Texts: Bryan A. Garner, The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style
Handouts: Packet to be made up by class (see below)
What? No readings? No focal issues? No, our subject is writing and how it manages to (or fails to) persuade us. We will begin with a little theory about kinds of rhetorical aims, understanding rhetorical as "attempting to increase the reader's adherence to your point of view on a matter." The assignments in English 281 are designed to give you practice writing papers with four different rhetorical aims. That is, you can choose any topic for the papers, but the paper should be of the type assigned. These terms and concepts will probably be somewhat unfamiliar to you—feel free to keep asking questions until you get an understanding of the assignment you can work with. We will refer to these papers as arguments. They should be of moderate length (roughly five pages typewritten). We will devote some class time to advanced points of mechanics and punctuation and the analysis of style as it functions rhetorically. We will also pay some attention to the function of images in rhetorical writing.
Note that all but the last of the the papers assigned will not be aimed at an academic audience but at the general reader.
By Wednesday July 2nd you should bring to class one good xeroxed copy of a passage of prose argument of moderate length which you consider powerful and effective. These we will collect into an anthology (packet). If you miss the Wednesday deadline or change your mind later, you will have to bear the cost of providing everyone with a copy of your passage. Later on in the course, each of you will present your passage to the class, discussing how it works and why you chose it. Your final paper will be a written analysis of the passage, based on your class report and incorporating the responses of your other classmates. Choose this passage with care: you will have to live with it, study it, and write about it for the quarter, and you are asking everyone in the class to read and think about it also. The more originality in choice of passage, the better. Avoid the mass circulation news magazines. N.B.—part of your final paper will be to compare your passage to one other one in the packet. The final portfolio of your writing should contain a final discussion of what you think is your best paper (and why).
We will work through most of Garner's Usage book over the quarter by spending 10 minutes each day, usually first thing, discussing points of usage. We will cover the points one letter per session, so that this Wednesday we will look at the points beginning with A, B on Monday and so on. We will run out of days that way, so we will double up on a few days. Each of you should spend ten minutes before class with Garner and pick out two points for discussion: one "I didn't know that" and one "not sure I understand/agree with that".
June 23: Orientation; first (Informative) paper assigned (Consciousness)
June 25: Writing group; draft of first paper due
June 30: TURN IN: First (informative argument) paper; Reflective-Exploratory argument assigned. (Dillard piece)
July 2: WORKSHOP TURN IN: passage for anthology;
July 7:Writing groups; draft of second paper due
July 9: TURN IN: Second (reflective/exploratory) paper; Deliberative argument assigned; (Gladwell, "Running from Ritalin")Presentation guidelines
July 14: Begin in-class reports
July 16: Writing groups; draft of third paper due
July 21: TURN IN: Third (deliberative) paper; Performative argument assigned; in-class reports
July 23: In-class reports: Wei-Han and Jonathan Schweidhelm
July 28: Writing groups: 4th (performative) paper draft due
July 30: In-class reports: brett and Yu-Ru
Aug 4: TURN IN: Fourth (performative) paper; in-class reports: Taylor and Jack; stylistic Imitation and Analysis assigned
Aug 6: Workshop--doing a rhetorical and stylistic analysis
Aug 11: In-class reports:Jacob and Terence
Aug 13: In-class reports:Cameron and Jonathan McKay
Aug 18: Writing groups; draft of final paper due
Aug 20: TURN IN: Portfolio of best work to my office
From Walter Beale, A Pragmatic Theory of Discourse)
Instrumental--The kind of discourse whose primary aim is the governance, guidance, control, or execution of human activities. It includes such specific products as contracts, constitutions, laws, technical reports, and manuals of operation.
Scientific--The kind of discourse whose primary aim is the discovery, construction, and organization of knowledge, particularly in those areas or subareas in which facts, classifications, and general laws can be verified by rational and empirical procedures, as opposed to the values and loyalties of communities. (Belief in rational investigation is a value, of course, but it is not a method of verification.) This category includes such specific genres as reports of historical, statistical, field or laboratory investigations, disputations about the validity or significance of such findings; theoretical treatises which posit general laws and principles governing events and phenomena; and philosophical treatises on the nature of reasoning and on the adequacy of the methods and principles of the various scientific disciplines.
Poetic--The kind of discourse whose primary aim is the construction of an object of enjoyment and reflection, using the materials and resources of language. Such objects usually involve forms of language and reference in a state of play, so that literal truth or probability is subordinated to a set of internal consistencies. Poems, stories, and novels are prominent modern instances.
Rhetorical—The kind of discourse whose primary aim is to influence the understanding and conduct of human affairs. It operates typically in matters of action that involve the well-being and destiny of communities (and of individuals within them); and in matters of value and understanding which involve the communal or competing values of communities. Rhetorical writing includes a broad range of types, from deliberative essays to popular information, to occasional and reflective pieces, to commercial promotions, to the public resolutions and declarations of competing groups within an community.
Deliberative--the kind of rhetoric whose purpose is to support opinions or theses about specific problems of policy, value, or understanding in human communities.
Informative--the kind of rhetoric whose purpose is to form and inform public opinion through the non-technical (and even entertaining) presentation of subject matter. It may incorporate a number of secondary or covert motives, such as promoting its subject or a certain attitude toward its subject.
Performative--the kind of rhetoric, traditionally known as epideictic, whose purpose is perform various acts of declaration, celebration, or commemoration in a public arena, calling into play and reinforcing the values of a particular community.
Reflective/Exploratory--the kind of rhetoric, the purpose of which is to share, explore, and reflect upon human experiences, usually in a highly individualistic and entertaining way. It uses various presentational forms, sometimes borrowed from literary art, to relate personal experiences and reflections to general questions of understanding and value.
George L. Dillon A404 Padelford
email@example.com Off. Hrs. M/W 12:30-1:30 and by appt