Second Pass - BSU Dept Sites

  1. How does the department rhetor manage presentational enthymemes (L&W pp 54ff), and practical reasoning?
  2. What rhetorical strategies from About pages are being used on department pages? What new ones are being used?

updated 17 Oct 2015

Exigence and tenacity

One of you noticed that the movement to the page as one of stops and choices suggests how tenuous getting to the page can be. Navigating the site demands a pretty strong sense of purpose! Here's the path -

reader enters this page starting at the BSU homepage, moves to Academics, then Programs (or Undergraduate), finally selecting English from dozens of majors.
The reader can stop in this chain to consider BSU's attempt to attract attention first at the homepage with it's full page photo (the hockey arena at this time) and popup graphics (Hannah Moher, a current successful hockey player).
Next the reader can stop on the Academics page to consider the goal of BSU Academics ("to become life-long learners and leaders in a global society") and BSU accomplishments (Trails, STEM and Rankings in photo enhanced boxes, flexibility, affordability, and novelty are noted in smaller print below the boxes).
The reader arrives at English either through interest in the Undergraduate, or Programs pages. Each page acts as a "list holder" which first provides an obligatory argument for the quality of BSU academic programs and then the actual list of programs.

Again, you noticed that part of the argument for English is presented in the listed topics - and that the After BSU topic is placed at the end of the list. Also to note is that the arguments about specific degree programs (BA, BFA) are handled differently than the "real-world" arguments.
After BSU -- Here, buried beneath many, many links is an argument for this major. A myth/fact argument is set up arguing that English majors can find employment outside the field. An explanation is provided and then possible careers are listed. Then, famous English majors are listed along with links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The implied reader can encounter the sidebar arguments in any order she wishes, but it's good to note where the dept places the After BSU argument, and how it makes the claim: this is AFTER BSU, not part of BSU, so aiming at the future.

Here's an observation that focuses on *how* the dept is presenting the argument in embedded text links.

Another set of links move to pages which provide information and argument about specific degree programs. As noted above, they begin with an argument of value and then provide support. Unlike the real world experience links, these follow a more predictable pattern.

This way of handling the argument is set against the more enthymemic way that the dept presents the clubs -
Nothing else is provided to argue for the value of the magazine or participation in it. "Clubs" doesn't open into a list of clubs but only into "Medieval Club" so the reader will either conclude there is only one club or go searching the navigation bar on the left. Finally, "Writing Resource Center" moves to an external link.

Rhetorically, what's happening is that the value of clubs and magazines as real-world experience is being assumed. The warrant is left to the implied reader. The argument presentation assumes that the implied reader is going to make the move from clubs to value. Whether the real reader will do so is another story.


The department pages (in this latest design) are separate from program pages and from the undergrad and grad catalogue pages, where the lists of courses are found. This suggests that the exigence is narrower than it has been in the past. Dept pages in the past also needed to provide access to course listings.


There's a common thread in that the rhetors are casting the implied reader as a someone who will join the department. This is a different placement of audience than agent to be persuaded or convinced. It would seem to rely on evidence of identity. Anyone else seeing this?

Less (apparent) persuasion - more ... authenticity? agency?

Some suggest that there is less of a sense of overt persuasion on dept pages. More a sense of delivering information AND SO a sense that the implied audience makes a choice, an increased sense of agency. Review the notes below: more of a mention of stating facts, presenting information.

The sense that the prose is deliberative rather than epideictic, and more argument using inartistic proofs (presenting facts is an inartistic proof) defines a relationship between the department rhetor and imagined reader/prospective major. We can consider if and how this way of staging the argument appears elsewhere in the pages.

Consider how this understanding works with

The Presentational Enthymeme

A number of observations are moving us towards how the arguments are being presented - the presentational enthymeme.

About English is exceptionally plain and full of text. ... They are primarily informative in nature. Nothing here is engaging the reader with any level of marketability.

As mentioned below: Links may be seen as placed for discovery. We can look for more instances of design for discovery. We can also consider what's missing or what opportunities the rhetor missed in continuing this design.

artistic framing of an inartistic proof

“Why I Hire English Majors” Best-selling author Steve Strauss recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post on why he hires English Majors, outlining their strengths and characteristics. It’s a nice affirmation that English majors are both hirable and “pleasant to be around.”

notes on observing

We're dealing with the rhetor and audience IMPLIED by the pages, so look to the pages to determine the exigency that the rhetor has designed for - and is in part creating.


The exigence between rhetor and reader is the possibility of majoring in the English department. The implied rhetor wants the intended reader to be aware of the different programs they can major in (English Literature, Creative Writing, English Teacher...). Though there aren't that many programs, the opportunities for the reader to engage with fellow English students are plentiful. For instance, those who major in the English department can publish magazines or work for the Writing Resource Center. In other words, the exigence is that a major in English is a good choice.

The intended reader must be interested in pursuing an English-related career or they wouldn't have visited the department page in the first place. The page is accessed simply by hovering the mouse over "Academics" in the navigation bar. This will bring up a menu, and the reader can click either "Programs" or "Undergraduate" to bring up the list of majors. They are in alphabetical order and the reader will then click on the "English" link to bring them to the department's home page. This is important to understand for rhetorical analysis because it shows that the reader is likely exploring a college and major (probably an undergraduate fresh out of high school, although this doesn't have to be the case). The reader probably has a few major ideas in mind, and English is likely one of them. Thus, the rhetor is fulfilling the reader's need by presenting the English page.

Page Design, Variations, Argument


Page Variations
The pages state the same basic argument of the home page, but the design is quite different. The title, for one, is not backgrounded by book spines and is not far apart from the lede (as there was a gallery between title and lede on the home page). Rather, there are very few images except for on the faculty page, which shows a photo of the professors in the English department. The ledes are more descriptive than the exclamatory one on the home page. They state facts that relate to the page's content:

"We offer the following programs for undergraduates. Make sure to talk to one of our department advisors to figure out which program to pursue."

This lede is found under "Undergraduate Programs" and acts more like a cap than a claim. Other significant differences between the home page and the sub-site pages is that some pages have many sub-headings, and others none at all. "Student Opportunities," for instance, has many sub-headings while "Faculty" has none. In this case the use of an image or bulleted list will instead be present. In addition, there are many more links present and sometimes placed differently. For the most part, the links can be found in the bulleted lists and are less embedded. SecondPassABB

The pages I consider rhetorically significant are the pages: the About page, the Undergraduate and Graduate page, the Student Opportunities page, and the After BSU page. I would consider these pages to be the most rhetorically significant because the information mentioned on the landing page mentions information the reader can find on these pages. As I stated before, these pages are set up similarly, with a heading and information that follows and links to other pages that provide more information. But, the intended reader will be interested in how BSU is going to help them achieve what they want and that includes everything on those pages; especially the Student Opportunities page. SecondPassKBS

Page Variations
The English page has ten seperate pages that it links to. About English is exceptionally plain and full of text. It leads with the mission statement and proceeds to tout its merits. Undergraduate and graduate programs both build on the same all text themes. They are primarily informative in nature. Nothing here is engaging the reader with any level of marketability. SecondPassWS

The argument here is a little difficult to make out. It's clear due to the structure of the page that they expect interested potential students to be digging through all of this content but it seems to come off as a lot to take in all at once. There are so many options with them giving the readers lists of possible paths to take and maybe that is done on purpose to attract the right kind of people. If I were looking at this page thinking about enrolling here as a math student, I would be faced with the problem of knowing where to start. I think the page presents itself in this way to attract problem solvers or students who are willing to click a link, read it, decide it's not for them and still have the patience to come back and try the next link and the next... until they find what they need. The solution of which path to take upon becoming a math student at BSU. The argument seems to mimic math in that if you don't find the solution to a problem in one way, you try again with a different method or look in a different place... you don't just quit. SecondPassDSW

page progression

The page acts as a natural progression of interest level in the department. The initial draw of photos implying the enjoyment students have in the program while learning, while also plugging the beauty of the Bemidji Area and the BSU campus, implying a relation in the importance placed on nature and English studies. The lede entices and commands readers to join the program and lists a single argument, that the English Department offers preparation for the real world, implying that either every other reason for joining is implied already or assumed by both rhetor and audience, or that this issue itself is assumed by the implied rhetor to be called into question by coming to this page, this assumes that the intended reader is either looking for an English department that offers real world experience or that the reader would not consider English seriously for a minor without real world application.

More importance is placed on the Undergraduate Degrees, they are listed first, so the assumed reader is more likely to be searching for undergraduate opportunities. There is more listed than the Graduate section, and the links are bold and dark, while the one link in the Graduate section is faint and altogether short, indicating that it is either least important, or the end to the argument, in which it could end as a cap. By travelling through the information above, the scholarly experience at the bottom can be obtained, this may also assume that those seeking a graduate degree will need less convincing by the time they reach this portion of the page. SecondPassPTC

argument progression

When interacted with, each page the reader is directed to serves as an artistic argument in itself that each of these items is worthy of the merit given. The resources and opportunities will ready the reader for a career, the specific programs are worth investing time in the program to attain etc. SecondPassPTC


The listed local navigation includes: About TAD, Programs, Faculty & Staff, Collections, Galleries, Scholarships & Awards, Student Resources, Advisory Boards, and News. As a department of art, Collections and Galleries are unique and specific to this department. The Advisory Boards page also quite differs from the other department sites as it ties in professionals directly to the school. Otherwise, the other sections are relatively the same as the other departments. One section that seems to be lacking that both the English and Biology departments included was After BSU which could have been beneficial in arguing how successful those who have taken one of the programs can be. SecondPassBSUPMH

Pronoun Style

Most pages use a blend of first and third person language, mostly "you" and "our" pronouns, furthering the inclusive feel discussed in the first pass' notes. However several pages use a strictly third person omniscient language -- the voice of someone outside looking in. SecondPassRAS

The Kinds of Discourse
I've found a lot of deliberative discourse at work in these pages. These English department pages are packed full of information and facts about the English department resources which the audience must decide what to do with. SecondPassRAS


Each of the pictures in the reel can be interacted with and made to be seen in the spot the big picture was seen earlier. [Caps? Enthymeme? Something else?]

The captions don't go to make any additional claims the images do not presentationally, but instead give labels for the reader to identify that these are indeed BSU students. The focus itself is on student engagement, and enthusiasm, indicating that the program will engage and enthuse the reader, and that this is what the reader is initially looking for to hook them into further researching a particular college experience. SecondPassPTC

Images are used at the top of the page, with the exception of the faculty page, they are only on the landing page. Which indicates a greater importance for the presentational draw of the readers attention here, and assumes that if the reader has branched to other pages, the initial argument made by the landing page to consider the English Department has already been accomplished. SecondPassPTC


The Banner Image and Local Navigation
The banner image is a piece of graph paper with equations written on it in pen. Off to the very right of the image we can see a transparent yellow piece of plastic which we can guess to be a ruler or protractor.

Images: Almost all of the images on the math department contain students and teachers standing in a row in certain situations (receiving awards, before an event or even during "sledding") they never seem to be captured actually doing anything. They take a break from any activity to appear formal and organized and then just caption what they were doing before the picture was taken. Also all but a few pictures were the full size of the page. Those that were not were small and placed directly beside relevant text. Most likely due to being more relevant than a normal group photo. SecondPassDSW




The lede commands the reader to "Join us for the study of literature and writing. We have a way with words!" (P Coffin)

English Dept
The first three links are framed by the heading "Real World Experience, and telling the audience that the english department will prepare the reader for a career, this could be considered a subargument or sub-enthymeme if we consider the page an epichireme. The links act as proofs for this claim, implying that the rhetor believes the reader will value magazine publication, club participation and working for a writing resource center as getting them ready for their intended career. SecondPassPTC

TAD Embedded Text Links
There are three links within the body of the page, two of them linking to the same page (the Programs page). The first link was within the first paragraph and therefore would have made the link in the second paragraph unnecessary - unless they were choosing to emphasize the importance of their programs. In that case, by adding a second link, they were giving the viewer an extra nudge to check out the page. There are also the links on the side to the news articles as well as at the bottom to a couple of pages that display the various other departments in Bemidji State University as a sort of navigation within the site. BSUPMH

Links and discovery
On the [English Dept] landing page, the rhetor is placing the main attractions for the reader to discover. The main reasons why the reader should go to BSU and get an English degree there. The embedded text links begin as early as the first paragraph on the landing page. Most embedded text links flow throughout the page, but some pages don't have any. On the landing page the embedded links create anticipation of how one can publish magazines or participate in clubs, or get assistance at the writing center. Most of the links provide another argument. Others just provide information. SecondPassKBS

Artistic and inartistic reasons and evidence

The page itself serves as artistic evidence, images, lede, headings, and phrasing are all written and designed by the implied rhetor to convince the intended reader of the claims made.

The links are all inartistic in nature since they do not explicitly give their evidence, but serve to show that evidence does exist elsewhere for the claims given. [...]

As illustration of this
The first three links are framed by the heading "Real World Experience, and telling the audience that the english department will prepare the reader for a career, this could be considered a subargument or sub-enthymeme if we consider the page an epichireme. The links act as proofs for this claim, implying that the rhetor believes the reader will value magazine publication, club participation and working for a writing resource center as getting them ready for their intended career. SecondPassPTC

BUT by comparison

The sentence also includes the fact that BSU English majors find "great internships" but has no link for this, which could weaken this argument if the intended reader truly values internships as an integral part of career readyness. This may also imply that there are no examples to give or link to, calling into question this inclusion and/or the entire claim that this department program will ready them for a career, which the implied rhetor believes to be important by making it the first paragraph, but may be weakening their entire argument by this omission.

Artistic SecondPassRAS
English dept

Encouraging Skimming, Kairos, and Quick Impressions

[The rhetors/designers have designed this page to persuade] students who may be undecided to join the programs under their department - or to at least leave their viewers with a good impression of the department (after all, leaving good impressions on some can spread the word to those that it really counts).

The different sections also provide more information on the department and create a kairos when the reader chooses to click on them and view them. The page also creates kairos by providing contact information to get any questions answered as well as to extend your interest in the department by arranging for a tour of the department. At the top of the page in the caption of the banner, the text also invites the reader to check out the “exceptional facilities in Bridgeman Hall.”

The page is very brief and can be easily read through which allows for readers to quickly absorb the page’s main points without having to dig through long, bulky paragraphs. This allows the viewers to develop a quick impression of the department (which the page works to make this a good one). By creating that good impression, the rhetor hopes that students will be encouraged to participate in the programs. And perhaps, like in many other cases in colleges, by bringing these students in, they are seeking out the next success story that they can showcase within their news panel so they can attract even more attention to their already nationally recognized faculty and programs. SecondPassBSUPMH

Select Implied Audience and Agency

Summary: How the Department Manages the Argument SecondPassDSW
The [math] department rhetor uses an approach of praising math as a fundamental skill for all majors instead of the ONLY major you should take. Unlike the approach of the About page, this landing page focuses more on explaining the math department and less on trying to convince you to join it. They seem very neutral in consideration to convincing people to join, they would rather just supply us with info and programs and leave the decision to join up to the individual. They end the page with more information (all the programs available) instead of ending it with links to plan tours, get to bemidji and stay here locally. The photos used in the department are more professional than the about page. In the about page the pictures are of students walking casually or studying and having a chat, here they are images suggesting success and teamwork by showing us award winners and competitive groups of students and faculty alike.

The about page tries to lure readers in with images and descriptions of luxury. Tunnels across campus to keep warm, lakeside views for your study group and activities for every type of person. The math department aims at a more select group of people, those who enjoy challenge, teamwork and friendly competition. They only want a certain type of person so they are less worried about getting the average joe to join the department and more focused on attracting the right type of person who will be a worthy addition. Up front they appear to be all work and no play, but upon digging deeper the rhetor informs us of leisurely activities that often occur when hanging out with fellow math majors (math club). SecondPassDSW

Areas to ... er ... Develop?

Design and the Argument
[The English Dept] page is actually not very developed. It could use some attention from the marketing folks [...] . I did find it interesting that a main heading - other then undergraduate and graduate poitns - have to do with "Real World Experience" [The real rhetors could] stress business writing and communication as that is an area that is high growth. Cargill, Target, Medtronic, etc. are intersted in global communication professionals on a regular basis. SecondPassWS

The English page has ten seperate pages that it links to. About English is exceptionally plain and full of text. It leads with the mission statement and proceeds to tout its merits. Undergraduate and graduate programs both build on the same all text themes. They are primarily informative in nature. Nothing here is engaging the reader with any level of marketability. The faculty page does have a picture of the faculty but it is not a professional picture and they professors themselves are not well highlighted in any way. They [could] each have head shots and their own page with a fully filled out persona that is represented for the student. Resources continues on in a boring, block text way. Nothing is engaging. The most exciting is the occasional external link such as "to the undergraduate course schedule". Student opportunities miss an opportunity for links, especially the internship section. Student publications at least has a link to the magazine but no images again. Northwoods Writers conference is the ONLY page that does what it should but it seems completely unconnected to BSU. After BSU is a problem with the same old. Block font and no images. News does no better...

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