Rhetoric Triptych

Berlin's Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class

Here’s my drawing in response to James Berlin’s “Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Classroom” from a text (Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. 2nd Edition. Victor Villanueva, ed.) I’ve assigned in a graduate class I’m teaching on composition studies.  

Berlin sorts the ways writing is most often taught in college into three distinct categories so that teachers of rhetoric and writing can be more conscious of the philosophical underpinnings or “ideologies” that drive their approaches.

Ultimately, he argues for the social-epistemic approach because he believes it is the only method that can help students interrogate the dominant social, political, and economic biases tugging at them from all directions–that is, he argues that the social-epistemic writing classroom can better prepare students for ideological self-consciousness and cultural critique, and thus, a more just society.

“Social-epistemic rhetoric attempts to place the questions of ideology at the center of the teaching of writing.  It offers both a detailed analysis of dehumanizing social experience and a self-critical and overtly historicized alternative based on democratic practices in the economic, social, political, and cultural spheres” (735).