Experiential-Learning Document and Rhetorical Analysis: Big Picture

One of the reasons I like to have only a piece of reflective writing due at the end of the semester (rather than One Big Paper) is that I want you to take time to re-read and think deeply about what you have written this term.

To write about that process, essentially, is the write a Rhetorical Analysis, something that you have already done. The only difference in the Experiential-Learning Document (ELD) vs. the Rhetorical Analysis assignment is that you are writing about multiple texts in order to say something about your growth and interests as a writer rather than being motivated by a theoretical lens to analyze a single text.

In Learning Module 9, you reflected about the sorts of goals you have had during the term and taking the time to closely read your writing and the writing of your peers as a way to gather evidence for goals and learning.

For the rest of Learning Module 10 (our last module!), you’ll be spending more time trying to think about how you might fit the pieces together to start writing your ELD.

Small Picture, Intermediate, Big Picture

It might be helpful to think about different “levels” of writing to think about how you’ve grown are how you want to keep growing as a writer:

  • Small Picture: This is the kind of stuff that happens at the level of word choice and sentence structure. Think sentence-level style concerns, word choice and tone, rhetorical choices involving punctuation, sentence variation and patterns, etc.
  • Intermediate: This is the kind of stuff that happens at a larger scale, but not in a totalizing way of looking at an entire draft. Think paragraphing, integrating sources into paragraphs, transitioning between ideas.
  • Big Picture: This is the kind of stuff that you can only think about across the entire piece of writing. Think organization, the progression of an argument or narrative, genre conventions.

This is just a model to think with, and not something that is “true.” If this model for thinking about writing were “true,” then it would be “false” to suggest that decisions at the “small picture” level do not affect “big picture” aspects of writing. But, these things bleed into one another all the time! Patterns in style impact an argument, how you integrate sources into paragraphs rely on stylistic decisions, organization impacts how you transition into new ideas, and so on.

Still, breaking things down makes thinking about the different kinds of writerly moves you make in a less overwhelming fashion.

On this page, and on the two pages after this one, you will be asked to look at your own writing from these perspectives.

Let’s move from the big picture to intermediate and then finally to small picture.

Big Picture

In terms of Course Goals and Unit Subgoals, these are the sorts of things that involve Big Picture writing concerns:

  • Compose with an awareness of how intersectional identity, social conventions, and rhetorical situations shape writing: Demonstrate in your writing an awareness of how personal experience, our discourse communities, social conventions, and rhetorical considerations of audience, purpose, genre, and medium shape how and what we write.
  • Read and analyze texts critically: Analyze and interpret key ideas in various discursive genres (e.g., essays, news articles, speeches, documentaries, plays, poems, short stories), with careful attention to the role of rhetorical conventions such as style, tropes, genre, audience, and purpose.
  • Understand language as social and as part of who you are
  • Experiment with the rhetorical power of tapping into the full range of your rhetorical expertise (i.e., your rhetorical practices in all of the contexts in which you use rhetoric)
  • Learn the functions of rhetoric: make knowledge, coordinate human and nonhuman activity, and impact others.
  • Learn the differences between genres at the level of words, sentences, paragraphing, document design, mode, etc.
  • Recognize the full rhetorical situation to understand the context for writing
  • Consider the important material concerns for writing, to include different modes, circulation, and other infrastructural concerns for writing
  • Establish links between claims and evidence
  • Apply theoretical lenses to what we analyze in ways that both expand and limit what we can know
  • Integrate textual analysis into a larger argument or narrative
  • Write to learn (e.g., writing out processes and aspects of a topic to see what you know, moving from analysis to synthesis, moving from summary to analysis, coordinating multiple voices to reveal something new)
  • Learn differences in research genres and disciplinary knowledge (e.g., using documentation style, IMRaD vs. thesis-driven paper)
  • Organize and making an argument (e.g., stasis theory, Toulmin’s model, organizing sources and mapping their use, making an annotated bibliography, supplementing research process onto writing process)

Looking over your writing again, what do you notice as areas of growth from early writing to later writing that attends to bigger picture writing items like the above? How might you describe this progress in the ELD do you think?

Think about an entire paper. How is the Rhetorical Analysis organized from draft to draft? How did the thesis change? How did your writing consider your audience from the early draft of your Literacy Narrative to the first draft of your Research-Driven Writing Project?

These are example questions to think through, but utilize the full list of course and unit goals above to think through possible questions and things you can notice in how your writing grew from early on to where it is now (and feel free to use writing from other classes to help you think about this if you want!

In a comment below, using notes from last week when you close read your own writing as well as through returning to skimming through your writing again, talk through specific evidence from your writing that you might use to write about your writing in terms of “big picture” aspects of writing. Use about 100-200 words to do this.

Remember: nothing has to be “perfect” here…you can write about things that improved but you still would like to keep improving! That is honestly how most of this stuff is: frustratingly always-in-progress. But, life is kind of always in process and sort of never finished, so, yeah.

After commenting below, click on the button to continue the module:

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11 thoughts on “Experiential-Learning Document and Rhetorical Analysis: Big Picture

  1. One thing that I want to write about is the way that I am using claims in my writing and providing evidence for these claims. In our rhetorical analysis paper, our claims are meant to be supported and without proper evidence, our grade would suffer as a result. Throughout the course, we have been working on each part of the goals for the course and it has allowed me to become a better writer.

  2. I would like to write about establishing links between claims and evidence. I feel that with each major writing assignment, I improved in terms of cohesion. My first draft of the rhetorical analysis was lacking in cohesion, with the main problem being that I did not establish a thesis that was specific enough. After I rewrote my thesis, it was much easier to organize my paragraphs in the direction of my thesis. When it came to writing my research paper, my first draft had less problem in establishing links between claims and evidence.

  3. One area where I have noticed some degree of improvement by looking back at my writing is that I have become more adapted to understanding how authors use rhetoric to explain their ideas as well as to convince their audience of the factuality of the information provided. I have similarly sought to incorporate rhetorical strategies in my writing in order to make it more persuasive and reflective of my voice as a writer. It is my hope that I will have tapped into the full range of rhetoric by the close of the semester so that I can incorporate it into any genre of writing.

  4. Rhetorical analysis:
    Thesis draft 1:
    “In San Junipero, we are introduced to a stance of ethical-emotional retrospection of the use of technology associated with the science-fiction of virtual reality beyond the chaotic theme usually found in the series.”

    Thesis Draft 2:
    “This Black Mirror’s episode goes beyond an anarchic story setting, even beyond technology. San Junipero depicts a moral dilemma in which real emotional variables and limitations play a major role, while still managing to cause reflection behind the ethics of a certain -ostensibly harmless- innovation. ”

    In my second thesis, I clearly express what the main idea of the paper is while my first thesis is not narrow enough and a little vague. Also in my second draft, my other paragraphs connected -mostly- with my thesis, much better than in my first draft in my opinion.

  5. Looking back on my previous papers over the course of the semester, I noticed how much I have improved on the subjects I wanted to improve upon. I am much better at coercing sentences to flow better; overall the way I write has improved drastically. I complete more of my thoughts and go more in-depth when it comes to conveying said thoughts.

  6. One thing that I feel I have improved on throughout this semester is finding a reason for my writing and looking at the function of rhetoric in other people’s writing. As I have been writing throughout this semester, I constantly asked myself, “why am I writing this,” “what makes this important?” Asking this has helped guide my writing to make it feel like it actually matters. I also find myself looking at other people’s writing in a more analytical way. When I read something that someone wrote or listen to something someone has said, I often ask, “why did they choose to say it like that,” or “how did the way they conveyed a message make it so powerful?”

  7. When I look back at the papers I wrote this semester I can see an improvement in my sentence structure and my revision. One of my early goals was to be able to have sentences vary in length and word choice. I feel I have done a great job doing this especially in my most recent essay. I also wanted to work on my revision skills this semester because I usually give up and get lazy. But this has also improved and now I look forward to the revision stage.

  8. Looking back at this semester, I feel like I have improved on both structuring my work (sentences, words, paragraphs) and establishing claims with evidence. Both are important things to work in order to become a skilled writer. Structure is very important because it determines how there audience might view your writing. If there is a sloppy structure, the reader might not fully grasp what is trying to be said. Establishing claims with evidence is important too because what good is making a claim with no evidence to back it up. Evidence makes a point stronger and persuades a reader.

  9. I think what I might write about is my change in analysis for my papers as a whole. I seem to use more and more lenses as my writing grows. In my literacy narrative it was really revolved around me and my viewpoint. In my rhetorical analysis I start to view things not only from a personal lens but from black women as well. Now in my research-driven writing, I use the lens of history and from there specific groups of people in those times (ex. black men, women and families).

  10. Though I haven’t formed my thesis yet for the research paper, so far I have found many credible sources with multiple perspectives on a few issues that revolve around my general topic. So far, I have “tangible influence of misinformation”, “fact-checking initiatives”, and “hypocrisy in social media policy enforcement”. I feel that by forming my ideas on what exactly I want to write about instead of starting with a thesis and molding the sources around it gave me a different result than what I originally thought I had. I thought I was going to revolve everything around the first topic and wrote a very long background to set it up but now I understand that the second and third topics are more interesting to me.

  11. One thing I want to write about is how genres affected my quality of writing. My narrative and rhetorical analysis papers were the ones I did the best on but I also enjoyed writing them. Whereas I struggled the most on my research paper and did the worst on it too.

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