Yeah, Write.

"That's not writing; that's just typing." –Truman Capote



New Year, New Blog.

I’ve been blogging for a handful of years now, and the time has come to shake things up. I just moved my blog from blogger to wordpress, re-routed to my own domain, and am now trying to learn the ropes of this new and unfamiliar platform. My goal is to streamline our online experience so you don’t have thirty-seven places to visit. (How much would you hate it if you had to visit my blog, my website, our moodle page, something on that ebackpack place, and other such digital rooms? I know. I really want to make this intuitive and simple.)

Now, having said that, we’re gonna have to be flexible. We have moodle. That’s a thing that doesn’t seem to be going away. I don’t like it. I keep hearing that students don’t like it. Still, though, it persists. We may use it (if I can’t get this blog to function as a document library then we will have to) but it won’t be an all-the-time thing. I will use this blog to communicate your weekly blog assignments and to expose you to a host of other cool things. Some academic. Some not at all academic. I mentioned a document library: part of the reason I made the switch is that I can embed documents here and I cannot (at least not as easily) do that over on blogger. So, here’s hoping. 

Time to update all the things. 

"WHYcan’tyoujustdoitFORme?" and Other Such Nonsense.

After reading this (and everything else I write for and to you) you might feel like that guy in the cartoon, and you might think that I’m angry or mean or cranky or something or all of the above. About some things, I am irritated, but in general, I’m not angry; rather, I am frustrated by some of your behavior and concerned about your understanding and performance. 

Your syllabus is clear when it comes to expectations and how much responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders and about what it means to be proactive about your own learning. Since that precedent was set, I don’t know why you think I will virtually write your paper for you by answering your questions about every sentence you write. 

First of all, I understand that you are overwhelmed because the rhetorical analysis essay accounts for a significant portion of your grade, and you are worried that you are not doing it right and that you will get a “bad grade” on it.  I get that, but I am frustrated that you are looking for any and every opportunity to blame someone or something else for the fact that you’re paper isn’t perfect and polished and finished yet. If you waited until this week to ask me questions about the text you are studying when that should have happened a few weeks ago, I hope you learned something from my potentially huffy reaction. I gave you three weeks because I knew it would take three weeks. I told you that. I warned you to start early because…what? Do you remember? What does it say?  

The fact that some of you are asking me what the author’s argument is, or if something is pathos, or if you need a title, or how to do things MLA, or if something is right, or how you should organize your paper, or if you should say this or say that tells me:

  • You are doubting everything we have done.
  • You are doubting everything you have learned (and thus, have not learned it well).
  • You are not confident in your writing.
  • You have never been held to an expectation of quality in your writing before.
  • You do not trust my judgment.
  • You think I don’t know what the writing process is like and how hard it can be.
  • You think I don’t care about you and that I’m trying to ruin your life.
  • You are desperate and whiny.
  • You want me to tell you exactly what to do, which stifles all of the creativity or actual “writing” in this assignment, which defeats the entire purpose.
  • You want me to do your work for you.
  • And most of all, that the only thing you care about is your grade, rather than your growth, which happens to be the thing that I care most about.

Don’t get all offended by this; you know that I call it like I see it and that I don’t sugarcoat. Also, I’m not saying that all of you are acting this way. Plenty of you did start early and have been working hard and have asked smart questions throughout the process, but many of you are acting this way and whether everything on that list applies or not, you are coming across this way, and, to be brutally honest, acting helpless and whiny and complaining about me behind my back to each other and to other teachers (we do talk to each other, you know) is insulting and unbecoming of someone who is nearly an adult and insists on being treated as an adult and who earlier said that he or she took this class because it offers a challenge—an opportunity for growth. Here’s your challenge. Here’s your opportunity for growth.  Please take it and learn and grow from this. What have you learned already?

When, at the beginning of the semester, I told you that not all of you would get As or even Bs. I meant that. It wasn’t a scare tactic and it’s not some unfair system designed to make you fail; it is the simple truth. It’s kind of like the economic principle of scarcity. It’s not that I withhold grades, that’s preposterous and unethical, it’s that not everybody will demonstrate excellence at everything and that’s what an A means: excellence. An A means your analysis was thorough and accurate and insightful and that you wrote with clarity, precision, finesse, and voice. It means you exhibited mastery and excellence of skill. Earning a B means that you met the requirements effectively and wrote very well. Earning a C means that you got the job done; you did what you were asked to do; you met the criteria. Less than that means that you didn’t meet the requirements. 

Rhetorical analysis: you know what this is. You have been in class for almost nine weeks. You know what good writing is. You have handout after handout and you have the assignment sheet and you have plenty of resources. I really do think what you’re missing is confidence, creativity, innovation. You don’t know how to do something without a clear, step-by-step, do-this-then-do-that guide that holds your hand and coos at you. You need to be self-starters. You need to create something of value from a basic directive. You keep trying to conform to my writing “rules” when I really don’t have any rules. You need to write well. You need to be clear. You need to be effective. Those aren’t rules so much as they are general features of good writing. You want rules and I won’t give them to you. This, I think, bugs you. You want me to tell you which paragraph goes where and what you should say in your intro. You want an outline. You want an example. You want a template for which you can fill in the blank. Wouldn’t that be easy? But I’m not going to do that. You wouldn’t learn anything if I did that. 

I didn’t become a writer by asking people to tell me exactly what to do. I became a writer by taking risks, by—the dreaded cliché–thinking outside the box, by trying and re-reading, and failing, by failing a lot, by learning how to edit my own work. I learned to scrap everything I’d written and start over at the 11th hour if that what it would take. This is what I’m trying to teach you. You might not get that yet. You will.

Practical matters: Barring epic failure, this paper is ineligible for revision for a variety of reasons: time constrains being chief among them. These typically take around three weeks to grade and that involves me sacrificing evenings and full weekends to grade them. I put in as much if not more work than you do for these papers. Why? Because this is valuable for you—or, at least it is designed to be—and because I care that you learn, and improve your writing in every way imaginable.  Rhetorical analysis is the core skill of this course and the AP exam. It’s worth the time and effort.

Because it’s worth the time and effort, I practically gave you the whole week to work in class. You’re welcome.  I didn’t give you any homework this week either. Again, you’re welcome. During Power Writing, you didn’t  have any homework either. That was so you could focus on this paper. Over MEA you only had this essay and a paltry little open blog post. That was so you could focus on this paper.

More, there was another group project scheduled for next week. This is cancelled. One more time, you’re welcome.

Next week, you have a vocab quiz on Monday and you will have some homework assignments, but will mostly use the evenings to prepare for your AP Term 1 exam, which is next Friday. There is a multiple-choice component and a writing component; more on this tomorrow and then even more next week. Do not ask me about it now.  Start to prepare this weekend by organizing and reviewing your notes. Collect your materials from your portfolio and review them.

FOLLOWING ARE SOME TIPS REGARDING YOUR FINAL WORK HOURS FOR THE RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY. (But guess, what? I’ve said them before. Lots of times. Some of you have already done these things.)

TIP #1: Re-read your assignment sheet.
Remember that yellow assignment sheet you tucked in your folder the day after I introduced this essay. Look at it. Again. That assignment sheet is the Bible for the essay, and anything you need to know is there. You see that part where it says: if your essay is boring, I will fail you—don’t forget about the information I taught you about voice and concrete details? I mean that. A huge number of you didn’t have a real introduction when we conferenced. That is boring. You are writers, and real writers are not boring. (Except for Nathaniel Hawthorne, he’s pretty boring sometimes. And Herman Melville, he’s boring all the time.)

TIP #2: You know how you’re telling me how an author is persuasive and effective because of decisions he makes as a writer? THAT WORKS ON YOUR END, TOO.
Just like your author makes conscious decisions about word choice and sentence length and structure of his essay to make a point, YOU will make conscious decisions about word choice and sentence length and structure to make your point. It’s kind of a mind-screw to think about it this way, but they are writers and you are writers. You are not a student just writing an essay for class. You are a writer completing an analysis and explaining your purposes in doing so.

TIP #3: Your audience is not just me, or your friend, or people in this class.
If it were me writing this paper (which it has been in the past), I would pretend that what I was writing now was something that would appear in the New York Times as a response to the piece you’re reading. (Many of you are reading essays/articles from NYT, so this makes sense.) Pretend you’re writing an editorial. Pretend this is going to reach a large audience and that you must keep them entertained and interested to stay on your page. Pretend you are trying to establish your voice and role in this position. You are the authority here. Or, at least you are pretending to be.

TIP#4: The small stuff matters.
That’s why I gave you the writing tools. It especially matters in establishing clarity, but it also matters in establishing voice.  Any kind of “tool” or writing advice you come across should be considered and tried. Ultimately, though, you are the author and it is your voice that carries the work you’re doing. Find that voice.

TIP #5: Re-read your essay and approach it again as a first time reader.
This is difficult to do since you’ve read it so many times, but you must go back with fresh eyes. When you had fresh eyes, the piece made the most impact on you. Think about why you chose this piece over the others. Something about it grabbed you or shook you. The author is writing to you. Go back to the CRJ you completed for your piece. What were your reactions at certain parts? Those reactions happened for a reason. When you agreed with him, something changed in the piece. Was it an alarming statistic? Was it because he threw a bunch of questions at you at once to create an overwhelming feeling? That virgin-you-to-the-piece is what will help you understand what the writer was trying to do. If you look back to something that shocked you and it’s not obvious, start picking apart the text: start looking for the subtleties of the essay. Get into the reader’s head. Anticipate how they (you) react. The author knows his reader–as he was writing, what did HE anticipate the reader would do with a particular idea, statistic, image, etc.?

TIP #6. Get over ethos, pathos, and logos already.
Sigh. I know we discussed this early on, but as I’ve said multiple times, do not organize your essay solely via the classical appeals. These now accompany everything else you have to say. In fact, you could write this essay without the words ethos pathos or logos and still be successful. You don’t have to, but you could. Think instead about all of those rhetorical devices and ideas I we’ve talked about. Remember that gold sheet? If you do use the appeals, explain how they work, how they’re created, what effect they have and why an author might use them.

Tip #7. How is the author persuasiveCannot be answered by: “because he uses ethos, pathos, or logos.”  You must explain HOW ethos, pathos, and logos is established, specifically, and what is does.

  • It’s not “just because” he uses an image. What about the image? What does the image do to the reader, force him or her to think, force him or her to compare or connect the image to? (And it’s not “just because” of the diction (word choice) of the image. What about what particular word choice? Why did the writer chose this word and not another to force a response in his audience?
  • It’s not “just because” of short or long sentences or change in syntax. How do those short or long sentences or changes in syntax cause the reader to react?
  • It’s not “just because” of specific statistics. What about those statistics are especially compelling?
  • It’s not just because he is logical or uses a particular type of reasoning. How does that structure/reasoning force the reader to look at the essay in a different way?
When you answer the above, you are analyzing. If you are not answering questions in that way, then you are not analyzing. Of course, you must explain what the author does, but more of it should be spent analyzing how and why that decision is effective (or not). You’ve heard me say this before. Like, 10,000 times. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said it in this post alone.

Quit whining and doubting yourself and get to work. Polish, proofread, look at the resources I’ve put out there for you. Look for other resources. The College Board website for AP Language and Composition might be a good place to go too (in case you’ve never been there) and for Pete’s sake, quit harassing your other teachers to edit your paper for you; that’s not their job.

"Mrs. Cardona, You’re Evil"

Yep. I know.

Get over it.

Look. If you haven’t figured it out already, I think you’re lazy and whiny and missing the point of everything we’re doing. That was exaggerated, by the way, but not by too much. The work we did on 2 Million Minutes, “For Once Blame the Students” and “I Just Wanna Be Average” was scheduled intentionally for this point in the semester when you start to lose your beginning-of-the-year mojo. This little intervention is to remind you that an AP class is essentially a college course and because you’re not yet collegians, it will be hard for you. That’s how it’s supposed to go. You won’t just be showered with A’s and candy and smiley faces and glitter; you won’t be reminded of everything that you’re juggling for the class. I recognize that you are all busy and overextended, that’s kind of the way of the modern world, I’m busy and overextended too, but that doesn’t get to excuse you from your responsibilities for this class, just like that doesn’t excuse me from my responsibilities. 

Some of you have demonstrated a consistently strong work ethic and an understanding of the complexities of rhetoric. Some of you are still struggling with what rhetoric is and what it means and how to talk about it or write about it. That’s fine, but it is 100% up to you to make use of the resources I have provided for you since the first day you walked into class. Still some of you are lost and you aren’t (from what I can tell) doing anything productive about it.  If you’re in that camp, you have a long road back to glory. That is, if you care enough to trudge long enough through the muck to get there.

I will continue to push you, question you, and challenge you, and offer guidance and support, but unless you reach out for it (and reaching out for support is NOT EVEN KIND OF the same thing as asking me what to do or how to do something that I’ve already explained.) you will remain in the dark. Asking for support is more like flopping down in a desk opposite mine and admitting that you’re lost. Admitting that you’ve been struggling and X just still isn’t making sense! And then I will ask what other resources you have exhausted and you will list them all! And then we will chat about where you’re struggling. Don’t come to me expecting me to spoon feed you the answer. Spoon feeding is gross. It’s for two-year-olds and despite your penchant for tantrums, you’re not two-year-olds. Your rhetorical analysis annotations were due today (uh, sorry block 2, I forgot about you in all the hub-bub of getting started on your task. I’ll look at yours tomorrow. And block 1, don’t complain about this. I don’t want to hear it.) and some of you did very little, if anything. I don’t need to check in with you to see that you’ve annotated your text, but I thought it might be a good idea to do so, since otherwise you might not do it, and the effects would be devastating if you did not annotate. Similarly, I don’t need to ask to see an outline…but I might. I also don’t need to require you to have a rough draft, but I am, because otherwise…(fill in the blank). Effects. Devastating. Remember how you had to revise the crap out of your literacy narrative and still maybe didn’t get an A like you had hoped? The same will be true, like times 100, for this paper. It must be oozing with flawless sophistication to earn an A.

You were given a syllabus that provided you with quite a bit of information and there’s no way you retained it all after looking over it once. I get that, but whenever you have a question about something, the logical solution would be to consult the syllabus and then the website and blog and see if I already answered that question. Sure, it would be easier to just ask me. But then I become a monster. Steam pours out my ears and my eyes twitch and become bulbous and my hands contort into claw-fists and my neck bulges and becomes all veiny, and I salivate poison.  Nobody wants that.

So, now that you’re terrified of setting off my inner monster consider this: what is an appropriate and respectful way to approach someone in a position of authority if you have a question or a concern? I promise it’s not this: “Um….so…uhh…. In Skyward…YOU did this…and uh I KNOW I did….” or something equally inane and disrespectful. Skyward doesn’t provide a whole lot in the was of comments and explanations — in fact, while we’re at it, Skyward doesn’t speak so it can’t “says” anything, so if something doesn’t look right to you, by all means ask about it, but please do so respectfully. I’m not a machine and sometimes my fingers hit the wrong keys or an assignment got lost in it’s fellow assignments in the basket. We’ll correct it, no problem, just be respectful about it, that’s all.

Yes, I know I’m all sassy and sarcastic and whatnot. You’ve known this from the first five seconds of class. I hope you also know that I love teaching this class and I honestly do enjoy my students (hey, that’s you!) and for as much work as you do for me, I do lots of it too. I told you at the beginning that I’ll never ask you to do something that doesn’t serve a purpose. I mean that. Everything I ask you to do is for your benefit in the realm of rhetorical analytical, reading, and writing skills.

On that note, here’s an email from a U of M professor on student preparedness:

Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 8:27 AM
To: —————–
Subject: Re: High School/College Vertical Alignment

Dear ——–

I can offer you my personal feedback from teaching both freshman seminars and upper division courses.  Most students are horribly prepared in not only writing but close reading of texts.  They don’t know basic grammar, don’t know paragraph and paper organization, and haven’t written much of anything in high school beyond 3-page book reports and reflection pieces.

When I poll freshmen, I learn that the average high school English class has 30-40 students, that throughout elementary and secondary school they never received formal instruction in grammar and composition, and that, on average, only one or two out of 18 actually wrote a research paper of 10 pages or more.

I know that over the past three decades American K-12 has suffered in terms of financing and has plunged from 1st to about 28th in the world, so its failures are owing to structural conditions.  But having said that, I also have to say that K-12 along with the media, political rhetoric, and government policy have dumbed down the American people.

Perhaps you, in your own arena, can provide some small remedies.


Ellen Messer-Davidow
Professor and Chair
Department of English
University of Minnesota

I take what she says very, very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I used two “verys” — something you should never do because very is a stupid intensifying adverb that is never really necessary. I could say that I take what she says seriously. That should be sufficient, but I want you so know just how serious I am: very, very.

Regardless of what you are writing, for whom you are writing it, and to what purpose, you should write with care and precision. That is what good writers do and that is how they got better in the first place. Your BLA stuff, your CRJs, YOUR BLOG POSTS, and everything else from your chemistry labs to your APUSH stuff should all be written with care. That. Is. How. You. Will. Get. Better. Period.

Do you need an emoticon to know that I still like you even though you frustrate me and make me mad and sad and worried about the future of the world sometimes?

Ok, here: 🙂

Rhetoric SOS

This first one I have linked to a bunch. BYU did a great job with their rhetoric pages. 

This second one is the Writing Center from Texas A & M and they offer some good advice for writing in general and specifically for writing a rhetorical analysis, though what they offer could easily fall into the 5 paragraph essay precipice if you aren’t careful to sidestep it.

These two links are from the same university and offer a great example of rhetorical analysis and some tips for conducting a rhetorical analysis as well as helpful writing tips in general. The one thing I will say though, is that the example essay commits a few egregious style errors. I gagged at least three times. Still though, the analysis is good.

And then there’s this one that even cites Bitzer!

More (pilfered) food for thought:

A complete rhetorical analysis requires the researcher to move beyond identifying and labeling in that creating an inventory of the parts of a text represents only the starting point of the analyst’s work.

From the earliest examples of rhetorical analysis to the present, this analytical work has involved the analyst in interpreting the meaning of these textual components–both in isolation and in combination–for the person (or people) experiencing the text. This highly interpretive aspect of rhetorical analysis requires the analyst to address the effects of the different identified textual elements on the perception of the person experiencing the text.

So, for example, the analyst might say that the presence of feature x will condition the reception of the text in a particular way. Most texts, of course, include multiple features, so this analytical work involves addressing the cumulative effects of the selected combination of features in the text.”

(Mark Zachary, “Rhetorical Analysis.” The Handbook of Business Discourse, ed. by Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2009)

Starbucks not just as an institution or as a set of verbal discourses or even advertising but as a material and physical site is deeply rhetorical. . . . Starbucks weaves us directly into the cultural conditions of which it is constitutive. The color of the logo, the performative practices of ordering, making and drinking the coffee, the conversations around the tables, and the whole host of other materialities and performances of/in Starbucks are at once the rhetorical claims and the enactment of the rhetorical action urged. In short, Starbucks draws together the tripartite relationships among place, body and subjectivity. As a material/rhetorical place, Starbucks addresses and is the very site of a comforting and discomforting negotiation of these relationships.

(Greg Dickinson, “Joe’s Rhetoric: Finding Authenticity at Starbucks.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Autumn 2002)

These are resources for you. Explanations. Go-to guides. Use them. Use them, I say!


Here’s the Video Clip that is linked to in the PSAT make up document on my website for you all. I hear it may not be working. Hopefully this will.

Everyone Hates Comic Sans

Font is not just something AP Comp Teachers get to be snobbish about, it’s actually something lots of real people think about. And guess what? They all hate comic sans too. Maybe we’re all just font snobs and that’s okay. In fact, you should be too! (bandwagon fallacy)

To continue your indoctrination, please watch THIS, read THIS and maybe also THIS.

If you feel so inclined, I would suggest taking up the Comic Sans game as illustrated below. In fact, I might just base your entire grade on your participation. (argumentum ad baculum or “appeal to force” also just plain old manipulation)


There’s objectionable material in the cartoon and I just noticed it now. At 4:30pm. Sorry if you were offended. Er, this is a college course, get over it! Except that I feel bad…

So I censored it.

Because if you don’t play the game and — oh the horror! —  use Comic Sans then this will happen:
(And you thought the font assignment/discussion was silly! Ha!)
Die Comic Sans, die.

Oh, Hello There, Monday.

I don’t know about you, but Mondays always seem to sneak up and tap me on the shoulder and then when I turn around, they’ve gone the other way and are standing there, grinning menacingly like a bully waiting to steal my lunch money and shove my head in a toilet. That’s what Mondays are like.

You may or may not have this same attitude about Mondays, but nobody seems to be firing on all cylinders the first day of the work/school week, so I’m going to offer a rundown of things you need to know that I may or may not have said during class, or things that–even if I said them–you may or may not have heard, and that you still may or may not see, BECAUSE YOU STILL AREN’T READING MY BLOG! Okay, so the shouting font is probably unnecessary since the students who will actually see it are, in fact, blog-reading students and not the ones who need the memo. But I digress…

Read “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift for tomorrow. It’s in your 50 Essays book. Do a nice fat CRJ for it now that you know what CRJs should and should not include and how you should do them. The cycle of random collections has begun. Be warned. Be prepared. Always.

You’ve successfully signed up for the following for your rhetorical analysis paper:

“The Importance of Being Hated” (Klosterman)
Ruth, Julia, Emily, Shreya, Heather
Kaitlin, Emily
“Super People” (Atlas)
Caroline C, Sarah, Alicia, Taylor, Jessica
Becky, Nadeen, Matt, Teresa, Bridget
“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Carr)
Abram, Jenny C, Max, Adam
Megan, Fatima, Jason, Jeneen, Ashna
“Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and …Dinosaurs” (Gould)
Ryan, Ashton, Eric

Dwight, Ryan, Summer, Quinn
“Unsavory Culinary Elitism” (Bruni)
Jenny L, Megan, Meredith

Jack, Alyssa, Jenna
“Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Veggies” (Bittman) 
Andrew, Kara
Lauren, Ambriana
“Your Outboard Brain Knows All” (Thompson)
Alison, Sereen
“Our Vanishing Night” (Klinkenborg)
“Curbing Nature’s Paparazzi” (McKlibben)
Caroline A*
“Games” (Johnson)
“Ugly Phrase Conceals Ugly Truth” (Rushdie)
“Authority and American Usage” (Wallace)
“To The Academy with Love from a Hip-hop Fan” (Evelyn)

*We’ve talked.

If you end up wanting to change your topic (sooner rather than later) you may do so but you need to communicate that with me. Some are now off-limits because they’re full. Some did not get any bids so they’re sad right now and you could change your mind and choose one of those other rejected articles. They are not listed here. I only listed the ones you chose. Annie chose the best one. Period. And she’s the only one. So she gets an A. (for choice anyway) But they’re all good so you really can’t go wrong, just remember what I said about understanding it and seeing rhetorical goodies in it.

Read it bunches and bunches of time this week. Annotate it. Begin drafting your paper. Outline its argument. Outline your argument about its argument. GET. TO. WORK.

We’ll hear from our vocab folks tomorrow about this weeks words (see previous post) and those lovely ladies and gentlemen will e-mail me their (creative, smart, and beautifully-formatted) quiz questions by midnight on Wednesday.

Take that, Monday.

Font Snob

Your weekend blog post assignment is open topic. Due at the decided upon time: Sunday 4:00.
What follows is NOT an assignment (but it could be).

I want you to write something of interest, something of substance. I want you to work on including images, links, videos, etc. Blogs have that capability — make use of it! Also, I want you to spend a little time (I know, you don’t have any time. Poppycock.) tweaking your blog and getting to know it better and looking for blogs that you like to read so you can link them and study them and copy certain features of them. Assignment: write something worth reading. Brownie points: become a blogophile like me.

What follows could lead you to your weekend blog post but it could also be fodder to a rip-roarin’ good time and/or insightful rhetorical analysis, you know, for fun . Remember, I didn’t share this piece with all of you because it is what school and most of society would consider inappropriate, obscene, and offensive. But, hey. It’s a stellar example of rhetoric. 

See below for more.

Your little font-argument assignment mentioned a piece of writing by a title with a naughty word in it. It also contains approximately 512 more naughty words, but it’s dripping with rhetorical technique so take a look at it if your sensibilities are not easily offended by the kind of language you hear in the hallway every day. It’s found at McSweeney’s  one of the greatest websites on the planet. They have a iPhone app…just sayin’.

Specifics to consider so this reading has an academic purpose:
Tone and how it is created
Devices and things (metaphor, hyperbole, allusion, etc.)
Syntax and punctuation
Diction choices (swearing, unusual uses of language, words that stand out, etc.)

Browse fonts so you’re, at least, vaguely familiar with them and how they look. Otherwise some of what he says won’t make sense. He names “Helvetica”, “Eurotrash Swish”, “Bauhaus”, “Gotham”, “Avenir”, “Univers”, and “Papyrus”– I think that’s all of them that he mentions. Does his depiction of these “characters” make sense? Are they (stereotypically, at least) accurate?

He uses language that you may or may not be familiar with from time to time. For instance, do you know what a Stratocaster is? Look it up. Know Johannes Gutenberg? Did you take Euro? What’s a fascist and why does he use this word? What does fascism have to do with black turtlenecks? Do you know what “sans serif” means? Check this out. What does it mean? What is a typographer?

Okay. Why did you laugh when you read it?

"Is This Right?"

Many of you have asked me this very question about any number of things — usually your assignment. You do this because you are conscientious students, grade grubbers, people pleasers, or any combination thereof. With rhetoric, and specifically rhetorical analysis, there really is no one “right” way to do something, no “right” answer. There are, however, many wrong ones and I know you are simply trying to avoid them. So, here:

Rhetorical analysis is just listing what rhetorical strategies an author or speaker uses. FALSE.
Rhetorical analysis is about finding three exactly perfect examples of exactly three devices the speaker or author uses. Again, FALSE. Rhetorical analysis is some mystical process whereby the analysisyzer uncovers the hidden key of rhetoric buried in the work. FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. (epizeuxis)

Rhetorical analysis involves exploring and explaining (read: analyzing) how the author or speaker presents his or her argument and persuades the audience to accept it. It includes what he or she does — the bending, tweaking, and manipulating of language, images, and ideas — but it goes beyond this. Far, far beyond this. Analysis means to make an argument about an argument. Analysis means to prove how a certain device, technique, strategy, or tactic does what you say it does in the text at hand. What the effect of a given rhetorical thingy is, and why it is effective in this particular circumstance. So JFK uses antimetabole when he delivers the famous “ask not what your country can do for you…” line, so what? Given the circumstances, the occasion for this argument (EAA Ch1) and the purpose of the speaker, why might he have selected to deliver this line, using these words in this way? Why is it effective? How does that do anything for the audience? How does that do anything to propel his argument? Exploring and answering these questions is analysis.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m certainly not suggesting that you list a bunch of questions. That isn’t the assignment. That isn’t analysis, though it is an internal (usually) process of it. You should arrive at statements: conclusions. You, an “analysisyzer”, to repeat the faux word I used above, are tasked with making claims about the text in question. Explaining how.

HOW. It’s all about the how.

Also, I get an F for FORGETTING vocab again this week. Still, I maintain that learning 5 words is a simple task and learning the definitions (officially) on Thursday still provides enough time to prepare for a quiz the following Monday.  So it’s on like Donkey Kong.

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