Powerful Photo Optics as French, German Leaders Laud Fallen WW 1 Soldiers


During ceremonies to laud fallen WW 1 soldiers before the celebraton of the 100th anniversary of the war’s end, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and French President Emmanuel Macron shared a personal moment.  The rhetorical imageFrench:German of the two dramatizes the difference between the hostility of 100 years ago and the frendship between the countries today.  Macron said, “Our Europe has been at peace for 73 years. There is no precedent for it, and it is at peace because we willed it and first and foremost, because Germany and France wanted it.”

Source: https://apnews.com/7794953c20994db6aa62dcc4a1260f92


A Typo May Distort the Meaning of the Declaration of Independence

140704091754-typo-in-declaration-of-independence-pereira-newday-00012220-horizontal-galleryProfessor Danielle Allen asserts that a typo in the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence distorts the document’s meaning because some more recent copies often take their text from the flawed printing.  In a new video filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival, Dr. Allen explains that the famous words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” should be followed by a dash, not a period and a dash. The dash links the words closely to the rest of the sentence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”  The text emphasizes the connection of the inalienable rights to the governments that protect them.  Thus, the inalienable rights do not stand alone.

Topics for discussion might include how typos can impact texts.  Students could find on the Internet other examples of famous typos and their consequences.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/574750/danielle-allen

Hundreds of Newspapers Defend Free Press, Trump Responds


The Boston Globe editorial board wrote,  “A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather “the enemy of the people.” And the Globe invited newspapers and magazines around the country to join them in reminding Americans of the value of a free press.  More than 350 responded.  The Denver Post announced, “We tell the truth: Denver Post decries Trump’s attacks on journalists.” The Hartford Courant asked, Reporters As “The Enemy”? Take A Closer Look And You Decide.”  The South Bend Tribune agreed: “Nothing fake about our mission.”  See links to all the responding editorials here.  In response, President Trump tweeted that the Globe is “in collusion with other papers on free press” and that many of the media are “pushing a political agenda.”


Read some of the newspaper editorials and decide for yourself whether or not the papers have made a compelling argument for a free press.







We Don’t Believe Fake News Because We’re Dumb

DumbHumans rely on cognitive shortcuts known as heuristics.  When you go to the grocery store, you don’t try every brand of yogurt.  You choose ones that look familiar, thus using what psychologists call the familiarity heuristic.  Relying on familiarity or another cognitive shortcut may work with grocery shopping but not with determining what is fake news on the Internet.  Time’s article, “How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News,” discusses a number of common techniques for analyzing Facebook feeds, for example, and why the techniques don’t work.  It also examines some of the research being done on ways to help Internet users to be skeptical of information in ways that might be more effective.

Source:  “How Your Brain Tricks You Into Believing Fake News.”

Social Basis for Right and Wrong

Bullying stock photo

Stock photo from the New York Times “The Interpreter Newsletter” 3 Aug. 2018

How do students decide what is bullying behavior?  Turns out that the answer to that question is less based on moral teachings and parental examples than we might want to believe.  According to recent research, students decide whether a certain behavior is bullying or not based partially on what they think “social referrents” (people they watched for cues) believe.  Moreover, Dr. Betsy Levy Paluck mapped out the social referrents and their followers in multiple schools and found that by shuffeling the networks, the incidence of bulling decreased 30%.  Dr. Paluck’s research on this topic won her The McArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly called a “genius award.”

Note:  Students in search of a research topic might take a look at the web pages for other McArthur Foundation grant recipients at https://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows.





New York Times Publishes Obituaries for “Overlooked” Women


Ida B. Wells, one of the nation’s most influential investigative reporters, in 1920. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

In recognition of the International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Times published obituaries of 15 women it had “overlooked” when they died.  Says the Times, “Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.”

These are among the 15 women highlighted today:

The Times even provides a form you can use to nominate for better-late-than-never obituaries for people from underrepresented minorities, including women.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/obituaries/overlooked.html

Why Does”Black Panther” Matter?


Chadwick Boseman, left, and Michael B. Jordan lead a mostly-black cast.

A flurry of articles celebrate the release of the Black Panther.   Why?  What are the rhetorical explanations for its appeal? Audience awareness?  Visual rhetoric?

Among the reasons the articles cite are the following.  Can your students add others and explain how they relate to rhetoric?

  • Black Panther radiates a “near subzero-temperature sense of cool…T’Challa is accessible, awe-inspiring and perhaps most importantly, human.”
  • Black Panther is poised to break Hollywood box office records, dispelling the notion that block-busters cannot come from black cultural roots.  To do this, it draws on a wide, multi-racial fan base.
  • Black Panther provides a lasting visual role model to children of color.

Resources: “A Different Kind of Superhero’: Why ‘Black Panther’ Will Mean So Much to So Many,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2018/02/09/its-going-to-change-hollywood-why-black-panther-will-mean-so-much-to-so-many/?utm_term=.57cfb059ee2c

“‘Black Panther’ Poised to Shatter a Hollywood Myth,”  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/business/media/black-panther-hollywood-diversity.html

“Black Superheroes Matter: Why a ‘Black Panther’ Movie Is Revolutionary,” “https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/black-superheroes-matter-why-black-panther-is-revolutionary-w509105