In lieu of a timed final exam, this course requires you to turn in a final portfolio of your writing (25% of semester grade). The portfolio must include two revised Unit essays, and an opening statement that introduces your work and beliefs. A portfolio is an opportunity to cull your best material from the work you’ve generated. You have the chance to revisit, revise, and rewrite your best ideas; this might mean simply putting a few finishing touches on an essay that was already solid, or going back to redo a supporting argument within an essay that ultimately leads to an invigorated insight. While we emphasize process throughout the course, we also recognize that there are times in life when the product or performance is what is evaluated. To put it another way, ancient students of rhetoric practiced giving their speeches and prepared arguments just in case, in order to be ready for a moment of performance when they would have to get it just right. Your portfolio is your moment of performance.
Your portfolio should include:
– 2 Revised essays from Units 1-3
– Cover Statement
Each item should have its own Works Cited page, including the Cover Statement. A full MLA heading is only necessary on the first page. Title pages of the individual essays need only a heading containing your name, original due date, and Unit #. Portfolios will be accepted as early as Friday, 5/2, are due no later than the start of our exam period.
Composing Your Character
So rhetoric at its truest seeks to perfect men by showing them better versions of themselves, links in that chain extending up toward the ideal, which only the intellect can apprehend and only the soul have affection for. – Richard Weaver
On Day One, we discussed the driving questions of this course: What is rhetoric? What kind of power does it have? Can it be used for good or ill? Is it necessary to do good or ill? When does it work best? When we use our rhetoric or speech for good, is it only good for ourselves, or is it good for others as well? How do we know what is good for others? How can we discern goodness in others, in their character and speech? How might we display our own goodness through the way we portray our own ethos and the way we speak? Finally, if we were to agree that an ultimate good is love, then what do communicating and love have in common, or where might they intersect?
Across our three units, all of our essays explored these questions to some degree or another. Now you will need to select your two best works and introduce them with an opening statement that presents your work in a unified fashion. In other words, you must provide an introductory short essay that synthesizes your ideas about the topics we’ve covered in the course as they relate to your own character as a way to preface your revised longer essays. You might approach this by answering directly the questions above, but you could also think of this as a space to make a statement about language, society, what we value, and how the individual listens and communicates. One way to approach this is to reflect on your own thinking and writing process, and note parallels between your behavior in the composing process, your everyday actions, and your expectations of people living well within the world. A good opening statement will touch upon relevant sources—just as any strong essay would—and serve as a reflection on the course and a presentation of your own worldview. This opening statement should be between 500-800 words, in Times New Roman font with appropriate MLA formatting, with the exception that it should be single-spaced. It should be placed at the start of your portfolio as a preface to your two revised Unit essays.
To review the components of a good Cover Statement in bullet form, a good introductory essay will include:
1. An overview of some of our themes and how they relate to your own beliefs
2. An awareness of how your writing process helps you form and articulate these beliefs
3. A practical narrative of why you chose the two essays you did, how you went about composing them, and what shaped the beliefs you are aiming to express through them
4. Any insights you feel you’ve earned through our readings, discussions, and reflection