!! A First Look at Email: Style and Arrangement
with Stoner and Perkins, chap 3

This is a first pass working with critical method in a fairly formal way. The exercise is designed to help monitor your own thinking by asking you to organize what you're doing. The approach might interfere with what you do habitually. This might feel initially uncomfortable and constraining, but stay with it.

I'll give you an email exchange to work with, and some background to the rhetorical situation of the exchange.

* Work with Stoner and Perkins, chap 3. Read the entire chapter first. Then refer to sections of it as you work through this exercise.
* To focus your attention on rhetorical features, refer to Elements/ListOfRhetoricalFeaturesOfEmail.
* When it comes to analysis, use Elements/EmailAndInformality as a search model. Email exchange, it's claimed, tends to be informal, speech-like, in style and arrangement. You're looking at style and arrangement to see how they are manifest in this particular exchange. S&P also present some observations on style and arrangement on pp 141 - 147.

!!! How to proceed
Start a new page from your WikiName page for your notes. Title it FirstLookAtEmail. Use headings to help you organize your notes on this page. Develop your notes under three headings:

!!! description
!!! analysis
!!! interpretation

The headings help keep you on track and signal to me what you're doing in that section.

!!! How to proceed with your notes.
!!!! 1. Description
In your notes, describe the exchange. Draw up a list of observations, using the ListOfRhetoricalFeaturesOfEmail to focus your attention. Do this any way you wish: Itemize the observations and examples, or organize by examples. No need to analyze these notes yet. Try to stay focused on observation for now. That is, you don't need to come to any conclusions on what the use of ( ) means, just a consideration of how the writer is using them - if at all.

In any case, you'll need to selectively quote from the email exchange to describe it.

In generating your notes, don't worry too much about getting them organized. Once you have some observations to work with, *then* start to organize them a little - enough to make it easy for you to work with your own notes.

Go for a full set of observations, too. This is not a time to be brief. The more you observations you have here, the more you have to build on later.

Draw on your knowledge and experience with other email messages as you do notes! But keep your focus on observing and describing more than interpreting as much as you can.

As S&P point out, in describing you will naturally move into analysis and interpretation. 'Take metacognitive note of when this happens,' and, as you work, move the analysis and interpretation under the appropriate headings.

!!!!2. Analysis
Using your description, now approach the message for analysis. Again, refer to Stoner and Perkins on Analysis, and use Elements/EmailAndInformality as a search model.

What you're trying to do in analysis is identify elements of the email message and articulate (state, explain) the relationships between those elements. You're looking for patterns in the message that suggest what choices that the writer made in constructing the message. What make this tricky is that you don't know before you begin which elements will be rhetorically significant and which won't be, so you have to test your analysis as you work. Make use of the concepts and elements in the search model.

Draw on your description to help you develop your analysis.

'Handle your analysis as a set of paragraphs.' Analysis develops. Take your signals for length and development from S&P's example, pp 34 - 35.

As you work to analyze the message, you probably will slide into interpretation. Fine. Move that stuff under the appropriate header.

!!!! 3. Interpretation
Likely, as you described and analyzed your message, an implication, a question, a significance occurred to you about what you were looking at. That significance is - or may be - the start of an interpretation.

The general question you're addressing is this:
-> What does your analysis reveal about how they email exchange functions as rhetoric? That is, a messages that influence social attitudes, beliefs, values, and actions?

The specific question you address in your interpretation is up to you.

'Use your description and your analysis to draw some conclusions about the rhetorical patterns, features, and choices you've discovered in your analysis'. These do not need to be ProfoundDiscoveries. They can be small conclusions that point to even more interesting issues. But you're trying to go beyond what you've observed, "pushing your reasoning ... to wring from the data the insights that give you new knowledge about communication" (38). You'll need to draw on your experience with email, with communication, to interpret.

For length and detail, again, take your signals from S&P, pp 37 - 8. A set of "So whats?" would work. Some developed paragraphs of maybe 200 - 250 words each. A set of questions for the further work if one occurs to you.

Again: this is your first pass through this procedure, and it may feel artificial, constraining, tedious. You may be working against your habitual ways of reading. Stay with it, however. Your notes will tell you - and me - how it went, and your expertise at reading rhetorically will develop over time.

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