Rhetorical Awareness is at the center of all my classes when we talk about writing and communicating. Today, writing goes beyond a memorization of formulae in which students fill pre-designed containers or resort to structured modes of discourse. Instead, students can better understand their roles as communicators when they realize that composing is more complex and always situational and dependent upon the shifting variables of rhetoric: purpose, audience, subject, and context. As teachers we can introduce rhetorical awareness in many ways in our classrooms. We can have students analyze artifacts through rhetorical lenses and introduce them to classical rhetorical appeals and devices. Additionally, multimodality offers ways to easily recognize the ways we shift our language and approaches in relation to visual rhetoric, genre and medium. I enjoy helping students realize that these concepts move quickly beyond the classroom as we are influenced by communication artifacts throughout our everyday lives. Although this seems simple and somewhat obvious, it takes an interesting twist when paired with a multimodal assignment.
This assignment is also an opportunity for students to understand the impact of visual rhetoric and the ways images and text work together to create rhetorical arguments that communicate meaning. It is important for students to understand that no communication is a-rhetorical and that there are messages and artifacts all around us — demanding our attention, seeking our engagement and working to persuade.
The assignment asked students to analyze everyday rhetoric in a blog post and create and embed a visual slideshow presentation. Click on the images above to view student projects.