Making the Most of the Opportune Moment

By Jennifer Fletcher In the novel The Hundred Secret Senses (1996), Amy Tan describes the sense of truth as a tingling along the back of the neck. I think of kairos the same way—a felt sense of truth to the moment. It’s that heightened awareness that helps us say the things that need to beContinue reading “Making the Most of the Opportune Moment”

Paraphrase and Summary: Getting the “They Say” Right

By Jennifer Fletcher In other posts (see here and here), I’ve written about the value of dialogic argumentation as a mainstay of intellectual work. This is the “they say, I say” approach to source-based writing described by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein in their popular little book by the same name. Understanding and responding toContinue reading “Paraphrase and Summary: Getting the “They Say” Right”

Making Someone Wrong

By Jennifer Fletcher Pick a side and prove the other side wrong. In a nutshell, this is what many argument prompts tell students to do. But “making someone wrong”—that is, accusing, shaming, or blaming someone else instead of seeking a win-win solution—rarely serves our best interests in personal relationships or in academic and professional settings. Continue reading “Making Someone Wrong”

Writing in the Presence of Others

By Jennifer Fletcher As a graduate student, I remember one of my advisors telling me that we’re all just adding our bricks to the wall. At the time, I couldn’t help hearing echoes of Pink Floyd, and I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate my advisor’s point about the collaborative nature of intellectual labor. After a coupleContinue reading “Writing in the Presence of Others”

Understanding “Theme” as Paraphrase

By Jennifer Fletcher Getting the “They Say” right of an academic conversation (see Graff and Birkenstein’s perennially popular book “They Say, I Say“) starts with a willingness to understand a text on its own terms. This involves listening for the questions a text asks and answers and not just mapping a familiar idea or “universal”Continue reading “Understanding “Theme” as Paraphrase”

How Ethos Impacts Pathos: A Tale of Two Writers

By Jennifer Fletcher It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…or, at least, so we would have to believe to accept the arguments of both Martin E. P. Seligman and Barbara Ehrenreich on the topic of American life in the early 21st century. Seligman is the author of such books asContinue reading “How Ethos Impacts Pathos: A Tale of Two Writers”

Writing Thesis Statements as Enthymemes

By Jennifer Fletcher In my new book Writing Rhetorically, I share one of my favorite quotations from rhetoricians Edward P.J. Corbett and Rosa A. Eberly: “Reasoning, by itself, will not get the potatoes peeled” (1). It takes humans in communication with other humans to accomplish real work in the world. When we reason rhetorically, weContinue reading “Writing Thesis Statements as Enthymemes”

Diction Design

By Jennifer Fletcher Did you ever watch the television show Project Runway on Bravo? If so, do you remember the accessory wall with its array of shoes, belts, and handbags suitable for a variety of occasions? Style mentor Tim Gunn always encouraged the fashion designers competing on the show to use the range of available accessories “thoughtfully.” Writers also needContinue reading “Diction Design”

A Claim by Any Other Name

By Jennifer Fletcher In an outstanding webinar I recently attended on rhetorical modes, the presenters explained that “modes” are text structures, text types, or organizational patterns. “Why do we do that?” one participant asked, “Why do we have so many different names for the same thing in English language arts? Wouldn’t it be easier ifContinue reading “A Claim by Any Other Name”

Resurrecting Dead Words

By Jennifer Fletcher In Teaching Arguments, I write about an activity I used for many years with my high school and college students: dead word funerals. I first learned about “dead words” when I was a student teacher back in the mid-nineties. At the time, it seemed like a clever and fun way to teachContinue reading “Resurrecting Dead Words”