the handle of thtat account to our class account. I also asked students to come up with a class hash tag.
I also gave students some research guidelines (see Instructions for Students, below) to help them think about the relationship between library resources, with their slower editorial gatekeeping process, and online resources, and the different research strategies required to use both.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
Creating a class Twitter account can help keep students organized around a central account. I also recommend reading about what other instructors are doing to come up with a mix of ideas that suits your class. Some recommended reading is included in the additional resources, below.Instructions For Students:
These are the instructions I gave my students:
Your first Twitter assignment is as follows:
- Create your own professional Twitter account (or if you're not shy, you can use a Twitter account you already have).
- Follow our class Twitter account, @rhetoric306, and tweet us to introduce yourself online (your name and the issue you're researching would be helpful!).
- By Friday at 2 pm, you need to find an active Twitter account (with recent tweets) that is relevant to your issue. Follow them, then tweet their handle and how you found them to our class account. I'll use the class account to follow your recommendations!
- We're going to need a class hash tag to keep track of our class tweets across our different accounts. When you tweet the account you followed, you should also propose a hash tag by tweeting @rhetoric306. The goals here are short, unique, and informative.
- If you have ideas for how you want to use Twitter in our class, tweet them @rhetoric306.
Some Twitter guidelines:
- You can only tweet 140 characters at once.
- You create a link to other Twitter accounts when you put their handle, like @rhetoric306, in your tweet.
- Hash tags help categorize your tweets for searches. #likethis
- Although Twitter created a way to re-post someone else's entire Tweet (called retweeting), many people often still edit or comment on the tweet and post it again using the marker "RT" to credit the original poster.
- If you can't figure out how to do something, try to Google it.
- NB: Using Twitter puts us in contact with people outside of class. Obviously, we have no control over what these people say or share. If you find yourself uncomfortable with any Twitter content for any reason, you may unfollow or block any user, and disregard any comments, conversations, or links. Please come to me if you have any questions or concerns about this.
Some Twitter/Research guidelines:
- Don't just go with the first thing you find. The goal is to find high-quality sources. Even just one quality Twitter account will give you much better returns than a dozen mediocre ones. Look through lots of Tweets (30-50) from each account, and look through lots of accounts before you decide who to follow.
- Think about your search terms. You can search for words that appear in tweets, but you can also search for hash tags and usernames. And there are more ways to search Twitter than just the interface they provide you. Get creative.
- Try to find experts and advocates. Journalists may be excellent news, but you also need opinion, and sometimes organizations or even scholars will have useful tweets.
- Follow the links. Read what they are reading, check out who they are re-tweeting, surf their hash tags. Twitter doesn't use MLA, citing sources in such a way that your readers can recognize and locate the originals is still important.
- Experiment. Whether it's on Twitter or on the Library site, effective research requires some creativity and experimentation. You have to try things out, and don't be disappointed if you don't what you want on the first try--use your failed and frustrated searches to figure out how to do it better.
I evaluate my class using the Learning Record, and I have students complete brief reflective writing exercises on what they learned each class.Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
I admit, I was surprised at how many of my students were not already using Twitter. I wished I had left more time and given them more detailed instructions on the first day I introduced it. But, I also think Twitter is relatively easy to learn. A technological challenge can also foster student collaboration, since they pose questions and help each other figure out how to solve the problems that inevitably arise.Additional Resources:
- My post on Twitter at Blogging Pedagogy: http://bloggingpedagogy.dwrl.utexas.edu/content/researching-public-issues-twitter
- Grad Hacker on Teaching with Twitter: http://www.gradhacker.org/2012/11/26/teaching-with-twitter/
- Matt King's RHE 312 Twitter Assignment: http://rhe312.pbworks.com/w/page/21055220/Twitter%20Assignment
- The Learning Record: http://www.learningrecord.org/
Eric DetweilerImage Credit:
Compiled from images on Wikimedia CommonsTags: PodcastsPapersSummaryContextMultimediaMultimodalBrief Assignment Overview:
I have my students complete their first major assignment in two forms: (1) An individual 3-page paper and (2) a 5-6 minute group podcast. In both, they describe a text and situate it in historical context.Lesson Plan Content: Technologies and Digital EnvironmentsWriting ProcessArrangementInventionStyle, Memory, DeliveryPodcasts Type of Assignment: Major Course ProjectAssignment Length: Course UnitTimeline for Optimal Use: Early in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
To get students to think about the ways in which presentational form/medium effects their inventional and organizational processes, as well as what counts as rhetorically effective.Media Requirements: Adaptable For Use Without Classroom TechnologyMedia Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
Recording devices. If at least one student in each podcast group has a personal computer with a built-in microphone, that's fine. If that's not the case, or if you want to go hi-fi, USB microphones can step quality up a little bit. Access to some sort of editing software: Apple's GarageBand or Audacity are common options, and the latter can be downloaded for free online.
Audio Hijack Pro is also another useful software if students want to use clips from the text they're discussing in their podcast. The website snipmp3.com can also be used to grab audio from YouTube videos if Audio Hijack Pro isn't affordable/available.Course Type: Intermediate Writing CourseCourse Description:
What is irony? It’s a rhetorical device that has been called “infinite absolute negativity” and “the key to the tightest bonds of friendship.” Jane Austen uses it to poke fun at Victorian social norms, Stephen Colbert to mock American politics, television shows like South Park to critique—well, just about everything. Irony’s complex history is part of the reason its definition is so hard to pin down. Working towards an understanding and definition of the term will thus be one of the aims of this course.
Irony’s presence in individual rhetorical exchanges can be equally hard to identify, however. Consider the times you've been reading something online—say a friend's Facebook status—and found yourself asking, "Can this person possibly be serious?" This course, then, will also examine how irony functions practically in political and popular discourse. The effective use of irony requires both the speaker and listener to share a mutual understanding not only of the position being ironically stated, but the other party’s unstated beliefs and the actual critical message under the surface. Traditional rhetorical variables—speaker, audience, purpose—are all present, but layered in a manner that requires especially acute rhetorical awareness. This course will thus necessitate that students assume and practice a rigorous rhetorical consciousness as they engage with irony as both a concept and a complex rhetorical device, constructing and critiquing ironic arguments as they consider the historical, political, and ethical implications of irony’s deployment from Socrates to Swift to sitcoms.Full Assignment Description:
In my RHE 309K course, Rhetoric of Irony, students examine, analyze, and argue about the rhetorical and ethical implications of irony in political and popular discourse. Their first assignment is to choose a historical (before the year 2000) ironic text and describe the text, its context, and its use of irony to their classmates.
My course includes a lot of writing, of course, and I want to get students thinking critically about that writing from the start of the class. In order to do that, I wanted to supplement the paper version of this first assignment with something in another medium and/or mode. Because I have worked with podcasts and audio strikes me as relatively straightforward (in a sense, a podcast can be little more than a recorded speech, writing's other half in the history of rhetoric and rhetoric instruction). The podcast allows students to invent and organize their material in a different way than the paper, and with structured reflective writing and conversation can help them think about the particularities and peculiarities of written and aural/oral discourse. I've found it can open up productive conversations about the difficulties and tropes of academic writing. For instance, students often have an easier time inventing material for the podcast than for the paper (I do require a first draft of the paper that's due one week before the podcast and final paper draft). Even though a 5-6 minute podcast and a 3-page paper can accomodate about the same number of words, students frequently feel like they've have to make copious cuts to fit everything into the podcast and stretching to find enough material for the paper.
In short, this assignment allows students to think about the constraints and affordances of both spoken and written compositions, as well as how they might adapt rhetorically to both forms/media/modes (these aren't synonyms here, of course, but all potential frames for discussing these assignments). It can also be a useful method of invention and helping students think about the patterns and obstacles that crop up in their academic writing processes.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
There are a variety of ways to approach the podcast assignment. I didn't spend much time teaching my students how to actually make podcasts. I basically showed them what GarageBand, Audacity, and Audio Hijack Pro looked like on our classroom computers, showed them how to drag audio files into the first two and how to sync the latter up with other applications. I focused more on showing students how to search Audacity's robust wiki and how to look up GarageBand tutorials on YouTube, etc. Learning to learn these technologies for themselves, in other words, was a big part of the assignment. I also provided them 15-20 minutes of in-class time to work as a group a few times, which gave them a chance to play with the technologies while I was on hand to offer troubleshooting advice and general tips.
As an instructor, you might want to have some knowledge of the technologies, then, though being an amateur along with your students can be a productive learning experience. If you don't have a computer classroom with those programs, I imagine the shorter introduction described above would be best, leaving the onus on students to experiment with them outside of class. If you do, you could certainly conduct a more in-depth, participatory in-class tutorial.
If even having students download Audacity seems too daunting, this assignment could feasibly be completed by having students record a script using Windows' pre-installed and very basic Audio Recorder; all current Apples come equipped with GarageBand.Instructions For Students:
Since the meta-assignment comprises two parts (the group podcast and the individual paper), both assignment prompts are included below. The podcast comes first.
Unit 1 Podcast
Podcast: An audio program, often brief, that’s similar to a radio show but intended for digital download rather than live play. We have already spent some time addressing the important role situational factors play in creating a kairos for what counts as/is recognized as effective “irony.
We have already spent some time addressing the important role situational factors play in creating a kairos for what counts as/is recognized as effective “irony.” For instance, much of the ironic political critique of 1970s Saturday Night Live skits might seem dull or weird without a deep understanding of how Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were seen and thought of at the time, as well as what political contexts they were a part of. Without knowledge of Jon Stewart’s role on The Daily Show, the kairos of his Crossfire appearance would be much harder to understand.
Your first major assignment, then, is to create a group podcast in which your group situates an ironic text in its original context. Exploring, in other words, the situational variables that made up its kairos. For our purposes, the text must have been originally released before January 1, 2000 (in part because that’s a neat dividing line, in part because—as we’ll see later this semester—9/11 brought about some important shifts in many Americans’ attitudes toward irony). Your podcast should include your text itself, as well as relevant events, people, etc. that had some influence on the contexts out of which the text emerged. For instance, what cultures was the author a part of, and how might they have influenced her or his ironic rhetorical choices? How was the text originally distributed (British newspaper, 1960s Japanese television, FM radio, etc.), and how might the context of that material form shape the text? Who, if relevant, was in political power? Were any military or social conflicts going on in the background? Was your text responding to a specific previous text, or to a general cultural and/or political atmosphere? In short, your podcast should help your audience better understand your text and its kairos. Don’t give context for context’s sake, but bring to your listeners’ minds key contextual details relevant to your text’s rhetorical point(s) and the broader historical situation in which those points were being made in order to foster a better understanding of your text in its context.
You will work in either pairs or trios. All members must agree on the chosen text. That choice is yours, not mine, as is how you divide the workload—as long as you do so in an equitable manner and all group members’ voices appear at least once in the final podcast. Keep in mind this collaborative project’s potential relevance to your individual Learning Record.
Your podcast is due on the wiki by the beginning of class Mon., Feb. 18. Upload it as an .mp3, .aac, .or .wav file. Podcasts must be 5-6 minutes long. We will listen to all groups’ podcasts in class that day. The time limit is strict, and you should make use of that time in a rhetorically effective—in a kairotic—manner. In addition to the release of your text itself, your podcast must introduce and set up at least three additional contextual variables: events, people, wars, other texts, private or public squabbles, or responses to your text. You should verbally cite at least two sources in your podcast. Source requirements are covered in more detail in the corresponding paper assignment. Your primary rhetorical goals are to inform and to entertain. Make a podcast that will hold your classmates’ and my attention. My feedback on the timeline will be given in written form, with each group member receiving the same write-up.
In addition to the group podcast, you are responsible for writing an individual paper in which you describe the context out of which your text arose, the significance and ironic message of the text itself, and how that specific message responded to/interacted with your text’s kairos. Keep in mind your primary purpose is—as with the podcast—to give your readers a better understanding of your text by situating it, not to offer context for context’s sake. Always make sure you explain the relevance of that context in terms of your text.
You should try to avoid taking a position on whether your text’s message is “good” or “bad.” Try to stick primarily to describing and summarizing text and context rather than evaluating. If your text was rhetorically ineffective or responded poorly to its context, let that point be made via exposition (for instance, that it’s faded into history or has a powerful legacy) rather than direct argument. Let me know if I can clarify here.
Though you can draw on your group’s conversations, brainstorming, etc. in writing your paper, the actual process of writing should be undertaken individually. If you have questions about the boundaries of collaboration and plagiarism, check the course strands or with me. Basically, your paper should have different sentences, paragraphs, and overall arrangement than your other group members’, though the basic content could be largely the same.
Your paper must have at least four sources. Two of those sources must be scholarly; two must be broader historical or primary sources. We’ll discuss these distinctions in class on Jan. 30. If you aren’t confident in this area and want to get a head start, however, feel free to talk with me in advance. Easy Writer also has advice here. Your paper may share one scholarly and one historical source with your other group members’ papers. The other scholarly and historical source must be unique to your paper.
Paper 1 should be at least 1000 words including the works-cited page, heading, title, etc. That should make the body of the paper around 3 pages. The paper should be properly formatted according to MLA guidelines, which we’ll discuss as this unit unfolds. A full draft of the paper
(1.1) is due in the corresponding wiki folder on Mon., Feb. 11. Paper 1.1 will be peer reviewed in class on that day. A substantially revised version (1.2) is due in the corresponding wiki folder by the beginning of class on Mon., Feb. 18.Evaluation Suggestions:
I use The Learning Record to assess my classes, so students get qualitative feedback from me on both the podcast and the paper. I offer marginal comments on the first draft of the paper. In response to my comments and a peer review, students set three revision goals--each including what the goal is, why they've set it as a goal based on peer review/my comments/personal reflection, and how they plan to carry it out--for writing/revising their second draft (the ".2" in the prompt above). I approve those goals in advance of the revisions, then focus my comments on them in assessing the second draft.
My commentary on the podcast, which focuses primarily on invention, organization, and audience awareness, is the same for all members of each group and is about a paragraph in length.Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
I wasn't sure how this approach would go over this semester, which was the first time I assigned both podcast and paper. Students seemed enthusiastic about the podcast. In addition to being more "fun" than a traditional paper, it seems the unorthodox and novel nature of podcasts for school purposes led them to feel more freedom in inventing and organizing. They were, in other words, much less prone to podcaster's block than writer's block. I require the paper to be more conventional in terms of college writing for a rhetoric course, but the podcast gave them ample material to conventionalize for the paper.Additional Resources:
The Scholar Electric on Incorporating Audio Assignments: http://www.ryantrauman.net/scholarelectric/2012/11/13/212/
Audacity's wiki: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_Wiki_Home_Page
The Learning Record: http://www.learningrecord.org/
Jay VossImage Credit:
The New Yorker magazineTags: The New YorkerFinal PaperResearchCompositionBrief Assignment Overview:
We’re coming up on the midway point of this semester, and as we’re all currently planning the weeks ahead after Spring Break, I thought I’d take a moment here and share what I’m currently doing for my course’s final assignment. I’m teaching The Rhetoric of The New Yorker, and my students’ final assignment is to compose a New Yorker-style essay. Of course, with the rare exception whatever they produce is nowhere near New Yorker-quality. Nevertheless, this assignment grew out of two pedagogical realities and subsequently I think it’s entirely valuable. The first reality is that after a few semesters of teaching I realized that my students were rarely submitting end-of-semester work that met my expectations. I don’t admit this as any fault of my own teaching nor mean it as any disrespect towards my exceptional former students. Rather, I try to spend my time reading good writing and my students are journeymen writers – whatever they produce will inevitably fall short of what I like to read. Secondly, my former students have often considered submitted work to be in some way “finished,” and all us instructors know that writing is a process. No matter how much I told them that nothing is ever finished, they just persisted in thinking that A-level work is a finished product. So, as a result of these two imperatives, I thought I’d design an end of semester writing project in which it’s nearly impossible for any of my students to complete the work “perfectly”. The point of this assignment is the process, not the product.Lesson Plan Content: Textual AnnotationHistorical ContextPoetryClose ReadingGenreWriting ProcessVisual AnalysisAnalysisArrangementAudienceCitationInventionTopic SelectionStyleRhetorical AnlysisResearchRevision Type of Assignment: Homework AssignmentMajor Course ProjectSemester-long ProjectAssignment Length: Course UnitSemester-long ProjectTimeline for Optimal Use: Late in the SemesterPedagogical Goals:
The goals of this assignment are for students to assimilate previous research into a coherent argument. More specifically, over the course of this assignment, it is my hope that students will learn how to: synthecize seperate arguments, articulate their uncertainties, learn to restrain themselves from writing about the obvious, and learn that writing is always an ongoing project.Media Requirements: No Classroom Technology RequiredRequired Materials:
This assignment doesn't not include a research component, so it's important that students have already compiled 7 or so relevant sources into an annotated bibliography. (In my course, the annotated bibliography is created in a mid-semester project, so by the end of the semester my students can focus entirely on compiling that research into good writing.) Ideally, they've compiled a variety of sources, such as several opposing arguments, interviews, historical accounts, etc. Other than that, it's important that students bring to this assignment general excitement and genuine intellectual interest in their subject matter -- without such things they'll be bored and their writing will suffer.Course Type: Intermediate Writing CourseCourse Description:
The New Yorker is a highbrow magazine that’s been around since the 1920s. Published weekly, the magazine regularly offers various forms of cultural commentary, from fiction submitted by respected authors, to investigative journalism written by first-rate essayists, to cartoons composed with unfailingly witty captions. Each issue contains calendars highlighting upcoming social events across Manhattan. Quite often longer content in the magazine relates to current events outside of New York City, and increasingly outside of the United States. This course will examine all the various rhetorics that surround the magazine. We will consider each week’s cover and the various rhetorical strategies therein at play. We will read several famous articles from the magazine’s past, as well as current articles commenting on the world in which we live. Ultimately, we will consider the various ways that arguments in the magazine are made.
Regular reading of The New Yorker will guide us as we practice research and writing over the course of the semester. Vital to your success will be your ability to “interpret” another’s argument, which basically means coming up with a cogent, interesting account of what an argument means, what it’s trying to do to/for the reader, what technical choices the author’s made in order to try to achieve the effects he wants, and so on. In light of this, you’ll also be asked to compose your own arguments. You will pick a controversy towards the beginning of the semester and, in addition to our reading from the magazine, investigate this particular issue. The goal of this research will be for you to produce a New Yorker-style essay by the end of the semester. This is all designed to enhance your ability to analyze the various positions held in any public debate and to advocate your own position effectively and responsibly.Full Assignment Description:
In 5-7 pages, students are to assimilate previous research into a New Yorker-style essay. What "New Yorker-style" means is basically an essay that subtly combinds narrative and argument into a well written product intended for educated readers. Students' writing should be free of grammatical error, writen in correct MLA-style (unless Chicago-style is more relevant to their future academic work), and contain correct grammatical usage. Structurally, there is no one set way New Yorker essays are organized, so in this assignment students need to determine what kind of organization is most effective for the argument they are trying to make. Asking students to determine their arguments parameters is often challenging for them, but it's my hope that the hurdle gets them thinking about the writing process in productive ways. (In general, students' papers for this assignment tend to be organized as follows: introduction of topic or individual, argument about said topic or individual, background of said topic or individual, and finally some use of counter argument to confirm their own argument.) I encourage students to think of a New Yorker essay (or two) that they liked over the course of the semester, and to model their argument off of what's done in that essay.
Throughout, students are asked to always keep in mind the ways in which various arguments relate to one another. They shouldn't be thinking of arguments as islands of thought that operate within a void, but rather discrete bits of information that romantically mingle with one another. If students get confused or discouraged, they're encouraged to articulate their uncertanty, which if they learn this skill often puts them ahead of their peers in so far as their ability to write is concerned. Throughout the unit I stress that a solid part of the assignment's assessment is their level of intellectual engagement -- in other words, if they think of this assignment in terms of "what shold I write to get an A," they will probably struggle.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
In general, since I know that my course is leading up to this assignment, I always try to direct my class's discussion of New Yorker articles in the direction of noticing writing mechanics. (Therefore, if this is the type of assignment that you'd perhaps like to encorporate into your own course, be thinking about the ways in which daily class discussion might be relevant to the larger goal.)
More specifically, be prepared for students to have a lot of trouble making subtle arguments (like those found in the New Yorker). They've been told for years that thesis statements are always at the end of the first paragraph of a text, which of course rarely holds true outside stuff written for school. Induldge their attempts and give them the benefit of the doubt as far as effort is concerned. There'll be a range of student achievement, as usual, but with such a difficult assignment I think it's important to keep in mind that students here will learn by doing.Instructions For Students:
These are the instructions I give my students when presenting this assignment in class (I also include assessment criteria, see below):
"Your mission for Paper 3.1 is to take all of the research that you compiled in your Annotated Bibliography and turn it into a New Yorker-style essay. Your essay should be 5-7 pages in length and be in correct MLA format (doubled-spaced, page numbers, correct MLA citations, proper headings, etc.). Aside from these simple parameters, you’re free to go about this assignment in whichever way you determine to be most rhetorically appropriate given your subject matter. A profile of a popular sports athlete will look much different than a consideration of the social effects of our excessive cell phone use.
You’re encouraged to consider a New Yorker essay that you liked over the course of the semester, and use the structure of that essay as a model for your own writing. If you do this, what’ll probably happen is that you’ll start writing an essay structured similarly to the New Yorker piece, but then you’ll inevitably branch out a bit once your argument comes alive. You will probably even change your introduction to fit your conclusion and your essay will then be devoid of any resemblance to the New Yorker essay. (NOTE: DO NOT structure your essay based upon a New Yorker essay that considers your same topic – this will inevitably lead to a sort of plagiarism.)
Also, think about how often we went off on tangents during class discussion over the course of the semester. If I thought this was harmful to you as a writer, I would have worked to get us back “on topic.” Instead, most good writing often goes off on natural tangents, and these tangents are skillfully used to complete an argument and offer example. So as you think about and eventually write your essay, think freely and expansively about your content, just like we did in class."Evaluation Suggestions:
I like to assess students on:
- their ability to communicate ideas clearly and humanely,
- their ability to avoid the boring five-paragraph essay format that they learned in high school,
- their ability to master and objectively present the competing interests that circle their topic,
- their ability to embed their argument with subtlety and style.
1. What argument does this photo make? Evaluation Suggestions:
Rachel MaziqueImage Credit:
somewhere on Facebook... Unfortunately, this is from a Facebook upload. I didn't keep track of where on Facebook I found the photo, and I can't remember now. I'm also unable to find this image on the web again.Tags: Visual AnalysisVisual RhetoricRhetorical analysisWord ChoiceBrief Assignment Overview:
Students practice closely describing and analyzing an image for its argument and rhetorical impact.Lesson Plan Content: Close ReadingVisual AnalysisAnalysisRhetorical Anlysis Type of Assignment: Class DiscussionIn-class ExerciseAssignment Length: Partial Class PeriodSingle Class PeriodTimeline for Optimal Use: Useful AnytimePedagogical Goals:
1. To apply the concepts from Everything's An Argument and practice closely analyzing an image for its rhetorical features
2. To practice analyzing the framing of an image
3. To practice writing a detailed description of an image in preparation for a "Research Summary" paper on a piece of visual rhetoricMedia Requirements: Adaptable For Use Without Classroom TechnologyMedia Console/ProjectorTechnology-Based Classroom (computers for each student)Required Materials:
1. An image relevant to your course topic
2. Questions to prompt student analysisCourse Type: Advanced Writing CourseIntermediate Writing CourseIntroductory Writing CourseLiterary Studies CourseCourse Description:
Rhetoric and Writing (RHE 309K): Disability in Pop Culture
In this course, students focus on analyzing the relationship between pop culture and rhetoric. Their analyses examine public disagreements about various issues such as: How do popular (mis)representations of "the supercrip" convince us to make political decisions regarding accessibility, advocacy, education, and/or social policy? How can we evaluate arguments that not only depict (dis)abled people as "heroic" but also those that portray the converse: the "grotesque unfortunate" deserving of "pity" and "help"? How do these arguments address questions of basic human rights, needs, drives and "eugenics rhetoric"? Will children (and adults) make political decisions based on recurrent thematic representations of "disability" in pop culture, and, is that a good or bad influence?Beginning with a selection of readings that introduce disability theory, students conduct research to explore a controversy of their choice on (dis)ability in pop culture. Throughout, students engage with their controversy, analyzing editorials, print and video advertisements, and other contemporary portrayals of “the supercrip” or of (dis)ability in pop culture. The last unit focuses on multimodal arguments; students create a multimodal composition that takes a position on the representations of bodies and abilities.Full Assignment Description:
After reading selections from Chapters 1 and 15 in Everything's An Argument, and the section on visual rhetoric in Chapter 8 of Critical Situations (the University of Texas at Austin's Custom Edition) for homework, students discuss what they learned about how images can function as arguments, how the framing of an image can alter or shape our perception of it, and how to approach analyzing and describing such visual arguments.
Following this discussion, I explain that students will break into groups of 4 or 5 and practice summarizing and analyzing a visual argument in preparation for their second Research Summary, which must be a visual viewpoint source. I also explain that this in-class activity is preparation for our next unit on Visual Rhetoric in which they will analyze the visual rhetoric in a pop culture source of their choice. Because this unit focuses on the rhetoric of terminology, students are to pay special attention to the words that frame an image but to also analyze the relevant contexts and controversies that an image may evoke or speak to. Finally, I explain that students should spend a good amount of time summarizing the image with as much detail as possible--as if they were describing the image for a blind person. I encourage them to use the vocabulary from their reading assignment (i.e. foreground, background, etc).
Because I teach in a computer classroom and use the PBWorks platform, each group creates one wiki page in a public group activities folder and names it with all their group member's names. I explain that only one person can type on the page at a time, but if they save the page, another person may begin typing or "steal the lock" on a wiki page to begin typing.
However, this activity could be done in a room without technology if the image students are to analyze is projected onto a screen, or if each student has a paper copy of the screen. Students could then hand-write their summaries and analyses. With the benefit of a computer classroom, I'm able to read student writing once they save the page. It is also available for all students to see on the projector/read along on their own computer screen.Suggestions for Instructor Preparation:
Instructors may decide to use any image--whether seemingly benign or provocative. The image on this page could be used in any class, or you may decide to choose an image relevant to your course topic and class discussions so that students are better able to analyze the social, political, and historical contexts. I had notes prepared to flesh out any gaps in the students analysis as I did not presume knowledge on cochlear implant surgeries, Deaf Studies, or Deaf culture and peoples. I also, however, did not want one group to be full of students who knew about Deaf people, so I asked in advance. In one class, I had four students who knew about Deaf people, so I had one person in each group. In another class, only one student professed knowledge, so I let students determine their groups on their own.Instructions For Students:
Break up into groups of 4 or 5 people. Each group may have only one person knowledgeable about Deaf people/Deaf culture. You do not have to have a person who feels knowledgeable of this group to conduct this analysis.
1. What argument does this photo make?
2. How would you summarize (i.e. describe) this photo (without editorializing)?
3. Analyze the pathos, ethos, and logos of this photo. What rhetorical effect does the visual argument have?
4. Analyze the word choice in the title of the image. How does the title frame the visual argument?
5. What questions does this visual argument raise about the political, social, and/or historical contexts surrounding Deaf bodies? Or, if you have some knowledge of these contexts, where does it fit with regards to these contexts? What conversations might the image be speaking for or against?
6. Who are the stakeholders? Which audiences/stakeholders would be persuaded by this viewpoint? Which audiences/stakeholders might disagree with this viewpoint/choice of images and words? Why?
Since this activity is practice for future writing assignments, I give feedback on each group's summary and analysis as we read and discuss each group's work as a class. This way, the entire class has the benefit of knowing how to improve their summaries and analysis by listening to what each group did well and what each group could have improved upon.
Students also have this document as a piece of evidence of their collaborative work and can write an observation on the activity to use in their Learning Record portfolio at the midterm when they analyze their individual development along the course strands of argumentation and/or writing process and the dimensions of knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, prior and emergence experience, and/or reflection .Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.:
I'm always impressed at students ability to analyze the image even without professing any knowledge of the historical, social, and political contexts surrounding Deaf people. Students also enjoy the shift from individual/whole class work and having the opportunity to do group work.Additional Resources:
Critical Situations: A Rhetoric for Writing in Communities with Additional Material (Custom Edition for the University of Texas at Austin), Sharon Crowley and Michael Stancliff
Everything's An Argument by Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz