Carmichael Analysis

AP Language

September 15th, 2015

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Great discussion in class today! We’ll wrap up the reading tomorrow.1

In the interest of time (and your energy) you should choose a major point covered in a page or three and analyze the logic within. Pull in the other appeals as necessary—does he rely on his credibility or the audience’s emotions to support a point? Make that clear. Of course, we’ll discuss more tomorrow.

You will outline your analysis and begin writing in class on Thursday, type it that evening, and we will spend Friday in peer review. The final draft is due Monday.

  1. Really. []

King Me

AP Language

August 19th, 2015

Themes: , ,

Sorry about neglecting to update yesterday! We took a break from Nixon and discussed some arguments (and issues) that you all brought in. Your passion for the subjects was fantastic! I’m very excited to do it again next week. Presidential rhetoric can be inspiring, but may seem less immediate than the works you brought in.

Today we wrapped up Nixon’s speech and you began writing your first analysis. We are learning by doing here, so don’t worry if it feels a bit unclear. Here’s an excerpt from a previous student’s work to give you an idea of what we are working toward:

The audience—the average, tax-paying American citizen—has a potentially negative view of any person who may be involved in politics. Due to so may examples of politicians whose moral values have been worse than expected, politicians’ ethos have generally crumbled.

To lift this assumption from his own credibility, Nixon makes clear his modest personal life. He speaks of his two (though small) homes, and of the slight financial stress they have caused. Mention of debt immediately “speaks” to the audience, as they can likely relate to his troubles. Their pre-existing feeling of stress translates into empathy for Nixon.

He takes a more positive approach in his use of emotion in mentioning his family—his wife and child. Yet again, relating to the audience with a kindness toward their family, he uses their feelings of love and adoration to make his own situation relatable.

These are small paragraphs, and not supported with the text (please support your points), but this works well. The student begins each paragraph with an overview of Nixon’s actions, follows with paraphrasing from the speech as evidence (please cite yours), follows that with insight into the audience’s feelings about the topic, then concludes with analysis that shows their new vision of the candidate as a relatable man.

Here’s another example with the same elements more tightly united:

The manner in which Nixon displays American virtue gives him a special edge with the audience—primarily patriotic Americans. He uses the repetition of “I’m proud” (Nixon 3) to convey his inherent pride as an American, and pride in the work that he’s done to accomplish his goals, like any normal citizen would. He later quotes Abraham Lincoln, who says, “God must have loved the common people—he made so many of them” (Nixon 5). This may resonate with the audience, as Abraham Lincoln was a truly model American, and for Nixon to appear as virtuous as Lincoln gives him credibility. A bit later in the speech, Nixon admits that he “loves his country” and thinks it’s “in danger” (Nixon 6) and if he is showing concern for the average and everyday American, then what makes him any different from the rest of America?

This one does nicely in tying Nixon’s words to a belief shared by the audience and relating it to their hypothetical view of the candidate within each sentence.

Tonight (as I have your readings and the beginning of your outlines) take a look at the “Rhetoric” handout I gave you—what genre does this speech fit best within? There are several parts to the “Ethos” section—what appeals named within do you recall from the speech?

More tomorrow, then on to Kennedy! As always, send me an email or post a comment if you have a question or idea.

Essay Triage

AP Language

September 3rd, 2013

Themes: , ,

Today was the first essay triage of the year. I gave you a few things (below) to look for in your draft; if you found any, you have the option to revise. If you didn’t wrap up your revision in the computer lab today, the completed analysis is due tomorrow (Wednesday the 4th). We’ll be moving into presidential rhetoric then, and it isn’t a good idea to overlap.

Three things to always avoid in a rhetorical analysis:

If your analysis contained two or more of these, bookmark this page to remind yourself for next time.

Wallace Outlines

AP Language

August 28th, 2013

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We looked at a few outlines today from students gracious enough to let us learn from their process. A few things to keep in mind as you continue working:

In draft form this would read something like this:

By using informal diction such as “bull–y,” (Wallace 1) “there are these two guys,” (2) he speaks to his audience as “one of them” rather than a stodgy, learned academic doling out advice. He continues this with a deconstruction of the “standard requirement of . . . speeches” (1) and by assuring the students that he is “not the wise older fish” (1).

Keep up the hard work; we’ll do a run-through of your outlines in groups tomorrow and begin writing on Friday.

Wallace Analyses

AP Language

August 26th, 2013

Themes: , ,

Tonight you are to begin writing your outline for a rhetorical analysis of David Foster Wallace’s commencement address to Kenyon College. The goal is not to churn out a perfect example of the form (b/c you’re taking the wrong course if you’re at that point) but to begin collecting your thoughts into a workable flow. Here’s a way to go about it if you’re stuck:

  1. Look over your annotations of the speech.1
  2. If you notice a pattern (“jokes,” “stories,” “slang,” “syllogisms,” etc.), group them together. These will fall under the main points of your essay.
    2b. If you don’t notice any patterns, look for the three basic appeals: How does he help his audience trust him? How does he make his argument seem reasonable? How does he make his audience care? Group your answers to the last three questions together. These will make up the major points of your essay.
  3. Take a step back. Whether you are organizing this by patterns or by appeals, you may have lots of evidence under one major point and little under the others. If so, consider bolstering the little ones by looking back over your annotations or dividing the larger one.
  4. Write down what you believe his argument is. It doesn’t have to be worded perfectly, but it should be accurate.
  5. Above each group of patterns or appeals write how the group supports the appeal of his argument. In this step you’re writing the gist of your topic sentences while preparing to show your audience how the disparate rhetorical elements of his argument tie together to make it convincing.
  6. Stop. Or continue, but that is really all we need for discussion tomorrow. You can fiddle with the bullet symbols if you like. I enjoy hederas, myself.
  1. If you don’t have annotations, remember the small panic you’re feeling now during the next week-long discussion of a work. Now put that aside for now, take a deep breath, and read through the speech again, marking answers to the questions on our first post. Once you’ve annotated the entire speech, make an attempt at briefly summarizing his thesis. Now head to #2 above. []