Schedule: Week 1-5


CP = course pack

————— = Separation between Tuesday and Thursday classes. If there’s no line, read all the material for the Tuesday class.

Reading or Viewing in bold = Text to read or video to view — before class!

PFC = Print For Class, and bring the hard copy to class

WEEK 1: Rhetoric

There are no required readings for the first week. We’ll go over the course site (focusing on the Introduction and the first few weeks of the schedule), and take a look at a Coke ad, a trailer, a clip from a TV show, a lyric, and the opening credits of a movie.

Note that your participation will often take the form of group work, which comes in many forms. You might work in a small group or with your neighbour for a few minutes to generate ideas, after which you may or may not report to the class on what you’ve come up with. Or you might 1) discuss in-depth in groups of four or five, 2) draw and write on the board — developing an insightful thesis statement and using words, phrases, quotes, and images to support your argument, and 3) explain your work to other groups.

Optional viewing: a rhetorical analysis of a Proctor & Gamble ad, a Taylor Swift video, a Coke ad, a Budweiser ad, a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis video, and videos on How to Write Essays and Research Papers More Quickly, rhetorical analysis, strategies, 7 strategies, devices, and analysis.

Note that Douglas College has all sorts of help for writers. You might start with the Learning Centre’s tutorial help, grammar resources and handouts, and PDF on the academic essay. For citation and bibliographical information, see Purdue University’s OWL (Online Writing Lab). You could start at “Research and Citation Resources.” The University of Richmond has an extensive user-friendly site, which covers a wide range of topics, including writing in other disciplines. The University of Wisconsin also has an excellent handbook.

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Before next class, look closely at the following: 1. Outline 2. Essay Structure  3. Rhetoric and Rhetorical Analysis Samples. Also take a look at Atwood’s use of comparison in CP “Canadians: What Do They Want?” and at the sample essay “The Bristling North” (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples).


There are only two short readings required for class this week. This will give you time to work on your first essay and to read 1. Outline, 2. Essay Structure, and 3. Rhetoric and Rhetorical Analysis Samples.  

PFC - "A Wonderful Book" (Mark Twain). You’ll develop a statement explaining the structure of Twain’s text.

PFC - “Ships in the Desert” (a short essay by Al Gore). You’ll develop a scratch outline explaining the structure of Gore’s text.


In class we’ll examine Mad Men opening credits, a Simpson's parody, a split-screen comparative version, a sample essay on the opening credits (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples), and the final scene of Mad Men’s "The Phantom" (S5 E13), which contains the song "You Only Live Twice" (lyrics for the song are in Mad Men Notes). While our focus will be on rhetorical analysis, this class will also serve as an introduction to Mad Men, which you will write about in your second essay.

WEEK 3   

In class we’ll compare the rhetoric in two trailers for Men, Women, and Children - MWC 1 - MWC 2. We’ll also analyze rhetoric in the 10-minute Amritsar Massacre sequence in Gandhi, and then look at the sample rhetorical analysis essay in Gandhi. If time permits, we'll also practice rhetorical analysis on various clips.


“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (Carr, CP). Bring the hard-copy of the article to class. In class, you’ll work on a time line and scratch outline explaining Carr's use of time and metaphor. How does Carr connect his historical references to the present? How does he use metaphor to make his point? While our focus will be on rhetorical analysis, this class will also serve as an introduction to the topic of your third and final essay: the effect of the Internet.


As an introduction to the Gandhi clip, I’ll touch on the larger course theme of democratization. I’ll suggest that the notion of rhetorical structure can be seen in many things — even in the historical context of an English course. Chronological charts (or time lines) are particularly helpful at visualizing complex structures.

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Here's a chart that gets at some key moments in the history of human communication technology. What would you add to this chart? What did Carr include and what did he leave out? Why?

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“90% of Waking Hours Spent Staring at Glowing Rectangles” (from The Onion online)

PFC - "The Farthest Channel" (Italo Calvino). You’ll work in groups on a scratch outline that makes an argument about the way Calvino structures his text. This is a challenging text, with several layers that are relevant to this course.


"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (S1 E1), written by Matthew Weiner, directed by Alan Taylor. In groups, you’ll construct an argument about this episode based on its structure. You can come up with whatever argument you want, or you can come up with an argument on 1) the relation of the opening credits to the first episode, 2) the way space or setting determines or reflects the predicament of a character or the complexity of an issue, 3) feminism, 4) the way the director makes us aware of the historical situation in 1960, or 5) the way the frame (that is, the first and last couple of minutes) works in relation to the major themes or structures of the episode.

Your thesis should go something like, “Taylor suggests ___ by ___________ .” The trick here is to express the director’s aim in a brief way, so that you can focus in more detail on the way he uses a strategy or a combination of strategies. The goal is to fill the second blank with a strategy or a combination of strategies, a large number of which you can find in the 16 Categories in Rhetoric. I suggest watching the episode once for overall understanding, and then watching it again to understand its rhetoric.

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Essay # 1 (25%) is due at the start of class. — see “Essay Instructions” below. After you hand in your papers, I'll give an introduction to the evaluation section of the course. Because you have an essay due, there are no required readings for this class.


Reading & Viewing: “Defending Against the Indefensible” (Neil Postman, 1988 - in CP) and two clips from Mona Lisa Smile (2003): clip # 1 and clip # 2. How are Postman’s ideas helpful in understanding these clips, which deal with some of the issues women faced in 1953/4? In class, you’ll come up with an argument about how one of the following categories is used to explore, question or contextualize a point or an issue in the clips: 1. definition or definitions, 2. questions and/or questioning, 3. use and/or meaning of simple words, 4. metaphor, 5. reification (confusing words with things), 6. style and/or tone, 7. effects or distortions of media.

Note that this is roughly the time many of Mad Men’s women were adolescents and young adults. If you can find time, watch the whole film (it’s an easy watch and it’s on Netflix) and compare the societal pressures and life options faced by the two Betties (played by Kirsten Dunst in MLS and January Jones in MM) and the two Joans (Julia Stiles in MLS and Christina Hendricks in MM). How free are they to choose their futures?

In the first clip, the art instructor Katherine (Julia Roberts) has been criticized in the school paper by her student Betty (Kirsten Dunst), who argues that women should be educated for “the roles [they] were born to fill.” In the second clip, Katherine excitedly tells Joan (Julia Stiles) that she doesn’t have to choose between getting married and going to law school — or, as she puts it, she “could bake [her] cake and eat it too.”

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Essay Instructions

The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and no more than 650 words. Late essays will be docked 5% per day. Essays longer than 650 words will be marked down.

Write a rhetorical analysis on one of the choices below. For several of these, you can opt to compare trailers. This option is indicated by / (= and/or).” Check to make sure you’re watching the trailer (or opening credits) that is listed below; often there are different versions, and you want to be sure that the trailer you write on is the one I’m thinking of when I mark your paper. For this reason I’ve included the full address.

You must include a scratch outline (125-225 words) at the start of the paper. See the scratch outline samples on the opening credits of Mad Men (in Rhetorical Analysis Samples) and Lord of War (rhetoric sample).

Don’t use a cover page or folder. Simply put your full name in the top right hand corner of all pages (i.e. Roger Clark – 1) and staple the pages together. Provide word counts for both the outline and the essay (as in the Mad Men sample). 

/ = and/or on Netflix = N on Amazon Prime = AP

Aladdin (trailer)

Avengers: Infinity War (trailer 1—N)

          / (trailer 2—N)

Black-ish (trailer)

Call My Agent (trailer—N)

The Crown (season 1 trailer—N)

/ (season 2 trailer—N)

Dear White People (opening credits—N)

The Fellowship of the Ring (trailer—N)

Greenleaf (opening credits—N)

Knock Down the House (trailer—N)

The Lunchbox (trailer)

One Strange Rock (trailer—N)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1 trailer—AP)

/ (season 2 trailer—N)

Monkeys: The Monkey King 2 (trailer)

/ The New Legends of Monkey (trailer—N)

(some background on the story of the Monkey King)

Neerja (trailer)

Salt Fat Acid Heat (trailer—N)

The Night Manager (trailer—AP)

Persona (trailer—N)

Piku (trailer—N)

Roma (trailer—N)

Suburra (trailer—N)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (trailer)

Vice (trailer) -

The essay is short, so I suggest writing a very short introduction and don’t repeat yourself in your conclusion. If you end the body of your essay on a final or concluding note, you don’t need a conclusion. The sample essays on Mad Men and Moulin Rouge! both end this way.

You don’t need to provide a bibliography or cite the credits or trailers. You’re not required to use other sources (articles, books, etc.), yet if you do, cite them according to MLA or APA format. For bibliographical information and format, see Purdue University’s OWL site and “Research and Citation” (screen grab below).


Work hard on your scratch outline

The scratch outline is a requirement of this essay, yet it should also help you see the structure of your argument — especially how your thesis statement is connected to your topic sentences.

Make arguments, rather than summaries or observations

- Make arguments that are structured according to the standard academic essay format – that is, with a thesis statement and topic sentences. To do this well, you must understand what an outline is.

- Make arguments that aren’t summaries or observations.

- Make arguments that don't confuse summary with rhetoric, or rhetoric with evaluation.

Become familiar with the Purdue OWL website

This site will help you cite sources and create bibliographies — which will become increasingly important in this course. Remember: 1) you don't need to cite the Youtube video itself; 2) you don’t need to use outside sources for the first essay, but if you do use a source you must acknowledge it.

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Tuyo (Rodrigo Amarante, 2015) / Yours (trans. RYC)

Soy el fuego que arde tu piel / I'm the fire that burns your skin
Soy el agua que mata tu sed / I'm the water that kills your thirst
El castillo, la torre yo soy / Of the castle, the tower am I
La espada que guarda el caudal / The sword that guards the treasure

Tú, el aire que respiro yo / You, the air that I breathe
Y la luz de la luna en el mar / And the light of the moon in the sea
La garganta que ansío mojar / The throat that I yearn to moisten
Que temo ahogar de amor / That I fear to drown with love

Y cuáles deseos me vas a dar, oh / And which desires are you going to give me, oh
Dices tu, mi tesoro basta con mirarlo / You say, my treasure it's enough to look at it
Y tuyo será, y tuyo será / And it will be yours, and it will be yours