College Writing and Rhetoric


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Second lecture on writing for composition 101 Spring 2011. Covers a general overview of the importance of writing, introduces Aristotle's rhetoric and ethos.

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College Writing and Rhetoric

  1. 1. College Board. (2000). Writing a ticket to work...or a ticket out: A survey of business leaders . Retrieved December 3, 2009, from
  2. 2. Writing in College <ul><li>In what ways and to what extent is the writing you do in college different than the writing you did in high school? </li></ul><ul><li>How can the writing you do in college prepare you for the next steps in your professional life? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on content areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learn the genres that matter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grants, scholarships, applications, resume building </li></ul></ul>
  3. 4. Persuasive Communication <ul><li>Rhetoric: The ability in any particular case to see the available means of persuasion (Aristotle, The Rhetoric). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An ability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can be developed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More options to accomplish your goals </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple means of persuasion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be clear about your purpose </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Know your audience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use ethos, logos, and pathos </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Purpose <ul><li>What do I want my audience to know? </li></ul><ul><li>What do I want my audience to feel? </li></ul><ul><li>What do I want my audience to do? </li></ul>
  5. 6. Writing as discovery <ul><li>Our ideas change as we write </li></ul><ul><li>We gain content knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Our purpose can become clearer as we write and revise </li></ul>
  6. 7. Questions to help you develop your audience awareness <ul><li>What do your readers know already about your issue? </li></ul><ul><li>What do they need to know? </li></ul><ul><li>What would they like to know? </li></ul><ul><li>What common background knowledge and experience do your readers share? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the values of the social groups they belong to? </li></ul><ul><li>What actions can they take in response to your writing? </li></ul><ul><li>What opinions do they already have about your subject? </li></ul><ul><li>Are audience members interested, hostile, distracted, friendly, or bored? </li></ul><ul><li>What other characteristics of your audience could impact your writing? </li></ul>
  7. 8. Means of Persuasion <ul><li>Ethos </li></ul><ul><li>Logos </li></ul><ul><li>Pathos </li></ul>
  8. 9. Ethos = credibility <ul><li>What counts as credibility differs among groups of people </li></ul><ul><li>O'Keefe (1990) defined credibility as &quot;judgments made by a perceiver concerning the believability of a communicator&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>credibility is in the eye of the beholder </li></ul>
  9. 16. <ul><li>The two most important elements in establishing credibility are expertise and trustworthiness </li></ul>
  10. 17. Credibility is subject to change over time
  11. 21. What will compromise your credibility in the short and long term?
  12. 22. <ul><li>A single spelling error on a resume of cover letter could seriously undermine your competitiveness in applying for an internship or job. </li></ul>
  13. 23. Two kinds of credibility
  14. 25. Extrinsic: what people know about you before they read your work or hear you speak
  15. 26. Intrinsic: what we do within a communication setting through our actions.
  16. 27. Putting ethos to work in your writing <ul><li>Know your material </li></ul><ul><li>Cite evidence (Reinard, J.C. (1988) Human Communication Research , 15 ,3-59). </li></ul><ul><li>Share your interest, experience, and expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Have your reader’s best interest in mind </li></ul><ul><li>Identify similarities with your reader </li></ul><ul><li>If you lack extrinsic credibility increase your reader’s involvement with the topic, which will help focus them on the topic more than the messenger (Petty and Cacioppa, 1986) . </li></ul>