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Persuasive Essay #1:
The Fantastical Protest
Part 1 – The Protest: About 500 words (the length of 1 single-spaced page or 2 double-spaced pages)
Part 2 – The Analysis: Approximately 500 words (the length of 1 single-spaced page or 2 doublespaced pages)
1. To compose a short protest essay in which you, as a fictional character, attempt to persuade your
audience of (1) the importance of a current issue in your world and (2) take some kind of action
(even if it’s just changing their minds or realizing an issue actually is important) that would
substantially alter the canonized plotline of your world.
2. To engage deeply with course concepts by composing a metacognitive analysis in which you
reflect on the writing (and acting) choices you made in your essay. You will explain what you did
and defend why you did it within the theoretical context of Persuasion.
Part 1 – Protest Instructions
1. Pick a fictional universe you know and love. Take on the persona of a character in that universe.
(e.g. Harry Potter)
2. Pick a “happening” relevant to the fictional world of the character you have embodied. This
happening should relate to the canonized plotline of your world. For example, you might refer to
Lord Voldemort’s return at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
3. Using your role as a rhetor, compose an essay in which you accomplish the following tasks:
Prior to the start of the protest essay, write me/your peers short, 3-5 sentence
introduction that covers:
– What universe you are embodying (i.e. Harry Potter)
– Who you are portraying (i.e. Voldemort)
– What type of rhetorical outlet you imagine you are using (i.e Daily Prophet
– Who you are most likely speaking to (i.e. Hufflepuffs)
– What canonical plot line you’re hoping to alter (i.e. I want to convince the
Hufflepuffs to join the Death Eaters)
– Any other information we need to know in order to understand your speech’s content
(i.e. I’m going to be using the names of some spells from the book like “Expecto
Then, once you start the protest essay, include a thorough explanation of the “issue”
you seek to persuade us about today.
– What is happening?
– Who is causing this to happen?
– Where is this happening?
– Why is this happening?
– Are there conflicting perspectives on this issue?
– Hint: Consider how rhetorical situations, narrative scripts, etc. are influencing your
explanation of who/what/when/where/why.
Give your audience an evaluative analysis of this issue at hand in which you could
– Is this happening positive? Negative? Sudden? Long-standing?
– How should your audience feel? Excited? Enraged? Disgusted? Exhausted?
– Which of many possible stances are you taking on this issue and why should your
Persuade your audience what they, as an active public, need to do in response to this
issue. Remember, if the audience were to listen to you, the canonized plotline of your
universe would be altered in some way.
– Should they audience “take to the streets”?
– Should they go on strike? Boycott something or someone?
– Should they write to their senator/king/overlord?
– Should they become “enlightened” and realize that they’ve been lied to about
something this entire time?
– Should they alter their political system and pursue democracy?
Part 2 – Metacognitive Analysis Instructions
Don’t be fooled by the big word. This short essay is an informal, first-person style essay in which
you “think about your thinking” and explain why you structured your protest essay like you did. Why
do you think it was the most effective way to go about persuading your particular audience?
Instead of merely re-summarizing the plot of your fictional universe (this is a common error), I want
you to apply a reasonable number (4-5) specific persuasion theories we’ve been learning in class.
Examples might include:
Expectancy Violation Theory
An easy format (but not the only possible format) might be to have four solid paragraphs of text, each
focused around a particular course concept. Within each paragraph you could (1) list the concept you
attempted to apply, (2) define it, (3) explain specific places you applied it, and (4) defend why that
example was a successful application of that concept. Remember, this is not the way you have to
write the analysis. Just a starting point.
Part 1 – 50 points, all or nothing, easy A or easy F.
Did you put in an effort? Full points.
Did you half-ass it? Partial points.
Did you not do it? No points.
Part 2 – 50 points, graded like a reading response.
Did you properly use and define at least 4 vocab words?
Did you show me areas in your protest where you put those concepts into action?
Did you clearly defend your choice?
Are you writing at the college level (e.g. using paragraph breaks, proofreading, etc.)
Introduction to Persuasion & Politics
SUBTITLE: THE “PLEASE DON’T
THROW THINGS AT YOUR
Introduce the genre of “political
communication” and, by extension, persuasion
Investigate the various modes of political
Explore current controversies in political
YES, all your midterms are graded.
YES, overall the scores were quite good.
Avg. grade around a “B,” range is from F to A+.
YES, it was obvious who read/watched the texts and who was
NO, there will be no makeups or redos.
Introduction to Political
Politics: the public clash & debate among groups (who
have varying degrees of power) regarding resources,
visions, & policies, with the goal of reaching broadbased decisions that are building on, and may benefit,
the larger collective (Perloff, 2013)
Political Communication: A complex communicative
activity in which language and symbols, employed by
leaders, media, citizens, and citizen groups, exert a
multitude of effects on individuals and society, as well as
on outcomes that bear on public policy (Perloff, 2013)
Aristotle defined three genres of rhetoric:
ceremonial (epideictic), legal (forensic),
and political (deliberative)
Deliberative Rhetoric = Political Rhetoric =
Concern about the future
Ways & Means; War & Peace; Imports &
Exports; National Defense; Legislation
Political Communication has Many
Example: “The Political Campaign”
Genre Norms Include:
Short duration (i.e. 2018 midterm elections)
Sponsoring Candidate (i.e. Greg Pence for Trump)
Multimodal persuasion strategies (i.e. internet &
Massive staff/volunteers focusing on different
persuasive arenas (i.e. fundraising)
Application of verbal and nonverbal persuasive
messages (EX: The speech and the red tie)
When & Where & By Whom
Let’s find out! Name some places where
political communication takes place.
Another Genre: Presidential Rhetoric
Powerful discourse that communicates directly with the people
through access to media where presidents possess a level of
authority others political actors do not have (Windt, 1990)
Presidents are the “master-builders” of a rhetorical climate for
The means by which an elected candidate establishes ways to…
Fulfill campaign promises
Continue communicating with supporters
Reach out to those who weren’t supporters
Example: FDR’s “Fireside Chats”
Are non-politicians political communicators?
EX: The viral
What is the purpose of political
Ultimately, it’s persuasion!
What has happened in the past that must happen/never happen in the future?
What is happening now that must be continued/discontinued for a health future?
What should the future look like?
And, in a 2018 U.S. American context, we theoretically want to see that
Habermaisan deliberative democracy.
Preview for Thursday:
Political Comm and Media
Recall Habermas. Anyone remember how he felt about the current
state of the public sphere (remember, he wrote it in 1969)
What, according to Habermas, was the primary reason that the public
sphere might be in danger?
How do you think Habermas might feel in 2022?
What did DeLuca argue?
OF THE PUBLIC SPHERE”
Think about where you
get your political
PERSUASION & POLITICS II:
Review the foundations of political
Investigate the role of “big M media” in
determining political rhetorical genres
manifestations of this phenomenon
What is political
What is deliberative rhetoric?
What are some genres of
political persuasion that we
MASS MEDIA AND POLITICAL PUBLICS
Recall Habermas. Anyone remember how
he felt about the current state of the
public sphere (remember, he wrote it in
What, according to Habermas, was the
primary reason that the public sphere
might be in danger?
How did DeLuca differ in his vision of the
DEFINING MASS MEDIA
“Big-M” Media, or Mass Media, is supposed to be a
watchdog of the people
Keeping an eye on the state for the protection of
the public welfare (Habermasian ideal)
Thus, the state/media relationship is supposed to
be adversarial. (Exposing corruption)
But the relationship is also symbiotic—as each is
dependent on the other (media flounders
without access, but politicians flounder if media
It’s a fourth pillar of government (legislative,
judicial, executive, Media)
POLITICAL NEWS AND JOURNALISTIC ETHICS
According to the Society of Professional Journalists’
Code of Ethics, Journalists who report on anything,
including politics, should…
Seek truth and report it
Be Accountable and Transparent
BUT….WHAT INFORMATION DO WE GET?
90% people get news from electronic/internet sources. (social media growing
It has a surveillance function
Instrumental (new products, etc.)
Beware (terrorists, shootings, etc.)
News media is also an agenda-setter / gate-keeper.
Gate-keeping manifests as a correlation function – i.e. “front page” = “most important”
WHAT ARE THE POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES?
Access to pressing information we might not otherwise see
Access to “multiple sides” of an issue via an “informative” rather
than a “persuasive” genre
Ability to be persuaded via our own critical thinking after
SCRIPTING & POLITICAL STORYTELLING
Recall Walter Fisher’s narrative theory of rhetoric, esp. narrative
coherence and narrative fidelity (Beeson chapter on rhetoric).
Repeated narratives can become master narratives that follow narrative
Known scripts can transmit values/heritage from generation to generation
via socialization processes.
This can be benign (i.e. crime reporting = stealing is wrong)
This can be biased / discriminatory (i.e. excess reporting on black male
crime = black males are criminals)
EXAMPLE: PIT BULLS AND BSL
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNING
Fragmentation of the Public Sphere
AND…NOT ALL POLITICAL NEWS IS CREATED EQUAL
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
Access to a Habermasian public
Multiple channels of info =
increased access to different
Lightning speed spread of
Ambiguous code of rhetorical
Media has a correlative relationship with a person’s political beliefs.
But…if not all Media presents the same news, the same way, according the the
same moral codes…what does that mean for viewer beliefs & attitudes?
In other words, if I only read Breitbart…am I going to view the “same” world
differently than my brother who only reads ThinkProgress?
And are Breitbart and ThinkProgress even ethical persuasive actors?
ARE THOSE MEDIA OUTLETS FAKE NEWS?
Not necessarily. They could be politically-biased news.
News that can be quantitatively proven to consistently favor one political
party over the other over a long period of time.
So all news is biased…but some model their business model off of it.
This. Is. NORMAL. But…is it ETHICAL?
WHAT FAKE NEWS IS
News that takes an editorial slant you don’t personally /
politically agree with.
News that reports something in error and then later corrects
News that uses “anonymous sources.”
News from a comedy show or other nontraditional outlet.
These are colloquial definitions of fake news…but not
POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS FORCE-FED BUT
“In its purest form, fake news is
completely made up,
manipulated to resemble
credible journalism and attract
maximum attention and, with
it, advertising revenue” (Hunt,
The Guardian, 2016)
And, as Prof. Muller would add,
attempts to motivate political
action based on patently false
HERE’S SOME ACTUAL FAKE NEWS
FOR NEXT WEEK
Due this Friday: Reading Response 3
Next Week’s Content: Comm & Law
• DEALS WITH “THE PAST”
• CONTEXT: IN ANCIENT GREECE, CITIZENS WERE EXPECTED
TRAINING IN FORENSIC RHETORIC IS IMPORTANT.
TO DEFEND THEMSELVES BEFORE THE COURT.
“CITIZENS FOUND THEMSELVES INVOLVED IN LITIGATION… AND WERE FORCED TO TAKE UP THEIR OWN
CASES BEFORE THE COURTS. A FEW CLEVER SICILIANS DEVELOPED SIMPLE TECHNIQUES FOR EFFECTIVE
PRESENTATION AND ARGUMENTATION IN THE LAW COURTS AND TAUGHT THEM TO OTHERS.”
– GEORGE KENNEDY
• THREE CONSIDERATIONS:
• 1. FOR WHAT PURPOSES
2. HOW THESE
PERSONS DO WRONG
PERSONS ARE MENTALLY DISPOSED
• 3. WHAT KIND OF PERSONS THEY WRONG
AND WHAT THESE PERSONS ARE LIKE.
PERSUASION AND THE LAW II:
• REVIEW “THE LAW” AS IT FUNCTIONS IN
PERSUASION – SPECIFICALLY, AS A GENRE
• INTRODUCE A FUNDAMENTAL PERSUASIVE
COMPONENT OF LAW: PRECEDENT
• SHOW HOW PRECEDENT AND PERSUASION
WORK IN REAL WORLD CASES
• WHAT WAS CLASSICAL RHETORIC’S (ARISTOTLE’S) UNDERSTANDING OF “THE LAW”
AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO RHETORIC?
• WHAT WERE SOME OF THE PROBLEMS WITH ARISTOTLE’S APPROACH?
• WHAT ARE SOME DIFFERENT “SCHOOLS” OF RHETORICAL THOUGHT REGARDING LAWAS-PERSUASION AND HOW DO THEY AMEND ARISTOTELIAN THOUGHT?
• HOW DOES PERSONHOOD (AS A LEGAL TERM) DEMONSTRATE THE RHETORICAL
POWER OF THE LAW?
CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL STATEMENT?
INCORRECT LEGAL STATEMENT? NO.
• “I AM NOT SURE THAT ALL LEGAL
SCHOLARS REFER TO ROE AS THE
SETTLED LAW OF THE LAND AT THE
SUPREME COURT LEVEL SINCE
COURT CAN ALWAYS OVERRULE
DEFINING LEGAL PRECEDENT
A COURT DECISION THAT GUIDES FUTURE CASES WITH SIMILAR QUESTIONS.
ESTABLISHES THE LEGAL RULE (AUTHORITY)
• MAINTAINS A LEGAL CONVERSATION THROUGH
TIME, SPACE, AND PLACE
• STARE DECISIS: THE ACT OF FOLLOWING AND APPLYING LEGAL PRECEDENT IN A CASE
• JUDGE STEVEN BREYER:
• ‘PROMOTES THE EVENHANDED, PREDICTABLE AND CONSISTENT DEVELOPMENT OF LEGAL PRINCIPLES,
FOSTERS RELIANCE ON JUDICIAL DECISIONS, AND CONTRIBUTES TO THE ACTUAL AND PERCEIVED
INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS.’
• “DEPARTURE FROM PRECEDENT IS EXCEPTIONAL AND REQUIRES SPECIAL JUSTIFICATION.”
CITIZEN’S UNITED AND CORPORATE PERSONHOOD:
BAD LEGAL DECISION? MAYBE.
RANDOM LEGAL DECISION? HECK NO.
WHAT ABOUT APPEALS?
• YOU CAN APPEAL.
• AN APPEAL IS NOT A NEW TRIAL.
• AN APPEAL IS A CHANCE TO SHOW THAT THE DECISION-MAKER MADE A FACTUAL OR LEGAL ERROR
THAT AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF YOUR CASE.
• IN OTHER WORDS, THAT THE DECISION-MAKER MADE A DECISION BASED ON FALSE PREMISES
AND/OR FALLACIOUS REASONING.
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO PRECEDENT
• “LEVEL” OF THE COURT
• SUPREME > CIRCUIT
• RELEVANCE OF THE PRECEDENT TO EVERYDAY LIFE
• DEBATE: ARE YOU A TEXTUALIST
OR A CONTEXTUALIST?
WAS WRITTEN IN THE VERDICT? THE DISSENT?
CAN PRECEDENT BE NULLIFIED? YES…BUT WHEN
THAT HAPPENS, IT’S USUALLY BIG NEWS.
• EXAMPLE: LOVING V. VIRGINIA,
• EXAMPLE: BROWN V. BOARD OF
OVERTURNING PRECEDENT IS BASED ON “HIGHER”
PRECEDENT; SETS NEW PRECEDENT
• FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR:
“WELL I THINK YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PERSUADE AT LEAST FIVE MEMBERS OF THIS NINE-MEMBER COURT THAT AN EARLIER
JUDGMENT AND OPINION DECIDED BY THIS COURT IS NOW CLEARLY WRONG. THAT IS POSSIBLE TO DO. WE CAN BE
PERSUADED AT TIMES THAT SOMETHING WE DECIDED EARLIER HAS BECOME, OVER TIME, NO LONGER DEFENSIBLE.
AND THE MOST CLEAR BIG EXAMPLE OF THAT WAS IN BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION WHEN THE SUPREME COURT
DECIDED TO OVERRULE THE OLD PLESSY V. FERGUSON PRINCIPLE THAT YOU COULD HAVE SEPARATE PUBLIC FACILITIES FOR
PEOPLE BASED ON RACE PROVIDED THEY WERE ROUGHLY THE SAME. YOU KNOW, THE SAME SCHOOL, ONE FOR PEOPLE
OF THE BLACK RACE, ONE FOR PEOPLE OF THE WHITE RACE. THAT’S WHAT PLESSY SAID WAS ALL RIGHT. THE MEMBERS OF
THIS COURT UNANIMOUSLY CONCLUDED THAT JUST WAS NOT VALID AND IT OVERTURNED IT, [PLESSY.]
SO WHAT STANDARD IS REQUIRED? IT’S JUST A STANDARD OF PERSUADING AT LEAST FIVE MEMBERS OF THE COURT THAT AN
EARLIER PRECEDENT IS CLEARLY WRONG AND SHOULDN’T REMAIN THE LAW OF THE NATION.”
PRECEDENT: PRO’S AND CONS?
IS IT USEFUL TO RULE ON CASES USING PAST
IS IT USEFUL TO ASSESS THE VALIDITY OF NEW
/ INVALIDITY OF OLD LAWS BASED ON
• WHAT ARE THE WEAKNESSES OF PRECEDENT?
BECAUSE TRUST ME…THERE ARE SOME.
• ESTABLISHED CASE LAW IS RESTROSPECTIVE (I.E.
“KOREMATSU VS. USA, 1944, SAYS INTERNMENT IS
• LEGISLATION IS NOT RETROSPECTIVE (I.E. WELL
YEAH…BUT THAT WAS ALSO HELLA RACIST. AND ITS
2022 NOW…SO WHY ARE WE USING IT?)
• THE DIFFICULTY: IF THE PAST WAS OPPRESSIVE, AND
100S OF DECISIONS AGREED WITH THE OPPRESSION,
HOW DO YOU PASS LEGISLATION TO BREAK
OVERRULINGS OF PRECEDENT USUALLY MATCH WITH
SHIFTING PUBLIC OPINIONS.
BUT PUBLIC OPINIONS ALSO CHANGE AS THE COURT
BUT…EVEN PUBLIC AND JUDICIAL CHANGE DOESN’T
IMMEDIATELY CHANGE BUILT-IN STRUCTURAL INJUSTICES.
NEW LAWS DON’T ALWAYS RESULT IN ACTUAL
• DE JURE: WHAT IS CODIFIED IN THE LAW
• DE FACTO: WHAT IS ACTUALLY ENACTED OUTSIDE OF THE COURTROOM
• EXAMPLE: BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION AND MODERN SCHOOL
EXAMPLE: SUBURBS, GHETTOS & US LEGAL HISTORY
• THE LAW IS CONSTITUTED AND RECONSTITUTED THROUGH RHETORIC
• FUNDAMENTAL TO LEGAL RHETORIC IS PRECEDENT
• PRECEDENT IS VERY GOOD AND VERY QUESTIONABLE AS A BASIS OF LEGAL
• IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND HOW PRECEDENT FUNCTIONS / DOESN’T
FUNCTION IN THE SERVICE OF THE FOLLOWING IDEOGRAPHS: JUSTICE,
FREEDOM, LIBERTY, EQUALITY
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