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Learning Goal: I’m working on a english writing question and need guidance to help me learn.
Writing Prompts and Activities
This chapter is meant to represent some of the rhetorical practices used in
Memphis, but by no means does this chapter present a comprehensive look at all
rhetorical traditions in the city and beyond. Take a moment to think of your own
heritage and cultural influences. Then identify one of those heritages, groups,
identity markers, or communities with which you identify, and research its rhetori-
Think of a simple argument you could make in a few paragraphs. It could be
something as simple as convincing a friend where you two should go eat, which
movie you should watch, why your favorite sports team is awesome, or why a new
song slaps hard. Now that you’ve come up with a short argument, write a few
paragraphs using at least one of the four rhetorical traditions we’ve discussed in
this chapter in order to make that argument.
We’ve used Troy Wiggins’s “Letter to My City” as one of the examples for how
these rhetorical tools can be used. However, Wiggins’s article provides many more
examples of testifying and narrative sequences, call and response, rhythm and ca-
dence, and signifying than we were able to mention in this article. Go through the
text and see just how many examples you can find. Which one of your classmates
can find the most uses of African American rhetorical traditions?
In small groups, choose one of the other readings from the textbook. Then see
if you can locate uses of any of the rhetorical traditions discussed in this chapter.
Craft a short presentation on that reading’s use of African American rhetorical tra-
ditions that you can share with the class.
In this chapter we’ve discussed four tools of African American rhetoric, however,
there are several more that we did not cover, including: reference to color-race-
ethnicity; use of proverbs, aphorisms, biblical verses; direct address-conversational
tone; cultural references; ethnolinguistic idioms; verbal inventiveness, unique
nomenclature; cultural values-community consciousness; field dependency; topic
association. Choose one of these practices and research its origins and use, and
write a short report on what you find.