First Pass at Critical Method Exercise


So far, your work, while focusing on observing and describing, has mixed description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation. S&P in chapter 3 start to distingusih between those four different ways of looking at the object, and it asks you to start isolating these four ways of viewing as you work - starting with neutral description and moving to analysis, which brings in a set of terms to look with. Chapters 4 - 7 will address these practices in more detail, but this next exercise asks you to isolate one kind of viewing - description - and then draw on some rhetorical concepts (from chapter 9) to catalogue what you see. It demands close observation, awareness of what you’re doing, a focus on the thing you’re looking at rather than your impression of it, and withholding evaluation.

This work demands close observation, awareness of what you’re doing, a focus on the thing you’re looking at rather than your impression of it, and withholding evaluation.

This exercise doesn't call for an essay. You're not making an argument. You're not being asked to come up with ideas or evaluate anything. You're getting some practice in a method - describing the text and context - and in seeing rhetorical elements in that text.

It's a trial run in describing, characterizing, and cataloguing the elements in a rhetorical message, in a set of notes. So take your time, and get in close. This won't yield to a superficial treatment, and there is no answer key out there to draw on.

The reading

1. Read S&P Chap 3.
Pay special attention to the examples and comment on those examples that S&P present in two columns. Considering the examples of how this is done will help you do it yourself. Also useful is Fig 3.2 on p 42, which summarizes what each stage does and what it's marked by. For this exercise, you're engaging Description and Analysis, so focus on those two.

2. Then read S&P, Chap 9. This is the search model you're using for this exercise, so you need the context and the terminology to proceed. The terms are vital: This exercise demands that you use rhetorical concepts as they are presented in S&P an in class. It might be awkward at first but see it through.

The idea is that web writing remediates existing forms in kinds, in stylistic features, arrangement (also called organization), delivery (presentation on the screen), memory, and appeals (invention).

The exercise

Start a new page from your WikiName page, titled FirstPassAtCriticalMethod - followed by your initials. Work in that page, using headings and lists to organize your notes.

1. Critical works starts with a text that deserves some critical attention. Use this:

MSU Mankato Tech Comm landing page. The images on this page cycle, which you'll need to address. The url is http://english.mnsu.edu/techcomm/

In your work on this exercise, use only this page - no need to follow links - but use the entire page, not just the text in the center of the page. There are different kinds of text working here, plus images, and there are various methods of organization, a variety of appeals and perhaps even genres. The text itself is short but vital to describe and work with - so don't shortchange that.

2. Describe and characterize the page and the context: the situation in which it's operating. Refer to lS&P chap 3. Use headings to keep your notes organized.

==== Description of page ====


==== Description of context ====

Use paragraphs or bullet points or a mixture of both for your notes.

3. Now, systematically, study and review and look at the page. List the rhetorical elements you see operating and provide evidence. Sets of bullet lists are a good idea here, organized under the appropriate headings that make use of rhetorical concepts. Like this:

==== Genre ====
A text tends to enact a genre of deliberative, forensic, or epideictic prose (and images, I'd guess). Get startled by deciding which genres this page enacts, and provide evidence from the page. There may be different genres at work on the page.

From this point on, start cataloguing the rhetorical elements you see operating under the appropriate headings.

==== Style ====

==== Arrangement ====

==== Delivery ====

==== Memory ====

==== Invention ====
These are also called the appeals: credibility, emotion, and reason. See S&P chap 9.

You can, of course, copy and paste the notes framework I've suggested here into your own page.

Copy and paste or transcribe your evidence from the text (use " " to isolate the quoted material) as you name and explain the use you see, using the terms from S&P.

Notes

Description is done neutral language. It is detailed, not a fast and superficial glance. It describes the thing rather than the viewer's perspective of the thing (stands outside the rhetorical interaction). If you get a good description down, analysis is easier and more insightful. So pay special attention to the examples and comment on those examples that S&P present in two columns throughout Chap 3.

There is very little that is cut and dry here. So use this exercise as an opportunity to work out the problem. For instance, you might have difficulty deciding what to do with some elements on the page. The footer, for instance, listing Contacts and sets of links to other pages: What is that evidence of, rhetorically? Draw on the rhetorical concepts from Chap 9 to help you. (I'd place it as evidence of a deliberative genre: those terms help users make decisions.)

I'll evaluate your work on effort put in rather than "correctness." This is an exercise, not a test.

Stay with it for a few hours, or return to it periodically over the weekend. Really, this takes time.

Questions in the comments, please.

Tips on Describing: Some common mis-steps




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