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During those first five weeks, the students select the eight nonfiction genres we will study in the course and build their reader-rhetorics by collecting and analyzing professionally published samples of each genre.
The students then compose five original texts, choosing to work with any five of the eight genres they have studied. They may not, however, turn in more than one manuscript a week, which helps me avoid toiling over mountains of work at the end of the term. If, for example, the students decide they want to exam- ine interviews and how-to essays first, over the following week they have to collect at least three professionally published inter- views and how-to essays and place them in a binder college paper ghost writer to be turned in at the end of the course. I suggest they gather their sample texts from a variety of publications: mass-market magazines, newspapers, newsletters, trade journals, and so forth. Once they gather their samples, students compose a rhetorical analysis of the genre. In this three- to four-page informal essay, they discuss their conclusions concerning the content, structure, and style of the sample texts they found: what kind of material is generally found in the sample readings, how the sample texts tend to be organized, how they sound on the page. I ask the students to note any significant exceptions to the generalizations they form and to pay particular college paper ghost writer attention to format (what do they notice about the use of sidebars, pictures, or graphics in these texts? The day we discuss the genre the students bring their binder and two copies of their rhetorical analysis to class, one to keep in their binder and one to turn in to me. When I ask the students to share their conclusions about the typical content, organization, and style of each genre, I list their comments on the overhead college paper ghost writer under appro- priate headings. Everyone contributes to the discussion, passing around sample texts from their binders to illustrate points when necessary. I also ask the students where they collected their sample texts so that we also have a master list of publications that pub- lish this sort of material. During the following week, I type up and duplicate this master list of rhetorical features and distribute it to the students at the next class meeting so that every student has a copy for his or her binder.
Building these reader-rhetorics helps the students in several ways. First, most of the students are studying these genres seri- ously for the first time. Locating, reading, and analyzing the sample texts familiarizes them with each type of writing. They come to see what their sample texts have in common and how they differ according to the target audience of the publications. Third, their analysis of the readings, plus the master list compiled by the class, helps them write texts of their own. As we discuss each genre in class, we identify some of its common attributes and features, includ- ing typical opening and closing strategies, use of examples and evidence, use of graphics and illustrations, paragraph and sen- tence length, diction, and tone. Based on this work, the students have a good idea how to draft their own manuscripts. Around week seven of the course, the workshop sessions begin.
Each week we review the work of three writers in class, and every writer has at least two of his or her manuscripts critiqued in class.
Imitation offers stu- dents a starting point for their work, a template or paradigm to follow, which most students need since they have not studied these genres before.
Yet, as the students collect and analyze their sample texts, they always discover important variations in each genre — the content, organization, and style of each genre vary in interesting ways by publication and intended audience.
Here is where more modern theories of rhetorical analysis aid the course. Instead of mechanically imitating models as they compose their own texts, the students must adapt content, organization, and style to suit their targeted publications and readerships. An interview intended 69 COURSE DESIGN for publication in Rolling Stone, for example, will look and sound different from an interview published in TIME or in Modern Fiction Studies. As modern rhetoricians such as James Kinneavy (1971) and Wayne Booth (1963) point out, the content, format, and language of any piece of writing is closely linked to the needs college paper ghost writer of the reader. Successful writers adapt their prose to the needs and interests of their audience. As they compile their reader and compose their rhetorical analyses of each genre, the students must examine how writers make these adaptations, how they tailor their work for a particular publication and a particular reader- ship. Every semester that I teach this course the students mention the reader-rhetoric as one of the most important aspects of the class. Here are some of the comments students wrote on their course evaluations the last time I taught the class: The idea to make our own textbooks was clever and highly ap- propriate for a graduate-level course.