Who is “guitarsophist”?

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

4 thoughts on “Who is “guitarsophist”?

  1. Justina Salassi

    Hello there. I would love to reference some of your work in this blog in my Composition courses. I teach mainly online, so I would need to give them the link or download the pdf of your handouts. I don’t see any information on how to provide attribution to your work. Do you have a CC license or a statement that should be included with any reference to your material? Thank so much for your work!

  2. guitarsophist

    Your comment caused me to go research this issue. I have now put up a notice for a CC Attribution-Non-Commercial International license. You are welcome to use these materials in your class.

    Thanks for your interest in my blog!

  3. Janet Lively

    Professor Edlund:

    Thank you so much for sharing your assignments and handouts. I had resisted giving up a textbook until I discovered your site. Your articles on the 3 appeals, stasis, and classical pattern of persuasion are now foundational documents in my first semester, first year community college writing class. The are accessible and interesting to students.

    I do have one question about the classical pattern of persuasion, posed by one of my students. She was having trouble distinguishing between possible positions and counterargument. My explanation about “possible positions” as a way to frame/qualify her claim didn’t seem to help. Can you help with another explanation of the difference between the two? Thanks! — Janet Lively

    1. guitarsophist

      That is an excellent question. Every possible position has arguments in favor of it and arguments against it. For example, suppose I ask, “Considering the problem of climate change, what is the best kind of car to buy?” The choices (or positions) are electric car, hybrid car, gasoline powered car, or diesel. The electric car pollutes the least (argument in favor), but may be inconvenient to charge (argument against). The hybrid car can be refueled at any gas station (argument in favor), but pollutes more than the electric car (argument against). The gasoline car is cheaper and convenient to fuel (arguments in favor), but is not as efficient and pollutes more than the other two (arguments against). Diesel cars have been found to pollute more than advertised because some manufacturers cheated on the test (arguments against). It is true that arguments against one position might actually also be arguments in favor of another.

      On many issues there are multiple possible positions. We consider the arguments for and against each position when making our choice, then we emphasize the arguments in favor of our chosen position and refute or minimize the arguments against it, in hopes that our audience will see things our way.

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