5001 Mid-term Questions and Instructions

  1. Answer one question from Set A and one question from Set B.
  2. Label the essays, e.g. A1, B2, and copy the entire question at the beginning of the essay.
  3. Incorporation of readings into the essay should be direct, focused, specific, and clearly linked to the discussion at hand. Use MLA citations.  You may write up to three single-spaced pages for each answer.
  4. Upload a single file with both answers to the blog, or email it to me.  If you email a file, be sure YOUR LAST NAME is part of the file name.

Set A:

The relationship between the study of rhetoric and the development of virtue or an ethical sense has been debated since classical times.

  1. Discuss how views of this relationship have changed over time, or compare the issue across the Greek/Roman, Indian, and Chinese traditions we’ve discussed.
  2. Explain the classical and Enlightenment definitions of rhetoric and propose a contemporary definition. Account for differences between the three.
  3. In writing classes today, how might a perception that studying rhetoric will lead to virtue manifest itself in pedagogy?  You may draw on your experience as a teacher and/or student, as well as our class discussion.

Set B:

Looking at Western, Indian and Chinese classical rhetorics, we can see both similarities and differences.

  1. Is it possible to really understand the rhetorical tradition of another culture?  Explain why or why not? Draw on course texts as needed for examples and arguments.
  2. Most of the Western rhetoricians we’ve read propose an approach to education.  Based on these, how would you generalize a traditional Western approach to education?
  3. Define a relationship between the avenues of political expression open to a society and the development of rhetoric.  Use examples from the readings to illustrate your claims about the relationship.

1 comment for “5001 Mid-term Questions and Instructions

  1. uzma
    April 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    SET A
    The relationship between the study of rhetoric and the development of virtue or an ethical sense has been debated since classical times.
    Question 3: In writing classes today, how might a perception that studying rhetoric will lead to virtue manifest itself in pedagogy? You may draw on your experience as a teacher and/or student, as well as our class discussion.
    The relationship of rhetoric with the development of morality or values is not a new debate. Plato in his Republic has stressed the importance of using philosophy in the curriculum to inculcate morality in his students and rejected poetry on the grounds that poetry can corrupt the innocent minds of young ones. He thought philosophy is the only way of inculcating morality in students. Aristotle and later rhetoricians have not only rejected Plato claim but also proved that poetry is not thrice removed from reality; and the finest form of poetry that is tragedy gives moral values to its audience. Aristotle cited the examples like Oedipus Rex in his Poetics and argued that tragedy cleans and purifies the soul and thought of audience through the process of Catharsis. It is apt to say that development of values has been a crucial issue in rhetoric and there have been different methods used in different ages for this purpose.
    Moral building was one of the aims of education in ancient times and the field of rhetoric was considered most suitable for it. Even in 18th century schools portrayed by Dickens in his novel, moral teaching has been the central concern. There is no doubt that classrooms are microcosm of the external community, and it is easier to teach proper human relationships in the classroom. Students can learn how to treat each other, and prepare themselves for a life in a community of educated people. In contemporary times the question of teaching of values in schools is itself controversial and the place of values in the curriculum is contentious. Living in a global and multicultural world it is clearly inappropriate to teach religious values or political viewpoints in a pluralistic society. But positive values and attitudes are an important part of school success and teachers have a unique opportunity to help students make positive decisions regarding their education, their goals for themselves, and the development of positive interpersonal relationships in the classroom. “The managing of such discussion is a skilled business not easily accomplished by the ordinary class teacher whose specialism lie in other directions. When not well handled, sessions may also be open to the criticisms of promoting permissiveness on the one hand or of simply providing the teacher with an opportunity to indoctrinate her own views on the other, if not both simultaneously.” (279) Teachers need to recognize the role of beliefs and values in shaping behaviors. From an intellectual point of view, the essentially Kantian view of morality implied by such an approach has been challenged by such writers as Foucault (1984) and Lyotard (1988) who regard such a view of practical reason as arbitrary and restrictive, and communitarians (MacIntyre, 1982, Sandel 1982) who regard the liberal notion of individual citizens autonomously arriving at their own conception of right conduct independently of established local mores as an untenable account of the moral life. (278) Educating children to take personal responsibility for their actions is both a parental and a societal responsibility. Certainly schools can teach the democratic values that help sustain us as a nation: respect for all people, reverence for the sanctity of life, the right of dissent and equality for all people before the law. The school’s curricula should also support parental teaching of character and of moral decision making. Not instruction in private or religious values, but inculcation of the public values of fairness, honesty, respect, and trust can be taught in schools in modern age.

    Our values are to be judged not by our words but by our actions. It is the need of the time that teachers should equip students with the skills that can make them solicitous and thoughtful citizen of the society. For this purpose development of critical thinking or critical reasoning should be given due account, “critical reasoning must remain a crucial element in the field of moral or values education both as one of a number of strategies employed to change the values and conduct of particular groups and as a defense against perverse or grossly misguided value systems that afflict societies from time to time. These just are the values of our society, and that’s all there can be, so we’d better fall into line’ is a dangerous doctrine, but one that can perfectly well be criticized with-out relying too uncritically on the rationalist dogmas of modernity.” (284)
    Throughout history educators have been concerned with the art and science of astute. It has been defined as the spirit of inquiry and dialogue that characterized the golden age of ancient Greece, other call it Enlightenment, with its emphasis on rationality and progress. In the twentieth century, the ability to engage in careful reflective thought has been viewed in various ways: as a fundamental characteristic of an educated person, as a requirement for responsible citizenship in a democratic society, and, more recently, as a skill for an increasingly wide range of jobs. Teaching children to become effective thinker’s increasingly recognized as an immediate goal of education and has taken the place of moral teaching of the past. It is really startling that each day of our life is never that same although we live in the same circumstances every day. Thinking skills are necessary tools in a society characterized by rapid change. It is used in problem solving, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decision. It is the development of cohesive and logical reasoning patterns and is careful determination of whether to accept, reject, or suspend judgment. Broadly speaking, critical thinking is concerned with reason, intellectual honesty, and open-mindedness and opposed to emotionalism, intellectual laziness, and closed-mindedness. The critical thinker would be someone who is reflective, analytical, observant, questioning sensitive, preserving, unbiased, mentally well organized, good at problem solving, and sees the value of using critical thinking skills to help others.” (4) If we as teachers can develop these qualities in students, they can become useful citizen and can contribute in the development of society.
    By developing thinking skills through writing we can equip students with the skill that can make them human beings who can contribute positively towards society. I think writing is a kind of a process in which decision making plays an important role. A writer chooses the words, the order of the words in the sentence, the grouping of sentences into paragraphs, and the order of the paragraphs within a piece. We make choices or decisions almost unconsciously about words and ideas that can be a messy, fascinating, perplexing experience. But it gives an ample opportunity to writers to think about their choices. For example essay is not just putting words on the paper rather it is a process or a series of stages. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy thinking categorizes from the concrete to the abstract knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The first two categories, basic knowledge and secondary comprehension, do not require critical-thinking skills, but the last four-application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation-all require the higher-order thinking that characterizes critical thought. The definitions for these categories provide a smooth transition from educational theory to practice by suggesting specific assessment designs that researchers and instructors can use to evaluate student skills in any given category. (67) The three stages of essay writing, planning, drafting, and revising can be used effectively to develop thinking skills of students. A lot of thinking is required in these stages of essay writing. Cognitive (the biological / neurological processes of the brain that facilitate thought) and meta cognitive (the process of planning, assessing, and monitoring one’s own thinking) abilities are involved in the process of essay writing that lead to the development of creative thinking which is a novel way of seeing and doing things, characterized by generating many ideas, shifting perspective, conceiving of something new, and building on other ideas. The three stages of writing, planning, drafting and editing is the test of the cognitive and meta-cognitive abilities of the students. By giving them such practices of critical thinking in the process of writing we can inculcate the skills of evaluation, analysis, and comprehension besides equipping our students with rational and systematic thinking. This can help them in crucial decision of life.
    In a nutshell it would be right to say that rhetoric and development of values are interrelated, but we need to change our approach as it is impossible to teach morality in the same way as done by the Classicist. I think be making students critical thinker we can give them a skill that can help them to distinguish between good and bad. Besides that role of a teacher has become really significant, because the course policies and classroom conduct of a teacher will convey values implicitly whether or not he is aware of it. Students will act in ways they have been shown to act. Students will treat others in ways they have been treated.

    Works Cited
    Bissell, Ahrash N., and Paula P. Lemons. “A New Method for Assessing Critical Thinking in the Classroom.” BioScience 56.1 (Jan 2006): 66-72. : American Institute of Biological Sciences. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2010. .
    John E. Warriner, English Composition and Grammar Third Course, Orlando: Harcourt Bruce Jovanovich Publisher, 1988. p4.
    Wringe, Colin. “Reasons, Values and Community in Moral Education.” British Journal of Educational Studies, 46.3 (1998): 278-88. Blackwell. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2010. .

    Set B:
    Looking at Western, Indian and Chinese classical rhetoric, we can see both similarities and differences.
    1. Is it possible to really understand the rhetorical tradition of another culture? Explain why or why not? Draw on course texts as needed for examples and arguments.
    There have been many definitions of rhetoric and it has been favorite subject of all the scholars since beginning of human civilization. Most commonly Rhetoric is defined as the art of using language to communicate effectively and rhetorician use five canons invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery to convince audience. The history of rhetoric is really old and it is the central part of the education since the Classical times, and pupils have been trained to become public speakers and writers to convince audience to action with argument on major issues. Rhetoric is related with human discourse and rhetoricians’ have studied the discourses of a wide variety of domains, including the natural and social sciences, fine art, religion, journalism, fiction, history, cartography, and architecture, along with the more traditional domains of politics and the law. Public relations, lobbying, law, marketing, professional and technical writing, and advertising are modern professions that employ rhetorical practitioners. Contemporary studies of rhetoric address a more diverse range of domains than was the case in ancient times.
    First of all it is really important to understand the relationship of rhetoric and culture. It will be right to say that culture is founded in rhetoric and rhetoric is founded in culture. Our study of the ancient rhetoric tells us a lot about the ancient cultures of the Greeks and the Romans. So if we want to understand ‘Other’ cultures we need to understand the rhetorical traditions. In my opinion it is not the question of possibility of understanding the rhetorical traditions of other cultures, it is more a need of the time to bridge the gap that has been existed between the various cultures. Modern world is a global and multicultural world. Latest technologies and modern media have changed our life and man is not confined to his own region only. It would be right to say that human beings in 21st century share many commonalities; many of us speak one language (English), eat same food (KFC or MCDONALDS), wear same dress (LEVIS), watch same art (Hollywood) and listen same music (Pop music). A brief survey of some of the important Journals of the world is evident of the fact that rhetoric and culture has no borders. I have come across so many Indian and Chinese restaurant and shops in California in the short span of my stay in the US. It is titled as Western and non Western just for the sake of giving meaning to one another. I think it is one of the binary opposition just like black and white, day and night, as one cannot exist without the other, same relationship is present between western and non western rhetoric. Both give meaning to one another and define one another as well.
    During the discussion on the Indian and the Chinese rhetoric in the class, we have concluded that there are many thematic and stylistic similarities between the western and the non western rhetorical tradition. Though the themes can differ from one another because of the difference of some of the cultural values, but even the debate on the basic themes like truth, knowledge, love remains same. Here I am reminded of the commentary on the Chinese rhetoric by Maryann, who compared the shared dislikeness and distrust for the use of flowery language by the Chinese and the American people. The example of Obama and Bush has been discussed in the class as well. The way many Americans are wary of Obama, well knit and embellished speech same was the case with the Chinese as well. In fact, much like the Greeks and the Romans, ancient Chinese used persuasion, argumentation and debate in topics such as philosophy, religion, and politics meeting the social and cultural demands of the day.
    The Indian and the Chinese rhetoric share the same rhetoric devices with the Greek and the Roman rhetoric. The Socratic dialogue can be found in Rushd, the use of simile, personification, comparison, contrast, antithesis and metaphor is common in all rhetorical traditions. These similarities in style make it really easy for the audience to understand the meanings and develop a sense of association with an alien text. Besides that the aim of rhetoric in all traditions is same, to persuade in order to attain truth. The quest of truth and knowledge is a universal characteristic in all traditions. Whether it is the study of the Platonic forms truth and beauty, or a short dialogue between Socrates and Gorgias to illustrate a fundamental debate about rhetoric and the relationship between rhetoric and morality, or Phaedrus with the practice of rhetoric and it’s relations to morality, the soul and love, and the discussion of the characteristics of good or bad writing. Even Isocrates’ discussion of how rhetoric ought to fit into a pedagogical system, and then his defense of rhetoric against those who discredit it as amoral and Aristotle’s debate of rhetoric and poetry as the pursuit of knowledge. According to Cicero (1.8.30-4) and Quintilian (16, 9-10) rhetoric, and only rhetoric, had the power to produce and reproduce culture and society. Only rhetoric could create a sense of community, conjure a common history and articulate the common values and sentiments on which the communities could be built. Even the concerns of Sutra; “The text and later commentaries explain the categories and goals of debate, providing rhetorical guidelines for all aspects of argument presentation and motivation, including means of knowledge, objects of knowledge, motive, purpose, rules for discussion and confutation, fallacies, etc.” (367) The content and subject matter is precisely same irrespective of time, age, region and culture. According to Burke, rhetoric’s function has been largely to bridge our fundamental isolation from one another: “If men were not apart from each other, there would be no need for a rhetorician to proclaim their unity.” In Nyaya/Hindu thinking, vada reveals our fundamental unity. Burke also believes that though we use persuasion to create consubstantiation (the sharing of common interests and goals), identification (our desire for connection) and division (our aversion to it) remain in tension. “Interference,” a constant displacement of fulfillment, is the only way to sustain persuasion. In Nyaya, both what we desire and what we avoid is considered “faults” blocking true perception and helpful debate. (374)

    I think we need to know the true perceptions of other cultures through the study of rhetoric in order to understand them. It is matter of interpretation not from our own perspective but what Edward Said has explained in ‘Orientalism’; to study ‘other’ cultures with ‘their’ point of view. In other words, according to Geertz, “we began with our own interpretation of what our informants are up to, or think they are up to, and then systematize this” . This means the interpreter’s own cultural assumptions, values, and concerns are used as the framework and basis for understanding and interpreting other cultures. For Geertz, the primary challenge in interpreting other cultures is not to describe and discover cultural meaning in its texts and contexts, but to analyze and evaluate such meanings against the interpreter’s own value system and cultural orientation. In his words, “Cultural analysis is (or should be) guessing at meaning, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions from better guesses, not discovering the continent of meaning and mapping out its bodiless landscape”. (15)

    Unfortunately we are still living in a colonized world and are not ready to accept each other without biases and prejudices. “…. the Western domination and colonization of intellectual discourse since the nineteenth century, European students generally “interpreted other societies in terms derived from European culture, very often at the cost of extreme distortion, and frequently also in an unflattering light”. (24)This is the time to stop finding faults in the literary traditions of other cultures and to pick the aspect that promotes the concept of multiculturalism. I think it is very much possible to understand the rhetorical tradition of other cultured because of the similarities that are present in the western and non western rhetorical traditions. Besides that it is the demand of the time as well to abridge our gaps as 21st century is the era of globalization. There is no need to argue the political advantages and disadvantages of understanding other culture rhetoric, one thing is sure that the honest and unbiased quest of knowledge of other culture will expand and deepens the scholarly avenue of our times and it can be a gift for future generations.

    Works Cited
    Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Oratore. London: Bristol Classical, 2002. Print.
    Fabius, Quintilianus , Marcus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ, 1953. Print. With an English transl. by H. E. Butler.
    Lloyd,, Keith. “Rethinking Rhetoric from an Indian Perspective: Implications in the Nyaya Sutra'” Rhetoric 26.4 (2007): 365-84. Web. .
    Xing, Lu. “, Rhetoric in Ancient China Fifth to Third Century B.e.E. A Comparison with Classical Greek Rhetoric.” (1998). University of South Carolina Press. Web.

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