Class of 2022 | English Majoremail@example.com
22 April 2020
Assistant Professor of English
Saint Leo University
Dear Dr. Friend,
In the beginning of the semester I didn’t realize the true importance of mastering rhetoric, but as I continued to learn about the skill I began to realize how and why it’s used every time someone wants to persuade a group or people. In class, learning rhetoric and achieving the course outcomes throughout the semester has been easy because of all the informal group discussions we’ve had in person and on Zoom and the assignments that we’ve completed for each topic we discussed.
In the first course outcome, we were expected to have informal conversations where we would discuss the origins and the history of rhetoric and then make connections and distinctions between the origins and modern popular assumptions about the way it’s used. In the beginning of the semester we specifically did this when we were first introduced to Plato’s thoughts about how writing and rhetoric would degrade people’s thinking. As a class, we tried to figure out if we could reach an understanding of the effects rhetoric and writing have on thinking and ethics by completing the assignment Plato and Abe Lincoln use Google. We made a meme that made a claim about the modern perception of rhetoric, for my meme I decided to use an image of Donald Trump with the words “When your boyfriend says you’re spoiled but in reality you just know how to use rhetoric correctly”. I explained that today people think rhetoric is used selfishly because of politicians like Trump and even though Plato’s Classical Rhetoric list, that includes invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, is older it can still be applied to modern day meme making because it’s very broad and simple.
In the second course outcome, we were expected to use the variety of texts in print, visual, and aural formats to be able to define, explain, and identify rhetorical devices and logical fallacies. Before we did the assignments Advertising Fallacies, Two Sides, Same Coin, and The King’s Speech we were given handouts and practiced several activities in class, like a scavenger hunt in the most recent state of the union address, to make sure we were able to identify and understand the different logical fallacies. We also listened to our different classmates give presentations explaining the use of rhetorical fallacies in things like popular culture and the news. In the three homework assignments we were expected to explain the rhetorical elements and fallacies in advertisements, a political current event, and a famous speech that was given in the past. It was important for us to understand how rhetorical strategies are used past and present and in everyday life because if you’re able identify other people’s use of rhetoric you’ll be able to use those strategies when you’re trying to persuade someone yourself.
In the third course outcome, we were expected to use a modern text and employ the Aristotelian triangle and other academic/theoretical tools to produce a rhetorical analysis of the text. We specifically practiced this outcome in the assignment, Rhetorical Analysis of the News. In this assignment, I rhetorically analyzed the article “How Will the Coronavirus Change the World? By Simon Mair. In my analysis, I recognized Mair’s use of ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos and how he used these elements to drive his points. Without knowing these elements I wouldn’t have been able to identify how Mair was able to persuade me as a reader. Understanding rhetoric gives you a different lense to look through when it comes to analyzing text and it allows you to look at the deeper meaning of someone’s intentions when trying to get a point across to a specific audience.
In the fourth course outcome, we were expected to give examples of rhetoric and be able to emulate the effective rhetorical elements in the example while creating a similar example of our own work. In the assignment, Two Sides, Same Coin, I took two makeup reviews on the new Jaclyn Hill Palette and analyzed how each of the authors use rhetorical elements. I noticed that one of the reviews was more biased than the other because the author was a fan of the creator of the palette. After rhetorically analyzing each of the reviews, I was able to write a similar response from both sides because I could recognize that even though the authors were writing about the same thing they were still giving two different perspectives to the same audience, makeup lovers. This helped me understand and execute the different use of rhetorical elements in different genres and modalities in my own work.
In the fifth course outcome, we were expected to find, use, and explain multiple features unique to the particular platform or modality which helps our writing have the right effect on a specific audience. In the assignment Remix Yourself, we were expected to take a paper, discussion post, etc. from a different course and re-imagine the work into a different medium for a different audience. I decided to use a piece from my Creative Nonfiction class that told the story of my best friend teaching me how to drive and rework it into a blog post about things I’d wish I’d known while learning how to drive. I decided to use a blog as my different medium because I felt like my targeted audience, people learning how to drive, would look for tips on search engines like Google and find my blog post to be useful. I know that when I was learning how to drive I could have used the advice that I gave in the blog post, so it made sense to put it on a platform that could reach and have the right effect on any person who was looking for tips that would help them while they were learning how to drive.
Another assignment we did in class that achieved the fifth course outcome was the PSA Plan with Audience Analysis. We were expected to find a topic for a PSA and then send a memo with details on the specific modalities that we would use to effectively get our message across to a specific audience. In my memo, I decided to make my PSA about mental health awareness for teenagers. I wanted to use a poster geared towards friends of depressed students who deal with mental health and make a palm card for students who were actually suffering with their mental health. It was important for me to have these posters hung up and palm cards handed out at a place that would cause a teen to struggle with their mental health so I decided to distribute the PSA’s at colleges. When I was analyzing the audience, it made more sense to put these two items at a place where they would have the most effect on my targeted audience.
The last course outcome we were expected to complete was to be able to locate, incorporate, and give credit for media that we were legally able to re-use or remix. In the beginning of the semester, you gave us websites, like unsplash.com, that had free photos on them that we could use on our blog posts without having to worry about copyright. Before this class, I didn’t necessarily worry about using copyrighted images because I had never published anything like a blog post online. You really made sure that we understood the importance of copyright by looking at different social media websites’ rules and guidelines. This put copyright into perspective for me and helped me realize the importance of giving credit for media that we were legally able to re-use or remix. I didn’t understand the extent of the consequences to copyright until I took this class because no one ever made it a point to really teach us about the different copyright guidelines that big corporations, like Twitter and Instagram, have to follow.
All in all, this class really helped me grow as a writer because I was able to understand the use of rhetoric and then actually put those skills into my work by doing the different homework assignments. After taking this class and accomplishing all of the course outcomes, I really feel like I’m one step closer to mastering the skill of rhetoric.