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328.3 Style x4 (30%, 300 points)

This project asks you to amplify rhetorical style by remaking a three-paragraph passage of non-fiction prose in four distinct ways. By recasting the passage four ways, you will shed light on stylistic qualities, particularly selected tropes addressed by Crowley and Hawhee in their chapter on style. That is, you will draw on Crowley and Hawhee as well as other texts we have read this semester as frameworks for identifying and intensifying stylistic qualities in the passage you choose. Your remakes should sharpen those stylistic qualities, thereby lending depth, perspective, and insight to a reader's experience of a passage's style.

The four remakes are 1) an adaptation of a Raymond Queneau exercise, 2) a syntax analysis, 3) a web comic, and 4) an imagetext triptych. Each remake should recast the passage you choose to work with. In other words, the remakes should key on the text's arguments (implicit or explicit), images, tropes, and other stylistic qualities. Tropes are the most important of these. You should be able to identify at least three tropes in the passage, and when explaining each remake, you must identify tropes by name. This means that you will almost certainly revisit the Crowley and Hawhee chapter in the process of developing this project (unless you are working from detailed notes). Also, you should choose your passage with a high degree of care, considerate from the outset of the ways your passage will be recreated. Passages rich in tropes, figures, images, and arguments are likely to translate into certain remake options more readily than others. We will look at examples in class and also discuss the selection process early in the unit.

Each remake will be accompanied by a brief comment (between 100-300 words) written to explain the specific stylistic qualities amplified by the remake. Collectively, the remake notes must explicitly identify at least three tropes from Crowley and Hawhee (onomatopoeia, antonomasia, metonomy, periphrasis, hyperbaton, hyperbole, synecdoche, catachresis, metaphor, and allegory). The trope should be identifiable in the original passage and discussed in terms of the kind of substitution you applied based on it. I recommend using boldface to make the names of tropes stand out in your explanations. The explanatory note accompanying each remake will also account for decisions you made in the process of creating the piece. Think of the comment as an artist's memo for the way it will help readers think about the remaking process, the stylistic qualities you sought to emphasize in the remake, and the context this work emerged from.

The four remake types are as follows (Note: Two examples from students are posted in EMU Online Doc Sharing; all of the examples linked below stem from this passage):

Assignment Details
Your project will consist, ultimately, of the original three-paragraph passage and four remakes, each with notes explaining how style is amplified in the work. The explanatory note for the passage and each remake should be between 100 and 300 words. The passage, Queneau adaptation, and syntax analysis will be submitted as texts; the web comic and imagetext triptych will be submitted as images (jpeg files). All work should be submitted in a single file, both when you turn in a draft and when you submit the finished project. Specific criteria and formatting details for each of the pieces will be explained more fully at each "example" link above. I will add to these explanations as we encounter problems and as you share questions.

Choosing a Passage
Selecting a strong passage will establish a foundation for everything that follows. You should begin the process of choosing a passage immediately. Remember that the passage must be non-fiction and that it must be three consecutive paragraphs (no more, no less). Because you will be required to justify your decision and also write about its genre and author, you should be mindful of these issues as you begin inquiring into options. Your three-paragraph passage must come from one of Longform's Top 10 Stories of 2011.

Drafts, In-progress Feedback and Deadlines
You must commit to a passage no later than Tuesday, March 13. You may seek feedback on any remake at any stage of the process simply by emailing it to me or stopping in during office hours. If you email, I will, in most cases, respond with suggestions and questions within two days. A full draft of your project is due on Thursday, March 29. Include a copy of the original passage in your draft. Submit your draft as a single document. You should be prepared to give your presentation on Tuesday, April 17. Completed projects are due on Friday, April 13.

Develop an unforgettable title for your project.

Submission Guidelines
The project you produce should be gathered into a single document, either a .doc file, or a simple web page you create Google Sites. The file will contain the following:

  1. Identifying information (name, date, course, and professor's name)
  2. Project title (unforgettable!)
  3. The original passage (full text, typed in full; proofread carefully)
  4. An explanatory note about your reasons for choosing the passage, including some discussion of genre and authorship (100-300 words)
  5. Remake #1 Syntax Analysis
  6. Remake #1 Explanatory note (100-300 words)
  7. Remake #2 Queneau-based Remake
  8. Remake #2 Explanatory note (100-300 words)
  9. Remake #3 Web Comic
  10. Remake #3 Explanatory note (100-300 words)
  11. Remake #4 Imagetext Triptych
  12. Remake #4 Explanatory note (100-300 words)

P3. Ignite Presentation (5%, 50 points)

Project Three builds toward a presentation you will deliver to the class. Your presentation will report on your transformations of the three-paragraph passage. It may include discussion of the passage itself, the stylistic qualities of the passage, the remakes, and the decisions you made as you recreated the passage four ways. Presentations will accompany a Powerpoint slideshow consisting of twenty slides each set to rotate automatically after 15 seconds. Individual slides may not include more than five words. Slides should include carefully selected, carefully sized images (i.e., these are visually intensive presentations, not text heavy slide-documents). As you present, you may use up to five index cards; however, you are strongly encouraged to present extemporaneously, working informally from memory rather than reading from a script. Watch a few Ignite presentations at the O'Reilly site or Ignite Ann Arbor. Upload your finished slidedeck to the EMU Online Dropbox no later Monday, April 16, at 11 a.m.

Evaluation Criteria

Altogether, Project Three is valued at 350 points (35% of your overall grade in the course). Three hundred points are assigned to the remakes, and 50 points are assigned to the presentation.

The remake portion of Project Three will be evaluated according to the following six criteria:

  1. Rhetorical effectiveness: The passage is thoughtfully chosen; it offers sufficient richness for engaging with qualities of style. The remakes convincingly establish linkages with the passage. The passage (as well as the genre it comes from) has been studied carefully, and the remakes were produced accordingly in such a way that is insightful.
  2. Technical precision: All remakes are technically precise. Each remake adheres to the conditions established for it (image dimensions, number of filters applied, typeface adjustments, application of Lanham's Paramedic Method and Tufte's short sentences classification).
  3. Development (the project is complete, fully developed; all aspects, including required length and an unforgettable title, are available)
  4. Amplification of style: Style is explicitly addressed in the note accompanying each remake. The relationship between style and the remake process is also explained, explicitly referring to three or more tropes introduced by Crowley and Hawhee.
  5. Visual effectiveness (look and design of each remake)
  6. Accuracy (concerning mistakes or errors)

The presentation will be evaluated according to the following three criteria:

  1. Delivery: (eye contact, engagement with audience, presence, command of material, timing)
  2. Slideshow: (auto-rotation, image-intensivity, technical precision)
  3. Explanation of process, remakes, and stylistic amplification: (compelling content, appropriate scope for five minutes, insight into style reflected in remakes)

Each criterion listed above will be evaluated on the following scale:


EX: Exceptional. The writer has applied the criterion with distinction.
AC: Acceptable/meets expectations. The writer has applied the criterion to a satisfactory degree.
NI: Needs improvement. The writer has minimally applied the criterion in the project.
NA: Not applied. The writer has not applied the criterion in the project.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of Composition
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2019 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"Neither The Elements of Style nor any other style book can be the definitive text on writing in every genre or media." —ENGL328 student, Fall 2009

"We concentrate on utility at the expense of joie de vivre. And we then wonder, as de Tocqueville prophesied we would, why life has lost its savor" (19). —Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-textbook

"Style, as we know it, is not 'mechanics' but, rather, a rhetorical canon inseparable from the contingencies of purpose, audience, form, and historical or social context in which a communicative act takes place" (327). —Cornelius Cosgrove, "What Our Graduates Write"

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