Category: Teaching Rhetorical Situations & Conventions

Archive for the ‘Teaching Rhetorical Situations & Conventions’ Category

Feb 14 2007

Activity Showcase: Ad Analysis (Jessie Moore)

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Materials: Collect several similar ads from different magazines (i.e., travel ads from 3 different magazines). Give students a copy of an ad and the worksheet prompts below.

Goal: Challenge students to guess what type of publication their ads appeared in based on their rhetorical analyses.


Task: Analyze your ad for clues about the readers of the publication in which the ad appears.

Your Best Guess Based on Your Analysis



Socioeconomic Traits


Types of Evidence that Would Convince these Readers

Presentation Strategies that Might Appeal to these Readers


Feb 14 2007

Assignment Showcase: Rhetorical Situation Analysis (Jessie Moore)

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To:        English 110Y Students

From:    Dr. Jessie Kapper, Assistant Professor of English

Date:     March 27, 2006

Re:        Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria for the Rhetorical Situation Analysis Memos
Your Writing Analysis Memos should examine the conventions for A) writing in your academic field of study and B) writing produced by an office or organization on campus that has a stake in your campus topic. This memo outlines the guidelines and evaluation criteria for your memos, while demonstrating the format you should use for your own memos.

Guidelines for Your Rhetorical Situation Analysis Memos
You should write two separate memos—one focused on writing in your academic field of study and one focused on writing produced by an office or organization on campus. For each memo, you should identify and analyze a text that is representative of writing produced by the rhetorical community. For your campus community memo, you also should interview a member of the rhetorical community that could implement a proposal related to your campus topic so that you can ask an expert about the conventions he or she follows when writing for the community. This interview also gives you a chance to ask this stakeholder questions about your campus topic.

Based on your analyses of the sample texts and your interview with a member of one of the rhetorical communities, your memos should describe the conventions used within each community. Each memo should present the answers to the following questions:

  • What expectations does each rhetorical community have for written texts?
  • What types of evidence does each rhetorical community use to support arguments? What qualifies as valid evidence?
  • How does each rhetorical community use logical, ethical, and emotional appeals?
  • In reference to your sample texts from each rhetorical community:
    • What is the purpose of the text you analyzed as representative of the rhetorical community? How does the text attempt to achieve this purpose?
    • Who is the audience for the writing? What expectations does this audience have for texts produced within the rhetorical community? What is the author’s relationship to the audience?
    • If your text integrates evidence from other sources or people, how does it acknowledge the contributions of those sources or people?
    • What persona do the authors of your sample texts present through use of voice and tone?
    • What principles of arrangement or organization (structure) do the authors of your sample texts use?
    • Do the authors use any visual features (charts, illustrations, etc.) to convey information?
    • When and where were your sample texts published? What does each text look like? What form does each text take?

Organize your answers in a logical arrangement. Remember that your classmates are your audience for your analysis, so the information you present about each rhetorical community’s writing conventions should be accessible to them. Later in the semester, your classmates will need to know how to write for the rhetorical communities that you are describing and they will reference your memos for information about the communities’ conventions.

Your rhetorical situation analysis memos should adhere to the conventions of a memo. These guidelines demonstrate the format a memo often takes. For more information about memos, visit:

Evaluation Criteria
A well-composed rhetorical situation analysis memo addresses the questions posed above and organizes the information in a logical arrangement. It makes the analysis of the rhetorical community’s writing conventions accessible to the memo’s readers (your classmates) by using examples, diction, syntax, and persona appropriate for the readers. It also conforms to the conventions of a memo and contains few, if any, errors.

When we prepare for peer response for the writing analysis memos, you will receive an evaluation criteria rubric to help you self-assess your memos.

You might find it helpful to reference chapters 3, 5, and 11 while working on this assignment. In addition, remember that you can visit the Writing Center (online or in-person) to work with a writing consultant at any stage of the writing process.

Due Dates and Schedule
Completed drafts of your peer response memos are due on Tuesday, September 27th. Your final writing analysis memos are due at the beginning of class on Thursday, September 29th.

Date Preparation/Homework for Class Activities During Class
M, 3/27 None. Planning for Assignment
Discuss Interview Strategies & Characteristics of Academic Writing
W, 3/29 Arrange interview with campus topic stakeholder who could enact change. Meet in Belk 113
Find text samples for your discipline.
F, 3/31 Read Chapter 3 in A Meeting of Minds Discuss Rhetorical Strategies
M, 4/3 Read Chapter 5 in A Meeting of Minds
Read text samples
Discuss Syntax and Appeals
Prewriting activities
W, 4/5 Complete analysis worksheets Drafting activities
F, 4/7 Complete Drafts of Rhetorical Situation Analysis Memos & Write a Reader Response Request Memo Reader Response

Revised versions of your Rhetorical Situation Analysis memos are due on Friday, April 28th, as part of your portfolio. If you have any questions about this assignment, please ask during class or see me during my office hours (or by appointment).

Feb 14 2007

Teaching Strategies: Conventions and Visuals

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Analyzing Visual Representations of Information to Determine Conventions

    Creating Visual Representations of Information

      • Students collect data and practice representing it in a visual form (table, graph, illustration, etc.).
      • The class can compare different representations and discuss what each version emphasizes/deemphasizes, etc.
      • Jessie’s favorite version—Colors of M&Ms
        • Provide each student/group with a package of M&Ms. Ask them to count the number of M&Ms in each color. (At this point, the whole class could create a table with “actual per packet,” “total,” and “average” information represented.)
        • Ask each student/group to create a visual representation comparing the amount of candies in each color included in their packet.
        • Give students information about the reported color break-down, as provided on the M&Ms website. (See handout)
        • Ask each student/group to create a second visual, comparing their actual color distribution with the company’s reported distribution.

      Repurposing a project for a different audience

        • As the examples above demonstrate, re-composed assignments could include a visual component—to inform, to persuade, to clarify, etc.
        • The re-composed product also could take an entirely visual or multimedia form:
          • Written proposal (to persuade) –> Video argument (to garner support)
          • Written synthesis of field research (to inform) –> Admissions video (to recruit)
        • Or vice-versa:
          • Video argument (to peers) –> Written proposal (to stakeholders)
          • Clustering (to illustrate relationships) –> Analysis paper (to compare one relationship in more detail)
        • When these types of activities are paired with a reflective analysis of the choices students are making, they facilitate meta-discussion about conventions and expectations, as related to audience and purpose.

        Feb 14 2007

        Teaching Strategies for Eliciting an Awareness that Conventions Vary

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        Rhetorical Situation Analysis: Require students to analyze writing from two different rhetorical situations, facilitating comparison of the writing samples in a later reflective assignment.

        Interview with a panel of writers from several disciplines

          Repurposing a project for a different audience

            • Students could re-compose a work for a different audience and/or purpose.
              • A formal academic paper à a summative memo for a supervisor à a presentation for a high school class, supported by a PowerPoint and a handout
              • A formal academic paper à a poster presentation for SURF
              • A Pendulum article à a feature piece for an admissions brochure
            • Teachers can enhance these projects by requiring reflective essays in which students explain the choices they made for each form of the project. How are they appealing to their audiences? What did they add/cut and why? How did their use of evidence change? Etc.