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ENGLISH 3850 | FOUNDATIONS IN RHETORIC AND WRITING: THE RHETORIC PROJECT

Spring 2015

ENGLISH 3850
Instructor: Katie Zabrowski
Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays,
2:15-3:30pm
Office / Office Hours: Adorjan 209 / Thursdays,
12:00-2:00pm
Contact: mzabrow1@slu.edu*

*Email is the best way to reach me

outside of class.

I promise to respond within 24 hours M-F,

and within 48 hours over the weekend.

techne, or the belief that rhetoric is the practicable


and perfectible art that enables one to be eloquent
and persuasive. -- Joseph Petraglia
[rhetoric] guesses at what's pleasant with no
consideration for what's best. And I say that it isn't a
craft, but a knack, because it has no account of the
nature of whatever things it applies by which it applies
them, so it's unable to state the cause of each thing.
-- Plato, Gorgias

THE RHETORIC PROJECT


Course Description and Objectives
There has yet to be consensus on just what rhetoric is. One way to approach an understanding of what it might be
is to track what it does, noting what effects it creates it the world. Practicing making our own effects with the help
of rhetorical principles in our writing is one way to begin to know rhetoric better and thereby grow in our ability to
both recognize it at work and put it to work in our worlds.

Craft is a term that has infiltrated our cultural consciousness in recent years. Think of craft or artisanal cheeses and
breads, Pinterest's crafty craft projects, and a range of other craft aesthetics; all signal an intensified interest in the
careful, knowledgeable process of making. Cognizant of this cultural moment, this course organizes itself around
the historically contested descriptions of rhetoric as a craft or a knack. Treating rhetoric and writing as crafts
means that we recognize the comprehensive knowledge and skill behind their deployment. Ultimately, the course
encourages students to grow in the knowledge of rhetoric through the craft of writing.

The principal objective of this course is to establish exposure to and facility in the practice of a range of principles
foundational to rhetoric and writing. We will come to understand better the objects of our projects--and through
them, rhetoric--by imitating, crafting, and making. Students act as authors in this course in two important ways:
first, as the authors of their writing projects and second, as authors of their own learning. This means that students
create individualized learning goals, articulating how the course can best support them in and assess the success
of their endeavors.

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ENGL 3850: FOUNDATIONS IN RHETORIC AND WRITING | SPRING 2015

Why The Rhetoric Project?


This course finds inspiration for its central project in The
Alinea Project1, what began as a blog and has since
evolved into a book jumpstarted with a Kickstarter
campaign. With the project, its creator, Allen
Hemberger, tracks his journey to cook every dish in the
Alinea cookbook. Given the kitchen at Alinea's
reputation as a site of molecular gastronomy, recreating
(imitating) its dishes in his home kitchen proved to be
both challenging and gratifying for Hemberger. He
records his experiences creating the dishes, each of
which required several attempts, unconventional
cooking materials and serving mechanisms, and
revisions to some recipes to make their actualization possible in his home kitchen. In this course, students will
undertake their own projects in a similar way, facing and reflecting upon the complexities of imitating with their
projects or modeling in them the work of some crafter. We will model our reflections after Hemberger's project,
revising his approach along the way so as to invent our own.
*PICTURED: CRAFTING DESSERT AT ALINEA, NOT IN THE KITCHEN BUT AT THE TABLE FOR THE DINER TO SEE. PHOTO CREDIT:
BANDITOB (FLICKR). CC LICENSE. NO CHANGES MADE.

Required Materials
Pender, Kelly. Techne, From Neoclassicism to Postmodernism: Understanding Writing as a Useful, Teachable Art.

ISBN: 978-1-60235-207-0
Dropbox.com account (to access course readings and documents)
Twitter/Facebook and Medium account (for sharing discussion papers/responses and links to project segments)
A Flash drive or other means for backing up course work
Willingness to engage with potentially new or unfamiliar technologies and modes of composition (including but

not limited to: visual design, audio podcasts, web design/writing for the web, etc.)

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1

See http://www.allenhemberger.com/alinea/about/ and https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1050038100/the-alinea-project

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ENGL 3850: FOUNDATIONS IN RHETORIC AND WRITING | SPRING 2015

COURSE ORGANIZATION

Three Stages
Our course will be organized into three stages, each centered on a particular iteration of rhetoric:
Stage

Major Assignments

Rhetoric as Imitation

Re-Writing a SLU Text, Craft Project Proposal and Design Plan, Discussion Paper

Rhetoric as a Practice

The Rhetoric Project (Series of 3 Productions), In-Class Briefings, Discussion Paper

Rhetoric as Analysis

Discussion Paper, Final Reflection

Our writing in these three stages will explore and practice rhetoric by way of imitating, practicing, and analyzing in
the context of both major assignments and reading discussion papers. Our course readings and in-class
discussions will guide us as we work to comprehend more fully the implications of understanding rhetoric and
writing as imitation, practice, analysis, and/or, ultimately, as a craft. Our investigation of rhetoric's many iterations
sees us reading classical rhetorical texts, works in rhetorical theory, and pieces that exhibit writing about writing.

MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS

Our course is project-based, meaning that all of our daily work relates directly to semester-long, student-driven
projects through which we will imitate, practice, and theorize rhetorical principles in writing that takes shape in
both textual and new media formats.

Re-Writing a SLU Text


The goal of this project is to practice the rhetorically complex strategy of revision. The assignment functions as a
starting point, preparing us for the work of the larger course project in which we will balance revision and invention,
two important terms in rhetoric and writing. In the way of attuning us to the practices we will engage throughout
the course, this first project asks students to imitate, practice, and analyze within the context of their revisions of a
text at Saint Louis University.
Students will choose some text at SLU and re-imagine it in one of the three following ways: reproducing the text in
a different format so as to persuade its audience differently (a written document becomes a video or a poster, for
instance), targeting the text to a particular audience (rewriting a text meant for students for their parents, for
example), or rewriting the text in the voice of a different author than the original. In addition to reproducing the text,
students will also write a document explaining their choices and writing process.

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The Rhetoric Project (due dates follow course-wide production schedule, ongoing)
Modeled after The Alinea Project, students will choose some challenging craft project or group of similarly-themed
projects to complete and track their progress toward completion. Throughout, students will enact the rhetorical
principles of imitation (crafting what someone else crafts in the way that they craft), practice (making the craft,
revising the method of making to suit students interests and abilities), and reflection. Their completion of the
project(s) will be accompanied by a sustained reflection--in 3 segments--in the form of a blog, podcast or video
series, or other media chosen by the student to track their progress on the project and what they are learning. This
reflection should always connect to course principles. For instance, during the "Rhetoric as Imitation" stage of the
course, your reflections should discuss the principles of imitation as they show up in your project.

Craft Project Proposal with Design Plan (due during the third week of the course)
By the third week of the course, students will create a proposal and design plan for their chosen craft project. In
addition to detailing the project and the student's motivation for pursuing it, the document must also include a
Design Plan that details the process for completing the three segments and combining them as part of the larger
project. The design plan must attend to these elements: materials needed, research required, a detailed
explanation of each segment (focus, angle, production features), a strategy for completion, and statement of goals
detailing what a student wants to accomplish in the project and how s/he will know s/he has accomplished them.

In-Class Project Briefings (due every other Tuesday beginning in third week of the course)
Once we begin working in earnest on The Rhetoric Project, students will be responsible for presenting in-class
project briefings that will coincide with the due dates of the project's individual segments. Students will begin these
briefings by sharing their project segment and updating their colleagues on the progress of the project as a whole.
Students will then open their project up to feedback, with each student sharing their questions, encouragement,
and/or suggestions for revision.

Reading Discussion Stories


Students are asked to write three short (600-750 words) discussion essays throughout the semester, one for each
stage of the course. These essays will be posted to Medium on Tuesdays by noon and discussed on Thursdays,
so that all students might read the papers, write responses, and arrive on Thursday ready to discuss them. These
essays will function as in-class discussion starters, tailoring our conversation to students' interests, questions, and
concerns as they emerge from the readings.

Final Reflection
This will be a summative document of 8-10 pages that returns to students' initial proposal and design plans and
reflects upon any changes or additions students made to it. Students will craft an articulation of their
understanding of rhetoric and writing--what these concepts are, how they function--connecting it back to course
readings, discussions, assignments, and their encounters with rhetoric and writing principles in the world.

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COURSE GOALS

In the context of each of the above assignments, students will engage in the following practices, leading to their
growth as writers and professionals.

Project Management
From the very beginning of the course, students are situated as leaders of their own learning process. In
proposing, developing, and completing a sustained work project, students gain skill in consistently managing their
creativity, resources, and time according to the goals they outline for themselves in the Project Proposal and
Design Plan. From seeing this project through from inception to reflection on its culmination students

Document Design
Because this is a course in rhetoric, and especially because it is a course that treats rhetoric and writing as crafts,
special attention must be paid not only to the work we produce but also the style and delivery of that work. In
each assignment we will practice content and visual design, organization, and audience awareness. This will
require learning about the context, audience, and conventions of these documents and producing them with a
keen eye towards all three.

Collegiality
Our course will function like a workshop, with much of our work being shared: through in-class briefings, in reading
and responding to one another's reading discussion papers, and in the public nature of our craft projects (that is,
their taking shape as blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.). The shared nature of our work provides an opportunity to
practice collegiality, engaging with our colleagues and their work with the same care, enthusiasm, and generosity
with which we engage our own. Students will model collegiality by offering constructive feedback and
encouragement in response to others' in-class briefings, gracefully receive feedback and use it to improve one's
own project, and by contributing consistently and thoughtfully to our conversations in class.

Research
Course projects required sustained and thorough research. Students will practice analyzing course texts as well as
discovering sources relevant for their projects. With these sources, students will practice incorporating information
about their project from others, exhibiting their growing knowledge of the craft they are crafting -- it is this
knowledge that distinguishes a craft from a knack, after all.

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COURSE EXPECTATIONS
Grading Feedback2
You will not receive a letter grade on your work in this course. You will, however, receive my extensive and
continual feedback on all required assignments and the revisions you make to them. You will be graded on the
labor--how much and what quality--you do in this course. My reasoning for this is simple: the learning in this
course is best measured by attending to your making of the thing, rather than the thing you made. It may be that
you choose to build a complicated piece of furniture, a chair, for instance. At the end of the course you will have a
chair, but what will have had more impact on your growth as a builder and a writer: your building of the chair and
reflections on that process, or the chair itself? And if by the end of the course you end up with something that
looks like a chair but that would collapse if someone sat in it, I assure you: you will not have failed. The learning
occurred in the building.
I understand grades to work in a similar way. They have little value within the building or writing process. What we
need as part of that process instead is more comprehensive feedback than a letter can provide. If I assign you a C,
but do not tell you why, what do you learn about your writing? If I provide you with specific feedback and
suggestions for revision, then what need is there to know I would assign you a C? I trust that you will revise all of
your assignments according to my feedback and that of your peers, and an assignment that does this work would
not warrant a grade of C.
It is my promise to you that I will provide consistent and plentiful feedback on all of your work so that--contingent
on your responses to that feedback and the feedback of your colleagues--you will succeed in this course.
On that note, earning a grade of A requires an exceptional amount and quality of labor on the part of the student.
In the early weeks of the course, we will create together a course rubric that defines amount and
quality of labor within the context of this course, and discuss our method for communicating about
your individual progress.

How do I labor?
There are many ways in which you will labor in this class. The minimum requirements* are listed here:
Attendance and active participation
Collegiality and punctuality
Completing all work on deadline
Significant revisions to The Rhetoric Project (These should respond to my and your colleagues' feedback. If it
does not, you should articulate your reasoning for not incorporating our suggestions)
*Note: each of these requirements equally constitute your labor; each is as important as all the others
2

I have adapted this labor-based learning contract from Asao Inoue's chapter "A Grade-less Writing Course that Focuses on Labor and
Assessing." In Teague, D. and Lunsford, R., eds. First-Year Composition: From Theory to Practice. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2014. Print.

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COURSE POLICIES

Absence Policy
You are allowed only 3 absences without penalty. Any absences beyond these 3 absences will result in a full-letter
drop in your final grade (i.e. if you earn a B in the course but miss four classes, your final grade will be a C; miss
five classes and the final grade will be a D, and so on).
Tardiness
Please do not arrive late to class. Punctuality will be both expected and respected in your professional life as it is
also in this course. Consistent tardiness will be reflected in your final grade.
Late Work
No late work will be accepted. *
Deadlines are a constant reality of professional life, and your commitment to meeting them is a reflection of you
and the value you place in your work. Practicing this timeliness is as central to this course as the content we
produce in that time.

*Should you encounter any circumstance that prevents you from meeting a deadline(s), please speak with

me in advance. It may be that we have to make special arrangements. I cannot, however, excuse late

work if you do not speak with me first.
Class Cancellation Policy
Should class need to be cancelled for any reason, I will send an email to each of you as soon as possible. Class
cancellation will NOT be announced by a note left in the classroom, or by any other method.
Decorum
Because we will be writing, reading, and working with our digital files during most class meetings, students are
encouraged to bring laptops, tablets, or other mobile devices with them each day. It is not a requirement that every
student own one of these devices. Laptops are available for checkout in the Computer Assisted Instruction Lab in
Des Peres Hall Room 216. While we will work with these technologies often, it is important that we be mindful of
our focus and attention. Please work with these devices wisely, and for class purposes only. When we are not
using our computers or other mobile devices such as during class discussion or presentations - please close the
lids or power down.
Academic Integrity
The University is a community of learning whose effectiveness requires an environment of mutual trust and
integrity, such as would be expected at a Jesuit, Catholic institution. As members of this community, students,
faculty, and staff members share the responsibility to maintain this environment. Academic dishonesty violates it.
Although not all forms of academic dishonesty can be listed here, it can be said in general that soliciting, receiving,
or providing any unauthorized assistance in the completion of any work submitted toward academic credit is
dishonest. It not only violates the mutual trust necessary between faculty and students but also undermines the
validity of the Universitys evaluation of students and takes unfair advantage of fellow students. Further, it is the
responsibility of any student who observes dishonest conduct to call it to the attention of a faculty member or
administrator.

Several Internet sites offer students access to the essays of other students for research purposes. These sites
require a student to upload a paper of their own to gain access. All students should know that if another student
plagiarizes using their essay, the original author is liable for a Class B offense: collusion. Such an offense can result
in expulsion from the University.

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COURSE RESOURCES

Writing Help
I am always available to discuss your writing and your progress in the course with you. I encourage you to email
me with any questions or concerns and meet with me during office hours or a time that works for you. I will do all
that I can to meet with you when your schedule permits.
I will provide you with feedback on your writing throughout the course, but you are welcome and encouraged to
seek independent help by way of one-on-one consultations with Writing Services.
Saint Louis University supports three undergraduate Writing Services centers:

Student Success Center, BSC 331

Pius XII Library, Room 320-8

Student Success Center-Medical Center, Nursing Building, Room 114

International Student Resources


Writing help is also available at the English Language Center, where tutors are specialized to work with secondlanguage concerns. For more information please visit www.slu.edu/x49411.xml.

Student Success Center:


In recognition that people learn in a variety of ways and that learning is influenced by multiple factors (e.g., prior
experience, study skills or learning disability), resources to support student success are available on campus. The
Student Success Center, a one-stop shop, which assists students with academic and career related services, is
located in suite 331 in Busch Student Center and in suite 114 of the School of Nursing Building. Students who
think they might benefit from these resources can find out more about:

Course-level support (e.g., faculty member, departmental resources, etc.) by asking their course instructor.
University-level support (e.g., tutoring services, university writing services, disability services, academic coaching,
career services, and/or facets of curriculum planning) by visiting the Student Success Center or by going to
slu.edu/success.

Disability Services Academic Accommodations


Students with a documented disability who wish to request academic accommodations are encouraged to
contact Disability Services to discuss accommodation requests and eligibility requirements. Please contact
Disability Services, located within the Student Success Center, at disability_services@slu.edu or 314-977-3484 to
schedule an appointment. Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries. Once approved, information about
academic accommodations will be shared with course instructors via email from Disability Services and viewed
within Banner via the instructor's course roster.

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Course Schedule

Date

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In-Class

Reading

Assignment (due on date at left)

Stage 1: Rhetoric as
Imitation
Tuesday,
January 13

Introductions,
Course Overview,
Re-Write Assignment
Overview

Thursday,
January 15

What We Know About


Rhetoric,
Course Rubric Creation

Inoue, "Our Grading


Contract" (Dropbox)

Email mzabrow1@slu.edu with


questions, comments, or concerns
regarding syllabus.

Tuesday,
January 20

The Rhetoric Project


Overview, Harlot
Publication Opportunity
Individual Brainstorming

- Foss et al., "Perspectives


on the Study of
Rhetoric" (Dropbox)
- Corbett, "Imitation in
Classical Rhetoric" (Dropbox)

Write Reading Discussion Stories:


What is rhetoric? How do you
understand imitation working as or
in rhetoric? (posted to Medium)*

Thursday,
January 22

Reading Discussion

- Plato, Gorgias (Dropbox)


- Moss, "The Doctor and the
Pastry Chef" (Dropbox)
- Reading Discussion Stories

Responses to Peer Reading


Discussion Stories (posted to
Medium, and prepared to discuss
in class)**

Tuesday,
January 27

Reading Discussion,
Principles of Design

- Any 2 Blog Posts from The


Alinea Project
- Johnson-Sheehan,
"Designing Documents and
Interfaces" (Dropbox)

Bring to class: progress on your


Re-Write SLU Text

Thursday,
January 29

Presentations and Peer


Feedback:
Re-Writes

DUE: Re-Write SLU Text***

Tuesday,
February 3

Project Proposal
Briefings and Feedback

- In-Class Project Briefing/Update


on Project Proposal Progress

Thursday,
February 5

Workshop Day

DUE: Project Website/Blog

Tuesday,
February 10

TBD

DUE: Project Proposal and


Design Plan***

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Date

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In-Class

Reading

Assignment (due on date at left)

Stage 2: Rhetoric as a
Practice
Thursday,
February 12

Rhetoric and Technology Edbauer Rice, "Rhetoric's


Mechanics" (Dropbox)

Tuesday,
February 17

Technical Writing and


Rhetoric

Thursday,
February 19

Segment 1 In-Class
Briefings and Feedback

Tuesday,
February 24

Discourses and
Authorship

Thursday,
February 26

Reading Discussion

Tuesday,
March 3

Project Segment
Presentations

Thursday,
March 5

Writing as an Art,
Rhetoric as a Craft

Tuesday
March 10 &
Thursday,
March 12
Tuesday,
March 17

Miller, "What is Practical


About Technical Writing?"
Prepare to Present Progress on
Segment 1 and Solicit Feedback
DUE: Blog Reflection***
- Bartholomae, "Inventing the Reading Discussion Stories*
University" (Dropbox)
- Slack, et al. "The Technical
Communicator as Author"
Peer Reading Discussion
Stories

Responses to Peer Reading


Discussion Stories (posted to
Medium and prepared to discuss
in class)**
DUE: First Project Segment***

Pender, Techne selection

No Class--Spring Break

Segment 2 In-Class
Briefings and Feedback

Prepare to Present Progress on


Segment 2 and Solicit Feedback

DUE: Blog Reflection***


Thursday,
March 19

Argumentation, Rhetoric Corder, "Argument as


as Social Deliberation
Emergence, Rhetoric as
Love"

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Date

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In-Class

Tuesday,
March 24

Workshop Segment 2

Thursday,
March 26

Reading Discussion

Tuesday
March 31

Project Segment
Presentations

Thursday,
April 2

No Class--Easter Break

Reading

Assignment (due on date at left)

Bring to class: Segment 2,


prepared to workshop
Pender, Techne selection
DUE: Second Project
Segment***

Stage 3: Rhetoric as
Analysis
Tuesday, April
7

The Strong and Weak


Defenses of Rhetoric,
Rhetorical Ecologies

Thursday,
April 9

Introduction to Final
Reflection Assignment

Tuesday, April
14

Reading Discussion
April 15: Harlot of the
Arts Submission
Deadline

Thursday,
April 16

Reading Discussion

Tuesday, April
21

Workshop Segment
Three

Thursday,
April 23

Reviewing Rhetoric as
Analysis

- Lanham, "The 'Q


Question'" (Dropbox)
- Edbauer, "Unframing
Models of Public Distribution"
(Dropbox)

Pender, Techne selection

Reading Discussion Stories*

http://harlotofthearts.org/
index.php/harlot/article/view/
241/152
Peer Reading Discussion
Stories (posted to Medium)

Responses to Peer Reading


Discussion Stories (prepared to
discuss in class)**
Bring to class: Segment 3,
prepared to workshop
DUE: Blog Reflection***

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Date

Tuesday, April
28
Thursday,
April 30
Thursday,
May 7

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In-Class

Project Segment
Presentations

Reading

Assignment (due on date at left)

DUE: Third Project Segment***

Final Class Meeting


DUE: Final Revisions of Project,
Segments and Whole

DUE: Final Reflection


The above information, policies, and schedule are subject to change due to extenuating circumstances, or at the
discretion of the instructor.
*Reading Discussion Papers should be posted as stories in our course Medium collection.
**These assignments should be posted as responses to your colleagues' Medium stories.
***These assignments should be posted to your blog/website AND shared as a story in our course Medium
collection.

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