Debriefing First Pass BSU Argument in Two Web Sites

These notes focus on how we're applying the rhetorical concepts of argument apply to the BSU webpages and their elements in practice. I'll try to illustrate in class where these concepts are being played out in what you have made note of on the webpages you're looking at.

When moving on to the next pass, you should incorporate these ideas into your notes.

I've copied some illustrative passages into this page and am annotating them in [square brackets] to highlight particulars you want to take note of and practice yourself. Bear with me. We are taking on some pretty complex and slippery ideas and it can take time and repeated encounters to bring the ideas into focus.

Terminology: Rather than prove or show, analysis uses argues and more specifically, states a claim, presents evidence for, invokes a warrant, links data and claim with ...

my notes on argumentation

The photos [on the Our Campus page] are epideictic because they do not have "call to action" but [show] three students walking under the alumni arch, which is arguably one of the best aesthetic pieces in Bemidji. [...] this is an example where it also has deliberate meaning behind the photos, even though they do not say, "Come see our campus." it can be inferred that they are suggesting the viewer to see the campus in person with out the necessity of actually saying it.

Guide for our consideration in class


Our next move will be to look at another kind of page on the BSU website - department landing pages - and to work with them with the same terms - and with an eye this time to how these pages differ or pattern out the same as the first pages you worked with. In these cases, the rhetor is the department, the major claim is Attending BSU is the best decision you've ever made, but now the intended reader is a potential or current major.

Continue to develop your use of the rhetorical concepts and terms.

The exigence here is the school itself -- specifically what the campus is like. As the implied audience seems to be prospective students, and it is naturally one of the first courses of action to find out what life on campus might be like as a student. At the beginning of this year, when I first began considering Bemidji State myself, I remember that the About page was the first page I clicked on to find out about the school. It's naturally expected that students considering attending a school would do the same. The about campus page is easily accessible from the main About Page -- in fact, it's the first link given on the main About page.

The Exigence
The prominent topic of this page is the campus and what it has to offer. It is most likely assumed that the intended reader has little to no knowledge of the campus and is looking for some insight or reason to visit. The "Our Campus" page is the first link in the dropdown box for the About section which happens to be the first section of the Nav bar. So this is column one, row one meaning that the rhetor wants new and returning visitors of the site to easily locate this page.

The Exigence
The artifact’s exigence comes from those who share some sort of concern for the environment. These viewers could be people who are interested in finding a college that is environmentally friendly or just curious on what sort of policies the college takes up.

The Exigence
The implied rhetor is someone familiar with the history of Bemidji State University. The intended readers is someone who is curious about the history of Bemidji State University. The implied rhetor and intended readers both have an interest or curiosity about the history of Bemidji State University and how the university got to be what it is today.

[A consideration of exigence as progression] The page is can be found under the "About" section of the Bemidji State University page. To get to the History page one has to either put their mouse over the "About" tab and select "History". Or, one can select the "About" link and go to the "About" page where one can read a slogan about Bemidji State University. Then, one can click on other links to pages that tells the reader about Bemidji State University, including the "History" page. [concluding that] The page is positioned to be encountered if the visitor of this website would like to read about Bemidji State University.

Pronoun Style
The rhetor is switching between second and third person to try to make the reader relate to a certain want or need and then explain how the school/campus can cater to that need.

YOUR parents will want a photo of you here.
OUR campus is beautiful and welcoming.
OUR students enjoy the outdoors due to OUR proximity to the lake.
YOU'D prefer to stay inside? YOU'RE in luck! OUR facilities have tunnels so YOU can get around without braving the weather.
WE provide nearly everything YOU could need on campus.
OUR facilities are fully equipped for student (YOUR) use.
plan YOUR visit.

Other notes?

Design and the Argument
Design and the Argument

[The strategy here is to progress through the page in the sequence it is presented on the screen. Doing so, the analyzer notices some patterns developing on the page and is able to infer a progression. This is probably not the way a casual reader would encounter the page, but it's a way we, to analyze how the page works, can work with it.]

[You can see the writer interpret what's happening between the elements in places - not just suggesting This is Here but considering what proximity argues, and what the season the photo was taken argues.]

The page is topped with the heading "Our Campus" which immediately contains a picture underneath it of the Bemidji State University Alumni Arch in front of Deputy Hall, given this proximity, the photo is meant to stand for the facility as a whole, showing off one of the oldest parts of the campus canassociate it with prestige or knowledge, while the photo itself appears to be taken during the late summer to give the impression of comfort, or natural beauty that is discussed in the paragraph underneath.

The photo is captioned by stating that the reader's parents will definitely want a picture of the reader in the location of the picture. This shows the rhetor to not only believe that the reader's parents will approve of the choice of University, but also assumes that the reader will be intrigued or interested about the University by viewing said photo.

Below is a led describing the natural beauty of the campus shoreline. The following paragraph describes activities that students are afforded because of this natural position by the lake and woods, with a green link on the words "the lake".

The following paragraph admits the brutal Minnesota winters but assures the reader that underground passages will enable them to avoid discomfort, with a link on "major campus facilities". In these short paragraphs the rhetor has portrayed the campus in a way that is less about the physical space and more about the type of lifestyle the space provides, links to the lake and facilities make the assumption that only by coming to the college can these experiences be had.

Following is a picture of multiethnic and multigender students at a table with textbooks in a study lounge with the lake in the background. The students are smiling and the caption states that the lake could potentially give inspiration to those working there [That's an example of priming the argument so that the reader places the image as the rhetor wishes. This follows the previous statements well, the implied rhetor claims that the lake itself is a vital part of the college experience. Any reader who values natural aspects of life will be prone to agree with the rhetor.

The last paragraph details on-campus services, calling them state-of-the-art, and making specific reference to the American Indian Resource Center. The rhetor creates a balance by describing the natural and rustic elements surrounding the campus, but defines the facilities themselves as modern, and equipped for modern learning.

There is a smaller heading at the bottom entitle "Plan Your Visit" with a bullet list of links for "Daily Tours, Directions, Local Lodging, and Bemidji Tourism. This is of course implies that the rhetor is not asking, but now instructing the reader to see for themselves the campus previously described, and assumes that the information shared above is enticing enough not only to consider the campus for a future college home, but to physically see the campus and take in the experience and spending more than a day, even exploring the town is the last on the list, thus least important as the University is concerned more with the reader coming for the campus and not the surrounding town.

The entire page is a progression of ideas that are meant to spark interest and enthusiasm for the physical aspects and the lifestyle it affords a future student.

Our Campus
In text
Located in the first sentence following the lede. States that many of the BSU students enjoy the outdoor lifestyle year round. Our proximity to THE LAKE and the surrounding woods gives us easy access to all kinds of recreation. The link directs us to an "Our Lake" page which describes exactly what the rhetor set us up for. The rhetor is placing in front of the reader the option to learn more about the lake in question that offers so much recreational fun. This link is used to provide evidence to the argument of the lake being close to campus and offering year round activities including boating, swimming, fishing...
This link is embedded in the second paragraph on the page and right before a picture of students studying in Sattgast. It leads into the link by asking if the reader would prefer to avoid the outdoors during MN winters and then states that all of the MAJOR CAMPUS FACILITIES are connected by all-season underground passages. The link brings us to a page with a list of buildings on campus and clicking any of them simply scrolls to the correct heading in the page with a short description of the given building. Since the link was introduced by mentioning the tunnel system between buildings but the page links to building descriptions and ignores the whole underground passages part, the link isn't really being used as an argument or evidence.
In the first paragraph there is a link to "the lake" which links to another page in the "About section" of the website, describing the lake in more detail, indicating the rhetor may believe that the intended reader may not have very much foreknowledge about Lake Bemidji and the surrounding area.

Also to be noted that all links are a dark green, corresponding to school colors, making everything, including the lake, to be implied as part of the school experience, and to belong to the Campus and therefore the students that attend.

The "Major campus facilites" link is placed strategically in a paragraph about using the tunnels to get out of winter weather. If the reader has come to just find out about the natural aspects of the campus, they will also be enticed to read about the specific buildings and amenities the following paragraph will talk about.

The links at the bottom lead to the admissions page for "Daily Tours", an interactive google maps tool on the website under "directions" while the last two in the bullets send the reader to, thus also making the city of Bemidji a part of the experience, but not one that is emphasized here on this page and is least important to the rhetor, but necessary if the reader has come to the point of agreeing with the rhetor's argument and desires to visit as the page has indicated you should.

These all can act as warrants as well to give the reader a deeper background knowledge to look and agree that the campus is an integral part of this college choosing decision, that indeed the area is beautiful, the facilities are useful and have met the standards the intended reader has already set in their mind and come to this page to investigate.
The embedded text links include other pages on information about Bemidji or Bemidji State University. Some of the embedded links include the use of works like "our". These links will bring you to another page that will argue that the reader should attend Bemidji State University for a specific reason. I think all of the links would be filling in a warrant, because the argument is: datum: Bemidji and Bemidji State University, warrant: the wonderful things about BSU, claim: the reader should attend BSU. Yes, I would say that the links on this page a requiring the reader to complete an enthememe.

There are three other embedded text links that the reader can click on during reading about the history of BSU include: baccalaureate degrees, master degrees, and online learning. The baccalaureate embedded text link brings the reader to a page that displays the different undergraduate degrees available. The master degrees embedded text link will bring the reader to a page with information about master degrees available. The online learning embedded text links brings the reader to a page where the options of distance and online options are available to read about.

Artistic and Inartistic Reasons and Evidence
The links themselves act as inartistic pisteis, as they are not information on the page, but citations of evidence for the claims made, a link to the lake to prove its worth and beauty, a link for facilites to prove their all-inclusiveness of the above mentioned "everything", and links for visiting the campus and city to prove their possibility, necessity, and worthwhileness.

This is not necessarily an arguable artifact, however, if needed some stases can be found in a piece. The definition is the the main question at issue, or dispute.

One question at hand could be, "Is what this page showing me the real deal?" That question can be argued and put to rest with a visit to the campus, but what if the intended does not wish to visit, they must make a decision solely on trust for BSU. With that said I found two stases in particular that can be used for this page.

Consider Stases

The stasis of the "History" page could be, "What is the history of Bemidji State University? How has it changed over the years?" By observing the text (the lead, as well), it informs the reader of Bemidji's start in 1919 and how in 1921 it changed into a teachers college, then into a small general college in 1957, and finally to Bemidji State in 1975. In other words, the beginning paragraphs reflect the changes the university underwent. Reading on, however, the text talks about present-day Bemidji State, almost as if changing the stasis to, "What is Bemidji State University like now?" The rhetor touches on the amount of students in the wide variety of baccalaureate programs. The primary focus is to serve people around the region and the state. It talks about attracting thousands of people not only from the country, but around the world through the encouragement of studying abroad. Also, for woking families, getting a degree online is made possible from its expanding array of online courses.

The layout is quite simple and readable, consisting of a heading, lead, one subheading, and four to five paragraphs with two captioned images. The text is descriptive, yet short and to the point. The way the page is laid out helps to get the main stasis across to the reader. Another (perhaps less obvious stasis) one might infer from the bottom image is, "What does Bemidji Value?" After the text that discusses the people Bemidji serves, there is a photo of a woman named Ingrid and her family attending a Scholarship Appreciation Breakfast. This may be a rhetorical message that implies Bemidji State is very "family-friendly." It values its students' families no matter who they are or where they're from. In other words, it serves not only students but their loved ones, as well. The top photo of Bemidji State College in the 1950s may invoke the stasis, "How has Bemidji changed?" It serves as a visual to the reader of what campus used to be like. On the other hand, the sidebar with further links on "About" can produce the stasis, "What more is there to learn about Bemidji State?" As mentioned, the sidebar is an expanded view of the "About" button in the navigation bar. It is more viewer-friendly to a reader as they can easily see the other links pertaining to the button: "Our campus," "Our Lake," "Our Town..." With that, they can click on each one to learn more about the campus. There are three embedded links: baccalaureate degrees, master degrees, and online learning. The stasis in this case may be, "What programs does BSU offer?" The rhetor makes these words link to different pages so the reader is able to see the variety of degrees and ways in which to learn off-campus. These are common considerations when applying for a college, and therefore are critical components for the "About" section of the website.

The stases would be Conjecture and Quality. It's conjecture because there is evidence of the school that indicates what did exist and what does exist. Bemidji State used to just service Minnesota and only certain degrees, now it services people around the world and offers degrees in a "wide range of fields". I would say it's quality too because the reader is debating if what they did and have become is a good thing. Is it a good or bad thing what BSU has become?

Artistic and Inartistic Pisteis - Evidence
This page has both artistic and inartistic values. It is about self-presentation through the text and images trying to present the University as beautiful and the facilities academically inclined. The rhetor is trying to convince the audience to come to visit the campus, therefore the rhetor draws on the audiences emotion through certain diction such as, "you" and "your". The images are convincing because the audience can see other people enjoying the campus, and gives an aesthetically pleasing layout of the page. Therefore, this part is on the artistic value of the page. The inartistic pieces are more reliant on the true evidence, the lake, and the amenities are examples of both, but since there is proof of these existing it is inartistic. There is also emphasis on the facilities, which are also a physical trait of the campus and can be proven by visiting BSU.

summary: managing the argument
The rhetor's entire point in this page is to argue to the intended audience that attending BSU will be the best decision they ever make. They begin by drawing the audience's attention in with pretty pictures which play on the readers' artistic reasonings -- BSU is the best because you'll fit right in, you'll feel at home, and you'll receive a top-notch education to boot. Basically ideal, right? That's what the rhetor is trying to communicate, anyway. The rhetor also highlights the most attractive aspects of the school, heavily relying on the aesthetic value of the campus as the main draw, and attempts to convince the audience that the school possesses so many convenient resources that you would never need to go anywhere else! The rhetor invites the audience in by establishing a community of which the audience is not yet a part of, but could be should they decide to attend BSU. The rhetor phrases their argument in such a way that causes the reader to utilize all three types of discourse -- will they attend BSU? is it the best fit? it is certainly pretty and has lots of things to explore. All the while, they continue to argue and attempt to convince you that attending BSU will be your Best Decision Ever.

Ultimately, BSU is very effectively utilizing these aspects at the prime kairos; the moment when a student is trying their hardest to make a good decision about their future. This intended audience is asking themselves: "Should I go to college? Which college should I go to? What should I study? What do I want to DO with my life?" This moment in the student's life is usually daunting and intimidating. BSU seizes the moment and plays on that emotional limbo which the student is in with regards to their future. They present a pretty package, all tied neatly up with a bow. You want a good education? We've got all these fields of study. You like sports? We've got like 15 of those. You like the outdoors? Yeah we've got some pretty cool woods and this nice lake. You like to stay inside? We have this sweet tunnel system. We've pretty much got this sick clique rolling around the lake up here, you could totally join us. It'd be a great idea. Maybe the best one ever.

Summary: Managing the Argument
In summary, the rhetor focuses highly on selling the BSU campus as the place that you want to be. They try to relate to you by throwing out vague questions that are true for almost anyone and then the opposite to pick up those who weren't intrigued by the first question. The only focus is getting you to the campus. They talk nothing about tuition or actually being a student here, just that you should visit and this is what you could do while here. The links started as informational or evidence to back up claims and slowly and then turned into a soft shove pushing you to schedule a visit and come stay in Bemidji to get a feel for the college life here. There is a clear agenda and that makes sense being a college with a high acceptance rate who wants anyone and everyone to come stay a few years and empty their wallet. They just do a good job of redirecting your attention to the beauty of campus and not the cost of experiencing it first hand.

question of ethos? pathos? enthymeme?

Summary: Managing the Argument
The BSU website, and specifically the About section is intended to convince potetential students to choose to attend Bemidji State give their money for education, and receive a diploma of graduation in return. The "Our Campus" page is devoted to convince this intended reader, that arrived at this page because they value a certain kind of campus in this process of choosing, that the Bemidji physical campus should be considered positively in this choice. The page is very deliberate in its set-up, determining that value for those visiting the page is put foremost on natural aspects of the campus, and secondly on state-of-the-art facilities. The rhetor assumes the intended reader values these but does not wish them to interfere with one another, the text affirms this notion and uses links to prove the statements made about both aspects.

The argument is capped by the "Plane Your Visit" led and a list of link resources to do so, essentially ordering and empowering the reader to make the choice and adhere to the argument the rhetor wishes. Overall the space is managed by placing it in a section made to convince, and visited by the reader to be convinced of the value of this aspect of the college experience at this particular University, adhering to the tastes of the collective modern student body and aiming the argument at this particular kind of reader who could be convinced that these particular qualities are genuine in the value given them in this presentation.

Summary: Managing the Argument
Recast in terms of argument
As part of the About section, this page aims to share something with the audience that they may have not already known. Specifically in this case, BSU is aiming at one of their passions that they have been carrying out for many years that they hope to pass on to each new student that comes and becomes a part of this community. They try to get this passion across by dedicating a page of its own and displaying their achievements that gave them titles that left BSU distinguished from other colleges. By making an impression on their students, they can spread a culture of environmental friendliness and take pride in the achievements of their alumni. You can take the majors relating to the environment as a direct example. They also perhaps hope to create change in those who were more disrespectful towards the environment, not taking into consideration the effects of littering and other forms of waste. The links within the page provide you examples on how to get active.

Summary Kairos
shows indicates evidence? warrant?
So why is this the "Best Decision Ever"? That would be the argument that is not explicitly stated. This section of the website shows that the University is beautiful, not only because of the location, but also because of the facilities. It gives links to those specifically, and the amenities offered at BSU. The main idea on the page "Our Campus" is to get people to want to visit the campus , the link "the lake" shows what there is to offer from having a campus on the lake and how it benefits some of the majors at the school. That is made to further persuade the audience and make the argument more solid. They also have a link in the text to further that argument, with the "major campus facilities" link, it gives all of the questionable information a second wind and more oomph on why the facilities offered are top-notch. Finally, the last section of the page and links is, "Plan Your Visit" that isn't asking, it is stating--do it-- because "we know that we are a very appealing school and area to visit and even if you don't decide to come to school here the trip won't be a waste because this is a tourist town-here are all of the lodging and tourist attractions.. We will see you soon." That is essentially what that last piece of links is for. This is how the kairos and links benefit one another.

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