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Powerful Paragraphs

Workshop for Fordham graduate students, 3/22/12

Anne Fernald

on 20 June 2013

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Transcript of Powerful Paragraphs

materials whose claims a writer accepts as fact, whether these “facts” are taken as general information or deployed as evidence to support the writer's own assertions
Good writers, like good curators and lawyers, know that rich exhibits may be subjected to multiple and perhaps even conflicting “readings.” They know they must do rhetorical work to establish their exhibits’ meanings and significance. (Bizup 75)
A method source can offer a set of key terms, lay out a particular procedure, or furnish a general model or perspective. (Bizup 76)
materials a writer offers for explication, analysis, or interpretation
materials whose claims a writer affirms, disputes, refines, or extends in some way
materials from which a writer derives a governing concept or a manner of working
Professional Examples




Powerful Paragraphs
Anne Fernald
Fordham University
22 March 2012
The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail.—Jhumpa Lahiri
1.Using Bizup’s categories, sort through the evidence in the paragraph: what is background, exhibit, argument, and method?
2.Where does the author’s perspective emerge?
3.How does the author connect sentence to sentence, concept to concept?
Look to generate two to three principles for how good paragraphs manage the range of sources that academic papers must manage.
“Put at the end of your sentence the newest, the most surprising, the most significant information: information that you want to stress—perhaps the information that you will expand on in your next sentence.” (Williams 48)
Conducting the Symphony
Share the principles & strategies you’ve derived
Hite, Molly, ‘Tonal Cues and Uncertain Values: Affect and Ethics in Mrs. Dalloway’, Narrative 18:3 :249-75, 2010.
Ngai, Sianne. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005.
Tate, Trudi, ‘Mrs Dalloway and the Armenian Question’, Textual Practice 8:3 (Winter 1994), 467-86.
“Put at the beginning of a sentence those ideas that you have already mentioned, referred to, or implied, or concepts that you can reasonably assume your reader is already familiar with, and will readily recognize.” (Williams 48)
Making Paragraphs Powerful
1. Read the following paragraphs from Fordham grad student paper proposals.
2. Evaluate according to the principles of source management, cohesion, and power we’ve been deriving here.
3. Revise for power.
What is the spider a metaphor for?
Louise Bourgeois, Maman
from Ngai: first panoramic sentence--the paragraph's keyterms are laid out first.
--from key conceptual ideas, to categories, to a methodological point about how these keyterms matter
--every transition does more than one thing/ method & background overlap; method overlaps w/her perspective
from Tate: don't overtag your argument; an elegant, judicious ability to give overview
--B/E/A all from a single text: it's possible to be analytically complex w/o multiple sources
opening with the exhibit, not laminated onto it
--b/c so strongly historicist, method isn't as important or apparent
Hite: opening with a question that serves as a claim
nimble in moving among B/E/A/M
theorist not mentioned, but Freudian keyterms pervade argument
this is where I start (most published readings...) ends w/where we are headed
generating intrigue by summarizing assumptions of others & why they may think that
cue words to signal her coming disagreement
moving her lense from broad to narrow, narrow to broad
Works Cited

Bizup, Joseph, “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing,” Rhetoric Review 27:1 (2008) 72-86.
Harris, Joseph, Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2007.
Hite, Molly (2010), ‘Tonal Cues and Uncertain Values: Affect and Ethics in Mrs. Dalloway’, Narrative 18:3 :249-75
Lahiri, Jhumpa. “My Life’s Sentences.” Opinionator Blog: The New York Times. March 17, 2012. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/
Ngai, Sianne. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005.
Tate, Trudi (1994), ‘Mrs Dalloway and the Armenian Question’, Textual Practice 8:3 (Winter), 467-86.
Williams, Joseph M. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990.
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