Class Summary:
31 August 2009
Page Last Updated:
Monday 31 August 2009
@ 9:57 PM

Assignments for 2 September 2009


"Petition to Waive the University's Mathematics Requirement"
by Gordon Adams
Ramage, pages 19-22

I read this essay aloud in class while I asked everyone to identify examples of logos, ethos, pathos, and kairos.

Please come to class ready to share your ideas.



Read Ramage, chapters 3 and 6

Chapters 3 and 6 will help you to explore some deeper terminology that we will be using in future assignments.

Remember, we will be reading from Ramage quite a bit in the early weeks of the semester. In October and November, most of our reading will come from our own research.

Please be sure that your edition matches the one that I am using:
the 8th edition (BRIEF edition).






What We Did Today:


Submitted the Essays

We submitted our essays and our drafts in class today. If you were absent, please complete the following task that you missed in class:

I asked everyone to be sure that their final copies were stapled, but not to the drafts or the peer review forms. The two previous drafts should have already been stapled to their respective peer review forms. I brought paperclips to combine all three sets of papers.

When submitting, please place the final copy in front, followed by the drafts. Your best draft should always be presented on the top.

If you missed today's class, please write out answers to the following four reflective questions. These questions are intended for you to identify and clarify your rhetorical choices and for me to direct my comments more precisely. Your grade will not be affected by your reflection, so please be honest. After all, if you stretch the truth in these answers, then you are really lying to yourself.



1. What method did you use in your introduction? Why?

2. How did you arrange your pro and con positions in the essay? Why?

3. What aspect of this assignment did you find most challenging? Why?

4. Explain how you used your time since last Wednesday's class (after the second draft) regarding this assignment.






Syllabus Updated

I reviewed the final syllabus with everyone today. Notice that the information on the syllabus merely provides a thematic framework for our classroom activities. The assignments are listed in red. The darker red refers to drafts and in-class activities, while the brighter red delineates an assignment due at the beginning of class on that day. You will also see the percentage value of each assignment.






Logos, Ethos, Pathos, and Kairos

These four Greek terms have helped Western writers to articulate complex arguments that have helped to define us as educated and cultured people.

We need to understand what makes arguments "good" or "bad," and understanding these four terms can help us to achieve this goal.


The Rhetorical Triangle

Aristotle argued that an argument can be considered valid if it attains strength across three rhetorical conditions: logos, ethos, and pathos. This is the unfortunate origin of the "five paragraph paper," which is an oversimplified way of communicating Aristotle's brilliant concepts.

Please turn to page 63 in the Ramage text and locate the "rhetorical triangle."

The space in the middle of the triangle represents the space that all writers work inside of. Every argument is pulled and swayed by the needs and influences of all three points on the figure. A good writer knows how to achieve a balance that appeases each desire, but also retains independence and integrity from the potentially overwhelming influence of one over the others.

This is why you have been asked to take two composition courses.


Logos (Logic)

Don't be afraid of these terms.

"Logos" means "word" in Greek, and it demands that your words be sensible and consistent. If you create unprovable logical leaps (such as believing in superstitions) or if you use words in slippery ways, you lose your credibility as a thinker. Your arguments need to be solid, based on evidence or reason, and they must be valid in their construction. In other words, be sure to include all the necessary explanations that validate your conclusions.


Ethos (Ethics)

Your credibility and authority as a writer must be made evident to promote a valid argument. For example, if you personally experience the sport of kayaking, then you own instant credibility on this subject. However, knowledge of this skill will not allow you to pose as a math genius or a spiritual guide to your audience, so stick to what you know.

When you don't know something, provide credible evidence to support your conclusions. By demonstrating an understanding of a topic and a familiarity with the most credible sources in the field, you can supply the necessary ethics to promote a valid idea.

You must appear knowledgeable ... but also BE knowledgeable.


Pathos (Emotion)

Connecting with your audience will earn their goodwill. True, from a theoretical standpoint, some arguments look great on paper, but a good idea can turn sour quickly without public support. Finding common ground with your audience can establish sympathy and empathy -- two emotions that can allow otherwise reluctant listeners to lend their ears for a while.

Emotions, however, are very easy to abuse and miscalculate. Emotions such as fear and anxiety are corruptive forces that should never be used in haste. Politicians who use 9/11 as a fear tactic or those who spread hate speech or propaganda violate the ethos of trust because they are using the emotion to persuade -- proving that they wish simply to win the argument (or the election) rather than solving problems in the real world.

Remember, argue to LEARN, not to win.


Kairos (Timeliness)

A popular phrase tells us that "timing is everything." That is kairos.

Although it is not a core point on the rhetorical triangle, it adds a third dimension of practicality that many arguments thrive upon. For example, we learned as children when to ask our parents for something ... but we also learned when to back off and choose another moment. You might have had the best idea in the world at that time, but if you made that argument well past your bedtime, during a "timeout," or when your Mom was really angry, you knew that it was sure to lose.

You might also wish to revisit the coursepacket document on introductions and conclusions. A deeper description of the first three terms are provided on the first page.






Examples of Logos, Ethos, Pathos, and Kairos

We recalled some examples of these terms in class discussion.


Logos (Logic)

-- If we add a football stadium, then traffic will become worse.
-- Alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and arrests will increase with football.
-- If we get a team, then the campus better shuttle us across the freeway.
-- Given the right conditions, football can be a net positive decision long term.


Ethos (Ethics)

-- Coming from UGA, I can tell you that football makes campus more complete.
-- I looked forward to my HS games, so I see the value of the activity.
-- I have no vested interest in the outcome, but the realities are daunting.
-- As an engineer, I can assure that the newly acquired land is fit to build upon.


Pathos (Emotion)

-- Football will enhance school spirit.
-- A winning football team will increase our national exposure (also logos).
-- We students will become poor if the university increases our fees.
-- Do you really want our beloved KSU to become like Animal House?


Kairos (Timeliness)

-- Let's wait until we have a bigger pool of alumni 10 years from now.
-- A recession is no time to begin a football program from scratch.
-- Support has never been higher -- the time is NOW!
-- I will fight for a team as long as I am enrolled here.





"Petition to Waive the University's Mathematics Requirement"
by Gordon Adams
Ramage, pages 19-22

I read this essay aloud at the end of class for two reasons:

1) I wanted the class to look for examples of these four Greek terms without the burden of reading. The activity is easier when it is read aloud.

2) Also, I wanted to model a strategy for revision that really works. When revising your essays at home, read the drafts aloud -- slowly -- to achieve the highest effect of your words. You will then notice diction and tone problems, and you will see more clearly the passages that need to be modified.

Just try it.


Please come to class with a rich list of examples of these four terms from this essay.


See you Wednesday.







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3-Week Calendar
Due Next
4 9/2 Read Chaps. 3 & 6 in Ramage
4 9/9 Reflection Essay (3%)
4 9/16 Media Critique (5%)
4 8/24 Student Information Form
4 KSU Athletics PowerPoint