It`s a Frame Up

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It's a Frame Up:
Devising Beginnings and Endings,
Introductions and Conclusions
Often, getting an essay started and getting
it concluded can trouble students more
than finding something to say in between.

Students can always rely, on the old
standbys: the traditional introduction and
conclusion, telling the audience what will be
said and concluding with what has been said.
Granted, this approach works well enough
but these crusty techniques come off as
predictable and boring.
Remember:…The Hook,
Introduction and Conclusion

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These are the
delicate, pretty,
multicolored
wrapping (skin) of
the essay.
The prettier, more
sensitively and
colorfully written the
skin, is the more we
want to dig into the
delicious peach of
your essay.
What Is a Framing Device?

It is a single word, a
literary/historical
reference, or a personal
narrative that can
provide a fresh way into
and out of one’s
writing, surrounding it
much like a window
frame surrounds a
glass pane or a
decorative frame
surrounds a picture or
mirror.

Just as the right picture
frame becomes one with
the painting, the right
rhetorical frame becomes
one with the composition,
enhancing as well as
complementing. This
frame not only starts and
concludes the writing, but
can also:



reinforce the main idea
offer a broader perspective
or even interject a bit of
humor.
Why use the “Frame Up”?
IT’S CREATIVE

A carefully crafted frame can make satisfying
metaphorical connections for both reader and
writer, giving a paper a deeper sense of
meaning and a way into and out of an
assignment that escapes traditional patterns
such as, “In conclusion,...”
Three Different Framing Devices
2.
The Single-Word, Single-Image Frame
Allusions as Framing Devices
3.
Personal Experience as a Framing Device
1.
The Single-Word, Single-Image Frame
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Choose a word or short phrase that is
significant to or metaphorical for your topic
Free-write on that word or phrase for 3-5
minutes
Use portions of that free-write to open your
piece or introduce your thesis.
Touch on/reflect on that word or phrase again
in your conclusion
Use a bit for your title
The Single-Word, Single-Image Frame
The good/bad, shades of grey INTRODUCTION
Shades of Grey:
Making decisions during the Cold War
It is difficult to determine if decisions are good or bad when
politics are involved. Rather, the political world is shadowed by
shades of grey. Mostly, the people at home think that decisions
made by our leaders are good. However, abroad, those same
decisions can appear negative. During the Cold War, the United
States made many good decisions to completely stop the
spread of communism at home and abroad. However, besides
many good decisions, the U.S. also made bad choices that left
several resentments between nations. (Thesis)
The Single-Word, Single-Image Frame
The good/bad, shades of grey CONCLUSION
Although the United States made many good decisions during
the Cold War, there were bad decisions that left some countries
in disagreement with the United States. The CIA involvement
with the Cuban Missile Crisis negatively impacted the United
States’ international relations. The Korean War and the Marshall
plan helped prevent the spread of communism abroad, while
McCarthyism led to the cruel execution of Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg. Independent of how good or bad the choices were
that the United States made, they were determined with the
objective of ending communism and preventing both spread at
home and abroad. Rarely are decisions wholly good or bad,
rather they are grey shades of perspective.
The Single-Word, Single-Image Frame
An Example

Syndicated columnist William Safire relies on the single word
tsunami, as a metaphorical framing device.

In a 1994 article, he calls on tsunami, the Japanese word for a
“great wave caused by underwater seismic shock,” to frame an
article on the shock that caused the conservative wave of that
year. His introduction connects the definition of tsunami with the
main idea of his article: the majority of voters “shook up”
legislators to express their lack of faith in an ever-growing
government.

The column ends with a second mention of the tsunami,
identifying it as a shock that does indeed change everything and
that leads to exciting days politically, an analogy that reinforces
his (but not everyone’s) opinion.
Ms. Mo’s free-write: “IMPACT”

Seldom do men think that they have impact on others. or maybe they do. In
fact doesn’t every man want to be significant. But the world screams and
whispers and taunts and challenges and throw the gauntlet down to “be a man”
by external measures. They say, those voices, say, make money. Your worth
and identity are determined by your salary, your title, your height, your muscles,
the # of girls and types of girls that like you. But I now from personal
experience…that is not a measure of a man. Even comedian Russell peters
jokes around that in the Chinese culture, there is a pressure to “be a man” by
paying the full price. It is a funny out of context allusion to that the essence of a
man is his honor. We forget that these days. And in john mayer’s song,
“Daughters” he reminds us of not just old-fashioned values, but rather, he
reminds of the importance, the impact, a man can make in a dominoe effect on
society. Impact means impression. Actually, it can mean influence. Ripples of
influence. When you impact one person, you actually have no idea how that
person will impact others in turn…and HOW many people that person will
impact. It’s scary and POWERFUL to think that a man has so much influence
and impact on our society just by ONE RELATIONSHIP – his relationship and
treatment of his baby girl from birth to adulthood.
Ms. Mo’s free-write: “IMPACT”
Directions: Write what comes to mind as you brainstorm on the single
word/image. Throw out “critic’s voice” in your head

Seldom do men think that they have impact on others. or maybe they do. In
fact doesn’t every man want to be significant. But the world screams and
whispers and taunts and challenges and throw the gauntlet down to “be a man”
by external measures. They say, those voices, say, make money. Your worth
and identity are determined by your salary, your title, your height, your muscles,
the # of girls and types of girls that like you. But I now from personal
experience…that is not a measure of a man. Even comedian Russell peters
jokes around that in the Chinese culture, there is a pressure to “be a man” by
paying the full price. It is a funny out of context allusion to that the essence of a
man is his honor. We forget that these days. And in john mayer’s song,
“Daughters” he reminds us of not just old-fashioned values, but rather, he
reminds of the importance, the impact, a man can make in a dominoe effect on
society. Impact means impression. Actually, it can mean influence. Ripples of
influence. When you impact one person, you actually have no idea how that
person will impact others in turn…and HOW many people that person will
impact. It’s scary and POWERFUL to think that a man has so much influence
and impact on our society just by ONE RELATIONSHIP – his relationship and
treatment of his baby girl from birth to adulthood.
Allusions as a framing device
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
Choose something from history, literature, or
popular culture that is significant to or
metaphorical for your topic
Free-write on that allusion for 3-5 minutes
Use portions of that free-write to open your
piece or introduce your thesis.
Touch on/reflect on that allusion again in your
conclusion
Use a bit for your title
Allusions as a framing device:
An example
A student might write a paper on the relationship between humans
and plants.
Introduction
 “Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies . . . ” During the
Middle Ages peasant, monks and kings carried a pocket full of
flowers to mask the stench of death during the time of the black
plague. This is only one of the many useful purposes of plants that
have benefited us throughout the ages. Plants and human beings
have an integral relationship that demands respect. (Thesis)
Conclusion
 The paper could then conclude with a reinforcement of the warning
that we depend on plant life to add quality to our own lives: “Without
plants, life on Earth would cease to exist as we know it: ‘ashes,
ashes, we all fall down.’”
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Using folk and fairy tales as allusions
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One student, writing about her struggle with obesity, puts to use
the question that opens Snow White:
Introduction
 “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” The evil
queen in Snow White asks this question daily to reassure herself
of her beauty. However, in my world the question is not “Who is
the fairest, rather it’s, “Who is the fattest?” It is all I can think
about as I stand in front of that cruel mirror that taunts me each
day as I get ready for school.
Conclusion
 I now realize that my struggle is not all that different from my
peers who are looking for a way to fit into our glossy, magazine
world. Today when I stand in front of the mirror and wide-eyed
see the girl staring back, I ask confidently, “Mirror, mirror on the
wall, who is the healthiest of them all?”
Personal Experience as a Framing Device
The Anecdotal Frame
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
Choose an experience that is significant to or
metaphorical for your topic
Free-write on that experience for 3-5 minutes
Use portions of that free-write to open your
piece or introduce your thesis.
Touch on/reflect on that experience again in
your conclusion
Use a bit for your title
A personal narrative frame example:

In paper on the negative impact television violence can have on children, a
student begins with a description of his family’s extended Thanksgiving
dinner.
Introduction

The peacefulness I felt as the family members gathered to give thanks for
all our blessings vanished once I entered the family room where my
younger cousins were mobilized in front of the television for the Power
Rangers program. After watching intensely physical confrontations between
red and blue clad warriors, the normally docile three- to twelve-year-olds
turned into “miniature fighting machines.” They eagerly kicked and punched
any interloper including me with no reprimand from their parents. I had to
seriously question the laissez faire child-rearing attitudes of my aunts and
uncles. This incident reflects the growing problem of children’s viewing of
television violence and the need for solutions to this problem. (Thesis)
Conclusion

The writer concludes by offering a plan for handling the situation at the next
Thanksgiving dinner: “I may not be the most popular cousin for turning off
the Power Rangers, but what is popular is not always right, and what is right
is not always popular. I can live with not being popular.”
Personal Experience as a Framing Device:
An example
On a much different note, a student could manipulate his memories
of a particular odor into a framing device.
 For example, for an assignment in writing a reflective memoir, a
student might describe his first car-purchasing experience.
Introduction
 As I opened the door of the polished ’76 Mustang, the musty smell
of the used car and “Blue Bouquet” air freshener filled my senses. I
looked at my dad with a sense of pride and winked to tell him this
car was definitely the one.
Conclusion
 Regardless of where I am or what I am doing, whenever I smell the
scent of a Blue Bouquet air freshener, I can hear the rumble of the
exhaust behind me, feel the air rustling my hair, and sense the urge
to slam the pedal to the floor so I can feel the sheer bone-crunching
power of acceleration.

Where do we find rhetorical frames in
the “real world”?

A good place to find
rhetorical frames
commonly used by
professional writers is
in newspapers that run
feature articles and
columnists.
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EXTRA CREDIT:

Earn up to three extra
credit points by scanning
your newspapers and
magazines for rhetorical
frames and turning these
in by

______________.
Framing Traps
TRAP #1
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Sometimes a framing device can take on a life of its
own, becoming more developed than the content. It
is a, pun intended, “runaway frame.”

For example, in a student’s essay that describes a
supposedly distasteful fast-food job she held in one town
while living in another. For her introduction and conclusion,
she gives a hair-raising account of her forty-minute
commute to work over black ice. Although the purpose of
her paper was to dissuade readers from taking a
position at the particular restaurant where she worked,
the overly long framing device was far more compelling. No
reader would want to live down that hill after reading about
the slippery road, the traffic, the delays, and the danger.
Framing Traps
TRAP #2
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Sometimes writers do not make clear the relation
between their framing device and the body of the
paper.

One student began and ended a paper on the Cuban
missile crisis with quotes from Hamlet. “To be or not to be,”
the paper begins, ending with the lines, “whether ‘tis nobler
in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by
opposing end them . . . .” One may imagine many
connections between these words from Shakespeare and
the events of the Cuban missile crisis, but the writer did not
articulate any of them.

Be on the lookout for these connections that have not yet
made it from the your mind to your paper.
The Frame Up
Once again…
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A carefully crafted frame can:
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


make satisfying metaphorical connections for both
reader and writer,
give the paper a deeper sense of meaning,
an extra dimension of authenticity,
a satisfying sense of closure,
and overall, the paper will project a wholeness, a
coming full circle, that essays with traditional,
often ordinary introductions and conclusions
sometimes lack.

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