Monday, February 4, 2013

Explain this to me...

My class is learning about persuasive writing.  My Comp II classes always focus on persuasive writing, but my classes always focused on the practical.  I didn't bother trying to teach the theory, because there's enough theory on how persuasive writing works, and why it works, to fill an entire semester, and the students I teach aren't going to find the theory useful, or interesting. 

So, what's this class focusing on right now?  Enthememes and warrants.  Those are fancy terms for thesis statements comprised of claims and reasons, and for the unspoken assumptions that shape those reasons. 

This is something that most people understand on a gut level: some things are going to be more persuasive to some audiences than others.  However, it's a little tricky to grasp, especially for current traditional freshmen.  They're just not prepared for this. 

Okay, so, warrants/unspoken assumptions.  That works like this:

Mitt Romney needs to just go away, because he lost the Presidential election.


The claim is Mitt Romney needs to just go away.  The reason is because he lost the Presidential election.  The unspoken assumption is that Romney is a sore loser, and nobody likes him. 

My students would have said the unspoken assumption is that Romney lost the election and needs to retire.

I'm not surprised.  The concept of not blurting any and every thought out for the world to hear, no matter how inappropriate or obvious, seems to be a completely foreign to most under about forty.  

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