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Unit 2, Day 20:  Wednesday, October 3


What you’ll do today in class:


-         Discuss Kilbourne and Lewis in terms of the Essay 3 context

-         Connect terms of analysis to rhetorical situation as a focus for students’ writing in Essay 3

-         Discuss Bennett in relation to analytical terms


Connection to course goals:  In keeping with teaching writing as a response to context, much of the emphasis for today’s activities is on showing the relationship between the analytical terms from Unit 2 and the rhetorical situation.  By connecting Bennett’s analysis to our analytical terms students begin to see how a writer’s exigence affects that writer’s purpose and focus.




1.      Discuss the analyses by Kilbourne and Lewis in terms of the Essay 3 context (15 minutes):   In this activity the goal is to come back to Kilbourne’s and Lewis’

arguments in order to get students to contrast these writers’ approaches with what they are

being asked to do in Essay 3.  Make sure that students see the distinctions between the way

these writers focus their analyses and the type of focus we’re asking students to work with in

their papers.


A.     Kilbourne Discussion:


-  Have students respond to Kilbourne’s argument using their homeworks:


·        Did you find what she argues to be accurate or valid?  (Get 2-3 students to show ads they brought that agree with the messages about gender roles that Kilbourne is picking up on in the ads.)

·        Did you find ads that contrast or disprove the messages about women she suggests are present in ads?  (Get students to show contrasting ads they brought.)

·        If you were going to write an analysis of these ads in your Essay 3, what would you have to do differently (with those ads that contrast to Kilbourne’s argument)? 


-         Contrast Kilbourne to the students’ assignment here.  Kilbourne focuses only on a reproduction argument; their assignment asks them to analyze both reproduction and challenge in the same message.


B.     Lewis Discussion:  Follow the same discussion sequence as Kilbourne, highlighting how Lewis begins to find contradictions in cultural messages that are potentially both reproductive and challenging of cultural beliefs.


Transition:  Create a transition that introduces the next activity.  (Use the full-page graphics included in the appendix to put up on an overhead to assist you in explaining the concepts in #2.)

2.      Mini-lecture connecting cultural analysis to rhetorical situation (15 minutes):  What we want to illustrate here is the relationship between the cultural analysis we’ve been discussing and the rhetorical situation to highlight the reading/writing connection in this unit. In conducting a cultural analysis, students read for how a television show responds to its rhetorical context.  In defining that relationship, students determine an exigence (a cultural need, a reason) for writing an analysis of that show to a particular audience.  In this way, the students’ understanding of their exigence for writing will determine both their focus and their audience.


Talking points to use with students:

·         TV shows are “cultural texts.”  As “texts” TV shows are created to respond to a variety of rhetorical contexts.  As such, television shows must respond to particular cultural interests in the hopes of reaching diverse audiences to whom such a show might appeal.

·         In this way, TV shows are functioning much like the writing you were asked to do in Unit 1.  The rhetorical triangle for Unit 1 can be represented with a triangle with writer, focus, reader as the 3 “points.” 











·        In Unit 1, you were asked to focus only on the audience and topic; however, in this unit, we are complicating the rhetorical situation to demonstrate how all texts emerge from a cultural context.  In Unit I, this context was higher education, and specifically a class at CSU.  In focusing your response on the needs of the audience, you responded to an exigence created by the context:  the need for teachers to assign texts of interest to their students. 

·        The best way to think about rhetorical situation in Unit 2, then, could be with a similar triangle but one that is placed within a circle.  The circle surrounding the triangle represents cultural context, and particularly the shared cultural belief a show addresses. 








·        With this rhetorical triangle in mind, Unit 2 asks you to consider this key question:  What’s the relationship between the text (the triangle) and the shared cultural belief (the circle)?  This is the central relationship you will focus on when “reading” your show:  how the TV show (as text) is communicating a cultural message which responds to (i.e. reproduces or challenges a cultural belief ) the show’s cultural context (i.e. a particular American cultural belief). 

·        The way you “answer” this analytical question about the relationship between the text and its cultural context will help you define the rhetorical situation for your essay.  What message you focus on will determine the context of your own paper.  Your sense of why a particular reader might need to consider the relationship between a given show and its cultural message (the exigence—i.e. “the why bother writing about this topic” question) will imply both an audience for your paper (who needs to know about this) and a purpose (why they need to know).  Graphically, your own writing task could be pictured this way:



·        Write your own example for the students to illustrate how this might work with a sample topic and “text.”



3.      Apply terms of rhetorical situation to Bennett (20 minutes):


A.      Discuss how analytical terms relate to Bennett’s analysis:


·        What is the shared cultural belief (in terms of our rhetorical triangle, the “circle”) that Bennett focuses on in his article?

·        What is this writer saying about how the text (daytime talk TV) responds to its cultural context (in terms of reproducing or challenging cultural beliefs)?


B.     Discuss Bennett in terms of his exigence (using synthesis grid below): 


·        Why is Bennett trying to convince his readers of the point he wants to get across about the cultural significance of these daytime talk TV shows?  Why does he assume this message is important enough to interpret for others? What is his exigence (i.e. the social need he feels his essay tries to address)?

·        Who is Bennett trying to convince?  Why does this audience seem an appropriate group to care about the effect of this cultural message?

·        What, specifically, does Bennett want to say about the effect of a given cultural message?  How does this purpose/claim emerge from his exigence (why he thinks it needs to be said) and his audience (why he assumes this group needs this information)?


-         As you discuss these questions, record students’ responses on the board with a synthesis grid that juxtaposes the audience, exigence, and claim for Bennett. (Copy this grid down to use in class again on Friday.)




Reason for Writing/













-         Summarize this discussion by emphasizing that a writer’s audience, purpose and claim emerge from that writer’s social exigence:  why he or she thinks a given topic is important enough to write to others about in the first place.





Assignment for Day 21:


-         Read Gaines’ “How Jenny Jones Saved My Life” (29-33) and Willis’ “Bring in the Noise” (34-7) in RC.