Thursday, January 8, 2009

Daily Assignment #1. January 8, 2009.

Question: In a single paragraph, first summarize very briefly (in a couple of sentences) what argument authors Graff and Birkenstein make about academic writing in the introduction to their text, They Say/I Say; then summarize very briefly (again, in a couple of sentences) what you take my argument to be about rhetoric in my Course Description of CMJR 320; and finally, in a few sentences, discuss what overlap might exist between their argument about academic writing and my argument about rhetoric.


Graff and Birkenstein explain early in their introduction that academic writing is built on the foundation of an open conversation. This is to say that sophisticated, persuasive writing is less monolithic and more binary in nature for it includes the expression of ones own ideas and those of an 'opposing' side. A well-rounded persuasive piece, and therefore academic piece, is one that acknowledges and consequentially addresses an opposing viewpoint. The authors make the point that to address opposing opinions in an academic piece is to ultimately strengthen ones initial argument. What is created is a cohesive, back and forth conversation. According to Graff and Birkenstein, academic writing is founded on the principle of argumentative writing. This continual conversation creates critical-thinkers, insisting that sophisticated academic writers are individuals whom “instead of sitting passively on the sidelines, can participate in the debates and conversations of your (the) world in an active and empowered way” (12). Bammert makes it clear that rhetoric has the ability to “shape public opinion and policy.” Rhetoric, as explained by Bammert and Marston, has four key principles all of which center around the construction of an overall argument and consequent action. The four cornerstones of rhetoric—advisory, addressed, situational, stylized—have one goal in common, as Bammert makes apparent in her CMJR 320 course description. This overarching goal, as she describes it, is to “inspire reflection, even change, among our fellow citizens.” It is here where Bammert, Graff and Birkenstein agree that both academic writing and rhetoric have a similar telos in mind, one that thrives on open dialogue and imminent change. These three academics would agree that both academic writing and rhetoric operate with an attempt to shape and form opinion. Whether the opinion is public (as most often in rhetoric) or private—elements of conversation, evaluation, argument and social progression are included.

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