Public Rhetoric and Practical
Your Rhetorical Position:
College Seniors in the Spotlight
Lecture 1: CAT 125
The CAT 125 Syllabus
A Crash Course in Advanced Writing
7 lectures in our two-hour Monday timeslot
A standard 75 minute lecture
Followed by a 20 minute forum with Q&A
1 oral presentation showcase in the last lecture slot
4 bonus optional workshops on using technology in
the Digital Playroom
Assignments are due in lecture every week, but
most of the discussion about drafting and revision
will take place in the discussion sections that will
take place twice a week.
Your Rhetorical Position
How can you clarify your
own rhetorical position?
How can you take
advantage of the
possibilities of that position
and even be creative about
How does an institution
shape your identity?
Your Online Reputation
What are the assets and
liabilities of your current
How can you change how
others perceive you?
How do you balance
finding community with
What are the strengths and
weaknesses of your
individual “eye” for design?
How can you choose the right
aesthetic to match your
How can you educate
yourself to become more
What personal characteristics
help or hinder you in a public
Are you a good listener?
How can you change your style
of oral delivery to sound more
organized but less rehearsed?
How can experience being an
Appealing to Audiences
What has been your attitude about
seeking attention in the past?
Should you make changes?
Who are your current audiences?
Who will be your audiences in the
How can you do “narrowcasting”
How can you become a better
Where are unwritten
How do you learn to take
criticism from others?
How do you develop
writing habits that will
work for years to come?
How do you become an
Why might your expertise
be of interest to others?
How do you balance
testimony and evidence?
• Written Personal Statement
• Ignite-Style Public Speaking Presentation
• Online Portfolio
The CAT 125 TAs
Joe Bigham Chuk Moran Tara Zepel Lorraine Graham
Frankie Voeltz Sindhuja Bhakthavatsalam Laura Hoeger Ben
The Sixth College Writing Studio
Who Will You Be in Two Years?
• A graduate student?
• A corporate intern?
• A school teacher?
• A medical school student?
• A fledgling engineer?
• A nursing school student?
• A media producer?
• An artist or musician?
• A human rights activist?
You Might Already Have Had Multiple Careers
“As a graduate student, I've had to compile, compose, and organize
content for a web design project (one of which was focused on web
typography, but we were expected to write and present our content
for our intended audiences as well as part of the assignment),
class or project blogs, project wikis, and other collaborative
platforms (usually writing with other students). I'm also expected to
be able to communicate with students and professors through e-
mail and instant messaging.
When I was interning at a game company, though, I communicated
both within the office and with the home office in Europe through
e-mail and instant messaging on official (and less official) matters.
There were other internal web-based resources, but since I was an
intern, I only read them.”
You Might Already Need Multiple Literacies
“Multi-modal literacy is increasingly valued in the workplace, and
as a teacher, my students are encouraged to create meaning away
from the traditional paper-and-pen methods.
Technical instruction in the shooting and editing of video would be
Sometimes Less is More:
Learning about Editing and Restraint
“I think some basic training about
professionalism in e-mails would be useful.
Many people I've worked with, especially
much older people, treat e-mails like a
game, with tons of colored fonts, fancy
signatures, colloquial writing in formal
Grabbing the Spotlight
What to Do and What Not to Do
Capitalizing on Attention
Once You Have It
“I've seen enough atrocious Powerpoint
presentations in my life to consider this, and
the ability to present effectively with slides,
to be an extremely useful skill; if people can't
or don't pay attention to what you're saying,
you might as well not being saying it at all for
all of the repeating you'll have to do after
when people ask for clarification.”
Learning about Rhetoric
“Nowadays it is common practice for
employers to check social network pages. I'd
advise students to keep their craziness to a
minimum if they want to keep their job. One
of my coworkers checked her Myspace page
all the time, and once she forgot to close the
browser and left it open. Her supervisor
walked by and saw her personal photo
gallery of all her tattoos. It was not a happy
experience for her.”
Rhetoric, That’s Bad, Right?
“political games and ‘who’s up’, ‘who’s down’
“the rhetoric emanating from Tehran”
“underscored the need for actions that match the
Aristotle’s Means of Persuasion
• Ethos – a speaker’s authority, credibility, and
• Logos – a speaker’s logic, organization, and
mastery of language
• Pathos – a speaker’s ability to move an
Kenneth Burke’s Pentad
• Act – What
• Agent – Who
• Agency – How
• Purpose – Why
• Scene – Where and When
Audience Expectations for a
• Writing ability
• Major areas of interest
• Research and/or work experience
• Educational background
• Immediate and long-term goals
• Reasons for deciding to pursue a particular field
• Motivation and commitment
• Realism of expectations
• Personal uniqueness – what you would add to the
diversity of the company workforce or to the entering
Alexsay Vayner (Yale Senior)
Impossible is Nothing
Impossible is the Opposite of Possible
Vayner’s Digital Rhetoric
• Presents the wrong genre
• Addresses his audience inappropriately
• Invites challenges to his credibility from
Internet spoilers because of his video editing
• Demonstrates obliviousness to the fact that
his social networks have been compromised
How Do Vayner’s Claims Relate to His
James Kotecki (Georgetown Senior)
Kotecki’s Digital Rhetoric
• Demonstrates an awareness of the
conventions of specific genres in computer-
• Addresses multiple audiences expertly and
• Enhances his credibility by using the
rhetorical scene to his advantage
• Capitalizes on social network sites and on
online video response structures
Which One Do You Want to Be?
James Kotecki or Alexsay Vayner?
How does your identity depend upon your
institution? Upon Sixth College?