I chaired the task force that originally developed the California State University Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC). In this blog I intend to discuss the theory and practice of rhetorical approaches to teaching texts–all kinds of texts at all levels. The initial posts will be re-posts of things I have done on my Guitarsophist blog. I felt that the mixture of topics on that blog–music and musical equipment, bicycles, travel, rhetoric, teaching, random thoughts–was confusing to readers and prevented the blog from developing any kind of following.
This blog will be about analyzing texts and teaching them. I will post handouts, links, ideas, and suggested texts. I may do some ERWC module development on this site, with live feedback from teachers and users. I may also post some teaching videos. I hope to make this site useful to teachers and scholars throughout the land.
What does it mean to teach text rhetorically? In a nutshell, it means that we are interested in the ways in which text creates 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.