WRA 260

WRA 891

rhetoric, persuasion, culture

Home Schedule Assignments
Home Schedule Assignments

January 10, 2018

  1. Business matters. Schedule. The tables and laptop hookups. Code of conduct and listening.
  2. Introductions from rest of class.
    1. NAME, MAJOR, YEAR, and either A) Guilty Pleasure, or, B) Persuasive text (song, speech, book, poem, flayer, poster, etc) you've come across in recent memory.
  3. Rhetoric & Words. We still haven't defined it officially (we WILL next week), but talked about it in class a bit on Monday. The Poole text talks of "unspeak" which is, I'd argue, a sort of rhetoric. As Pool defines it, "It represents an attempt to say something without saying it, without getting into an argument and so having to justify itself. At the same time, it tries to unspeak --in the sense of erasing, or silencing -- any possible opposing point of view, by laying a claim right at the start to only one way of looking at a problem.... every choice of a particular word represents a decision not to use another one" (3).
    1. Case in point, Pollsters who craft language choices for party platforms. Old, but super interesting, interview with Frank Luntz. (listen from beginning to 7:40). How does (does) this remind you of the Engber article I asked you to read for today?
    2. Engber, Daniel. "There Is No Ban on Words at the CDC."
      1. "HHS staffers have been telling those at CDC and other agencies that it would be better to avoid any phrases that might attract extra notice from the budget-slashers higher up the chain. This is tactical advice: They want to bolster the CDC’s position during these negotiations. Levin suggests that words like vulnerableentitlement, or diversity might annoy Republicans in Congress and make them less inclined to grant requested funds."
      2. "Staffers have been advised to swap out the phrase science-based, for instance, for a more elaborate and confusing sentence: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” 
      3. Agriculture advised her team that carbon-sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction should instead be described as “building soil organic matter” and “increasing nutrient use efficiency.” “We won’t change the modeling,” the director told them, “just how we talk about it.”
    3. (5-10 minutes) In groups, explore and find 3-5 examples of word or phrase choices you think are "unspeak." Be prepared to share with class.
  4. Rhetoric & Audience. The "culture" part of our class is getting you to think about how audiences use and respond to rhetoric. One way of doing this work (which Assignment 2 will have you do in more depth) is to think about how and why YOU respond to texts in the way that you do.
    1. To do: Watch Oprah's Golden Globe Speech
      1. Read along on handout I provide. Make notes while listening. I suggest, but you can choose your own method, a STAR and CHECK system. Put a star (or 2 or 3) when you really like something she says. Put a check (or 2 or 3) when you find something she says off-putting in some way.
    2. Table group work. Share your positives and negatives with each other. Prepare to report back on the following:
      1. Disparities: were there moments that some of you loved (STAR STAR STAR!) and others either had no response or a negative response (CHECK CHECK CHECK)? Why do you think this is?
      2. Similarities: what did you agree on either liking or disliking? Why do you think this is?
  5. Conclusion. How and why do you respond to rhetoric in the ways that you do? How and why do public figures use rhetoric in the ways they do?
    1. Next week: History of rhetoric and metalanguage to talk about what it is rhetoric is doing. WEDNESDAY READINGS (see schedule. do them).