Revolution Lullabye

December 5, 2006

Common Course Designs for Public Writing and the Profession of Writing

Filed under: Uncategorized — by revolutionlullabye @ 4:50 am

Liu, Yameng. “Contrastive Rhetoric/Comparative Rhetoric.” 71-75.

Contrastive rhetoric = “compare rhetorical patterns, norms, and values across linguistic and cultural boundaries” (71). This is a worthy pursuit for undergraduate majors because, as members of a rapidly globalizing world, they need to be able to work in and critically think about such a world.

How do you design such a course – represent various cultural rhetorics? How can “someone situated and inscribed in one cultural context adequately understand and characterize complex practices in another culture or in a different system of signification”? (72) Is rhetoric culturally neutral – can you form a “‘general theory’ of rhetoric that will apply in all societies”? (72)

This type of course will need to discuss international political, economic, and ethical issues. Who has power? What does the dominant rhetoric of a culture say about those in power?

One possible way to do this cultural rhetorical analysis is to focus on American society – the subsets of cultures contained in the nation (73).

“One of the insights that the case provides is that we can only identify, characterize, or define th rhetoric of any discourse (e.g., the academic discourse) comparatively, that is, through an often implicit comparison or contrast with its Other (e.g., nonacademic or “public” discourse) (74).

Why such a course would be helpful to students majoring in writing: “How the relentless process of globalization and the rise of English as the virtual world language have impacted the way people from different countries and cultures communicate with one another, and how this new situation outhgt ot change hte disciplinary practices of contrastive rhetoric, promises to become among the topics of the greatest interest to comparative rhetoricians” (75).

Bean, John C. “Seeking the Good: A Course in Advanced Argument.” 76-80.

This course grows out a dialectic Bean sees between Kenneth Bruffee’s Short Course in Writing and Richard Braddock’s Little Casebook in the Rhetoric of Writing (76). Bruffee (Strand 1) emphasizes heuristics that help students build strong claims and supports for those claims, and Braddock (Strand 2) complicates those arguments by asking students to play with their words, voice, and the visual layout of the text in order to create different styles and rhetorical effects. Bean also asks students to delay giving their arguments a pat closure by writing more expressively than persuasively, allowing them to ask questions before staking a claim (Strand 3). Bean’s assignments try to balance the three strands of argumentative theory.

Enos, Richard Leo. “The History of Rhetoric.” 81-86.

Enos’ course is the history of rhetoric, which he asserts as improtant becuase it “introduces writing students to the ways that meaning is made and shared with others. The importance of sharing meaning is endemic to every effort of communication – oral, written, electronic – so much so that each culture has sought to explain and refine the process of expressing thoughts and sentiments” (81). Rhetoric gives students both a sense of history and analytical skills.

Enos claims that this course enhances the education of undergraduate writing majors: 1. “the history of rhetoric enables students to understand how langauge operates in social interaction” (81) 2. it “reveals the relationship among three components of English departments: literature, creative writing, and rhetoric (81) 3.  it shows students that “historiography is inherently an argumentative process and therefore a rhetorical act” (82) 4. it allows students to see “the history of rhetoric as a problem-solving process that sharpens critical-thinking skills” (82) and 5. it “gives students the opportunity to practice their own abilities in rhetoric through exercises that require them not only to analyze historical problems but also to use the heuristics of rhetoric to express analyses in clear, lucid prose” (82).

Rhetoric picks up what is meaningful and important and presents that to an audience – even in history (82).

Students must ask who belongs in a history of rhetoric – what is the canon?  (84)

I like the scope of this course – how it integrates history to show students the rich tradition of rhetoric as existing before English was even a langauge.

These three core course designs are for preparing students for the profession of writing.

Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “More Than a Matter of Form: Genre and Writing.”

Yancey’s course explores the interrelatedness between rhetorical situation and genre, which “provide structure and conventions for a writer” and “provide a langauge with which we can talk about the texts we write and about the authors we compose in and through those texts” (87).

Her task to explain WWII to a variety of audiences is so to-the-point, so important. I think I’ll use it in classes to explain how audience effects how and what you choose to write.

Yancey quotes David Jolliffe: “Here’s what I see happening in too many writing courses: We say we want students to write essays, but we really expect them to write themes. Sometimes we want students to write editorial columns or reviews, but we still call them essays, and then we penalize students because they write themes and not editorial columns or reviews. And only rarely do we show students actual models of the kinds of papers we want them to write” (91). It is crucial that we teach students the rhetorical possibilities of different genres.

Yancey offers up writing as an art: “the art of writing.” What does this do to the writing major? What is it about? (93).

Howard, Rebecca Moore. “Style, Race, Culture, Context.” 94-105.

What would a course that had a contextualist perspective on style look like? Howard lists the functions of style: a means of invention, a focus for analysis, a persuasion technique, a way to sense the writer’s relationship to his or her audience, a vehicle to form authorial identity, and an index to cultural codes (95). 

“A contemporary pedagogy of style should be governed not just by a nostalgic retrieval of classical principles but also by an analysis of the cultural work accomplished by style and by its cultural valorization. Style is not just a means to clarity. And whether it can possibly makr an autonomous, inspired author is a hotly contested issue among theorists of authorship. What style can do, though, is provide a rich, close reading of texts – an approach that has the eloquent potential to bring writing and literature together; it can provide a means whereby writers can craft not just their textual personas but their own sense of personal identity; and it can establish a field on which writers negotiate with a target audience and discourse community” (98).

Students first analyze the style of others – and of things beyond texts – and then, later, analyze their own.

Uses Kolln’s Rhetorical Grammar.

Trimbur, John. “Theory of Visual Design.” 106-113.

Trimbur’s course is developed under the belief that “visual representation does indeed belong in the writing curriculum” because, if the advanced undergraduate writing curriculum is to be based in rhetoric, then using visuals is an authentic part of the available means of persuasion (106). He reviews the two main ways visual rhetoric is used in writing instruction today: to give visual communication assignments to upper-division, vocationally (business or technical) driven courses or to use visual elements as writing topics in first-year and introductory courses (107). These two approaches implicitly argue that visual communication is not needed by those who are not going into vocational fields and that visual elements are merely means to a written end, not an end in themselves. Trimbur’s course integrates criticism and production and is organized around three issues: “how visual design is used for purpose of identification (signs, trademarks, icons, logos, etc.), display of information, and persuasion” (111).

Texts: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (Agee and Evans), Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, Graphic Design: A Concise History, Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Truth: FSA Photography Reconsidered, How the Other Half Lives, American Exodus, You Have Seen Their Faces.

The challenge for these advanced courses: “The urgency, here, I think, is to make these advanced writing courses critical and theoretically reflexive” (113).

Part III of Coming of Age: Elective Courses in the Advanced Undergraduate Writing Curriculum. 117-134.


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