Rhetoric of the Op-Ed Page
Reading selections for this module:
Edlund, John R. “Three Ways to Persuade.” Expository Reading and Writing Course: Semester One. Long Beach: CA State UP, 2008. 29-32. Edlund, John R. “Letters to the Editor in Response to ‘A Change of Heart About Animals.’” Expository Reading and Writing Course: Semester One. Long Beach: CA State UP, 2008. 36. Rifkin, Jeremy. “A Change of Heart About Animals.” Los Angeles Times 1 Sept. 2003: B15.
In this assignment sequence, you will learn how to use Aristotle’s concepts of ethos, logos, and pathos to analyze editorials and opinion pieces. You will read an opinion piece about scientific studies of animal behavior and learn how to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
Activity 1: Getting Ready to Read
This activity focuses on ways to persuade. Your teacher will give you an opportunity to define the term “persuade.” Then read “Three Ways to Persuade” by John R. Edlund. When you finish the article, engage in the option assigned by your teacher.
Option 1: Think of something you tried to persuade a parent, teacher, or friend to do or believe. It might have been to buy or pay for something, to change a due date or a grade, to change a rule or decision, to go somewhere, or some other issue. What kinds of arguments did you use? Did you use logic? Did you use evidence to support your request? Did you try to present your own character in a way that would make your case more believable? Did you try to engage the emotions of your audience? Write a short description of your efforts to persuade your audience in this case.
Option 2: In a small group, discuss the strategies your friends use when they are trying to borrow a car, go to a concert, buy new clothes, or achieve some other desired result. Pick a situation and write a short skit showing those persuasive strategies in action. Each skit should employ logical, emotional, and ethical persuasion. Rehearse and perform your skit for the class.
After you have completed the option assigned, discuss the following questions: 1. Do people use Aristotle’s concepts of ethos, logos, and pathos every day, without thinking about it? 2. Do these concepts apply to politics and advertising as well as person-to-person persuasion? 3. Are there other means of persuasion that Aristotle did not discuss? Activity 2: Surveying the Text
Look at the article “A Change of Heart About Animals” by Jeremy Rifkin. Think about the following questions: 1. Where and when was this article published?
2. Who wrote the article? Do you know anything about this writer? (Hint: Look at the end of the article.) How could you find out more? 3. What is the subtitle of the article? What does that tell you about what the article might say? 4. The article was published on the editorial page. What does that mean?
Activity 3: Making Predictions and Asking Questions
As you look at the text of “A Change of Heart About Animals,” answer and then discuss the following questions: 1. What does it mean to have “a change of heart”?
2. What are some common ideas or feelings people have about animals? 3. What kinds of things might cause someone to change his or her ideas or feelings about animals? 4. What are some groups of people who have strong feelings about how animals are treated? What do you know about them? What do they usually believe? 5. What is a vegetarian or a vegan? Do you know anyone who is a vegetarian? What does he or she think about eating animals? 6. What do you know about the author? Do you think he might be a vegetarian? 7. The first paragraph mentions breakthroughs in biotechnology and nanotechnology. Do you think this article is about those things? Why or why not? 8. This article appeared in a newspaper. What does that mean about the audience? Is this an article for scientists? 9. What do you think is the purpose of this article? Does the writer want readers to...
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