RHETORIC OF THE OP-ED

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RHETORIC OF THE OP-ED
12A MODULE 3 (INDEPENDENT)
INTRODUCTION
This module is all about the persuasive power of words. For
years, you’ve taken a look at the ethos, pathos, and logos
within argumentative texts, but in this module, your task is
to explore these rhetorical devices at a deeper level.
The way you construct a sentence; the way your organize
an argument; the words you choose = these choices can
make or break the power you have to convince others
that you are right. They can turn a reader to your way of
thinking, or if done improperly, they can shut your
audience down.
By examining the rhetoric of Op-Ed piece (OpinionEditorials in newspapers) you yourself can hone the skills to
be a powerful wielder of words.
MODULE BACKGROUND
• Newspaper editorials (op-eds) are a space in which
newspaper writers – who are supposed to not take a
side – have the freedom to argue their own opinions.
Letters to the editor are the readers’ chance to do the
same. It’s like an open forum, across a wide group of
people, to discuss some of the most important
contemporary issues in a society.
• TV news has no such forum, and when TV and radio
newscasters do state their opinion, they are not well
respected for it, since they usually offer little reasoning or
evidence. Thus, newspapers are still the most respected
form of stating one’s opinion, and they often inspire
crucial factors in the development of public policy.
• If you want to make a difference, the newspaper Op-Ed
is where you start.
ACTIVITY 1
• Answer the following on your activities template
• After reading the introduction and background
information:
1. Why is it important to be careful how you phrase a
sentence/argument?
2. Why is it important to know how Op-Eds best persuade?
READING ONE: JOHN EDLUND
• “THREE WAYS TO PERSUADE”
• This article explores Aristotle’s three defined forms of
persuasion  ethos, pathos, and logos
• Aristotle (if you didn’t know) was a Greek
philosopher and scientist from the 284 B.C.E. Despite
having lived 2,300 years ago, Aristotle remains one
of the most highly respected geniuses on the
subjects of writing and persuasion.
• Read this first reading by John Edlund and
complete activities 2-4 (explanations on slides that
follow)
ACTIVITY TWO: AS YOU READ
• As you read the Edlund article, complete activity 2
on your activities template, in which you define
ethos, pathos, and logos, and analyze their
importance.
• You must use the reading to answer the questions.
Refer to specific parts of the text to support your
responses.
ACTIVITY THREE:
EXPLORING CONCEPTS OF PERSUASION
Aristotle says that the art of rhetoric is the art of
“finding the available means of persuasion.” What
does it mean to persuade someone? Is it the same as
“convince”? In the dialogue called Gorgias, Plato has
the famous sophist Gorgias define rhetoric as “the art
of persuasion in courts of law and other assemblies
about the just and unjust.” Plato then has Socrates
ask, “Which sort of persuasion…the sort which gives
belief without knowledge, or that which gives
knowledge? Gorgias answers, “Clearly, Socrates, that
which only gives belief.” This exchange leads to some
important philosophical questions (answer them in
your activities template):
ARTICLE 2: “A CHANGE OF
HEART ABOUT ANIMALS”
JEREMY RIFKIN
KEY VOCABULARY: RIFKIN
ACTIVITY FIVE
When you read “A Change of Heart about Animals,” you
will need to know the following terms to understand the
text:
1. Cognitive
2. Humane and inhumane
3. Genetically wired
4. Empathy
For each word or phrase, come up with a definition,
picture (from internet), sentence of your own making, and
other associated words, so you fully understand each
concept. Some of the word “Cognitive” has been done
for you on your activities template.
OTHER
VOCABULARY
As you read, you may
run across other words
you do not know. For
your convenience, their
definitions have been
listed here:
ACTIVITY 6: FIRST READ-THROUGH
Now you’re ready to read Jeremy Rifkin’s “A Change
of Heart about Animals.” For the first read-through,
you should try to understand the text. Read as if you
trust Rifkin, and focus on what he is trying to say.
When you’re finished, answer the questions under
“Activity 6” in your activities template.
ACTIVITY 7: CONSIDERING TEXT
STRUCTURE
Now that you have read and considered the content
of the Rifkin essay, you are ready to begin analyzing
its organizational structure. First, divide the text into
sections.
See Activity 7 for more information on how to do so,
and what to do next.
LOADED WORDS: LANGUAGE THAT
PUTS A SLANT ON REALITY
The words an author chooses can be sneaky! Choose
the right one, and you can make even a simple fact
seem far more powerful than it might otherwise had
been.
For example, see the next slide:
LOADED WORDS (ACTIVITY 8)
Paragraph 4 of the article says:
• Studies on pigs’ social behavior funded by McDonald’s at
Purdue University, for example, have found that they crave
affection and are easily depressed if isolated or denied
playtime with each other. The lack of mental and physical
stimuli can result in deterioration of health.
• The first sentence uses words associated with human
behavior such as “affection” and “playtime,” whie the
second sentence uses formal scientific words such as
“stimuli” and “deterioration.”
• Answer in your activities template:
1.
2.
What is the effect of this movement from emotional to
scientific?
Try rewriting the first sentence to make it sound more
scientific. What effect does your changes make on the
overall argument?
LOADED WORDS (ACTIVITY 8)
Paragraph 7of the article says:
• Researchers were stunned recently by findings (published in
the journal Science) on the conceptual abilities of New
Caledonian crows. Because scientific experiments are
carefully planned and controlled, scientists are rarely
“stunned” by their results.
• Answer in your activities template:
1. What is the effect of the word “stunned” here?
2. What are some other words or phrases that might fit here
that would sound more scientific? Try rewriting this
sentence.
3. Is the sentence more or less effective for Rifkin’s purpose
now? Explain.
ACTIVITY 9: QUESTIONS ABOUT
ARTICLE
You’re now ready to apply the knowledge of Rifkin’s
organization, content, and word choice to a clearer
analysis of the article.
Turn to your activities template for the questions, and
to answer.
Answer in complete sentences (2 sentence minimum
each).
ACTIVITY 10: ETHOS, PATHOS, LOGOS
• Activity 10 asks you to explore the persuasive
properties of Rifkin’s article. Answer the questions
listed in the activities template as thoroughly and
thoughtfully as possible (2 sentence minimum).
ACTIVITY 11: ANALYZING OTHERS’
RESPONSES
Read the two Letters to the Editor by Bob Stevens
and Lois Frazier that were written in response to
Rifkin’s article (downloaded separately on lhsenglish).
After doing so, complete the summary and analysis
under activity 11 in your activities template.
WRITING PROMPT: LETTER TO THE
EDITOR
An organization called the Animal Legal Defense Fund has sponsored a petition that
calls for increased protection for the rights of animals. It says the following:
Deprived of legal protection, animals are defenseless against exploitation and abuse by
humans. Through the Animal Bill of Rights, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to
show Congress a groundswell of support for legislation that protects animals and
recognizes that, like all sentient beings, animals are entitled to basic legal rights in our
society.
The petition calls for the right of all animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect,
and abuse and enumerates further rights for laboratory animals, farm animals,
companion animals, and wildlife.
Do you think animals need a “Bill of Rights”? Would such a law go against centuries of
human culture? Would it increase the cost of food? Would it hinder medical research?
Would it cause other problems? Write a well-organized letter to the editor explaining the
extent to which you agree or disagree with the idea of creating a Bill of Rights for
animals. Develop your points by giving reasons, examples, or both from your own
experience, observations, and reading.
Note: The entire petition can be seen at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5078
Note: those doing level 4 will write a letter to the editor that connects to their social
change project
NOTE
• You will be required to turn in both a “first draft”
copy of your letter to the editor and a “final draft.”
So when you start editing later, save it separately!!!
STILL NOT SURE HOW YOU FEEL?
You may wish to do your own research.
Or, two articles have been provided for you on the LHS
website:
• Victoria Braithwaite’s “Hooked on a Myth: Do Fish Feel
Pain?”
• Ed Yong’s “Of Primates and Parenthood: Will According
Rights and ‘Dignity’ to Nonhuman Organisms Halt
Research?”
Either way, you are REQUIRED to include two outside
resources (in MLA format) in your letter to the editor.
Remember, references to others increases your ethos.
Keep in mind, Miss Skinner has some strong feelings on this
subject: your objective is to convince her YOU’RE right!
STEPS FOR WRITING (1)
1. Take a stance
After reading the essay assignment and conducting further
research, review your collected notes and annotations to see
how they are relevant to the prompt. Then ask yourself these
questions:
1. What would be the consequences of the position you
take? Sometimes we find that while we find a
philosophical position attractive, we are unwilling to
accept the practical consequences of the position. For
example, what if the Animal Bill of Rights meant you
couldn’t eat meat anymore? What if it made fishing
illegal? What if it told you how to take care of your dog?
2. Can you state your position in a sentence or two?
STEPS FOR WRITING (2)
2. Gather evidence to support your claims
• What are you going to quotes or paraphrase from the
articles you read? What do you want to say in response?
• What info do you need to support your claims?
• How closely does this piece of evidence relate to the claim
it is supposed to support?
• If the evidence is an opinion, what makes it credible?
• What makes the evidence persuasive?
• How well will the evidence suit the audience and the
rhetorical purpose of the piece?
STEPS FOR WRITING (3)
3. Get Ready to Write
At this point you should have a good idea what your stance toward the
issue is and how you are going to support it. However, before you
actually put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you may want to try
some of the following steps:
•
•
Organize your notes and other materials in the order you think you
will use them.
Create a rough outline of your main points. (This is usually a good
idea if you are going to do a timed writing, but it also can keep you
on track as you write a longer piece.)
Write down a statement of your position and share it with a classmate or
family member. Listen to his or her response. (Examples: “No matter
what Jeremy Rifkin says, humans are different from animals,” or “Current
laws for the protection of animals from cruelty are adequate.”)
NOTE ON LETTER TO THE EDITOR
• Still not quite sure what a letter to the editor should
be after reading Stevens and Lazier?
• Go to lhsenglish.com  12A  rhetoric of the OpEd.
• At the bottom of the page are links to all kinds of sites,
samples, and instructions.
STEPS FOR WRITING (4)
4. Consider your audience
Think about your audience. For a letter to the editor, your
audience is not only the editor of the newspaper or Web site,
but also the readers. For an essay about the Animal Bill of
Rights, your audience is probably people who might consider
signing the petition and ultimately might vote for or against it.
However, in composing a first draft, your primary concern is to
get your ideas down on paper and develop them. In a first
draft, you can explore ideas and take risks. The first draft is
sometimes called a “writer-based” draft because it is really for
you, although thinking about your audience often helps you
think of what to say. Later, you will revise it for your audience
and proofread it.
STEPS FOR WRITING (5)
5. Consider Structure
A letter to the editor will probably have a beginning, middle, and end structure
something like this:
Introduction
In [Title of Op-Ed Piece], [Writer of Op-Ed Piece] says [Quote or Paraphrase from
Op-Ed]. This is then followed by your own position statement. You may want to
also indicate what role or experience you have in the matter as a way of
establishing ethos.
Middle
The middle paragraph (or paragraphs) presents arguments in favor of your
position. It may cite and respond to ideas from the original piece. Be concise!
Conclusion
The conclusion may make a strong final point or advocate a course of action for
the reader.
STEPS FOR WRITING (6)
6. Use others’ words properly (MLA)
Using the information provided by your LF, read your
text looking for places where you have used the
words and ideas of others. Have you punctuated
quotations correctly? Are your paraphrases accurate
and well integrated into the text? Have you
documented your citations with MLA properly in your
letter?
Finally, prepare the Works Cited page.
STEPS FOR WRITING (7)****
This step is completed as activity 13 in your activities
template.
As you go to revise your letter to the editor, consider the
following:
1. Save your final draft SEPARATELY from your first draft. I
want to see the progress made.
2. You must include any 3 of the sentence patterns we
learned this semester (you’ll list them in the
metacognitive reflection at the end of the module)
3. Play with language: make yourself sound good
(interesting, intriguing, knowledgeable, and worth
listening to)
4. Make sure not to plagiarize, or I’ll make you start the
module from scratch.
ACTIVITY 14: RESUME
• Now that you know the importance of properly
selling yourself (and your talents, skills, experience)
in order to convince someone you’re right, it’s time
to put that persuasion to action in Resume form.
• Visit lhsenglish.com  senior project  senior year
tasks  resume for more information.
ACTIVITY 15: CHECKLIST AND REVIEW
Once you’ve completed the final draft of your letter
to the editor, complete the checklist and
metacognitive review on your activities template
before submitting the module for assessment.

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