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Description, Identity, and Rhetoric: Visualizing the Available Means of Persuasion


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This powerpoint contextualizes the importance of narration and description through their relationship to rhetoric and identity. Argumentation and rhetorical analysis are described as heuristics for …

This powerpoint contextualizes the importance of narration and description through their relationship to rhetoric and identity. Argumentation and rhetorical analysis are described as heuristics for rhetoric. Slides on rhetorical analysis link such inquiry to self-reflection and the visualization of opportunities to connect to audiences, as well as invites occasions for argumentation. Lecture notes, discussion questions, free-writing exercises, and collaborative workshop activities enable students to sharpen their narration/description skills. This powerpoint does not exhaustively cover specific narration techniques such as utilizing active verbs to create narrative perspective, but students are encouraged to reflect on this strategy throughout the slides "showing not telling."

Some slides are in conversation with the textbooks Envision (2nd Edition) by Christine Alfano and Alyssa O'Brien, and Christine Latterell's Remix (2nd Edition). Instructors may omit slides that deal with these external materials. The contents of this presentation may be approached as a series of interactive discussions intended to be spread out over the course of two to three class periods.

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  • 1. Description, Identity, andRhetoricVisualizing our Available Means ofPersuasion
  • 2. Instructor Note* This powerpoint consists of three intersecting topics: argumentation, identity, and description, as they relate to persuasive effectiveness. Covering the entire presentation will take at least two class periods* This presentation is highly compatible with instructors using the textbooks:Envision, 2nd Edition, Christine Alfano and Alyssa OBrienRemix, 2nd Edition ,Catherine Latterell* Dont have the books or the time? Adapt this presentation for your ownpurposes! Feel free to omit sections or add to it according to your needs.
  • 3. Quotes to ContemplateRhetorics classic definition as the art of persuasion suggests a power.So much of what we receive from others—from family and friends to 30-second blurbs on TV—is intended to persuade. Recognizing how thisis done gives greater power to choose. -Victor Villanueva, Jr.You are a god in language. You can create. Destroy. Rearrange.Shove words around however you like. You can make up storiesabout things that never happened to people who never existed. Youcan push a camel through the eye of a needle. Its easy if “camel” and“needle” are words” (Kenneally 652).Pre-Writing Exercise: Which quote did you react to more strongly? Why?
  • 4. Todays Underlying Assumption ● When we write, we make “claims to existence," or suggest that reality isor should be perceived a certain way. ● Human beings interpretations of reality are constrained by time, memory,and language: communication is never neutral, even if neutrality is thepersuasive aim. ● How people interpret “reality” is further affected by their identities, the waythey define community, and their general sense of the nature of theirrelationship to their surroundings and other sentient beings ● What we acknowledge exists undergoes a process of contestation as weclassify and define what is valued in a society and what that society considersto be truth—who matters, what events are significant, what languagesdominate expression, etc.
  • 5. Claims to Existence
  • 6. Claims to Existence
  • 7. Conflict and CooperationWe reinforce our perception of reality through variouscombinations of verbal and visual expressions: ourdecision to wear certain clothes, listen to certain types ofmusic, pursue a career in a certain field, watch a particularshow on television, read certain books, play certain sports,etc.Can you think of a time in which your expression caused aconflict? When it got you approval?
  • 8. Argumentation When we dont agree on:● the existence of something● the features of something that does exist● the harms/goods it causes● the similarities and differences between something and other things● how something should be changedWe argue!However, argument is not a shouting match or an attemptto see who wins and loses
  • 9. Monty Python: Argument ClinicAn argument about argument: develop a criteria for argument. Whats anargument? What "seems" like an argument, but isnt?Draw on the film clip for inspiration!
  • 10. Additional Perspectives... ● Arguments are persuasive messages (Alfanoand O’Brien 2-3) ● They can be traditional (winning) or consensual(agreement) ● Traditional: Public Debate, Courtroom argument, Single-Perspective argument, One-on-One, Everyday (Car Sales, Late paper negotiation) ● Consensual: Dialectic (participants are equals in an argument, attempt to reach the best position), academic inquiry (reading, writing, discussion, to create new knowledge/truth about complex issues), negotiation and mediation, internal argument
  • 11. Arguments are Opportunities ● Rhetoric is “visualizing what strategies will work to convince youraudience to accept your message” (Alfano and OBrien 5). ● Reflecting on those strategies creates an opportunity because thedegree to which you can connect to another person depends on ourability to perceive others needs, recognize our own, and negotiate. Solong as we do this genuinely and competently, we can change... ● One of the keys to understanding what strategies will work is theability to critically analyze your rhetorical situation
  • 12. Perceiving Opportunity ● The key to understanding what strategies will work isthe ability to critically analyze your rhetorical situation ● Dynamic relationship between the text, audience, and writer influence the arguments writers make. ● The shape the authors message takes will depend on how they perceive the audiences needs, their awareness of how their message connects to other messages by which the audience is familiar, etc.
  • 13. Rhetorical Analysis ● Who is the author? ● Why did they write this? ● In what publication space can I find this writing? ● Who did they write this for? ● What is the authors main claim? ● What are the authors reasons? ● What evidence does the author provide? ● What was my first impression after reading the writing? ● What strategies does the author use to accomplishtheir objective(s)?
  • 14. Self Rhetorical Analysis ● Who am I? Why am I qualified to write this? ● Why did I write this? ● In what publication space might I find others writing about thesame thing ? ● Who should I write this for? Do they have the power to resolve theproblem? ● What is my main claim? ● What are my reasons? ● What evidence should I provide? ● What do I want the readers first impression to be after they readmy writing? ● What strategies should I use to not only accomplish my objective,but also to make myself stand out in a positive way? the author use toaccomplish their objective(s)?
  • 15. Devilish Details... ● Details, Details, Details: Figure out why a piece of writing worksand practice techniques that stand out to you until you feel your writingappear effortlessly precise ● Establish connections that may usually go overlooked (betweenpersons, places, subjects) ● Uncover assumptions: What does the author take for granted andhow might it diminish their persuasive power? ● Try to emphasize the common ground you share with youraudience instead of focusing on your differences
  • 16. The Life of Persuasion ● Writing is dead without careful, creative arrangements ofdetails The assignment for this unit gets you to practice description ●and narration, which are building blocks of (persuasive)communication ● Narration and Description best execute the five canons ofrhetoric: invention, memory, style, arrangement, delivery ●Stories form one crucial module in the operating system thatgoverns human expression and connection
  • 17. What Makes a “Good” Storyteller? ● Tone ● Hand gestures ● Humor ● Rhythms ● Suspenseful PausesCan we think of additional criteria? Lets give as manyexamples as we can!
  • 18. What Makes a Good Written Story? ● Narrative’s shape the audience’s senses! ● Sensory details ● Keep the story moving ● Convey the intensity of a particular emotionWhat are several other features that must be present in agood written story? Give as many examples as you can?Also, dont just think of good storys as novels, considervarious other places you see written stories (hint: filmperformances are derived from written scripts).
  • 19. Showing not Telling ● Visuals (i.e. colors) ● Smells ● Sounds ● Things that we feel (physically oremotionally) ● Clichés ● Avoid passive verbs (e.g. to be, to have)What are some examples of SNT words andphrases?
  • 20. Telling ●The weather took a turn for the worse ●The boy looked sick ●The instructor hadn’t prepared for class ●She was in love
  • 21. Showing ● Clouds morphed from thin lazy stretches tobulbous grey mounds hovering over the smokysky. ●We could hear his stomach bubbling over theconstant clinks of knives and forks. His lunchhad moved from his mouth the floor, lookingquite as it did when it was plopped on his plateby the lunchlady.
  • 22. Your turn! ● Try turning some of the following sentencesinto shows, not tells (Individual or GroupAssignment): ● The instructor is ditzy. ● Traffic was a nightmare that morning. ● She was in love. ● Im happy Im going on vacation. ● My roommate is not pleasant to be around ● The flowers are gorgeous ● Fall is my favorite season*Hint: Your descriptions will convey some kind of narrative! See...descriptionand narration are inseparable!
  • 23. Play with Showing not Telling Transform these vague sentences into shows not tells. You will need to provide as much context as you can to show, rather than tell the underlined word. (Individual or Group Assignment) [describe activity] makes me happy ● [describe person] is my arch nemesis ● [describe song] is a classic ● [describe person] is my hero ● [describe X] relaxes me ● [describe place] stresses me out ● [describe building] is comforting ● [describe X] unifies people ●
  • 24. Playing with Representation ● I retrieved this description from the menu of alocal restaurant. Revise the entry to persuadesomeone that they must order this dish or theirpalatte will not be satisfied for the evening. Feelfree to add items to the dish that you feel wouldmake it reach its full $17 value (GroupAssignment) Pacific Rim Salmon: Grilled fillet of salmonwith a ginger – orange glaze. 16.99
  • 25. Identity Narratives: Avatars ● What is Dibbells main argument? ● How does he defend his argument? ● How does including the word origin of the term “avatar” helpDibbell make his claim? ● What strikes you most about the reasons these gamers provide forcreating their avatars? ● Why are avatars an example of rhetoric? ● How do their avatars compare to their real-life identities? ● What real-life/or in-game barriers do their avatars allow them toovercome? ● What real-life and in/game prejudices do their avatars reveal?
  • 26. Identity Narratives: SocialNetworking Profiles ● What is the purpose of online profiles? ● What roles do they serve in peoples lives? ● Why are fb profiles an example of rhetoric? ● To what extent does Sethis essay support the assumption that “identity isshaped by culture” (9)? ● What is Sethis main argument? ● How does she defend it? ● Who is she writing for? ● How does Sethis fb profile reflect who she is? ● Compare her essay about her profile with her profile. What sense ofidentity comes across from each? What questions about her does each leaveyou with? ● Consider how much Facebook has changed since Sethi wrote her article,in what ways does the interface allow or restrict identity expression? ● Has Facebook ever served as a site of conflict for you? How so? In whatways does the site create stories?
  • 27. Identity Narratives: Tattoos ●Tattoos can convey messages that make a statementabout a persons identity. Are tattoos or other forms ofbody art effective ways to convey to others who we are?Why or why not? ●Do you have a tattoo? If so, what prompted you to getone? ● In what ways are tattoos, avatars, and socialnetworking sites similar expressions of identity?
  • 28. How do I use these Ideas?Step 1: Assess what you know and acknowledge theconstraints of you perceptionStep 2: Develop a sense of purpose and determine howyou can convey your messages in such a way that youraudience will trust youStep 3: Begin trying to identify the values, beliefs, andattitudes of the academic community (begin with our classsyllabus for instance)
  • 29. How do I use these ideas?Step 4: Pay attention to the arguments you are surrounded byin everyday life (including visuals)Step 5: Think about what others are trying to persuade you todo and how they are attempting to persuade you to do itStep 6: Analyze the way arguments are constructed bothwithin and outside of the academic communityStep 7: Be able to determine whether or not an argumentsucceeds in being persuasive and for whom. Dont hesitate toplay with those strategies!
  • 30. How do I use these ideas?Step 8: Recognize description and narration as foundationsyou must master in order to be a compelling writerStep 9: Train your mind to visualize and memorize detailsStep 10: Train yourself to re-articulate tells into shows.When you see something you like, go the extra step and beprepared to state precisely why you like it.Step 11: Train yourself to play with and re-create details.Shes not just a graceful woman, rather Jacqueline effortlesslyglides in four inch heels
  • 31. Questions?**Any useful links on narration/description such as should be included here!**