Presentational Enthymemes and the BSU Homepage

We're moving from description last week to analysis this week. We have a theory of presentational enthymeme to work with. You may not understand the theory completely (I don't), but I'll sketch it out below on this page, and we'll all apply it to see what emerges about how the BSU homepage makes arguments.

Before you start, read ATheoryOfPresentationalEnthymemes and re-read Longaker concerning enthymemes pp 50 - 70.

In Brief

Drawing on your work from last week, encounter the BSU home page with the intent to confront and analyze the presentational enthymemes you can infer from the page. Use both week's pages as material to work with.

How to proceed

0. Start a new page titled PresentationalEnthymemesAndTheHomePage - followed by your initials. Use this new page for your work on this project. But keep your notes from BSUHomepageAsArgument open next to the new page. You'll need to draw on those notes to accurately analyze the presentational enthymemes

1. Work through the BSU home page. You're trying to confront the page as a user would - not necessarily a naive new user who has never seen the page before but as a more general user. You're trying to press buttons and make bells ring, roll over menus and click links... You're systematically exploring the page.

Work with the pages from both weeks. Why? To see what regularities are at work - what material and interactions stay the same from week to week, and how they vary from week to week. Those regularities are going to point to material that visitors will use to assemble the ideational enthymeme. See what presentational enthymemes you can infer from your systematic encounter with the page.

2. When you identify a presentational enthymeme, explain how it works. State the claim you're inferring and the data on the page or in your encounter that is related to the claim. Mention what presentational stuff is involved. This might be position on page, order of encounter, other features.

Don't stop with two or three. There are going to be a number of presentational enthymemes active on the page, especially over two weeks. Right now, we're looking for as many as we can to see how presentational enthymemes work. There are presentational enthymemes possible in every encounter with every interface movement. A drop down menus with text and image might cap an enthymeme. Clicking a link might. Scrolling up to reveal the panel rising on the screen might.

Extra points for the most seen and analyzed.

You might need to follow a link to complete the enthymeme, but focus on the home page as a starting point.

Keep in mind

As you work, keep in mind your position as someone analyzing rhetorical messages. You are not the audience. You are outside the rhetorical interaction, looking in.

Keep in mind the presuppositions at work in the rhetorical situation of a university home page in general and BSU's home page specifically: the values, interests, qualities, the expectations that the rhetor presupposes are shared.


An example

Example: The chalked sidewalk message outside HS on 27 Sep 2016

The chalked message is a cap that initiates the inference of a presentational enthymeme. The sidewalk typically doesn't have a message on it, so the presence of a message starts the inference. Chalked messages aren't unexpected at a university, and are typically used to announce events of interest to the university community: they are typically not personal messages. Being written in chalk, the message is temporary and timely. Chalk messages that are of interest to the university community are presumably sanctioned by the university administration. They are not graffiti.

IN this case: The materials involved are the sidewalk (public thoroughfare where walkers can be expected), the medium of chalk (temporary, which lets viewers infer an immediacy to the message), and placement to create an encounter between HS and going to the union.

The message is designed to prompt viewers to infer a claim that suits the content of the stated message. The claim, "You should buy a season ticket very soon." The data is the message itself as a reminder. There are signals in the message that initiate the inference: use of the word "still" in an emphatic position. The callout placement of "Limited Quantity" in a highlighted space separate from the main message (speech bubble). Three !

End of example

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