Growing from Current-Traditional Rhetoric
How can there be such a thing as current-traditional rhetoric? Doesn’t “current” refer to something in the present, and doesn’t traditional refer to something that started in the past? How can something current also be traditional, and how can we move away from this oxymoron to something less complicated, such as something that can be called “current rhetoric”?
This oxymoron of current-traditional rhetoric is in fact the very wedge that causes friction within the writing classroom. College students in the first-year composition classroom and high school students in English classrooms learn how to write in a very simplified method that current-traditional rhetoric promotes. Plan, draft, edit, and publish final draft. Introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion – and maybe if we spunky we’ll add a counterargument. Nevertheless, this simplification – or oversimplification – ignores important rhetorical questions.
Who is the audience?
What is the purpose for writing?
What is the writer responding to?
What writing conventions does the writer need?
How is writing authority created?
Who is the writer?
I solve these elided questions by introducing an overview of six interventions writing instructors can do to emphasize the questions in writing rather than the process of writing.
Reframing rhetorical tradition and historicizing the developments of rhetorical history as scattered responses situated in unique sociohistorical situations can help teachers and students review rhetoric as responses to a situation rather than forming out of thin air.
Structuring the classroom as a forum can allow students to recognize the importance of their audience of peers, and always consider how their own writing conventions play in rhetoric in their community. Students would question their position to audiences rather than write to an imaginary, disembodied idea of authority.
Post Process theory highlights the critique of processes, and in this case, asks teachers to question the idea of the writing process. Rather than focusing on the oversimplified steps, writers focus on the questions that are part of effective rhetoric.
Translingualism in the classroom can question the ideas of how authority is created via rhetoric, and how writers must navigate their own rhetorical possibilities within a literary system. Additionally, it allows students to explore their own languages and critically apply them into rhetorical situations for possible new configurations.
Diverse source material from teachers can make the writing composition classroom more than about texts, but about questions of language. Teachers need to feel free drawing from video games, movies, music, and creative mediums to challenge student’s ideas of knowledge creation.
Encouraging students to explore diverse genres can bring questions of what the purpose of the writing is for, and allow students the agency to create new knowledges in creative ways.
Current-traditional rhetoric has its place and time in a “tradition”, but I have chosen to step away from this tradition and explore rhetorical invention. Teaching rhetoric needs to be about addressing the problems of today with the possibilities available today. It’s time that we move forward from our traditions towards new questions that ask why we had a tradition at all.