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Searching for an Audience?


“The creation of knowledge is a task beginning with self-persuasion...and ending with the persuasion of others” (Gross).  


  • p3 on its way (looking good)
  • p3 revisions will be due on the last week of classes Dec 6th (a week before your final package is due)
  • Response 13 

Proposal (p5):




For this assignment, you are to advocate that something should be done to address or alleviate a problem you are evaluating, or to advocate for action that will help forward or enact the proposal your evaluating.


When arguing something should be done, it must be argued that it is both:





Your evaluation should convince your audience that a situation is a problem (or in the case of a more positive evaluation that a plan/proposition/program/etc. is a GOOD IDEA or working well).


Your proposal will be the balance of the paper that you feel should be devoted to:

(1) showing the particular components of your proposal, especially focusing on: different components required for implementing a  plan (steps involved, the procedures in raising awareness, negotiating costs, and sustaining or enforcing a proposal).  For example, if you've evaluated the appointment of the Emergency Financial Manager in Detroit as a good/bad idea and your proposal is to support/resist this... what steps need to be taken? what kind of support needs to be generated and how? who specifically should be involved? what kind of funding will be required?  what actions have been taken elsewhere that make sense here? 


(2) advocating your plan or for persuading an audience to act on that problem requires motivating them (making it seem a worthy effort, giving them feasible steps, proving that it will work or make a difference). 



Discover or Create an Audience:  As you work out the rhetorical situation for this writing, pay particular attention to the audience for your proposal. You should be able to specify an actual audience and forumfor which you would present project 4/5 "eval-uosal".


You will need to consider carefully how differences in audience and forum will influence the specific kind of thesis and support you need to present (that's right you'll need a thesis for project 5 too, a thesis which may be combined with p4 as we revise after the break).



Change your Purpose:  Consider your evolving purpose.  You are shifting from the core goals of the evaluation (see 4 pillars Nov 17) to persuading a group to take action or to create grassroots support for an action that someone other than the audience would take. Your audience should be asked either to undertake the action proposed or to support the action proposed.



Start thinking through Rhetorical Tools:  As you develop your proposal argument, make effective use of all the strategies that we have been practicing in earlier papers, rhetorical analysis, ethos, pathos, the stasis questions (evaluation, definition, cause/consequence, resemblance,) exigence, dissoi logoi (raising counter arguments), synecdoche, eutripsmus, and of your your ethos as it is developed through effective 'interaction' with research.



Resemblance: You will almost certainly want to find out how similar policies are enacted in similar situations. You will certainly need to be aware of competing solutions.


Cause/Consequence:  Supporting the feasibility of your proposal may require investigating implementation, procedure, cost and enforcement.




In composing this argument, you may decide to use the conventional arrangement, presenting the problem first, demonstrating its nature and negative consequences, then moving to your proposed solution, demonstrating its nature and beneficial consequences, and finally dealing with matters of feasibility. However, all the options for arrangement that we have been practicing in earlier essays are available to you. Audience accommodation in all aspects of composing—in invention, arrangement, and style—is essential to an effective proposal.



How do we invent Proposal arguments?


Much like evaluations, proposals are created based on specific criteria and follow a basic structure:

"We should (not) do X, because of A, B, C"  


Proposals are typically supported by three pillars:

1. Convincing the audience that a problem exists (largely accomplished in p4)

2. Discovering and effectively presenting the particulars of your proposal (your key aspects to the solution)

3. Justifying why your proposal should be enacted (proving that your proposal is feasible and will have positive outcomes).



Other Stasis Arguments (beside evaluation and Definition) that often Appear in Proposals:

(remember Stasis, just means: common modes of proceeding in argument)


Proposals often make use of both Categorical and Resemblance arguments. Both work by putting the item (proposal/plan/organization etc) in question in relation to another item for which the audience already has strong feelings, or which they might find inspiring.


Proposals also almost always make use of Cause/Consequence arguments, as a rhetor needs to account for both the positive and negative consequences of a planned proposal.

For example: Consider for instance several claims that might be use to argue that WSU should abolish its fraternity and sorority system: (This is a "Priority Problem" proposal - it would not be hard to abolish the system - the hard part is convincing necessary stakeholders that it should be abolished):

  • Example from Categorical Arguments: "WSU should abolish fraternities and sororities because the Greek system is elitist."
  • Example from Resemblance: "WSU should abolish fraternities and sororities because other schools that have eliminated the Greek system have produced good results."
  • Example from Cause/Consequence: "WSU should abolish fraternities and sororities because eliminating the Greek system would improve our school's academic reputation."  

Invention Questions: 

You can start by considering how you will make your proposal:


    • action-oriented (a call to action)
    • focused on the future
    • a solution to the problem that 'connects with' or 'responds to' another solution already in process
    • a convincing argument that is feasible
    • has at least one aspect to it that is easily implemented
    • able to stand up to anticipated objections and reservations
    • better than alternative(s)
    •  Appealing to the interest and values of decision makers 
    • Working to overcoming any inherent conservatism (not in the political sense)


More Brainstorming Questions:

  • Analysis of the Audience
    • Who will benefit from the proposed work?
    • Who will review the proposal and either accept or reject it?
    • Are the groups who will benefit from the proposed work and who will accept or reject the proposal the same?
    • If the groups are different, what relationship do they have to each other?
  • Statement of the Objectives
    • What are the objectives of the proposal?  List the primary and secondary objectives
    • What specifically will result (consequences) if the work is done in the way it is proposed?
  • Review of the Literature and Previous Proposals
    • What previous work has been done in the area of the problem?
    • How does the problem fit into the larger context of work done in the area?
  • Facilities
    • What resources currently exist for getting the work done?
    • Specifically, what facilities are available to bring about the objectives?
  • Personnel
    • Who will do the work?
    • How are they qualified to do the work?
  • Budget and Schedule
    • How much will the work cost?
    • How long will it take?
  • Expected Results and Evaluation Plan
    • What results can be expected?
    • How will the results be evaluated or interpreted? In other words, what results will be recognizable immediately?  What results may take a while to see?
  • Maybe the problem is too big to be solved all at once. Try dividing into several parts. What solutions might solve these parts? (eutripsmus)
  • If a series of solutions is required, which should come first? Second? (eutripsmus)
  • What solution would ultimately solve the problem?
  • What might be a daring solution? What would be the most conservative solution, acceptable to nearly everyone in the community or group? 


Questions to Develop a Refutation Section for a Proposal Argument

  • Is there really a problem here that needs to be solved?
  • Will the proposed solution really solve this problem?
  • Can the problem be solved more simply without disturbing the status quo?
  • Is the proposed solution really practical? Does it stand a chance of actually being enacted?
  • What will be the unforeseen positive and negative consequences of the proposal? (Ramage & Bean, 1997, pp. 317-8)


Potential outlines for proposals:

Classic Proposal

  • Statement of the Objectives

  • (Review of Literature and Previous Work)

  • Methods for Doing the Work
  • Facilities: noting the resources available
  • Personnel: noting who will/should do the work
  • Budget and/or Schedule: outlining steps of action
  • Expected Results and Evaluation Plan 


Build around the Three Major Lines of Reasoning for Proposal Arguments

  • Arguing from Principle: A particular action should be taken because doing so is right according to some value, assumption, principle, or belief that you share with your audience.
  • Arguing from Consequence: A particular action should (not) be taken because doing so will lead to consequences that you and your audience believe are good (bad).
  • Arguing from Precedent or Analogy: A particular action should (not) be taken because doing so is similar to what was done in another case, which proved to be (un)successful. (Ramage & Bean, 1997, p. 394)

Generalized Patterns/Arrangements that can work for the whole project (evaluation...proposals)

Picture this:


  • Problem-Solving Pattern
    • Introduction
    • The problem/issue: identify and evaluate
    • The solution(s)
    • Answering possible objections, costs, drawbacks
    • Conclusion: implementation plan; call to action
  • Point-by-Point Pattern
    • Introduction
    • The overall evaluation of issue: identify problem/issue/item and demonstrate key aspects of it (think through synecdochy)
    • Focus on one chosen part of the problem, solution, evidence, answers to possible objections, feasibility
    • Second part of the problem, solution, evidence, answers to possible objections, feasibility
    • Third part of the problem, solution, evidence, answers to possible objections, feasibility
    • Conclusion: implementation plan; call to action
  • Alternative Pattern
    • Introduction
    • The problem: identify and demonstrate
    • Alternative solution 1; why it’s not satisfactory
    • Alternative solution 2; why it’s not satisfactory
    • Alternative solution 3; why it works best: evidence, objections, feasibility
    • Conclusion: implementation plan; call to action
  • Step-by-Step Pattern
    • Introduction
    • The problem: identify and demonstrate
    • Plan for implementing the solution or how solution has worked in the past:
    • Step one: reasons and evidence showing why this step is necessary and feasible
    • Step two: reasons and evidence showing why this step is necessary and feasible
    • Step three: reasons and evidence showing why this step is necessary and feasible
    • Conclusion: implementation plan; call to action (Reid, 1998, pp. 389-90)


Potential Ways to Organize a Proposal Argument

  • Plan 1
    • Presentation of a problem that needs solving:
      • Description of problem
      • Background, including previous attempts to solve problem
      • Argument that the problem is solvable (optional)
    • Presentation of writer’s proposal:
      • Succinct statement of the proposed solution serves as thesis statement
      • Explain specifics of proposed solution
    • Summary and rebuttal of opposing views (in practical proposals, this section is often a summary and rejection of alternative ways of solving the problem)
    • Justification persuading reader that proposal should be enacted:
      • Reason 1 presented and developed
      • Reason 2 presented and developed
      • Additional reasons presented and developed
    • Conclusion that exhorts audience to act
  • Plan 2
    • Presentation of issue, including background
    • Presentation of writer’s proposal
    • Justification:
      • Reason 1: Show that proposal addresses a serious problem.
      • Reason 2: Show that proposal will solve problem.
      • Reason 3: Give additional reasons for enacting proposal.
    • Summary and refutation of opposing views
    • Conclusion that exhorts audience to act. (Ramage, Bean, & Johnson, 2001, p. 322-3)



Proposals in the Public Sphere:


Finding an Audience:

Mapping Discourse Communities

and (New Concept) the Rhetorical Public Sphere


In Class Reading: 

"Rogue Cops and Health Care: What Do We Want from Public Writing?"  Susan Wells 



Eminent Public Domain: Seizing Discourse Communities and/or The Public Sphere


Finding Potential Audiences/Forums:



Option One: Create your Rhetorical Public Sphere


From Wikipedia's entry:

"Gerard Hauser proposed a different direction for the public sphere than previous models. He proposed that public spheres were formed around the dialogue surrounding issues, rather than the identity of the population that is engaging in the discourse. Emphasizing the rhetoricality of public spheres foregrounds their activity."


In order to communicate within the public sphere, "those who enter any given arena must share a reference world for their discourse to produce awareness for shared interests and public opinions about them".[34] This world consists of common meanings and cultural norms from which interaction can take place.[35]


The rhetorical public sphere has several primary features:

1. it is discourse-based, rather than class-based, institutionally based, or discipline based.
2. the critical norms are derived from actual discursive practices. Taking a universal reasonableness out of the picture, arguments are judged by how well they resonate with the population that is discussing the issue.
3. The audience is not 'EVERYONE' but more of an intermediate public (not just experts, but expertise is leveraged).  It is a conversation that goes on across a population as a whole, the public sphere is composed of beginners and intermediate dialogues that merge later on in the discussion (people are not 'totally new to the subject').


The rhetorical public sphere was characterized by five rhetorical norms from which it can be gauged and criticized. How well the public sphere adheres to these norms determine the effectiveness of the public sphere under the rhetorical model. Those norms are:

1. permeable boundaries: Although a public sphere may have a specific membership as with any social movement or deliberative assembly, people outside the group can participate in the discussion.
2. activity: Publics are active rather than passive. They do not just hear the issue and applaud, but rather they actively engage the issue and the publics surrounding the issue.
3. contextualized language: They require that participants adhere to the rhetorical norm of contextualized language to render their respective experiences intelligible to one another.
4. believable appearance: The public sphere must appear to be believable to each other and the outside public.
5. tolerance: In order to maintain a vibrant discourse, others opinions need to be allowed to enter within the arena.

In all this Hauser believes a public sphere is a "discursive space in which strangers discuss issues they perceive to be of consequence for them and their group. Its rhetorical exchanges are the bases for shared awareness of common issues, shared interests, tendencies of extent and strength of difference and agreement, and self-constitution as a public whose opinions bear on the organization of society."


Begin creating your own Rhetorical Public Sphere by Blog-rolling

You will be creating your own Blog for project 6 anyway.  So you might get two-birds stoned at once...

Create a blog-roll:  a series of links to at least 4 other blogs or sites that are dealing with your topic (at least three should be forums that accept feedback, or commentary in some form), where you can cross-post a link of your blog as a response or comment


For example:  If you create as Sports Blog (or team up to create one) you can blog-roll the South End's sports blog and post a link to your blog there in a comment box.

Option Two: Find a Specific Forum

If you think you can find a very suitable forum online, on paper, or in person, pick one space where you will (most likely) post your evalu-osal project either in whole, or in part.


If this is the case, do a more detailed audience analysis, and consider whether you need to devote part of your proposal to assessing the discourse community, before you try to connect with them.


Some options: 

Response 13


Is that Thunder?


Really Slow Food


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