Introduction

Module Seven: Thinking Critically about Research and Rhetoric

Module Introduction

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.

~ Sydney J. Harris

Research composition, like many other worthwhile learning opportunities, can provide us with valuable glimpses into subjects, people, and ideas that have the power to change our belief systems and, in some cases, alter how we live. Exploring a research topic provides us with new streams of knowledge. It broadens our worldview, sharpens our intellectual capabilities, and helps us grow both personally and intellectually.

The study of rhetoric provides us with a set of useful reasoning skills for making sense of the world, resolving conflicts, and thinking about the nature of our lives and our relationships. Important rhetorical discussions happen all around us at all times, shaping the cultures that we participate in and defining our daily lived experiences. Rhetoric is the persuasive tool with the potential to sway the balance of such important collective subjects as securing fundamental human rights, sustaining environmental stewardship, and cultivating a harmonious world for future generations.

Taken together, research composition and rhetoric offer viable conduits toward addressing this module’s epigraph, which is a quote on the meditative nature of education by American journalist Sydney J. Harris. Harris is saying that education can productively channel us into more reflective modes of thinking as we immerse ourselves in new concepts and theories. Education can compel us to examine ourselves and our communities and think more broadly about our own experiences and what the future may hold.

In this learning module, we are going to explore modern rhetoric from the perspective of its scope and reach in daily life, the importance of context in the communication act, and the ways that it can impact our societies and cultures. We will also take some time to learn more about reflective writing before composing an essay that ties these concepts together.

Before participating in the third class-wide discussion, take your time in applying your critical reading skills to the following essay by rhetorician Laura Bolin Carroll. Developing a clear understanding of the lessons and theories in the subsequent sections of this module will help you thoughtfully respond to the questions in our discussion. (1)

Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss the importance of identifying and understanding context in the rhetorical situation.
  • Reflect on what was learned in the process of writing their research arguments. (1)

Readings

  • Online Learning Unit