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Essay rhetorical modes

In actuality, it is impossible to have pure narration, etc. However in a given discourse there will often be. They actually are grounded in certain philosophic concepts of the nature of reality considered as being or becoming.

exploring rhetorical modes 2 Essays

Prentice Hall, Problems With the Modes of Discourse "The modes are faulted for relying on faculty and associationist psychology. Faculty psychology assumes the mind is governed by the 'faculties' of understanding, imagination, passion, or will. Associationist psychology contends that we know the world through the grouping, or association, of ideas, which follows basic 'laws' and order. Thus early proponents of the modes of discourse assumed that one should choose a form of discourse according to the 'faculty' to be influenced and based on laws of association.

For example, Sharon Crowley faults the modes for focusing only on text and writer, ignoring the audience , and thus being 'arhetorical. Greenwood, Adams Sherman Hill on the "Kinds of Composition" "The four kinds of composition that seem to require separate treatment are: Description , which deals with persons or things; Narration , which deals with acts or events; Exposition , which deals with whatever admits of analysis or requires explanation; Argument , which deals with any material that may be used to convince the understanding or to affect the will.

The purpose of description is to bring before the mind of the reader persons or things as they appear to the writer. The purpose of narration is to tell a story. The purpose of exposition is to make the matter in hand more definite. The purpose of argument is to influence opinion or action, or both. Description readily runs into narration, and narration into description: a paragraph may be descriptive in form and narrative in purpose, or narrative in form and descriptive in purpose.


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To explore possible affinities separate databases were built for each of the terms denoting the most salient genres, viz. Table 3 summarises the findings with regard to the modes highlighted above. Genre Rhetorical mode No. Given the fact that verbs such as analyse, discuss, and explain usually presuppose argumentation, and given the emphasis on the skill of arguing a case in departmental manuals, it is a far more important mode than reflected by the concordances. In general, the findings should be interpreted with circumspection, because of the ambiguity of certain lexical items: Discuss, for instance, is used in three distinct senses: 1 'to consider a problem or an issue from more than one point of view in the light of some kind of frame or position'; 2 'to provide a detailed account of a particular sensory experience', and 3 'to provide an account of an event in the order that things happened or should happen.

With regard to the report genre, the term is mostly used in sense 1 , and occasionally in sense 3 , whereas the essay genre mostly activates sense 2. Conventions of the subject-field also play a role in this regard: In the Social Work corpus sense 1 dominates, whereas sense 2 dominates in Historical and Heritage Studies and Political Sciences. Describe is also ambiguous in terms of senses 2 and 3 above, which it shares with discuss. In other words, although certain generalisations can be made on the basis of frequency counts, it is important, in addition, to analyse data qualitatively in order to take note of the idiosyncratic conventions of different discourse communities.

Drury , uses the terms 'field-rich' and 'context-rich' for these two possibilities, which are generally referred to as 'discipline-specific' and 'generic'. Such courses should ideally be mapped on the syllabus of the subject-field in question, and close collaboration between writing teachers and academic lecturers is desirable. Although the majority of students and academic lecturers would cast their votes for field-rich courses, this option may may not be feasible at a large urban university with a sparsely staffed writing unit. The remaining option would be semi-generic courses for students of disciplinary clusters, such as the humanities and social sciences.


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The research conducted for this article indicated that variation is limited within this cluster, and the findings could be used in support of more generic courses on essay-writing and report-writing. However, designing a semi-generic course on, for example essay-writing, is easier said than done. Despite efforts to define the discourse structure of the academic essay compare for instance Hyland , numerous researchers have highlighted its amorphous nature and the difficulties associated with teaching this genre compare Hounsell ; Dudley-Evans ; Lillis Dudley-Evans , , for instance, regards the different sections or moves of an essay as mere 'strands of discourse' that 'recur discontinuously throughout a particular language event and, taken together, structure that event'.

Variation across disciplines only compounds the problem. Dudley-Evans , then expresses his preference for teaching the general characteristics of academic writing, such as the language of objectivity, instead of genre structure and lexicogrammatical features associated with particular genres.

On the other hand it could be argued that variability, lexical ambiguity and hidden rhetorical assumptions compare Hounsell , Dudley-Evans , and Lillis do not render a particular genre 'unteachable. Almost without exception they emphasise the importance of argumentation.

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What is often lacking is a systematic explanation of how the discourse structure of the essay and the relevant modes of writing support the purposes of the writer and the discourse community. Practice-oriented social sciences, such as Social Work, seem to favour informative reports. It has also been established that students are expected to master various modes of writing. In essay-writing argumentation for which the synonym exposition is often used in scholarly literature on writing is a critically important mode.

However, it is lexicalised in various ways. Instructional verbs such as argue, discuss, debate, explain, analyse and evaluate, and their nominalised forms, signal this mode, although slightly different configurations may be required. Less complex modes, such as description, cause and effect, comparison and contrast, exemplification and definition, are invoked to support the argumentative stance. Subject-specific courses will probably be preferred by students, and such courses may be more effective because of the more direct mapping between the content of the writing course on the one hand, and disciplinary purposes and learning outcomes on the other.

Although a focus on genres and rhetorical modes may remind of outdated language teaching methods, such as the current-traditional approach, the course designer does not need to revert back to transmission pedagogy. Genre and rhetorical mode may be used as focal points from a content point of view, while the pedagogical approach may be one of principled pragmatism compare Kumaravadivelu ; ; Weideman Such an approach should ideally build on the learner's prior academic experience, needs and target situation requirements, while concentrating more on cognitive processes than on the final product.

CHECK THESE SAMPLES OF Critical Reading and Rhetorical Modes

A generic view of academic discourse. In Academic discourse, ed. Flowerdew, 21— London: Pearson Education.

Biber, D. Variation across speech and language.

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rhetorical modes

Oxford: Oxford University Press. Braine, G. Writing in the natural sciences and engineering. In Academic writing in a second language. Essays on research and pedagogy, ed. Belcher and G. Braine, — Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Canseco, G. Writing requirements in graduate courses in business administration. Coffin, C. Curry, S. Goodman, A. Hewings, T. Lillis and J. Teaching academic writing: a toolkit for higher education.

London: Routledge. Cope, B. Kalantzis, eds.

Powers of literacy: a genre approach to teaching writing. London: Falmer Press. Drury, H.

Rhetorical modes

What kind of genres are they? In Academic writing in context, ed.

Hewings, — London: Continuum. Dudley-Evans, T. The teaching of the academic essay: Is a genre approach possible?