Rhetorical Context Analysis Assignment 2 - Coan

Lewis Lapham might be speaking for most of the authors we've read so far this semester when he writes (with a couple of editorial changes on your instructor's part), "...because not enough people can agree to common terms of discourse, whether to begin with A for Abortion or with C for Clone, whether to proceed with reference to the Bible or to the Kinsey Report, we avoid the arguments by classifying human [desire] as a consumer product--a commodity, like cereal or furniture polish, packaged under as many brands and in as many forms (powdered or freeze-dried) as can be crowded onto the shelves in the supermarkets...." That is, many living and recently-dead writers searching for a context in which to write about American or "Western" issues find our overarching identity to be or be linked to consumerism, the dollar our mark of worth. Whether these authors bemoan, approve of, or simply explore this definition of our context, they seem to accept it.

Whether or not you believe that our common value(s) can be outlined in economic terms, your assignment is to synthesize the styles, tones, and uses of evidence in three of the reserve articles we've read this semester, discussing their common or diverse approaches to writing in the context of consumerism. When authors accept a context, what notions do they share, consciously or unconsciously? What tones occur when each (or all) individual(s) discuss issues within that context? What styles are used to convey a point of view regarding that context? What kinds of evidence are acceptable, and why?

As you can see, you have at once not much (subject) and a lot of (approach) rein, here. It will be important to use MLA format for this paper in order to be clear about authorship. We will discuss possible approaches in class today.