Week 5: Weaver and Toulmin

I have enjoyed meeting with several of you during office hours this week to discuss your ideas for the short paper assignment, and I get the sense that most of you are on the right track. As you work on your papers, let me offer a few reminders and/or cautions:

  • This is a short paper, so you should not try to summarize the field of rhetoric or make broad pronouncements about a particular author or theoretical model. Be as specific and focused as possible — the narrower, the better.
  • It is not enough to summarize or review the ideas of others; you need to advance an argument of your own. Again, this argument doesn’t need to be all-encompassing, but you do need to take a stance and make a point.
  • Remember that this is a class about current theories of rhetoric and composition, so your paper should be grounded in the field(s) of rhetoric and composition. It’s OK to make connections with creative writing, literature, art, etc., but make sure you don’t go too far afield.

Other than the short paper, here’s what we’ll be doing next week:

  • On Tuesday (2/14), we will discuss “The Cultural Role of Rhetoric,” by Richard Weaver [PNR 75–89]. Kenny will lead our discussion, and Rhiann and Ryan will take notes. Your short paper is due at the beginning of class, so please review the assignment details before you put the finishing touches on your paper.
  • On Thursday (2/16), we will discuss “The Layout of Arguments,” by Stephen Toulmin [PNR 105–25]. J.R. will lead our discussion, and Susie and Kenny will take notes. In addition, we will carve out a few minutes to talk about the wiki assignment before we begin that project in earnest during Week 6. In preparation for this discussion, your homework assignment is to make contributions to at least three different pages on the wiki before you come to class on Thursday. These contributions can be big or small, but I would like to see everyone getting some experience with how the wiki works.

If you have any questions about these plans, let me know. Otherwise, good luck with your papers, and enjoy your weekend!

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