Judgment, Introductions, and Audiences

We’re on lunch break and the five journeymen are outside sitting at a picnic table in the moist warmth of a Houston January day with the sound of the Wrobleske’s pool in the background and the sun joining them for a quiet meal.

We’ve just completed a pretty intense couple hours discussing how to teach paragraph development and introductions in level 2. The challenge in the first case arises from the need for second year students to exercise a great deal more judment than they were required to exercise in level I of LTW. That makes it harder for the teacher because, while it is pretty easy to know whether a person can duplicate a process, it’s much harder to assess how much judgment they are capable of exercising and how much they have exercised. So we’ve identified some principles of a good paragraph and some ways to make sure the students can think about them.

The introduction (exordium) challenge arises from the need to take your argument (the part level I focuses on most) and relate it effectively to the audience and the circumstances (which level II attends to much more closely). The Ad Herennium gives a series of questions you can ask to develop your introduction, but they’re very concise and not altogether consistent, so that led to some heated discussions around the planning table. Years ago I developed some exercise templates based on my best understanding of the Ad Herennium, but I couldn’t find them this morning so I hope they are in my old computer or at least that I have hard copies in my office.

Now I need to take a moment to review Aristotle on Rhetoric to see what he has to say about the introduction. You’ll see the fruit of our labour in Level II of The Lost Tools of Writing.

See you soon

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