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499: Rules of form

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David Moscowitz

on 19 January 2019

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Transcript of 499: Rules of form

What moves an audience?
What do these examples of ineffective communication have in common?
Why are effective writers seldom effective speakers? (And vice versa?)

...Why isn't
more transferable?

Group activity:
What are SOME similarities and differences between



The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Judith Butler, “Further Reflections on the Conversations of Our Time,” Diacritics (1997)
Speech outline:
Topic = Wolves
Thesis: Wolves are good.
Main Point 1: Wolves hunt.
Main Point 2: Wolves protect.
Main Point 3: Wolves are close to humans.
Conclusion: Don't kill wolves.
Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs investment firm:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
are these eloquent? why?
(are they "effective"? why?)
How do you ensure
a clear message
that conveys transitions between ideas, paragraphs, or sections?
How do you
emphasize an idea
to make it stand out in your writing, a speech, or interactions with others?
techniques and conventions
are important in one platform (e.g. a speech) that are not in others?
And how do
contexts, situations, and audiences
alter your response across different platforms?

When you answer these questions, you are making decisions about
how to convey and connect

to communicate
Many have offered "
" for "effective" communication.

1. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
C.S. LewIS' Rules

"The effort the writer does not put into writing, the reader has to put into reading" (Stephen Toulmin)
rules encourage
(That's a good thing.)
be specific; make sure your sentence DOESn't mean anything else.

choose the plain direct word to the long, vague one. (Don't "implement" promises; "keep" them.)

keep it real:
don't use abstract nouns when tangible ones will do. (Did "Mortality Rise"
Did "More people die"?)

show, don't tell:
Don't say it was "delightful"; make the reader say "delightful" after reading your description.

Don't overstate. (Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very")
As a medium, writing is a million times weaker than speech. It's a hieroglyph competing with a symphony.
~ Louis Menand
Be Efficient
Be unique
Be vivid
Be Convincing
DO the rules ALWAYS APPLY?
what compels a Reader?
(Why is the reader turning the page?)
"A speech is not an essay on its hind legs."
~ James Winans
Why did I put scarequotes around "rules" and "effective"?
...is this eloquence?


the need to be

...what does that mean?
Full transcript