rhetorical analysis

Reflections on Racist Comedy in the Classroom

Since I’ve begun teaching, I have frequently described moments in the classroom in terms of trains. A lesson depends upon organic human interaction, and sometimes the best laid plans can produce unexpected results. So, when it comes to lesson-planning, I tend to be an overplanner as a means of minimizing the chances of derailment, and I can happily say that this works for me.

Practicing Rhetorical Analysis with Music Videos

Picture shows Taylor Swift about to stab a cake, an image from her video for "Blank Space."

Discussing Stereotypes in the Classroom

One of my primary aims in a rhetoric classroom is to equip students with the skills to thoughtfully respond to the world around them. What that means, as fellow instructors know well, is that sometimes it is appropriate to discuss rhetorical arguments that make the audience uncomfortable—a discomfort that could potentially halt or hinder discussion in the classroom.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of ... Learning?

Drawn portrait of Hunter S. Thompson

Awhile back I remember reading that, early in his career, Hunter S. Thompson began every morning typing word for word full chapters of The Great Gatsby. At one point in his early twenties, apparently, he’d typed out the whole book multiple times. As with most things Thompson, his friends and colleagues were baffled. When asked “why?” Thompson said “I want to know what it feels like to write something great.” 

On Making Your Class Mad: Some Pros and Cons

There’s nothing quite like having twenty-one angry people gathered in a small windowless room—especially when they’re all angry at you. Now I know to expect (and to look forward to!) just such a class day when I teach Jamaica Kincaid’s 1988 essay A Small Place

Over the Hedge with Nate Silver and Jacques Derrida

Photo of a labyrinthine hedge dividing a grass yard from a gravel path

In October 2012, statistician and New York Times blogger Nate Silver was predicting up a storm. He was aggregating, calculating, and tabulating poll results in order to determine the probable outcomes of the upcoming presidential election. By the end of the month, he had President Obama’s reelection chances at 79%. MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough was not amused:

Why Teach Popular Culture?

Photo of South Austin Museum of Popular Culture

This semester, I have taken great pleasure in teaching The Rhetoric of Celebrity to a group of enthusiastic and talented students.  In my office hours a few weeks ago, a student who came in to discuss a recent assignment with me began our conversation by asking if “all rhetoric teachers had to be so young.”  

“Well,” I answered, “most of us are graduate students, so we don’t have our PhDs yet.  We’re generally in our twenties and thirties.”  

The Shock Factor: Using Heavy Content in Class

Photograph of three small statues

This semester I’m teaching The Rhetoric of Documentary Films, and I have a very engaged group of students who have various levels of familiarity with the course topic.  In fact, one of my challenges in this course is devising class activities that are enlightening for both the person who has seen only one documentary (usually one of Michael Moore’s films) and the person who has seen dozens.  One of the ways I have approached this challenge is by showing clips from a wide variety of films: I figure that I will be opening some minds to the diversity of the documentary gen

Incorporating Pop Culture Texts in the Classroom

Screenshot from music video for Destiny Child's Independent Women

In order to improve my course design and teaching, I ask my students at each semester’s end for feedback on the assignments and course texts. When I reviewed their responses for last semester’s class, in which I taught an E314L class on Women’s Popular Genres, one text emerged as a favorite: the Destiny’s Child song “Independent Women Part I.” I used the music video during the first and second class days to introduce students to formal, historical, and cultural reading practices.

Mapping Community

Old illustrated map of Austin, Texas

In my RHE 309S: Critical Reading and Persuasive Writing course at UT Austin, my students are spending the semester studying communities of their choice. The first paper asked students to "map" their community, charting the people, places, events, social practices, and issues that help the community define and organize itself while also examining arguments made about the community. This assignment resembles one of our main first-year writing assignments which asks students to map the arguments made in response to a specific critical situation or issue.

Inventing with Images

Photo of car exhaust pipe with text STOP BLOWING SMOKE.

I’ve often had students work with images in past semesters, but in those activities I’ve used them as texts for analysis or tools for organization, as when students constructed visual-verbal-aural outlines in Animoto to help them prepare for their formal essays. This semester I decided to have my RHE 306 class focus on using images to aid in invention and construction of a succinct argument.

Licensing

Creative Commons License
All materials posted to this site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We invite you to use and remix these materials, but please give credit where credit is due. In addition, we encourage you to comment on your experiments with and adaptations of these plans so that others may benefit from your experiences.

 

User login