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”

Working the Problem: Rhetorical Thinking and the Design Process

By Jennifer Fletcher NOTE: This post first appeared on the Stenhouse Blog. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? This question has become a guiding line of inquiry in my work as a teacher these days. For both me and my students, the ability to respond effectively to novel challenges hasContinue reading “Working the Problem: Rhetorical Thinking and the Design Process”

The Bias Against Bias

By Jennifer Fletcher Students sometimes feel like they can pull a mic drop on other writers by calling them out for their bias. Labeling a writer “biased” is an ethos slam. One Oxford English Dictionary definition describes bias as “prejudice.” Another mentions “slanting” or “distortion.” It’s hard to read for understanding once you’ve decided a text is prejudiced orContinue reading “The Bias Against Bias”

What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

By Jennifer Fletcher This past year forced me to walk the walk in my life as a teacher of rhetorical literacy skills. After all, rhetoric is the art of adaptation. Me thinking “I don’t know how to do this” or “I’ve never done this before” is an almost daily occurrence these days. I like to workContinue reading “What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?”

Parlor Crashers

Many teachers use Kenneth Burke’s famous parlor metaphor to help their students understand what it means to take a turn in an academic conversation: “Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for themContinue reading “Parlor Crashers”