Hi, class! Today’s recording is going to cover a lot of ground. You may find it useful to watch this recording in chunks, especially if you haven’t yet read King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Hi, class! Today’s recording is going to cover a lot of ground. You may find it useful to watch this recording in chunks, especially if you haven’t yet read King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Here are the topics covered in today’s Zoom in order, with timestamps for each section:

 

Essay revision assignment #1: (0:00-16:18):

Please keep in mind, although the essay revisions assignments themselves don’t impact your grade under the traditional grading scheme, when you complete them, I do add points to the associated essay (the one you are revising). So please don’t take the Canvas notation to mean that the revision is not worth doing.

Aristotelian rhetoric: (16:18-27:10)

MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (27:10-41:29)

After the Zoom, I have a class discussion assignment for you to work on as well (below).

 

Instructions:

Please watch my Zoom lesson for today. This recording is 42 minutes long.

Once you have finished the recording, complete the discussion activity below.

Discussion:

Welcome to our class discussion of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” This is one of my all-time favorite texts to teach in English 1A, so I am especially sad that we can’t discuss this in person. We’ll make it work, however.

 

You may be wondering why I brought together a writing from a civil rights icon, a documentary on a sanitation workers’ strike, and a lesson on Aristotelian rhetoric. Wonder no more! While King’s letter is of tremendous social, cultural, and historical importance, it is also valuable as an example of effective argumentation. Remember, as the title of his letter suggests, King wrote his letter from inside a cell in Birmingham’s city jail. In the 1960s, there was no Google, no Internet, and no personal computers. Even ARPANET was still 6 years away! Wow!

 

So what we have in King’s letter is a wonderful example of raw rhetorical skill. In this context, “rhetorical” simply means “persuasive.” Consider King’s audience, his purpose, his immediate context (sitting in a jail cell for “parading without a permit”). He is writing in response to criticism that his activities in Birmingham are both poorly-timed and inappropriate (because King isn’t from Birmingham).

 

In his letter, King uses a number of highly effective rhetorical strategies. One that you may have noticed is repetition. You know from watching the documentary that King was primarily a public speaker, and that by training and upbringing, King was a preacher. Repetition can be powerful when delivering a speech, and we see the influence of King’s vocation on his writing style. King also uses logos, ethos, and pathos frequently and effectively throughout his letter. Keeping all of this in mind, complete the discussion activity below.

 

Discussion instructions:

Carefully read through the questions below, and then answer them by replying to this discussion topic. Your answers should be thoughtful and comprehensive. Because these questions and answers are fairly involved, I will not require you to also post responses to your peers; however, if someone says something that you’d like to discuss, please feel free to reply. You’ll make my day!

 

Remember, this discussion activity takes the place of classroom attendance, so this is a great way to ensure you satisfy the classroom attendance requirement of the grading contract.

 

Questions:

Find one example each of logos, ethos, and pathos from King’s letter. In your reply, for each quotation, paste the quotations from the letter, followed by an explanation of which rhetorical appeal your quotation represents.

Look at how King opens and closes his letter. Keeping in mind that King is responding to harsh criticism, why do you think King chooses to open/close his letter as he has done? Explain.

What do we learn about strong writing from reading King’s letter? What specific techniques can we borrow from King to make our own writing more effective in terms of rhetorical force? In this context, “rhetorical force” is a measurement of a text’s persuasiveness.

Whiteboard:

Feel free to check out the Zoom whiteboard from today’s lesson.

Hi, class! Today’s recording is going to cover a lot of ground. You may find it useful to watch this recording in chunks, especially if you haven’t yet read King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

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