Post #9: Moving forward with Social Change Projects

Due by class 11/11

Please see my email about your prewriting assignment due by 11/11 and create a new post in your own blog accordingly. Happy Halloween!

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Post #8: Proposing an Intervention

Due by class 10/28

  • Based on our in-class discussions and writings about others’ interventional activities, we will now try shifting from being a critic to being an intervener. Arts, culture, economy, environment, health, language, literature, race and ethnicity, religion, science, technology, and so on… Do some personal freewriting to think about a situation related to any of these areas or others where your expectancies of experience do not to fit your lived experience,  where you would like to be able to persuade someone or a group to make a specific decision or embark on a specific course of action for change. Use some of the discursive moves we have discovered in the artifacts we have analyzed during the semester (for example, Sir Ken Robinson’s speech about education or the NatureIsSpeaking campaign videos) to plan/outline how you will support your argument for change.
  • Then, propose an intervention, by responding to the following in your post.
  1. Explain the purpose and nature of the intervention. Also clarify what kind of an action (or change of thinking ) you will call for.
  2. Who will be the audience of this intervention?
  3. What will be some rhetorical moves you might make in your argument to enact the intervention?  How would RSI terms (naming, need, attention, power, strategies, tactics, maneuvers, etc) help?
  4. What may the outcomes be? How can this intervention benefit society and lead to social change?
  • Overall, write a few paragraphs proposing an intervention. Also think about a medium (website, brochure, video) which can help you convey your call for action, and state it in your post.
  • Be ready to share your ideas with peers/class.
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Post #7: Environmentalist Rhetoric (Nature Is Speaking)

Today, we have viewed several videos as part of a campaign exemplifying environmentalist rhetoric. In light of our class discussion, impersonate an object or a thing that is part of the nature: write a message similar to those of the videos, while you may adopt a similar or different tone (sad, funny, humorous, etc).  Be ready to share it during the next class, and comment on others’ messages.

Nature Is Speaking

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Post #6: Rhetorical Analysis – Prewriting II

Due by class on 10/7

Using the terms you are suggested to use from the RSI model (symbolic categorization, social system, naming, expectancy, anomaly, need, power, attention, foregrounding, backgrounding, ideology, the American dream, etc), start drafting some analysis paragraphs for your Rhetorical Analysis. You may begin by drafting a topic sentence (main point) for each of the terms that you will use for your analysis (you can keep revising these topic sentences later within the complete structure of the essay). Make a bullet point list of several such topic sentences, and post them in your blog: Post #6.

For example:

*In Freedom Writers, we observe certain administrators’ educational intervention to categorize certain students as fulfilling the expectancies of a particular symbolically-created classroom of “unteachable” and “at-risk” students in Long Beach, California. (In the complete analysis paragraph, you will want to explicate this topic statement with examples and state how those examples explain your claim.)


Once you have some topic statements, complete at least 2-3 full body paragraphs (they don’t have to be all organized yet), and also post them in Post #6.  Please note that a draft of your analysis (as complete as possible) will be due for in-class peer reviews on October 9th.

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Post #5: Social Change in Action (The Hunger Banquet)

Due by 11:59 pm on 10/1

On October 1, 2014, our class will participate in the Hunger Banquet at Longwood University. The event will take place from 5:30-7:00 pm in the Dorrill Dining Hall – Nance Room.  On the following day, you will blog about the Hunger Banquet as an example of social change in action. At least in three paragraphs, please respond to the following prompts to describe and analyze this event.

*What is the intervention? What is the change being promoted? Who is the (primary) intervener? Who are the audience of this intervention?

*How are some of the terms in relation to the RSI (Rhetoric of Social Intervention) model linked to this event? Think about these terms and include your comments about how those play out in the Hunger Banquet: symbolic categorization, naming, expectancy, anomaly (or deviance), need (any alternative interpretation of needs?), power (and/or interdependence), attention (foregrounding or backgrounding), ideology, the American dream, etc. Try to address as many of the terms as possible.

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Post #4: Rhetorical Analysis – Prewriting

Due by class on 9/30

Based on our class discussions (see your notes as well as Canvas where you may find some of the class notes), start planning your rhetorical analysis.*  First, choose a person, a group, or an organization as a primary intervener who engages in a particular social change attempt.  Then, select a rhetorical artifact (or artifacts) with clear verbal and visual content which represents this attempt.  You might choose one or a few examples (or a combination) of the following artifacts representing the attempt: public service announcements, movies, TV programs, songs, TV commercials, print advertisements and/or other print materials from a particular campaign, brochures, websites, public speeches, cartoons, comic strips, etc. (Please contact me as soon as possible, if you aren’t sure whether a particular text counts as an appropriate rhetorical artifact.)

Please make sure to choose texts with accessible verbal and visual content (written words that can be easily read, visuals or movie files that can be downloaded or taped, etc).  Briefly, you should be able to examine the texts in detail.

Once your have identified the artifact(s), read or view its content at least once. Then, create your Post #4, and blog about your artifact: describe and summarize in a few paragraphs the rhetorical situation of the artifact. What is the artifact? What is it about? What is going on in this artifact? Who are involved in it? You should also offer relevant background information about it (for example, the director who made it, the company that released it, the times and places where it appeared, its significance, information about audience reception, etc). Your description should be as detailed as possible so that you have enough material to revise and use later for an important section of your paper.

Having described the artifact, write a one-paragraph reflection on how you plan to analyze it through the RSI method.  What may be some of the RSI notions you can use to make a better sense of the implications of your artifacts for social change?  Why are they relevant to this artifact (or these artifacts)? You don’t have to post your analysis results, yet! However, you are always welcome to go beyond what’s asked of you in each blog post.

*Be prepared to share your blog post with us during the next class periods.

*Note that the Rhetorical Analysis is an approximately 1500-word essay. Think about the scope of your project accordingly.

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Post #3: Naming/Renaming for Social Change

Due by class on 9/16

This week, we’ve started our discussions of “naming” and its relationship to social intervention.  As rhetoric is essentially about how words and labels shape our worlds, we will be elaborating on the terms related to “naming” throughout the semester. As a starting point, please complete the related reading from our textbook, and please apply some of the concepts discussed in the textbook by evaluating the movie, Freedom Writers, in light of the following prompts:

1) Think about the symbolic worlds of the students featured in this film. What class is Erin Gruwell teaching in the film, and how does the name of this class function rhetorically in the students’ symbolic worlds? Try to cite examples from the students’ reactions to Gruwell during the class meetings (how students perceive the course, etc).

2) How does Erin Gruwell, then, constitute a name for herself in her symbolizing activities (inside and outside of the class, or during her interactions with other teachers or the administrators)? How does she rhetorically reason to support the way she names herself?

3) How do the school administrators name Erin Gruwell in response (to her teaching methods, etc)? How do they support their rhetorical reasoning?

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Post #2: Considering Interventional Attemps

Due by the class on 9/9

This week we discussed the symbolic foundations of rhetoric as well as its relationship with social and ideological systems. Based on our class discussions, choose an organization that engages in interventional activities. Then, select a rhetorical text created by (or for) this organization (such as the public service announcement below, but please choose your own example), and comment on how the text functions as an interventional attempt.

  • How does the rhetorical text use symbols to intervene into a social system?
  • Does it show any traces of an ideological system, and how?
  • How does the interventional attempt promote change?
  • Could it impede change or result in any unintended change?

*This is an interpretive question, so please feel free to apply the course concepts to the best of your understanding (as long as you respond to all of the prompts.)

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Post #1: Introduction

Due by the class on 9/4

In your first blog post, please clarify the rhetorical situation for your blog (which is a rhetorical artifact): writer, purpose, message, audience, context. Who is the writer/blogger (brief info about you)? What is the writer/you writing about? What is the purpose of your blog (include the course information but you may also include a purpose of your own)? Who is your intended audience (write one or two sentences about who might make use of this blog or would like to check it out, etc)? What is the context for this blog (you can think about the classroom and beyond)? There is no one way of answering these questions, so be flexible and use your creativity. The main purpose of your first post is to clarify why your blog exists and other related questions that your readers might have upon stumbling upon your blog.

*Please title your posts in the same way I title mine so that I can clearly identify your respective posts for evaluation (e.g., so that I know you are writing in response to my “Introduction” prompts, and so on).

*Also, once you create your Course Blog, please submit your link by adding it to the box on the right side bar in my blog.

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Welcome to ENGL 305: Rhetoric and Social Change!

Welcome to our course blog! This blog will serve as a medium for us to communicate about our course, which will allow you to explore rhetoric as the basic driver of social change as well as build your abilities to reflect on your symbolic nature and to act as critics/initiators of social change.

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