ENG 594 9: Antiracist Writing Assessment

Today’s Plan:

  • Quick Reading: Inoue’s grading contract
  • Assessment Exercise
  • Discussion: Inoue
  • Break
  • Syllabus Review
  • Paper 3 Final List (let’s just add final 2 and 3 together)
  • Homework


After we have read the grading contract, I would like you to break into groups of two. Groups should discuss the following talking points:

  • What elements of our course line up with Inoue’s prescriptions for an anitracist writing class?
  • What elements of our course don’t line up with Inoue’s prescriptions for an antiracist writing class?
  • After reading Inoue, what is one thing you will change the next time you teach this class (or even something you will change this semester)
  • Do you think eng 122 could work if it awarded grades based on *labor* and not *quality*?

I’ll give everyone 20 minutes to discuss each of these talking points, then we will reconvene and compare answers.

Inoue Discussion Points

  • How does structural racism show up in writing assessment? To what evidence does Inuoe point?
  • Pg 9. Assessment & pedagogy
  • Seven elements of assessment:
    • Power (questions for students p. 123)(power, in light of Foucault, explicit p. 125)
    • Parts (artifacts, intro labor p.128, counter arguments to labor p. 131)
    • Purposes (negotiate explicit purposes p. 134, from grading, ranking, evaluating to description, response, dialogue [reflection]
      p. 135)
    • People (people reflecting treat people like people pg. 141, suggested texts, pg. 141, student counterarguments to labor pg. 144, how place shapes performance/being-as pg. 147, student desire for grammar 149,
    • Processes (why post-process leads to labor over evaluation 153, anticipating teacher resistance to labor 153, how to make labor visible,
    • Products (portfolio evaluation & how grades as labor changes feedback 156,
    • Places (interesting angle on public assessment and de-individualization 160, “learning requires us to be uncomfortable and safe” 165, borderlands to challenge hegemony 166, 170-171, more questions for students 171
  • Activities (not assignments)
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Reflecting
    • Labor Journaling
    • Assessing
    • Projecting
  • Sample rubrics (221)
  • Heuristic 284-291

Syllabus Review

We really only have one day to worry about, and that is Monday October 23rd. On the original syllabus, we were slated to work on “Pathos and Apology.” Reviewing those course notes, I’m not sure that is one that will fit into this course–it worked really well when students were writing blog-like posts each week. It doesn’t really work as a medium.com essay.

So that leaves us with what amounts to an open day. I can’t imagine that it will be too difficult to fill–we have the Williams and Bizup article that we can use. You might still have not done the analogy workshop. There’s the logical fallacy workshop. You can always do more work on logical fallacies (maybe a quiz like this and/or this). If you have had your fill of logical fallacies and analogies, then you could do some kind of revision activity with the final papers. If you want to start thinking ahead to the final paper, then you might help them read an academic article (how to find a thesis, how to identify a literature review, looking at methodology (in humanities this might mean what theorists are central to the argument, in sciences this is probably a more “traditional” methods section). If you do this exercise, then I would pick one humanities article and one science article to work with. Do an article you are comfortable with, one you have command of, one you have to read for one of your classes. You could even contrast the Elbow and Danielewicz I’m asking you to read for homework with this qualitative article on grading contracts.

Paper 3 Final List

Let’s combine the Paper 2 finals and the Paper 3 finals into one list. I also want to talk a bit about moving toward the final paper and how we can use the medium drafts to help facilitate that process.


For next class, please prepare a 122 syllabus for how you would teach the course the next time you are assigned it. You do not have to include a calendar. I would like you to include a grading contract, although you have freedom to make that contract whatever you wish.

Readings for next class:

  • Shipka, “Negotiating Rhetorical, Technological, and Methodological Difference”
  • Elbow and Danielewicz, “A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching”
  • Inoue, TBD
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ENG 122 9.1: Analogies

Today’s Plan:

  • Paper 4 Topics
  • Analogies
  • Homework

Paper 4 Topic Exercise

As we move forward to paper #4, I wanted to spend some time thinking about what’s in the news/in the now for our major topics this week.


I want to spend some time in class today talking about analogies. Analogies come in two flavors, metaphors and similes.

Let’s think about this analogy:

Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon.

How about:

“Regular” marriage and “gay” marriage are like bikini tops and bras.

What makes a good analogy? Analogies have two parts–a tenor and a vehicle. The vehicle often helps not only amplify or illustrate an idea, but also to make a mood.

Let’s break into groups of three to examine the following poem, Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73.”

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Here’s an analogy President Ronald Reagan used in his 1985 inaugural address:

We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. But there are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great Republic, and we’ll meet this challenge.

These will be years when Americans have restored their confidence and tradition of progress; when our values of faith, family, work, and neighborhood were restated for a modern age; when our economy was finally freed from government’s grip; when we made sincere efforts at meaningful arms reduction, rebuilding our defenses, our economy, and developing new technologies, and helped preserve peace in a troubled world; when Americans courageously supported the struggle for liberty, self-government, and free enterprise throughout the world, and turned the tide of history away from totalitarian darkness and into the warm sunlight of human freedom.

Here’s a second example from President Clinton’s inaugural address in 1993:

My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our Founders boldly declared America’s independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change; not change for change’s sake but change to preserve America’s ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we marched to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American. […]

The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus. You have cast your votes in historic numbers. And you have changed the face of Congress, the Presidency, and the political process itself. Yes, you, my fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now we must do the work the season demands. To that work I now turn with all the authority of my office. I ask the Congress to join with me. But no President, no Congress, no Government can undertake this mission alone.


I’m looking for 3 sentences below, each of which links to an article that you will read for the paper #4 draft due Sunday. Here’s an example:

  1. At Fangraphs, Paul Swydan writes about how starting pitchers are being used in relief more than in any other season.
  2. In an article for the Atlantic, Alex Putterman argues that managers are acknowledging sabermetric research that shows starting pitchers begin to struggle the 3rd time through a lineup. He also argues that the rise in relief pitching is tied to the fact that relievers have flat out gotten a lot better in the past few years.
  3. In his piece from 2016, John Walters speculates that the traditional starting pitcher could disappear from baseball–and that the game would be better if they did.
  4. Note that it took me 25 minutes to find these three articles and write those 3 sentences.

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ENG 594 8: Politics in the Classroom

Today’s Plan:

  • Final Paper #2 Feedback List
  • Readings
  • Observation Appointments
  • Break
  • Syllabus Review
  • Homework

Final Paper #2 Feedback List

I made another google doc. Add links to your students’ second final papers. I’ll be working with these on Thursday.


We’ve got four to work through this week.

Observation Appointments

Here’s what I have:

  • Christina, Monday Oct 16th 1:25-2:15
  • Rebecca, Monday Oct 16th 9:05-9:55
  • Cheyenne, Oct 23 or 30th 12:20-1:10

Syllabus Review

Wednesday, October 11th. On the syllabus we’ve got working with statistics. I’ve got an old PowerPoint that I use. Let’s take a look at that.

Numbers don’t speak for themselves, so we need to create context:

  • Who generated the number?
  • What methods did they use?
  • What is their sample size?
  • Do they (likely) have a cross section?
  • What makes a number meaningful?
  • How does the number compare to other numbers?
  • What are the limitations of the number?

I went through my drafts and pulled out paragraphs using statistics for us to examine and talk about in class.

Friday, October 13th AHHH Friday the 13th! Run away.

Monday, October 16th On the syllabus is analogy day. Here is what I did last time.

I’ve also watched Ken Robinson’s RSA animate video “Changing Educational Paradigms.” I focus on Robinson’s discussion of schools and factories as a powerful example of how analogy can strengthen an argument. When I teach analogy, I teach tenor and vehicle. I’ve also used Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. We talk about whether an analogy offers an unexpected surprise, or whether it feels cliche.

I gave the following “quiz” on Canvas:

  • She held her life in her own hands as if it were___________________________.
  • Education is like _____________________________.
  • Craft an analogy that describes Swift’s reaction. Kayne suprises Taylor Swift at the VMA
  • This famous picture of Y.A Title has become synonymous with defeat. Try to focus on one specific detail in the photo when crafting your analogy (his stare, his posture, the blood on his face, his limp hand, etc).
  • [Day of the week], when we all X like Y.
  • Think of a statistic you use in your week 3 draft. Try and craft an analogy that amplifies the importance of that statistic. If you can’t think of one, then try creating an analogy that supports your argument


For next week we will be reading selections from Asao B. Inoue’s Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies.

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ENG 122 8.1: Logos and Statistics Continued

Today’s Plan:

  • Draft 3: Google Drive Permission
  • Messy Paragraphs
  • PEW Center Exercise
  • Leggo My Logos
  • Reading Paragraphs Exercise
  • Homework Volunteers

Messy Paragraphs

One point. Last week I said if you write a paragraph that has more than one idea, then you wrote a mess. I want to revisit this.
Rough drafts often are messy. Thinking is messy.

PEW Center exercise

I want to talk a bit more about working with statistics; there’s a few things that really help a reader understand a methodology. One important element is “sample size”: that is, how many people answered the survey or questionnaire? Also, what is the cross section of the sample size (demographic, sex, race, age, etc information). What steps have the researchers taken to ensure that their sample size reflects the actual American population?

Logos PowerPoint Take 2

Let’s hope the projector works today.

Thinking about my response to the PEW Center exercises, and my discussion of statistics in the PowerPoint, I want to offer the following points of advice when working with statistics. An important walk away here is that numbers have to be qualified, compared, and contextualized. They can never stand alone. A number is only as valuable as the method used to generate it, and it is only meaningful if we can show it.

  • Numbers don’t speak for themselves, so we need to create context:
    • Who generated the number?
    • What methods did they use?
    • What is their sample size?
    • Do they (likely) have a cross section?
  • What makes a number meaningful?
    • How does the number compare to other numbers?
    • What are the limitations of the number?
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ENG 594 7: Paper Feedback

Today’s Plan:

Spring Assignments

You have all been assigned English 123.

Something Weird

One of my students wrote this paper.


Hi all–I think the best way for me to handle observations is to request that you email me when you would like me to come. Invite me sometime between now and November 3rd.

Syllabus Review

The three classes are pretty straight forward this week. On the current syllabus, Monday Oct 3rd is for paraphrasing–but if I remember correctly, many of you waited and did kairos on Monday. Tomorrow is a lab day–I would use that day to talk about statistics. I’m telling my students to use a statistic in their paper #3 drafts (for some this is easier than others). I’ve got an exercise below on statistics that you might use. Friday is a workshop day.

That leaves Monday October 10th. You could certainly work on paraphrase that day and use Keri’s activity. Or, if you want, you can use my exercise on thesis statements.


I’m pretty certain that we won’t have time to get to the readings tonight. So I’ve adjusted the syllabus. We will discuss the Berlin (1988), Kopelson (2003), and Rickert (2007) next week. I want to add one more reading, that is Maxine Hairston’s response to Berlin, published in 1992.

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ENG 122 7.1: Roadmapping, Paraphrasing, Statistics

Today’s Plan:

  • No class on Thursday Oct 5th
  • Crucible is seeking contributions
  • Reviewing Papers
  • Paraphrasing
  • Using Statistics
  • Homework


I got the following email:

Good morning!

I’m Erika Siebring, secretary for UNC’s student-run art and literary magazine “The Crucible.”

I’m contacting various departments to help spread the word about our fall 2017 publication! We are encouraging students to submit their work–whether it be prose, poetry, short stories, essays, plays, comics, photos, paintings or any kind of art–for our magazine.

This semester, our theme is “Voyage,” and the submission deadline is 11:59 p.m Friday, October 20. The theme is meant to spark inspiration, and can be taken as literary or figuratively as the individual wants; the theme can mean different things to different people, and that variety is exactly what we are looking for.

I’m requesting that the professors of each department tell their classes about The Crucible and that we are looking for submissions of any sort up until the October 20 deadline. We believe the talent we’re looking expands past the walls of the English department, and we want to reach out to as many students as possible all around campus.

The mission of The Crucible is to showcase excellent student and community work as well as UNC’s artistic talent, and we hope our published magazine will do exactly that.

Reviewing Papers

I’ve finished grading the paper #1 finals and are about 1/3 of the way through the paper #2 finals. There’s one thing I want to stress: stop using the paragraph layout I provided a few weeks ago in final drafts. The layout works as a heuristic, or a rhetorical strategy to help you develop your ideas. But, reading these essays, it feels weird for me to wait 3 paragraphs for your critique or praise of a source. Those paragraphs can probably go back to back. So: use it if it helps you generate ideas. Rearrange your writing to make it more organic and develop more logically as you revise.

One paper had the following introduction:

America claims to be all about equality. Well how “equally” is America treating the transgender community? When the transgender community is being discriminated by their healthcare providers and they are not allowed the same benefits? They are harassed, treated poorly and rudely, they are denied medical attention. So America, tell me, how are you treating everyone equally when you can’t even give everyone the same medical benefits?

This introduction expresses the author’s outrage. It expresses her belief that America is acting hypocritically. My issue is that it does these things through a series of rhetorical questions. How can we revise this paragraph to transform those rhetorical questions into statements?

When crafting a transition into a quote, precise diction can be key. You want to be able to condense a longer quote into a single sentence. Look at this example:

Alicia Swiz, of Feministing, talks about an inclusive dress code that was put in place for students to have freedom of expression while remaining part of a safe learning environment. She talks about how a high school in Illinois, Evanston Township High School, used a template by Oregon NOW (National Organization for Women, Oregon) to form a new dress code that promotes the statement of,

“Student dress codes and administrative enforcement should not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, household income, gender identity or cultural observance (Oregon NOW, 2016).”

The writer makes the right moves here, but the transition is a bit awkward and flat. What we need here is an adjective, so that the transition reads like this: “She talks about how a high school in Illinois, Evanston Township High School, used a template by Oregon NOW (National Organization for Women, Oregon) to form a new [adjective] dress code:”

One paper this week stood out to me as an excellent example for how to craft a thesis statement. Again, I am hesitant to use the term “thesis statement” for a couple of reasons. First, they come with a lot of baggage from high school. Some people do a terrible job explaining what a thesis is and/or have loaded the term with dread. Second, good papers often don’t have “a” thesis statement (i.e., articulating the thesis of the paper might require more than one sentence). For me, the thesis of a paper is an explanation of the article’s purpose or argument, along with a road map for how the author hopes to get there. The first is an absolute requirement. The second is necessarily as popular in public writing, but is pretty essential to good academic writing.

Ok, let’s look at how I do this. Here is what I would call the thesis for an article I co-authored called “Postpedagogy and Web Writing” (an article about how and why I teach this class in the “peculiar” way I do):

This article is divided into two major sections. The first section further explicates the concept of postpedagogy, highlighting its suitability to web writing. In short, postpedagogy advocates a critical and self-reflexive re-inhabiting of teacher authority and an insistence on kairotic, emergent, “risky” learning. The second section details how we have enacted such a model, in a variety of first-year and upper-division courses over the past six years. Taken together, the two sections demonstrate how writing for an English class and writing for the real world no longer have to be two separate enterprises. That boundary is now a matter of choice, rather than one of logistical necessity.

This paragraph comes a few pages in, well after we have laid out the purpose for the article (we do that in the first paragraph). It is meant to give a reader a sense of what is coming, a “road map” for the turns the article will make.

Here’s another example from a book chapter on Bruno Latour’s plan for reconnecting academics to politics:

This chapter begins by briefly unpacking Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution, tracing its development through his earlier writings to its explication in Politics of Nature. We then review two of Kant’s critical pieces on the role and scope of higher education, his early essay “An answer to the question ‘What is enlightenment?’” (1996) and his later, and more controversial manuscript, Conflict of the faculties (1979). Our analysis contextualizes Kant’s call for the separation of public and private duty in light of the snarly religious/political field of late 18th century Germany. Then, we detail contemporary politics’ increasing encroachment upon curriculum and funding across all levels of education. While contemporary scholars might not face the same “unpleasant measures” that Kant did, there are clear risks associated with reintegrating academic labor into the public sphere. However, despite these risks, academics must commit themselves to political action. Academics cannot remain idle; they must act before it is too late. We close by offering strategies and tactics (de Certeau, 1984) for instituting Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution. As a strategy, we present the University of South Florida’s recently approved Patel College of Global Sustainability, an interdisciplinary college dedicated to increasing scientific knowledge’s impact in the public sphere.

Sometimes I write papers that take a bit more space to do this.

Sometimes I write introductions that do this without explicitly laying out the sections.

My point is that good writers let the audience know what’s coming. With that in mind, I want to look at one of the recent papers because I think it shows a good opportunity for this kind of road mapping. But first…


Good paraphrasing is an essential academic skill. Over the next 4 years, you will be asked to read thousands of pages of material. You will be asked to write dozens of papers on that reading. Improving your ability to concisely and accurately condense other people’s ideas into your own words is essential.

NOTE that in academic writing paraphrases require a parenthetical citation. In public writing, paraphrases are always attributed to a specific author (like when I grade and make sure there is no confusion between a source’s ideas and your own). For instance, take the following paragraph from a writer named Thompson:

Differentiation as an instructional approach promotes a balance between a student’s style and a student’s ability. Differentiated instruction provides the student with options for processing and internalizing the content, and for constructing new learning in order to progress academically.

Here is how I would paraphrase that quote in MLA citation:

Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill (Thompson, 2009).

Here is how I would paraphrase that quote and attribute the author:

Thompson explains how teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill.

Notice that both paraphrases involve compression. Notice that both make clear that the idea belongs to Thompson, not to me.

It is with both ideas in mind–thesis road mapping and paraphrasing/condensing that I turn to this essay on the value of college.

Writing With Statistics

I’ve got a PowerPoint.

Let’s look at an example:

Andrew M. Seaman’s article in Reuters provides statistics on how many transgender people get discriminated in medical communities. It states that, “28 percent said they’d been denied equal treatment, about 32 percent reported verbal harassment, and about 1 percent reported physical assaults.” This is only based on the people who actually reported it. This clearly displays how often transgender people are treated differently when they are in need of any medical help.

I want to look at one article from fivethirtyeight that could do a better job building ethos for its statistics.

I have an exercise involving a PEW center article. There is a graded discussion forum on Canvas.


First make sure you submit the results of the PEW center activity to Canvas.

Second our piece #3 drafts are due as usual on Sunday.

Third a reminder that we will not meet for class on Thursday. Use this time to work on your drafts. I have office hours tomorrow (Wednesday) from 1:30 to 2:30. I will hold office hours on Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00. My office is in Ross 1180D (the door to enter the office hallway is in the foyer next to the computer lab). You should come.

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ENG 122: 6.1 Workshopping

Today’s Plan:

  • Rhetorical Concept: Kairos
  • Workshopping
  • Index Card Questions
  • Homework

Rhetorical Concept: Kairos

The textbook definition of kairos is “right place, right time.” But time here means something different than we tend to think of it (as chronos, the quantitative measurement of time’s passing). Rather, kairos means something closer to opportunity, an opening in time. Rhetoricians debated whether a speaker could *create* such an opportunity, or whether she merely *recognized* one. Regardless, the point is that a great speaker recognizes the specifics of a moment and place (a context), and shapes them so that a listener or reader knows why she is speaking at that moment, why she is called to speak, the exigency (situation) that demands her response. So, establishing kairos in part requires

  • informing a reader what problem you are responding to
  • informing a reader why you are responding to that problem (why is the problem important)
  • informing a reader why *you* specifically are responding to the problem (establishing some sense of ethos

These aims can generate a list of standard questions and guides, what we call topoi, for positioning yourself, your problem, and your audience. For instance, is this a problem that gets talked about a lot but rarely acted upon? Then here we go again. Is this a problem that you, a smart functioning human, didn’t know was a problem until recently? Then let me tell you something. Is this a problem that you thought was minor/easy to fix, but have learned it might not be? Then this might get complicated. Etc.

In Aristotle’s (in)famous treaty On Rhetoric, he declares that one of the primary obligations of a rhetor in the opening of her speech is to “prepare the judge” for what they are about to hear. While I have some pretty staunch disagreements with Aristotle, I want to highlight this advice. A millenia later, Martin Heidegger declares that this advice, on the part of Aristotle, is the birth of psychoanalysis and phenomenology: philosophical approaches that begin by recognizing that human consciousness, perception, and reason is always, already influenced by our “mood.” The task of an introduction is to set a mood: to anticipate an audience’s feelings toward a topic and shift them to a position whereby they might be more willing to entertain a new perspective.

When we look at an introduction then, we are looking for the mood the author anticipates her audience to be in, the facts she chooses to set the stage, the history, narrative, or context in which she places her speech. These are all parts of kairos.

To get a sense of this, let’s look at the introductions to a few famous speeches My focus here is on Presidential Inaugural Addresses, but there’s a few others that I want to examine.


For Thursday’s class, I will ask you to read and comment on 3 of your peer essays. I will provide a link to these essays on Google Docs via Canvas. I will ask you to provide three comments on each essay (you may comment on a comment). I will send out an email with further instructions.

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ENG 594 6: Paper Day #1

Today’s Plan:

  • How goes it?
  • 594 syllabus updates
  • Syllabus Review
  • Christina on Kairos
  • Break
  • Paper Day
  • Homework

How Goes It?

In addition to your questions and responses, I want to know:

Syllabus Review

What’s on tap this week.

Wednesday, September 27

Last class we moved Ethos, Pathos, Logos to Monday (thanks Danielle) and agreed that we would do Kairos on Wednesday. That’s the lab day for most people, so we don’t necessarily need the kairos presentation to take up the entire time. Christina’s got a presentation ready for us.

I also want to share a link to my site, >which has notes on kairos and stasis. I might present stasis this week, or I might wait until a future date when I have some open time.

Friday, September 29th

According to our syllabus, the only order of business on Friday is to workshop. After talking about kairos (and maybe stasis), I’ll be paying particular attention to introductions in this workshop. I’ll ask: what does this introduction assume I know or feel about the subject at hand? What makes you think the author thinks you think that?

Monday, October 2nd

Whether you want to dedicate more time to kairos, introduce stasis (a good way to do this is to collect 4 articles on a problem with different perspectives, compare what levels of stasis the authors are arguing), review thesis statements, review transitions into sources–totally up to you. This is the part of the semester where I try and feel out what my class needs to work on. I know Danielle spent some time following up on logos by talking about logical fallacies–there’s all kinds of resources on the net for these. Here is a particularly slick looking site.

My notes on kairos

Bud Light commercial–how far can we “bend” kairos to our will?

If chronos is time, then kairos is “timely,” although the Greeks had a deeper sense of what that means. That is, they understood that we live within “moods,” and that our mood impacted how we received both arguments and the world.

I talk about kairos in terms of if it is established–to establish kairos is to put the speaker/writer and audience “in a moment” together.

One way to approach kairos is to subvert audience expectations (Jobs is successful at this, Kayne less so).

Look at your own posts, what have you posted–what was its “timeliness.”

On the syllabus is a day dedicated to paraphrasing. This came out of my index cards from the last time I taught the course. I identify four key parts to a quality paraphrase:

  • Identifying the claim
  • Identifying what the author provides as evidence
  • Identifying if the author anticipates counter-arguments
  • Identifying what the author hopes the reader will do with this information (or, why this claim matters)

I’ll probably use the following articles (note, I go to fivethirtyeight because I know every article will offer some measure of empirical evidence):


Readings for next session:

  • Berlin, “Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Classroom”
  • Kopelson, “Rhetoric on the Edge of Cunning”
  • Rickert, “Hands Up, You’re Free! Pedagogy, Affect, Transformation”
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ENG 122 5.2: Drafting and Commenting

Today’s Plan:

  • Attendance
  • Draft #2
  • Commenting
  • Writing Time
  • Homework

Draft #2 Rubric

Draft #2 is due this weekend. This should be a link to a Google Doc file, shared with my insignificantwrangler@gmail.com email address. You may also submit a word.docx.

I wanted to share what I am looking for in the second drafts. While the rubric is similar to last week’s, it also contains some more specific expectations:

Stuff in Medium

Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Let’s talk about the three rhetorical appeals.

  • Ethos (credibility, character, identity)
  • Pathos (emotion, disposition, feelings)
  • Logos (reasons, causes, evidence, rationality–can I use an if…then… sentence?)

Now let’s look at some advertisements. I like using advertisements for this because we know their purpose–in virtually every case they are trying to persuade us (to buy something, to do something, to stop doing something).


As I have mentioned, I think an important part of developing as a writer concerns learning to incorporate feedback and make meaningful revisions. Before we can work with reader feedback, we have to get some reader feedback–and we are going to give some reader feedback to writers in other 122 classes today. My fellow instructors and I have compiled a list of medium essays.

I’ll give you about 15 minutes to read an essay. While and after you read, there’s three things I’d like you to do:

  • Praise: What is good about the writing? What should not be changed? Why is it good? As you read, highlight one sentence and craft a comment.
  • Question: As a reader, what do you not understand? What could the author clarify? Again, highlight a specific sentence or two for this comment.
  • Polish: As a final comment, what else would you have liked the writer to address? Were they to do another draft of this, what do you think they could add, revisit, or do next? OR Give the writer a gut reaction–I agree because… I disagree because… As you do so, try to add a new perspective to the topic.

Let’s talk about how to respond/comment on medium.


Submit a draft of your second medium article as a google doc URL or word.docx to Canvas.

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Eng 122 5.1: First Sentences

Today’s Plan:

  • I’m Worried
  • First Sentences exercise
  • Brainstorming Week 2 Draft Topics

First Sentences

20, maybe 30 words. That’s all you get. That is your opportunity to grab someone’s attention before they close your tab or click the next link. The first sentence, and before that your title, present a limited opportunity to capture an audience before they move on.

I want to focus attention on an essay’s first sentence. First, I’ve collected some resources designed for fiction writers. While this might not be a creative writing class, I believe we can benefit from thinking about how their craft can relate to constructing enticing non-fiction prose.

First, from an article over at A Tate Publishing Blog, I pulled three criteria:

  • excite a reader’s curiosity, particularly about a character or relationship
  • introduce a setting
  • lend resonance to a story

These criteria are the goals for an effective first paragraph, but I think any of them additionally apply to a first sentence. I want to break the idea of setting down into three more distinct notions: time, place, and mood.  Time and place are fairly straight-forward when it comes to fiction, but mood is more complicated. I want to think move in relation to Heidegger’s sense of our “being-in-the-world“]. The post then gives two questions to ask of a first sentence:

  • Does it convey an interesting personality or an action that we want to know more about?
  • Can you make it more intriguing by introducing something unusual, something shocking perhaps, something will surprise the reader?

Given my favorable disposition to Peter Brooks’ psychoanalytic treatment of hermeneutics, I boil that second question down to “suspense”: does the first sentence pose a question we want answered?

From a creative writing handbook, I pulled two more criteria for evaluating good sentences:

  • Flashes a picture in your mind, using concrete details
  • Puts you right in the middle of something happening

Not every first sentence has to be shocking. But it does have to at least have a kind of gravity, something that pulls a reader in, something that makes them want to read more. 

Next, let’s read the short article Killing the Babies and Captivating First Sentences” over at footnoteMaven. I like this article not only for its title, but also for its pragmatic advice. When revising, fM focuses on identifying the most compelling sentence in a piece, and then finds a way to “rock” that piece up to the very beginning of a document.

For non-academic writing instructors out there, this makes for an excellent exercise. Come to class with a document that contains every first sentence your students have written for a particular project. Have the students select their three favorites from the list; additionally, have them mark off the three sentences that need the most work. After tallying results, have students apply fM’s theory to whichever piece of writing received the most critical votes–can they, looking through the entire paper, find a compelling sentence that could be crafted into a more engaging opening? And, then, can they use this principle on their own writing?

And, of course, I hope the critical attention such an activity fosters is applied to every sentence they write.

What’s in the News?

Here’s a list of topics:

  • Politics
  • Movies / Television
  • Superheroes, Comic books, Graphic Novels, Manga
  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Video Games
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Education
  • Technology and Science
  • Sports
  • Feminism

I’ve put up a discussion board on Canvas. I’d like you to post in there, using the following as a template:

[Topic in boldface] Politics

[This week the Senate is expected to deliberate another repeal of the healthcare bill.]

[Two articles using the same template] In the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein, Robert King and (Links to an external site.)Kimberly Leonard contrast the new Graham-Cassidy sponsored Republican reform to the single-payer resolution introduced by Bernie Sanders. (Links to an external site.) Of interest is how they argue that the Republican bill transfers handling medicaid from the federal government to individual states.

In the Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk II argues that the new Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill covers fewer people than the rejected BRCA healthcare bill proposed by Republicans earlier this summer (Links to an external site.). Of interest is how Newkirk shows that the reform drastically reduces the amount of money provided to states already enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.

Here’s the template: In the X [publication, maybe over at X if it is more of a website], [Author(s)] VERB (argue, compare, detail, explain, etc) FOCUS OF FIRST ARTICLE. Of interest is how he/she/they FOCUS ON ONE SPECIFIC CLAIM IN THE ARTICLE.


I need three workshop volunteers who can have drafts ready on Thursday.

PLEASE make sure you have completed both discussion forums from class today (if you don’t have a laptop with you).

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