RHE 310: Course Paradigms
Unit One: Narrative
Reading: The reading for this unit should provide students with models of effective narration, preferably models that highlight a skill that students should try to imitate themselves (vivid description, consistent point of view, character development, noticeable arc in the story’s progression). Students may also be given textbook selections or informational pieces about how to rhetorically construct a moving narrative.
Research: If the students are encouraged to write a narrative that draws on their own experiences, then no research may be necessary. If students are encouraged to write a narrative about something that they have not directly experienced, then they may have to perform two types of research: (1) General background research to help them understand the subject, its history, its present condition. (2) Fieldwork (such as interviews with actors
Writing: Narratives come in many shapes, and students can be given a wide latitude with this assignment. They can be encouraged to write: a humorous story about their lives; a somber tale about a moving experience; a piece of “new journalism” about something that interests them; or even an application essay that explains one’s background and suitability for admission into law or graduate school.
Unit Two: Evaluation
Reading: The reading for this unit should provide students with models of convincing evaluation. This reading should also cover the basics of criteria-match argumentation—how to select the and defend criteria for determining something’s worth and how to show that a specific object fits these criteria.
Research: In order to make this piece interesting, students should evaluate something controversial or propose a controversial evaluation of something familiar. In order to learn what may elicit disagreement, students will have to investigate a controversy. They must research the object that they care to evaluate or the history of arguments made about things like this. What do people in Austin typically value on the music scene? What do people so far have to say about this film? Their knowledge of this controversy should help them to make an interesting argument that positions itself against—and possibly refutes—other claims.
Writing: Students can write on a number of topics for a range of issues. They can write evaluations of political candidates or policies as if for a partisan magazine. They can write reviews of films, novels, or restaurants, as if for a blog or the culinary section of a daily paper.
Unit Three: Analyzing Culture
Reading: The reading for this unit should provide models of entertaining cultural analyses, and should also include advice about how to make and integrate a range of arguments in a single piece of writing. Students might read about causal arguments, definitional arguments, rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, and ethos), policy arguments, or rhetorical fallacies.
Research: Students must learn the background, history, and contemporary manifestation of the cultural object that they choose to analyze. This research will require both traditional investigation into print an online sources found in the library and personal experience with the object considered. Students may have to read about bell bottom pants (from the 1960s to the present), and they may have to buy and wear a pair themselves.
Writing: Students write essays that make some claim about an aspect of their own culture. E.g. this trend exists and has been around for some time; this style of music is heavily derivative of something else; this type of video game has these effects; this manner of dress is silly or the next big thing in fashion.