The Greatest Generation

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Homework Help | 0 comments

Writing Project #1

Conduct a formal rhetorical analysis of “The Greatest Generation: The Great Depression and the American South” by Jeffrey DeRoven (the essay is below). Investigate the article’s use of rhetorical appeals, the presence of fallacies, and the rhetorical situation as they relate to the effectiveness of the document– from a rhetorical and argumentative perspective. Your final copy should be 5-6 pages in length; please, remember that this is a FORMAL paper! Adhere to MLA formatting (please review MLA in the Norton text or use Purdue OWL’s materials for familiarizing yourself with this format), use only the article (no additional sources, please!) on your “Works Cited” sheet, and do not use “I” in this paper! Instead of “I think…” or “I see…” use “One can see…,” “Readers might believe…,” or “Others might think….” 

You will read and annotate the article, fully understanding that it pretends to be a REPORT (a writing genre) but is also an ARGUMENT. In your 5-page paper (you can have four pages of writing and one “Works Cited” page, if you choose, or 5 pages of writing and one “Works Cited” page– and the only source on the “Works Cited” page is the DeRoven essay!), you will discuss the article’s thesis (main point), purpose, audience, and stance. You will also discuss why the writer chose to write a report rather than a flat-out argument or commentary. You will discuss DeRoven’s use of logos, pathos, and ethos; you will discuss the writing strategies used in the article (comparison-contrast, definition, narration, and whatever else you find); and you will point out DeRoven’s use of logical fallacies.  Finally, you will give your opinion on the argument. This will be tricky because, while it’s YOUR OPINION, it can’t sound like it came from you– this is a formal paper, so you can’t use “I” anywhere. You need to write stuff like, “While one can see…” and “A reader might not agree with this point because….”

In terms of MLA format, here it is, simplified: Your paper will be typed, double-spaced the entire way through, in 12- or 14-point Times Roman font (I prefer 14-point, even though it’s not officially MLA format, because I’m old and it’s easier for me to read!), and aligned left with 1-inch margins all the way around. You will indent/tab at the beginning of each new paragraph. The introductory paragraph will be about 100-200 words long; the body paragraphs will be between 200-250 words long. The conclusion will be about 100 words. You will directly quote from the article to support your own points; you will summarize portions of the article to support your own points. 

Please remember that it works THIS way for all Writing Projects: You write the paper, send it to be reviewed, make corrections to your paper based on your paper’s review, and finally submit the Writing Project and the review to me (you’ll get an email regarding your review from Smarthinking, the Writing Centers, or English Tutoring– simply forward that email to me for your 50 points).  In general, student writing is MUCH better, receiving HIGHER GRADES, after students have made corrections to their Writing Projects based upon the Smarthinking/Writing Center/Tutoring reviews.

Grading Rubric for WP #1

Total Points: 150

Content/Development (Logical flow of information, enough specifics, and details: -5 for each C/D error): 90 points

Sentence Structures (Grammar, punctuation, spelling: -1 for each SS error): 50 points

MLA Format (1-inch margins, double spacing, in-text citations: -1 for each error, -10 for missing “Works Cited” sheet): 10 points

WP#1 and its Review are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2023! Send it to Professor Fabrizi as an attachment to

HINT, HINT! If I were you, here’s how I would structure this paper.

 First Paragraph, Introduction, @100 words: Your introduction must contain the title of the essay in quotation marks and the author’s name. It must also contain a sentence or two, very briefly, on what the essay is about and what the essay’s point is. Finally, your last sentence or two must be your thesis statement. It will probably read something like this: While DeRoven’s essay appears to be a report, it is actually an argument for the idea that those Americans who survived The Great Depression of the 1930s should be considered America’s “greatest generation,” a claim supported (or not supported) by DeRoven’s use of logos, pathos, and ethos.

Feel free to use the above sentence, reword it, or rework it for your own thesis for WP #1.

 Paragraphs 2, 3, 4, etc.: Each paragraph needs a topic sentence, so the reader knows what it will be about. For me, Paragraph 2 would be a brief summary of the entire article; Paragraph 3 would focus on logos (logic, facts, statistics, data, and research used by DeRoven, and the rhetorical modes used by De Roven), Paragraph 4 would focus on ethos (DeRoven’s credibility/trustworthiness), and Paragraph 5 would focus on pathos (DeRoven’s emotional content/appeal, and his word choices that try to create specific emotions in the reader so that reader will agree with him). That would lead me to Paragraphs 6 and 7, a breakdown of DeRoven’s use of logical fallacies and how they either detract/undercut his own argument OR, if you are persuaded by DeRoven’s argument, how these fallacies are small and do not hurt DeRoven’s argument.

 Concluding Paragraph, @ 100 words: I would rework, but restate, my thesis statement, then as gracefully as possible get out of the paper.

Now, you have some vocabulary to look up:  thesis (main point), purpose, audience, stance, logos, ethos, pathos, and logical fallacies. In order to write your paper, you need to understand what those terms and ideas mean. Google will help here, as will the readings for Week 2 (look in Course Content)!

Once you have a DRAFT of your paper, as in ‘rough draft’, not perfect, you must submit the draft to Smarthinking, Tri-C’s online help for papers (this is available to you via Blackboard’s main page or through your MyTri-C Space– go look for it), OR you can have your work reviewed by a Tri-C’s Writing Center or by Tri-C’s English Tutors at Tutor Ocean. The Smarthinking review OR  Writing Center review is a SEPARATE GRADE from your WP! If you choose not to have your WP reviewed, then you will lose the 50 points from the Smarthinking/Tutor Form Grade (which totals 200 points by the end of the semester). Now, as we only have 900 points in this course, 50 points will hurt your grade; miss all the Smarthinking/Tutor Forms Grades and you would, most likely, fail the course.

All that said, here’s background and material on rhetorical modes, Greek thinking, and logical fallacies. You will need this background for your paper. Now, I could be wrong in my assumption, but if you took ENG 1010 (or a comparable course), you should’ve read about rhetorical patterns and rhetorical analyses. The rhetorical patterns are also called the rhetorical modes; they date back to ancient Greece, with Socrates and his method and all that. Skill in rhetoric/argument/writing/speaking was held as a most-high art form in ancient Greece; in fact, it was a commonly held belief that one who mastered those skills in debate and writing were also worthy of political office and power. Playwrights were often given seats on political councils and boards. Being skilled in rhetoric meant understanding the modes and using them well.

There are 9 rhetorical modes: Narration, Description, Exemplification, Process Analysis, Comparison-Contrast, Cause-Effect, Division-Classification, Definition, and Argumentation-Persuasion. Norton refers to most of them as “strategies,” but that is incorrect. These modes are most effective when used together, as in the writing genres/microgenres (types of writing) we are looking at this semester. In effect, these are formats for the information you present; for example, a paragraph using narration (a true story about you or someone else which you use to make a point) will contain conflict and resolution and a POINT, all presented in chronological order. Another type of paragraph in the same essay might use definition (the denotative meaning of a word as explored by the writer, or the writer’s own definition for a common term), and still another might use comparison (showing how 2 or more things are SIMILAR, which is different from contrast– showing how 2 or more things are DIFFERENT from each other). Used all together in an essay/article/profile/memoir/research paper, they can create a powerful piece of writing.

The ancient Greeks saw argument as everything, and everything could be seen as argument. For example, in our own lives, we “argue” things everyday: your favorite pizza topping, whose turn it is to take out the garbage, what shows are best, which streaming service is best, the best vacation you ever had— all of these things are persuasive in nature, if you think about it. If you tell me that the best vacation you ever had consisted of you sleeping in a hammock for one week straight on an island off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and you really TRIED not to do anything but sleep, I might look at you like you’re weird because, to me, that sounds BORING! However, if you begin explaining this vacation by telling the story of how you’re putting yourself through school while working 40 hours per week at one job and 25 hours per week at another, while at the same time raising 2 school-age kids as a single parent, and you got an opportunity to stay on a Michigan island for free for one week while your kids were at school— well, then, that changes things. Anyone could then understand why you would say that was the best vacation you ever had! It might not be anyone else’s dream vacation, but you have made it really clear why it was yours.

In Ancient Greece, argument was also seen as a three-legged stool, consisting of logos (using intellect, logic, facts, statistics, reasoning to convince), pathos (using emotions, word choices, beliefs, identity to convince), and ethos (using authority or expertise to convince). One had to be strong in all aspects in order to “win” an argument, convincing audience members of the correctness of his rhetoric and beliefs. The final determiner of the “winner” of a debate was the determination of what are known as logical fallacies. These are gaps in logic that sound true, that sound like they make sense, but in reality, don’t.

Here’s a list of some common logical fallacies. They have actual names, and you’ll need to use those names in WP #1:

Logical Fallacies

Ad Hominem: A personal attack on an opponent that draws attention away from real issues.

Appeal to Tradition: An argument that says something should or shouldn’t be done because it has ALWAYS or NEVER been done a certain way in the past.

Appeal to Authority: An argument based on “higher” authority or sources without giving specifics.

Bandwagon: An argument for “going along with the crowd.” It’s what I think of as teenage logic (and I can say that because my daughter is 17, and I deal with this actual gap in logic on a regular basis)–“Everyone is doing it, so I should be allowed to, too.”

Begging the Question:  A statement that assumes something is true, but it must be PROVEN to be true.

Circular Reasoning: The argument that uses a term and its meaning to simply prove each other (“Playing video games is bad because it’s bad for you”). It fails to have specifics to back it up.

Equivocation: The use of term with two different senses or meanings; the opponent assumes a meaning you aren’t aware of, but neglects to tell you.

False Analogy: The assumption that because two things are alike in some ways, they must be alike in all others as well.

False Authority: The assumption that, because one is an expert in one field, one must be an expert in others as well.

False Cause (Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc): The assumption that because one event follows another, the first is the cause of the second.

False Dilemma (Either/Or): The assertion that there are only TWO courses of action with regard to a problem, even though there may be (and usually ARE) many more choices available.

Guilt by Association: An unfair attempt to make someone responsible for the actions of another.

Hasty Generalization: A generalization based upon too little evidence. I think of this as old people logic (and I can say that because my parents are still alive and OLD, and they say this kind of stuff a lot–“All kids today are lazy (the generalization) because they have tattoos and pierced noses (the illogical).”

Irrelevant Conclusion: The logic of a statement leads to the wrong conclusion; a way of dodging the real issue at hand.

Non Sequitur: A statement in which the conclusion is illogical; the whole thing becomes nonsense.

Oversimplification: Any major or relevant considerations are left out about a particular issue, implying there is only a single cause or solution for a complex problem.

Red Herring: Dodging the real issue by replacing it with a lesser issue.

Slippery Slope: The assumption that if one thing occurs, no matter what that one thing is, it will be the first step in a downward spiral to anarchy.

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