The writing programs office in the department of English designs and handles the teaching of a number of writing intensive courses, but the one that you’ll probably encounter the most often is English 104, Composition and Rhetoric.
What I’m going to tell you about this morning are the objectives and traditional assignments in 104. Some teachers will change the materials and the prompts to a certain degree, but they’re supposed to follow the standard syllabus. I’m not going to spend any time reviewing the terms, but if you’d like a review of the terms, go ahead and find this powerpoint in the consultant resources folder, specifically the folder titled “English 104 resources for consultants”
What I will tell you is that rhetoric has a number of definitions and no two rhetoricians have the exact same idea of what it is. The working definition of Rhetoric for the WPO is (READ SLIDE), and the idea of composition is (READ SLIDE)
There are 4 major writing assignments in English 104. They have to be somewhere between 1000-1250 for the first two papers, but the word limit increases to 1500 by the time of writing project 4. So….be expecting longer papers by the end of the semester.
The point of English 104 is to teach students basic research skills, hone their understanding of the writing situation and that how and what one writes will change depending on that situation, and how discourse—the way we talk about and understand certain subjects--is created, maintained, or changed by culture and audiences. According to the WPO website, students will learn to: write papers that address specific rhetorical situations; formulate questions and identify problems and open-ended issues that can be investigated through research, collaboration, and writing; develop a thesis that articulates their point of view; support a thesis using evidence they have collected, recorded, critiqued, and analyzed; find, evaluate, analyze and synthesize primary and secondary sources; draw conclusions based on evidence or inference; paraphrase and summarize accurately the ideas of others; analyze, critique, and revise their own writing, and evaluate the writing of others; practice scholastic honesty, academic integrity, and the ethics of communication
There are 4 major papers and a journal. As the semester goes on, the length of time between papers gets shorter and the stakes get higher. The first two papers count the least toward their grade, while the last two count the most. The journal is a series of 2 page responses to six prompts that ask about a book that they’re reading in the class. I’ll tell you more about this when we get to it at the end.
The first paper is a rhetorical analysis of an argument advanced in an essay. The students need to identify the author’s thesis and argue—with examples from the text-- whether or not the author is effective in making her/his case. Ideally, students won’t go for these polar opposites, but take a more middle of the road approach in explaining what was done and what the net effect of the author’s rhetorical moves was on the credibility and efficacy of the text. So, students will need to provide examples of and explain the rhetorical devices made by the author. Of course, to do this well they’ll need to employ the language of rhetorical analysis! SO! let’s think about this together. What are some terms that come to mind when you think of rhetorical analysis? (wait for audience to respond) You’ve got the right idea. If you’re wondering what else they might throw at you, take a look at this PowerPoint in the consultant resources folder. There are a number of slides at the end of the PowerPoint that I won’t cover this morning, but you’ll find them really helpful in either learning rhetorical analysis or getting a refresher.
The second writing project is a bit different, and maybe you’ve never encountered something like it before. Here’s what it is: Students will be reading a popular book, most likely Freakonomics by Malcolm Gladwell. They’ll be asked to choose an “arguable” issue and find 3-4 scholarly sources that, when put together, give a very clear outline of the different positions in that debate. In other words, they’re not supposed to be arguing for a side yet, since that comes in at WP4. What you’ll find is that the annotated bibliography assignment is highly structured, and there shouldn’t be much deviation from the following format: First, they need an introduction that synthesizes the sources and describes the debate. This should be no more than a page. Next, they’ll write their body. The body of their essay will be a series of MLA citations for their selected sources with annotations (which are just paragraphs) that describe the rhetorical situation. For example: who is the author? What are their credentials? Where and when did this article get published and who is its intended audience? What prompted the author to write on this subject? Also, the annotations should 2) summarize the source, and 3) evaluate the source, i.e. is this source a commonly cited text? How important is this text and how will it inform or contribute to your evaluation of this subject? Some students choose to conclude the paper with the final annotation—so, no conclusion really-- while some choose to write a separate conclusion altogether. Look over the various sample papers in the consultant resources folder if you’ve got time. This project is supposed to directly link to WP4, which will use the sources gathered for WP2 in addition to a few others they’ll gather at a later point.
Writing Project 3 is, in composition parlance, a “position paper.” This assignments asks for students to choose a different issue from the text and argue their position on that topic. They’ll need to integrate at least 4 academic sources and show that they can conduct scholarly research to support their position. Some of the best WP3 papers that you’ll read will deal with both sides of the issue, but explain what is flawed about the other side and why their position is stronger. Some teachers don’t require that students deal with each side, since this is something they’re supposed to do in WP4. So… be sure you ask your client what their teacher wants them to do.
WP4 is an extension of WP2, the annotated bibliography. It’s supposed to be the culmination of all the stuff that the students learned throughout the semester. Specifically, students are expected to expand their research from WP2 and now incorporate 6-7 sources and some type of visual data (a picture, graph, or table) that supports the argument.
The Critical Response Journal is simply six responses to six prompts. I’ve put a bare-bones version of the prompts on this slide. Each entry needs to be at least 2 pages in length, in MLA format, and include a works cited page. The first response is a quick and dirty rhetorical analysis of the text, at large. The second asks students to think about how and why the text is being used in the classroom, as compared to the outside world. The third asks them to use Toulmin’s model for argumentation to analyze a specific chapter from the text. You’ll see that entries 4 and 5 essentially ask for the same type of analysis. The sixth entry asks them to respond to four statements or arguments made by the author. It also gives them an opportunity to talk a bit about how their reaction to the text has grown throughout the semester—if at all. A lot of teachers see this as “low stakes” writing for the student. The whole assignment is worth 10% of their grade, so they might not be as picky about their approach. However, it allows students to take chances with their style, voice, and structure—something that we know helps them grow as writers.
This assignment asks students to explore and develop ideas about argument; audience analysis; claims and evidence; the relationships at work in acts of communication; visual rhetoric; and their own writing. Like the critical response journal, they’ll develop six responses either to the assigned readings, class discussion, or whatever else their teacher points them to. Each response needs to be at least 250 words, MLA format, and include a works cited page. So, that’s all I’m going to cover this morning. If you have more questions about these assignments or English 104 in general, don’t hesitate in talking to me, shooting me an email, or reading the contents of the folder titled, “English 104 resources for consultants,” which is in the Consultant Resources folder. Any questions?
Working with English 104 Students Chris Kreiser, Arianne Thigpen, Sarah Spring, and Patricia Welsh Droz
Writing Programs Department of English | Texas A&M University The Writing Programs Office administers the core curriculum writing courses taught by graduate assistants (GATs) and lecturers. They include English 104, 203, 210, 241,and 301 . The office handles all matters pertaining to the courses (e.g., textbook selection, plagiarism, instruction, grade appeals, and classroom situations).
Many of UWC clients will be enrolled in English 104, Rhetoric and Composition. This presentation discusses the objectives, terms, and assignments in the course. Some teachers may change the material and prompts; however, all will teach to the objectives of the Writing Programs Office offered in this presentation.
Rhetoric—the art of speaking or writing effectively; or, the means by which authors draw upon shared knowledge to communicate with their audiences.
Composition—in this case, is an arrangement of written words, a piece of writing.
The Assignments Major writing assignments (Writing Projects) include four documented papers, each a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 words in length. They may vary, depending on the instructor.
Course Objectives Students in ENGL 104 will learn: How to approach writing as “inquiry” by expanding their research process and skills How writers consider purpose, audience analysis, voice and tone in various genres and rhetorical situations How the conventions of written discourse govern format, usage, and style in various rhetorical situations and genres How audience and culture shape discourse
WP4-- Developing an extended argument by researching and arguing a position
Critical Response Journal or Argument Analysis Journal
Rhetorical Analysis of an Argument .
Find one article to rhetorically analyze
Explain how the parts of the article fit together, mentioning content, voice, tone, organization and formatting.
Evaluate how the author conducts and develops an argument, considering claims, evidence, and rhetorical appeals, i.e. using the terminology of Toulmin's rhetorical analysis and Aristotelian appeals.
Determine whether or not the article is a well-argued, fair presentation of one side of an issue.
Select an issue of interest from the teacher-selected text, e.g. Freakonomics.
Integrate 3-4 academic sources, evaluating the effectiveness of arguments, synthesizing various positions, and identifying issues associated with the topic.
Follow specific guidelines for structure of bibliography: an introduction that demonstrates why student’s research is cohesive; a body comprised of citations and their accompanying annotations (each 200-250 words)
Annotations should: 1) describe the rhetorical situation, 2), summarize the source, and 3) evaluate the source
Taking a Position on a Claim
Argue their position on a debatable topic in the teacher-selected text
synthesize, analyze, or interpret academic sources
argue a perspective on an issue and support it with research
Recognize and respond to opponents’ arguments and attempts to discredit or disprove his or her stance.
place the thesis at the beginning of the essay.
Critical Response Journal Rhetorical analysis of the text Motivations of the text and how it is being used in the classroom and world Analyze the claims, subclaims, and evidence of one chapter of elected text Analyze the structure of a different chapter and provide evidence. Using a third chapter, analyze any grounds and fallacies that are present. Develop a response to 4 arguments posed in the text. Student may reflect on how their approach to the text has changed over the semester.
Each entry needs to be at least 2 pages in length, MLA format, and include a works cited page.
Argument Analysis Journal 6 responses, either to: assigned readings sources the student has identified for Writing Projects to class discussion or to visual rhetoric Each response needs to be at least 250 words, MLA format, and include a works cited page.
Researching and Arguing a Position A Review of the Major Rhetorical Models Taught to 104 Students
Delayed Thesis/Rogerian argument Delayed thesis is the placement of a thesis at the end of the argument. It is a type of Rogerian argument. Rogerian argument begins with empathic listening to all sides. It persuades by establishing common ground between the different sides, promoting a win-win instead of a win-lose situation.
Aristotle’s Terms Ethos An argument that relies on the authority of the speaker. If state governors argue that a new interstate road will benefit their constituents, they are more credible than the owner of the concrete plant that hopes to benefit financially. Pathos An argument based on evoked emotion or sympathy in an audience. The mother of a soldier recently deployed to Iraq argues for the necessity of the war. Her credibility is high because her commitment could mean the loss of her son. Logos An argument that predominantly uses logic. Facts, physical evidence, statistics, and definitions often form the basis of logical arguments. Remember: strong arguments often make all these appeals.
Rebuttal—what is wrong, invalid or unacceptable
about an argument; what opponents might argue
Qualifiers—language that demonstrates the
probability of the argument: some, maybe, often
An example of the Toulminmethod Claim: Texas A&M is the best school Reason: Because we have the most traditions. Warrant: The quality of a school is related to the quantity of traditions. The warrant is often unstated, but it is also where the most debate occurs. Is A&M the best school simply because we have the most traditions? The answer could generate quite a few debates.
Review Claim – thesis Support – data Warrant – assumptions Backing – data for assumptions Rebuttal – counter-arguments Qualifiers – probabilities