6-5-2017 Lesson Plan

Visual Rhetoric and Language (15-20 min) Take out the image you worked on in your groups from last time. Like we discussed, trying to do the “same” thing with a different mode of expression (sound, image) calls forth a lot of careful thought. And, hopefully, through that thought you can get even closer to thinking about what you might want to say and how you might want to say it. But modes can often work together. Image and writing often do. So let’s again return to the mantra “rhetoric means options,” and see what happens if we bring language back into the picture by imagining the image your group created somehow fitting into that initial campaign piece draft. Does it now change with the new context it fits into? Why? How? Where’s it go? Why? What can you say with a picture? What can you say when language supports it? How do you mean with an image? With language? With both? What about a real, situated context like that initial campaign piece it was based on?


Genre and Social Action (30-45 min)


Later in the reading, Miller says, “genres serve as keys to understanding how to participate in the actions of a community”. In this quote, I think she is talking about the importance of audience when choosing a genre to write about.

In other words, genres are subjective and heavily context driven.  In that same sense, an audience is context driven and they can interpret what is said in a countless number of ways. This ties back to the concept of knowing the audience you are writing to. To most effectively write to the public, you have to be sure to convey your message in a way to your target audience is paramount.

In public writing, after we figure out who our target audiences are, we do have to think about how we can reach to our target audience. By this way, studying the characteristics of target audience and how they are going to respond will be very important to make the public writing successful. Therefore, classifying genre by social actions is very helpful in public writing. In addition, in order to make sure to deliver the messages to target audience, it will be a recurring activity. Therefore, studying how past audiences react and respond to our writing will be very helpful for us to think about how we may improve our writing to make it more acceptable to audiences. However, even social responses are really important in public writing, I’m not saying that we don’t need to consider theory or or any restrictions that may affect. Sometimes regarding various topics, there might have specific rules that will affect the style of the writing, which can lead it to work better in a closed set.



I’ll preface this by saying I really struggled with this reading. It was writing for the public, but a public of which I am not a member. I think Miller’s idea of seeing genre in the context of social action as opposed to formal qualities is about the importance she places on content as opposed to classification for classification’s sake. Social action permits an observer to develop a more intimate understanding of whatever writing/media is being classified. It is limiting to let a simple label to inform our understanding of a “…genre as typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations”. Rather, it has to be an amalgam of form and substance.

I struggle with the idea of recurring forms (i.e. emails, speeches, eulogies, etc.) because of this idea of social action. I agree that “. . . comparable situations occur, prompting comparable responses,” but as stated previously, human action or reaction may still vary. If I choose to create a blog for my campaign piece just because I’ve only seen similar topics written in that manner, I may connect with my audience or mislead them completely.

I really liked how Miller described form here. She says, “A work has form in so far as one part of it leads a reader to anticipate another part, to be gratified by the sequence. Form shapes the response of the reader or listener to substance by providing instruction, so to speak, about how to perceive and interpret…” It made me think about the NPR piece we listened to this past week. As a regular listener, I expect those interviews to follow similar procedures, especially when it comes to breaking up the monotony of the correspondent with music, sounds from the location (like the scrubbing of the headstones or the crunch of leaves while walking through the cemetery). It is somewhat gratifying to expect something and for that expectation to be validated. Some of this concept goes back to what we were discussing earlier in the course about how an audience rarely wants to be preached to or commanded. You can lead them in a direction and make limited suggestions that allows them to “decide” for themselves. By providing the structure of a form that is navigable as well, it might make a thesis or campaign goal resonate more strongly and be that much more effective in persuading an audience.


Action (Where is it? In the reading/writing or after or both?)

It is interesting how she said that she will argue that a rhetorically sound definition of genre must be centered not on the substance or the form of discourse but on the action it is used to accomplish.

She states that “a rhetorical sound definition of genre must be centered not on the substance or the form of discourse but on the action it is used to accomplish”. Rhetoric, as she describes, leans towards provoking the audience into action or discourse. This is because the strong emotion that rhetoric creates is more impactful for a reader than the formal qualities that it carries. Rather than categorizing rhetoric as through its structure, the principle it tries to promote is more apt.

To provoke certain responses, rhetoricians can use the same formal qualities such as formats, layouts, and lengths. Miller argues that these formal qualities are often mistaken for genre when it is actually the social action that the formal qualities provoke that is genre.



Furthermore, I could post my thesis of George Whitefield on Facebook, but it is likely no one will read it. Instead, I could post a quick note saying, “Just finished my thesis on Whitefield. So happy!!!” That may get 30 “likes”. The medium of Facebook dictates what genre I will use. The medium I choose affects my actions which in turn affects my genre of choice. Some genres are better left far from certain media, just as I highlighted with my thesis and Facebook. Miller writes further, “Genre refers to a conventional category of discourse based in large-scale typification of rhetorical action, [genre] acquires meaning from the social context in which that situation arose” (p.163).  I think this is quite accurate. We are limited by some media as to what we can do. One would not post rather emotional love poem to his wife on Facebook. It would take away so much of what should only be said in private. I suppose I would argue that the medium used (which is intrinsically tied to social action) dictates genre.


Reflective writing, comment on classmate (10-15 min).

Note: something is up with the website. For some reason, two posts would not appear. Here they are, linked below:

Miller, I need many Millers after this!!

Genre: The key to community action?

Workshop, organization and genre (45-60 min)

To continue our discussion of genre, I thought we would look at some campaign pieces you all produced. It turned out that four of you wrote editorials, so I thought it would be good to just pass out all four. But I am passing them out by the paragraph (labeled according to order). Read it in order, jot down some initial reactions and thoughts to the piece in terms of what its argument is and how it delivers that argument (the evidence, the style, etc.). Once you are done that, think of a second possible order based on what’s here and what might be changed. What language would have to change to accommodate this new ordering? Would some sections get totally rewritten and others only somewhat so? Why? How? Have some attempts to do this work.


Ok, one (or possibly two) other classmates received the same editorial. Group up with them and share what you did. Talk about your responses to the below questions:


What is an editorial based on this piece and your knowledge of editorials overall? How do the decisions you made still adhere to the genre of the editorial? Or don’t they? Why or why not? What is a genre anyway? Can a genre do? How? How much do formal qualities matter in terms of genre? Substance? “Action”? What action is happening in the original and your version?


Ok, now I will group you with another pair (or trio) to share the possible changes you’d make and what all that says about genre as a concept. Then, share your responses to the questions from above in light of your respective work on your different pieces. Any similarities here or no ideas? Why do you think? Or largely agreement?


Break (15 min; probably will break in the middle of the previous activity)


Studio time (30-45 min). Working on second piece. Will come around to talk.


Reflections, writing to theory (10-20 min; if time). Wanted to pick a moment from one of your reflections that gestured toward a problem in public writing, and hopefully to spur you to move from the locale of what you literally did to attempt to generalize what you think about approaching writing for a public, and what public writing is or does.

There are a couple of things that I struggled with along the way of creating a brochure. First, there is a huge tradeoff between incorporating a vast amount of information and the risk of overcrowding.  As I was doing my research, I felt I needed to use much of the information and data I found. However, when I started constructing the actual brochure, I quickly ran out of room for it all. This led me to have to leave some information out.



Admin (5-15 min).