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.