Monday, October 31, 2011

Reminder: Artifacts

Remember on the second day of class this week you need to bring some artifacts to class. Artifacts are the objects of analysis of your rhetorical presentation, and they need to be related to a particular social issue. Now some of you may start with a social issue and find artifacts from there, while others may select an artifact first and  find the social issue from there. Either way is fine. Things to keep in mind:

  • Remember some of the examples of artifacts we discussed in class were: political cartoons, advertisements, commercials, speeches, political ads, op-eds, songs, and etc. 
  • If you fail to bring something to class (whether its an actual advertisement or a specific idea such as a speech), you will receive a deduction of your final rhetorical presentation grade. I need to approve your artifact. 
  • You do not have to limit yourself to a single artifact, but you want to make sure there is a unifying theme among your artifacts. For example, you could focus on a particular ad campaign as opposed to a single ad from the campaign.


  1. Can you think of other examples of artifacts that would work for this assignment?
  2. Do you have a particular social issue in mind, but aren't sure of an artifact? If so, why not ask the class via the blog and see what they have to say. 
  3. Are you still unsure as to how to a select an artifact? Ask your classmates via the blog. Also, I can address common concerns in class.

Creating Thesis Statements

A well-crafted thesis statement is central to your rhetorical presentations. You need to make an argument about your particular artifact (object of rhetorical analysis) and support it with a Neo-Aristotelian critique. Here are some links for writing thesis statements:

If you have any tips, resources, or suggestions for writing a thesis statement, please share!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rhetoric and Symbols

As we discovered in class during the bug, vegetable, mom activity (you know the one where I told you to write or draw these things on a piece of paper and most everyone refused to step on "Mom"), symbols have power beyond being merely well symbols (a symbol is something that represents an idea, actual thing or process, but is not the idea, thing, or process itself). We ascribe meaning to symbolic things and sometimes come to see those symbols as representing the thing in itself (e.g. responses such as "I'm not stepping on my mom!"). One of the definitions of rhetoric that I offered was the study of human symbolic activity. Rhetoric is interested in symbolic activity for this exact reason - symbols come to stand in for real things and we go to a lot of effort to preserve symbols. In their blog No Caption Needed, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites analyze visual rhetoric and how it relates to democracy and citizenship. In this brief post, they discuss the use of symbols in protest and how they come to stand in for something else. Here is the link:

Questions to consider:
1. Can you think of some other examples of symbols and what they represent and what happens when these symbols are threatened/distorted/changed? (For example, in class I mentioned how burning the American flag is a symbolic act that evokes very strong responses from people because its seen as unpatriotic.)
2. What do you think is Hariman and Lucaites' criticism(s) of the broom protest in Brazil? What is the broom protest standing in for?
3. Why do symbols matter?
4. What happens when symbols come to stand in for social protest/change/revolution?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Register Early; Register Often!

Just a little FYI, seniors begin registration on October 25th at 7am; Juniors on October 31st at 7am, Sophomores on November 4th at 7 am; and Freshmen on November 10th at 7am.  

Prototypes vs. Stereotypes

In class, I used the example of the old white dude with a tweed jacket with suede elbow pads as a prototypical example of a professor. One of my students made the apt point that this sounded more like a stereotype. After pondering this, well this student was correct. This would be an example of a stereotype. Stereotypes may inform our prototypes, however prototypes are based on personal preferences (thanks to Sam for putting it this way) and experiences. So for example, your example of the perfect instructor results from your personal experiences of past instructors, your learning style, and etc, but your notion of the perfect professor may still be informed by cultural icons such as Robin Williams' character in Dead Poet's Society (is that cultural reference too outdated?).

(also, thanks to Suzanne for pointing this out in the first place!)

Choosing a Major

Some of you may be at that point in your college careers where you have already chosen a major, while some of you may not. Regardless, we often feel pressure to select a major that will determine the rest of our lives. Okay, I am being a little dramatic, but only a little. As an undergraduate, my advisers tended to emphasize my major as directly tangible to my future career prospects (this really isn't the case). The Study Hacks blog, who I have cited several times before, provides an intriguing approach to deciding on a major. You can check out the post here:

Questions to consider:
1. What do you think of Study Hacks approach to selecting a major?
2. I know I said a major isn't determinate, but it very well may be for some majors. What do you think? Does your major determine your future career prospects?
3. For those of you who have selected a major, what has been your experience in doing so? What do you recommend to your fellow classmates who are currently or about to go through this process?
4. Why the huge emphasis on major after all?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

In lieu of Steve Jobs' recent passing, one of your fellow classmates suggested that I post his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, and as this student mentioned in their email to me "its applicable since many of the students in Comm 1010 seem to just be starting their college careers." I completely agree.  Jobs has an interesting and relevant take on the role of higher education (college/university) in our lives. While I certainly do not encourage you to drop out of college after hearing this speech, I do encourage you to take in Jobs' perspective and your own perspective and consider the similarities and dissimilarities you may have. In order to make it through your college years, I find it particularly important to have an idea of what that diploma means to you and your life. 

Here is the link:

Questions to consider:
1. What is Jobs' take on the role of higher education in our lives? Does Jobs' perspective on higher education seem relevant to your life?
2. What is your take on the role of higher education in our lives? Our society emphasizes high school, then college, then find a job. Is this realistic?

By the way, I apologize for not posting sooner, but this past week was hectic for me due to my wedding. Consequently, everyone gets a freebie for the week that will count towards their participation grade.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exam Review

The exam review is available on Blackboard. I encourage you to use the blog to discuss the review: ask questions, discuss concepts, provide examples, and try to put these things in your own words. For example, perhaps the notion of chronemics doesn't entirely make sense to you. You could explain your understanding of it, and then pose questions to your classmates about what confuses you. Consider this equivalent to an online study group.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Forming a Study Group

If you don't know it yet, you have a midterm coming up in two weeks (Oct. 17th for MW class and Oct. 18th for TTh). It seems like most college students do not take advantage of study groups as we too often see learning as a solitary activity, but studies show that students who use study groups perform better than those who don't. Study groups are based on the notion that learning is a social activity as in we construct knowledge collectively. In 1010, we utilize this notion in the groups in your collaborative learning groups, which is the fancy phrase for the groups I assigned you to at the beginning of the semester. The idea behind these groups is the same as a study group - learning occurs socially or collaboratively or at the very least can be enhanced by engaging with one's peers. This article provides some helpful tips on how to form a study group: How to Form a Study Group.

1. Have you ever tried a study group for an exam? How did it go?
2. What are the positive and negatives associated with a study group? How do you mediate the negatives?
3. Do you have any other exam studying tips that you would like to share?
4. What is your take on learning? How does it occur? Is it solitary, collaborative? What is the role of traditional schooling (grade school, high school, college) in the learning process?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Exams, Presentations, Midterms

We are getting close to mid-term and as mid-term approaches stress often goes WAY UP. While it is obviously important to take care of your work, it is just as important to take care of yourself. One of your fellow 1010 students emailed me this link 50 Ways to Destress in College. One thing to keep in mind with these activities is to limit or spread out your personal time. While this may sound counter-intuitive to what I am advocating, it is easy to get sucked into Facebook and use up 4 hours on it. Limit yourself to small doses of fun time - weave it in with your work time. For example, if you study for 3 hours (which research supports as the maximum amount of time for studying without breaks before you lose cognitive retention), then reward yourself with at least 30 minutes of fun time, but no more than 1 hour. This has really worked for me especially as a graduate student where I am juggling a multitude of different things ranging from my own classes to teaching to professionalization.

Does anyone else have any tips for integrating play with work?