My first blog on WordPress was about music, guitars, amplifiers, and other instruments. I chose the username “guitarsophist,” so that is who I am on WordPress. In my other life, I am John R. Edlund, Professor Emeritus at Cal Poly Pomona.
I chaired the task force that originally developed the California State University Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC). I also chaired the ERWC Steering Committee from 2004-2018. I stepped down after 15 years.
In this blog I discuss the theory and practice of rhetorical approaches to teaching texts–all kinds of texts at all levels. I post handouts, links, ideas, and suggested texts. I am still developing teaching modules, which I post on occasion, but they usually are mini-modules that do not follow the ERWC template. I learned a lot from my 15 years working with ERWC, but now I am experimenting with different designs.
What does it mean to teach text rhetorically? In a nutshell, it means that we are interested in the ways in which texts create effects in readers. We are interested in
- The ways the sounds and rhythms of the language attract and guide the attention of readers;
- The effects that sets of terms, what Kenneth Burke calls “terministic screens,” reflect, select, and deflect reality for readers;
- The ways authors deploy what Aristotle calls “the available means of persuasion” to create effects in readers;
- The ways writers acquire and appropriate the words of others and turn them to their own purposes;
- The ways writers design texts to arrange and assign roles to readers and other participants, so that we can ask questions like, “Do you want to be the reader this text constructs you to be?”
- The relations between authors, implied authors, narrators, viewpoint characters, and readers,
- The tensions and meaning-making relationships between different elements of multi-modal texts;
- The ways in which rhetorical theory can inform pedagogy;
- And all the ways we can help students become fluent, engaged readers who can draw on their reading experiences to become fluent, engaged, and engaging writers.
John R. Edlund AKA guitarsophist