Short Paper 2: Annotation Assignment

For this assignment, students will read and annotate an academic essay from rhetorical studies. You should write up your short paper in the style of a detailed annotation that should answer the following questions. The answers may be bulleted or numbered. Students should focus on fully answering each of the questions rather than providing a narrative flow. This exercise is intended to model (1) the practice of reading academic essays in rhetorical studies and (2) creating notes and annotations to help recall the important or salient points.

  • Please keep your short paper 2 assignment to no more than 2 pages (not including the bibliography of works cited).
  • Please do not turn in a marked up copy of the academic article.
  • Please number your answers. Additionally, I would like folks to either restate each numbered question as part of the answer or to begin each answer with the numbered question in their document. This will help your graders to keep track of which question you are answering.

Requirements/Prompts to Answer: 

    1. What is the central claim/assertion/thesis of the essay? This statement should reflect the author’s core assertion about how rhetoric functions in the cases described in the article.
    2. What is the author’s definition of rhetoric? Based on context clues and citations in the essay, how is rhetoric being defined?** Your answer should make clear why this definition is the best fit, possibly making reference to the way that the word rhetoric is used in the article. You may also want to draw upon the definitions of rhetoric we have considered over the semester and justify why this definition fits with the understanding of rhetoric provided in the essay.
    3. Based on the units we’ve considered in this class, how does the author understand rhetorical criticism? What is the ultimate purpose of the essay? Your answer should make clear the unique advantage of doing criticism using rhetorical terminology. What does rhetorical criticism do? What should the reading audience of this article learn?
      1. According to the author, the value of rhetorical analysis is that it …
        1. Explains how persuasion works in the context of [gun violence; conspiracy theories; twitter celebrities]
        2. Unveils the way that power works in spaces that are supposedly equal, accessible, and democratic.
        3. Allows us to understand the effects/impacts of speech for a specific audience.
    4. What elements of the author’s theory or analysis are uniquely rhetorical? Are there any specific key terms or words that mark the theory or contribution that qualify it as “rhetoric”? I recommend looking for the specialized rhetoric vocabulary in the article that resonate with or appear in the content from the textbook or the supplemental readings for the course. Make sure you draw attention to the rhetorical terms that appear in the article and then explain how they fit into a larger conception or definition of rhetoric (such as that provided in question 2).
    5. Who is the author in conversation with? Who are the people that the author cites the most, builds upon, or takes issue with?** Look at who the author is citing to build their argument about rhetoric. Whose work do they build upon in the sense of adding concepts, terminology, or detail to an existing argument or literature? Alternatively, who do they disagree with and whose ideas do they wish to revise?
    6. What does the author contribute to this conversation? What is it that they bring in the way of a new idea, concept, terminology, or kind of analysis? What is the difference that this article seeks to make in terms of adding new knowledge to a conversation about rhetoric? Is it a theoretical addition, in the sense of new concepts, terms, ideas, or frameworks? Is it a topical addition, in the sense that a set of existing concepts, terms, ideas, and frameworks may be stretched to explain new cases that have not been heretofore considered?
    7. What are other key terms not already mentioned in annotations 1-6 that are especially important to understanding this essay? Why were they important to the overall meaning of the essay? Without repeating earlier questions, look to words that were challenging to you in your reading but which seemed important for understanding the overall meaning of the article. What additional terms beyond those already mentioned did you need to look up? How are they related to the central understanding of rhetoric in the essay?
    8. How might the essay help us to understand circumstances beyond those described in the essay? Draw upon a specific example that this framework might help to illuminate that goes beyond what is contained in the essay. If you were to draw upon the ideas of rhetoric developed in the essay, what concrete cases might you draw upon? What kinds of other real-world examples did this article remind you of?

**these are good candidates to cite other articles to answer this question, for instance, from the bibliography of the essay you are annotating. Please note that the citations you are seeking may be cited in the articles for the assignment, so use the references/bibliography of the article you have selected as a resource when answering these questions.**

In this assignment, you should plan to cite 3-5 sources. These sources should be drawn from what the author of the article cites as support or evidence for their claims. These citations appear in the bibliography of the essays listed below. It would be most helpful for establishing the definition of rhetoric, rhetorical concepts, and the conversation entered. Of course, sources may be cited for any of the questions so long as they are relevant and help to answer the question. Please do not cite sources arbitrarily or “just because,” there must be a good reason for the citation.

Please select one of the essays from the list below. These essays’ central contribution regards rhetoric and rhetorical theory, and are published in journals recognized for contributions to rhetorical studies. One detailed annotation is also provided on the following page.

Please note that you must select one article from this list for your annotation. Annotations of articles that do not appear on this list will receive a grade of “0.”

Kehrberg, Rhetoric of Twitter Fandom Rood, Our Tears Are Not Enough
Kelley-Romano, Conspiracy on U.S. TV Stahl, A Clockwork War

Example of an Article Annotation.

Michael Lechuga (2020) “Mapping migrant vernacular discourses: Mestiza consciousness, nomad thought, and Latina/o/x migrant movement politics in the United States,” Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 13:3, 257-273.

    1. What is the central claim/assertion/thesis of the essay? Michael Lechuga makes the assertion that the tensions between Latinas/o/x immigrants and the US come in three forms. With its emphasis upon the movements of national identity, migrant identity, the fear anxiety associated with criminality, this essay is not a quantitative stance on immigration or the rhetoric that is seen in politics. It is an analysis of how the migrant vernacular has now to be decrypted to better understand how rigid state borders have impacted their identity and how they navigate the space they occupy. It presents the case that the act of immigration is a fundamental right that anyone should have. That the way in which we close and shut our borders is rooted in a fundamental idea of a nationalist view towards the world in the US. The essay aims to help enlighten the audience that being in a country state with borders is not the natural way. In a culture that has historically embraced nomadism, new forms of nomadism are emergent.
    2. What is the author’s definition of rhetoric? Based on context clues and citations in the essay, how is rhetoric being defined?** Rhetoric is the tool that searches for the most effective means of illustrating your point of view or making the most persuasive argument that moves people. The author is defining rhetoric as an art of communication, that rhetoric must go beyond a monocultural thought process. Rhetoric must get beyond the rigidity of one language with one mode. Rhetoric must be versatile and adaptive, it is not stagnant. The nomad has no one place, no one identity, no one way to think, the nomad can be bilingual, polyamorous, it does not matter. Rhetoric becomes not just the language as the mode, it is the thought, the action, the touch. It becomes fluid because in the nomad state there are no barriers. Rhetoric must transcend language and ascend to ubiquity in fluidity.
    3. Based on the units we’ve considered in this class, how does the author understand rhetorical criticism? What is the ultimate purpose of the essay? Lechuga sees rhetorical criticism as a means of giving the nomadic view more latitude. Lechuga also aims to express the agency that rhetorical criticism gives migrant populations. It allows the critique to become omnipotent. They are not embedded in their own truth of the nation-state, or in the nomad. They are beyond both; they are outside their own prejudices and preconceived notions based on their story and the story written. Lechuga says “It- gives agency to those communities on the margins by studying how they negotiate identity through vernacular discourse, not just the domination discourses”. Rhetorical criticism takes away the idea of the author as the authority. It takes the power away from the dominating discourse, it gives rise to the discourse that surrounds what identity is and how nomads are negotiating it.
    4. What elements of the author’s theory or analysis are uniquely rhetorical? Are there any specific key terms or words that mark the theory or contribution that qualify it as “rhetoric”? What struck me as most overtly rhetorical about this essay were the stories from Anzaldua and the statement by Guizar. It was through stories of people that we saw the deeper meaning of writing this essay. It was the voices that had been subjected to hate crimes, ostracization, to being put in boxes, under labels, when they were never contained. Another rhetorical characteristic of this essay was the way that Lechuga seamlessly moved from subjective evidence to an analysis of systems of government, which I found to be flawless.
    5. Who is the author in conversation with? Who are the people that the author cites the most, builds upon, or takes issue with?** Lechuga says “This study is informed by a rich body of scholarships on vernacular discourse”. In his text he writes about the most critical of those scholarships being one that is producing the greatest ripples in the water being one that actively makes critiques of those that dominate the discourse that constructs and marginalizes the identity of Latina/o/x communities. Throughout the essay Lechuga does not blatantly say, ‘You, the authoritarians need this education” and that “NPNF argues that migration is a human right.” Lechuga takes issue with the presidents that entered and exited the office and done nothing to remediate the issue of ICE, of the prison state that we have created.
    6. What does the author contribute to this conversation? What is it that they bring in the way of a new idea, concept, terminology, or kind of analysis? Throughout the essay Lechuga builds on mestiza consciousness and the idea of NPNF. Lechuga powerfully enters the conversation with a quote from Anzaldua about what being a nomad is. It is as though she is describing a rhythmic dance, tiptoeing from one movement to another. When, it is describing an entire change of oneself to conform to another culture because you as an entity are not a stagnant puddle of muck, but ubiquitous in life and culture. By raising the idea of rhetorical criticism as a voice for the voiceless to light, he also emphasizes that rhetoric must goes beyond the Burkean definition of rhetoric as symbolic action, or as a universal identification among all individuals, which does not take into account the unique modes of communication and lived experience that characterizes migrant communities.
    7. What are other key terms not already that are especially important to understanding this essay? Why were they important to the overall meaning of the essay? (1) Mestizaje or mestiza consciousness describes “an orientation to multiple spaces and multiple possibilities that span time, language, and ideology.” As opposed to a logic-centric approach to rhetoric, in which words and arguments convey meaning that is assumed to be universally available to an audience, this concept explains “how power is layered onto bodies through affection, through institutions, and of course through language.” It is a theory of speech but also of feeling, emotion, and lived experience that aims for “coalitional activism that encourages bodies to occupy spaces of contradiction as a resistance to white supremacy.” (2) Vernacular, which may be understood as the linguistic and rhetorical expressions of a particular community. Everything about the Latina/o/x culture is their identity, yet they so easily slip in and own to appease the cultures around them.
    8. How might the essay help us to understand circumstances beyond those described in the essay?  If we look at the world and stop seeing it as lines, ownership, borders, categories of people, labels, compartmentalization of human beings we can maybe see each other. See each other.. By using rhetorical criticism as a means of depowering the authoritative state and empowering the minorities we are one step closer to social equality. This essay really sought to inform about what it means to be nomadic. The fluidness of the body, the mind, the energy that allows someone to seamlessly transpose themselves through worlds of cultures and people. It showed how our rigidity as US citizens limits us from embracing, acknowledging, and learning about others in a meaningful way. We have such a disconnect from movement, identity, culture, bodies, emotions, even our own loved ones. We see differences, not what brings us together. Lechuga wrote about how immigrants are caught in constant states of fear, anxiety, not being secure in a homeland, and how can we not relate? This isn’t even our land, yet we prevent others from moving here as the majority of us did as settlers.

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Reading Rhetorical Theory by Atilla Hallsby is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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