Homework Tues. 3/30

In WAW, read two essays: (i) Doug Downs’ essay “Rhetoric: Making Sense of Human Interaction and Meaning-Making” (369-396) and (ii) Keith Grant-Davie, “Rhetorical Situations and their Constituents” (396 – 415). Then post SIX (6) questions on this post that you need answered about these essays before… well, before you can make full sense of these essays and see their relevance to our study.

Please be sure to ask the right questions. That is, ask a question that will drive you closer to knowing more about the arguments of each. And if you can, attach your question to a portion of the essay and cite it. (Academic writing is frequently about writing about other people’s writing. It is about acknowledging that other writing, too.) Think big picture, too. Think about what might this essay add to your study of writing and writing practices. Ask those questions.

If you write the right questions, you will earn 20 points for this homework. Note that you cannot repeat a previous commenter’s question. Make your own query. Follow your own path.

If the road is somehow impassable, wade in the water.

28 thoughts on “Homework Tues. 3/30

  1. alicepatry1 March 26, 2021 / 7:45 pm

    1. “If it is impossible to be objective then why use this term to describe gathering all the information about a subject?” (Downs sec. 17).

    2. “What would it take it to think about events directly?” (Downs sec 18).

    3. “What is the place that the author is talking about? How does this relate to the connection of the many connections and elements?” (Downs sec. 25).

    4. “When writing, how do you weigh the size of influence of rhetors and which audience is the most important to lobby too?” (Downs sec. 26)

    5. “Why does Grant-Davie assume that we all use the term rhetorical situation? Does he mean writing scholars or everyone?” (Grant-Davie sec. 2).

    6. “Is Bitzer, Vatz, or Consigny right when it comes to rhetorical situations? Are they all wrong or all correct? Is it subjective?” (Grant-Davie secs. 3-4).


  2. skylardearie March 26, 2021 / 11:19 pm

    1) In Grant-Davie’s essay he talks about the concept of constraints which help focus the response to the exigence. Our own writing for this class also can show to have constraints such as having to answer certain questions or follow a certain way of writing. Does all writing have constraints attached to them?

    2) In Grant-Davie’s essay he explains the term exigence in a few different ways but one explanation he states is that it is a problem or need that can be addressed by the communication. For our own writing can it be inferred that exigence is the points or purpose we are trying to convey and make clear to the audience?

    3/4/5) Grant-Davie in his essay talks about rhetorical situations. I immediately thought of Jia Tolentino’s essays and the situations she describes to us and how she analyzes/points out some questions/problems within the situation. Going forward would it be beneficial for us to go through her essays and others to see if they write about rhetorical situations that could help us formulate how to apply these situations into our own writing?

    4) Along with this Grant-Davie talks about definitions and discussions of constituents in rhetorical situations. Going forward would you recommend when reading any writing that deals with rhetorical situations to try to pull apart and analyze if the writer calls upon these definitions?

    5) Additionally in our own writing when we ourselves write rhetorical situations should we write in an attempt to address these definitions and discussions?

    6) In Downs’ essay he discusses rhetorical ecology and how there are interconnecting elements that shape the rhetorical interaction and meaning that emerges from them. A lot of the texts we read in class interconnect with one another in one way or another. However, if two texts are not seemingly connected with one another at first could they become interconnected with one another through our own writing about the texts?


  3. katrinethis March 28, 2021 / 1:49 pm

    1. How does Tolentino appeal to logos, pathos and ethos in her writing? (Downs, p. 381)

    2. How does rhetorical interaction become important in Tolentino’s essay “I Thee Dread”? (Downs, p. 377)

    3. Why is rhetoric so important in what we read, and how does rhetoric change the readers opinion?

    4. How did Chel White’s film (2005): “A Painful Glimpse into my Writing Process (In 60 Seconds)” use rhetorical strategies to convince the audience about the message?

    5. According to Grant-Davie, audience can be characterized as people with a stable individuality within the rhetor’s presence (Grant-Davie, 1997). So, how would writers adjust the writing to the audience? And how is that seen in Tolentino’s essay “Always be optimizing”

    6. Grant-Davie propose that 3 questions are asked to understand a rhetorical situation: what a discourse is? Why is it needed? What is it trying to accomplish? (Grant-Davie, 1997) How is these 3 different.


  4. kaylagoodlin March 28, 2021 / 4:51 pm

    1. Do you believe that “ I think, therefore I am”, separates the mind and body or does it mean something else?

    2. If a phenomenon can be made into a symbol, does that mean that it is rhetorical?

    3. Do you agree or disagree with the needs in the Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of Needs? Or is there something you would take out of the pyramid and replace it with another type of need?

    4. Many people go day to day using rhetoric principles without knowing it. Should more people be exposed to what rhetoric is and be educated about it?

    5. By knowing the principles of rhetoric, do you believe that it can make you a more successful writer?

    6. Rhetorical enology is a network of rhetors. In other words, many people have a variety of connections to one another. The term ecology pushes us to look beyond people for even more agents that influence writing. Can machines be rhetors?


  5. Anonymous March 29, 2021 / 5:02 pm

    1. What would be considered the most basic level of human expression that contains rhetoric?
    2.If our culture uses language that suggests the brain is a brittle object, what are some examples of other perspectives rhetoric?
    3.Knowing that objectivity isn’t possible with human perception, how do we then define ‘objective reality’ that takes into account everyone’s version of objectivity?
    4. Is rhetoric unique to humans because of our complex system of communication or is it possible for other animals to have their own styles of rhetoric based off of their communication?
    5. Since the audience and the rhetor have equal importance in rhetoric, if a given piece of writing, speech, etc. fails to capture an audience, would it have then failed rhetorically?
    6. To what extent is exigence lost of an uninformed or otherwise uneducated audience?


  6. benjaminletta March 29, 2021 / 5:29 pm

    1. How can you set up symbols we encounter in the beginning with sentient bodies of rhetoric activity?
    2. How can we select rhetorical elements that help us the writer support what to write about such as the Narrative being an important principle of storytelling?
    3. Is the five rhetorical canons something that could be important in coming up with a writing piece even if its works of art?
    4. How can you make a discourse in a piece of writing and how can it be done right?
    5. What is the difference between a primary audience and a secondary audience?
    6. Is there more detail of what a Rhetor’s role does for the situation in a piece of writing?


  7. joebetz814 March 29, 2021 / 6:34 pm

    1. How is the term ecology related to rhetoric?
    2. Is the concept of rhetorical the best way of writing, does it work for everyone?
    3. downs says that rhetoric shows us how to make up our minds. if this is true, how?
    4. what is exigence’s place in a rhetorical situation?
    5. how does “constraints” affect the goal of rhetoric?
    6. how does a discourse help a writer?


  8. Ethan Lander March 29, 2021 / 6:50 pm

    1. Section 17 talks about objectivity and how it is physically impossible. How, even if in the event that you are completely detached from a situation, is it still impossible to be truly objective?

    2. Sections 29-31 talk about the concept of kairos. Is it possible to compose a piece of writing that is not ultimately impacted by outside events or news? Or, does the concept of kairos always affect a person’s writing ability.

    3. Sections 41 and 42 talk about how there is a difference between thinking that something is a certain way, and that something actually causing you to feel a certain way. Is it possible, as a writer, to develop the ability to impact people’s feelings, rather than just their mind?

    4. There are 5 rhetorical arts that are identified by Aristotle. They are invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Do professional authors and writers think about these arts while they are writing? Or is it just implied after a long time spent working on the art of writing?

    5. Based the summary on page 392 of what it means to be “rhetorical,” does this mean that any writing, any conversation, any feelings, any emotions, basically any form of communication or interaction in life, is considered rhetoric?

    6. The way constraints are defined on page 406 implies a generally negative connotation. It implies that they hinder decisions and actions. I wonder if constraints are always a bad thing, or if for some writers, it is a positive that they need in order to be a writer?


  9. amcdonald40 March 29, 2021 / 7:45 pm

    1. If human interaction and meaning making is the “experience of encountering sensory signals and interpreting them by associating with existing knowledge” then do older humans have better interaction and meaning making since they have more experience or is it people who have a better awareness? (375)

    2. If the human mind is all about interpretation and “the better you understand all of the motives playing into a given interaction, the more effective the rhetorics” then couldn’t some of this interpretation be miss leading and cause faulty rhetorical behavior? (377)

    3. In order to change your mind with rhetorics, does that come from experience and surroundings alone?

    4. If rhetorics should involve integrity and receptivity (399) then is a rhetorical situation finding the balance between the two?

    5. When rhetorical situations overlap and interlace, do all of their overlapped and interlaced situations apply to the surroundings and background for the compound rhetorical situation?

    6. Is it possible to ever fully understand rhetorics?


  10. laurenmonteiro13 March 29, 2021 / 8:18 pm

    1) Towards the beginning of the essay, Downs lists ideas of rhetoric in which people think defines it, but I am confused on whether or not those sub- definitions still apply to the overall definition of rhetoric?

    2) Downs says “rhetoric helps us understand human communication.” while also saying that rhetoric is human communication, so which one does it really apply to?

    3) If rhetoric can be used as a feeling as well such as “butterflies in the stomach” sensing nerves, how does that help with human communication, if it is a feeling only that person is able to sense?

    4) Do morals spring from the idea of mythos? Downs mentions that through mythos people know to “Killing puppies is bad. Treasure innocence.”

    5) When Grant-Davie mentions that students have to analyze the rhetorical situations of history and in writing what aspects are they trying to find? In Downs’ essay it seemed that rhetoric had everything to do with every type of writing and communication in any way, so what specifically would these students be looking for?

    6) Grant-Davie continues to mention the term “rhetoric situation,” what type of situation is he referring to when saying this, for something to be a rhetoric does it need to include all of the aspects of one mentions by Down’s “invention, arrangement, style, etc.”?


  11. anilsingh912 March 30, 2021 / 2:11 am

    1) I sen a list of “experts” in rhetoric but shouldn’t a salesman be considered an expert in rhetoric? (pg 763), Also since rhetoric is ‘persuasive’?

    2) According to (pg 766) rhetoric plays a role in a humans unconscious, and creates unconscious reactions, feelings, and sensations, but also rhetoric should be able to be existent to the human conscious. Are there different types of rhetoric to differentiate between the unconscious and conscious mind?

    3) Should ‘mythos’ even matter when one already has a balanced positive set of values? (pg785)

    4) How can these ‘experts’ on rhetoric know why/how something could have occured during a battle, rather than asking a soldier who survived the battle? (pg. 812) \\ because they were there and have more understanding and experience with the situation over the rhetoric expert.

    5) Is it safe to say that summing up the term rhetoric is very similar to the (2nd threshold concept: Writing Speaks to Situations through Recognizable Forms) with the term ‘genre recognition’ which is analyzing context of speech or text?

    6) Is it mandatory for lawyers and other rhetoric ‘experts’ to learn in depth courses on rhetoric or do some type of training on strictly rhetoric?


  12. paromitabiswas March 30, 2021 / 2:23 am

    1) It is said that you can’t choose whether or not to use rhetoric. How can we control when we are using rhetoric or not?

    2) Are all forms of communication rhetoric (including non verbal)?

    3) How can one better understand rhetoric and implement it in their writing?

    4) How would society be different if writers didn’t implement their way of life/values into their writing?

    5) What would rhetoric be without integrity and receptivity? Would rhetoric even exist theoretically?

    6) Aren’t all rhetoric used manipulative?


  13. graceguzmang March 30, 2021 / 2:49 am

    1. What kind of bad effects we will have if we don’t apply rhetoric and its principles of human interaction into our own writing?

    2. From the 4th threshold learned in class “All writers have more to learn”, we learned about revision in 4.4 subtopic. Is it possible to relate revision to what rhetoric is? Because of the similar effect we will have from both into our writings, like “making meaning and proposing or asking ourselves “why it’s a good idea to have these points?”

    3. Doug Downs talks about “motives of writers in interaction” on his work. He also explains the importance of writers to be aware about readers’ motives and subjectivities. Why is this important? How can we, as writers, improve our analysis of the audience concepts and motives?

    4. Keith Grant-Davie is basing his work on rhetorical situations and their constituents. He talks about the importance of exigence and its relation to the discourse. By having several issues discussed in some situations, how can we relate exigence to them? Does exigence need to appear before a problem is done or after?

    5. Rhetors are people real or imagined responsible for the discourse. The author states that rhetors need to be aware of the changing of themselves within several different situations. How can Tolentino be an example of this? Of a writer whose concepts varied in different situations?

    6. How can a writer manage to have more positive constraints rather than negative ones? As for example, when the author mentioned a positive constraint being the exigence of a writer when successfully communicating to his audience, which is something positive that will move his audience forward to understand his position.


  14. arusso35 March 30, 2021 / 11:05 am

    1. If a phenomenon can be made into a symbol, how can it be rhetoric if there are no other people around? Can rhetoric occur if you are alone?

    2. How do established authors such as Jia Tolentino use rhetoric in their writing? It seems that the only way for it to occur through writing is by motivating the reader.

    3. How can we find the 5 common conceptions of rhetoric, (calculated political BS, dressing up a bad idea in convincing words, etc…) in writing, and how can we use them effectively in our own writing? Rhetoric seems to cover a lot of different meanings, does this mean that we already incorporated it in our writing without even knowing?

    4. In rhetorical ecology, wouldn’t there be more things that are rhetors as opposed to aren’t?

    5. How can it be difficult to determine who the rhetor is? What steps do you go through to determine who, or what it is?

    6. We are told that rhetors can play several roles at once, such as umpires. How do writers play several roles at once.

    7. How can we use the rhetorical situation, “contraints,” in our own writing?



  15. Neetha Kasala March 30, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    1. In Downs’ essay, it is mentioned that nonverbal communication is said to be essential, such as tilting one’s head or posture. For someone who can only communicate verbally, for example, someone who is blind, are there different and more in-depth verbal cues to sense emotions? What are they?

    2. When a person who speaks a foreign language starts to learn English, are they able to understand all of the different metaphorical expressions? How is English different from other languages with metaphorical expressions?

    3. In Downs’ essay, he mentions that people can only reflect on a moment by their own interpretation – that when talking about a moment, only the interpretation of that moment is brought to light, not the experience itself. Does this mean people are always biased because experiences and events are always told through interpretation rather than what happened?

    4. In Grant-Davie’s essay, exigence is mentioned, which is a problem that can be addressed by communicating. Can an exigence be addressed by non-verbal communication, as well, using senses and interpreting actions?

    5. Threshold Concept 3.5 mentions that each person has their own identity that relates to the situation, and there is not only one identity for everyone. Given the situation, a different ideology is shown, How does this directly relate to constraints in Grant-Davie’s essay?

    6. Can rhetorics be used in a persuasive essay/piece of writing to convince the reader of an opinion? Should this subject be mandatory for students to study to better understand people and verbal/nonverbal communication?


  16. samjatlas March 30, 2021 / 12:52 pm


    1. Why would the term “ecology” be better than “rhetorical situation?” Both terms bring the same meaning, as a situation involves a time, place, and environment. The word “ecology” is often associated with nature whereas “rhetorical situation” is immediately connected to rhetoric. Why would “ecology” be a better term if it would just complicate the understanding of the subject?

    2. What caused the shift from rhetoric focusing on emotions or to appealing to the reader’s values? Emotions are based on values, so the approaches are similar, but it seems that values are more fundamental. That explains the shift but now why it occurred.

    3. Has the innovation of the Internet fundamentally changed rhetoric in a way that would disrupt, obsolete, or add to the five canons?


    4. As an avid historian I ask is rhetoric fundamental to historiography just as much as it is to understanding history?

    5. Barbara Fields quote was one of my favorites of the documentary. I ask what rhetorical strategies does Fields use to make this statement so poignant? It moved me when I heard her say it so I need to know how she accomplished that.

    6. Park argues that a piece can mold the audience. How exactly does that work and how can it be perfect – to produce a desired audience – through rhetorical strategies?


  17. Anonymous March 30, 2021 / 3:52 pm

    Julia Mocellin

    1. What does the author mean when he says that rhetoric is an “operating system for human interaction meaning-making”? What is meant by “meaning-making”? (p. 7)

    2. Why can’t rhetoric rely on objectivity? (p. 17)

    3. What would be examples of “inseparable elements” in the rheoretic ecology the author refers to?


    4. What is meant when the author says rhetoric is not exclusive to the writer only, but to the readers too?

    5. What would be examples of the negotiation process in writing, on a day-to-day basis? What takes negotiation there?

    6. What does the author mean by rethroic situation being”“a complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence”?


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