Cover Letter

Dear Dr. Edlund and Dr. Kraemer,

Thank you for the opportunity to pilot the portfolio option as the culminating experience of the Rhetoric and Composition master’s program. The process of compiling my portfolio has been an affirming one, in that I’ve gathered evidence that demonstrates that I have indeed made significant academic strides. I’d like to use this letter to direct your attention to specific areas in my portfolio that demonstrate my mastery of the five program outcomes. I have limited my observations to the one or two papers that demonstrate these outcomes most clearly, but I hope that you will find evidence of these qualities in each of my papers.

Knowledge of the Field: 

The paper (along with the introduction) that I wrote for History of Rhetoric, Invention—Social or Individual?: A Practical and Theoretical Investigation,” demonstrates knowledge of such classical rhetors as Quintilian, Isocrates, Plato, and Aristotle (1, 10-11), and modern theorists Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca (introduction), Berlin (9), Elbow (12-13), Bartholomae (12-13), and Lacan/Alcorn (introduction). It also investigates pedagogical concepts of invention (8-12) and freewriting (12-13), and shows familiarity with terms such as expressivism (introduction), current-traditional rhetoric (introduction), the canons of rhetoric (2, 9-10), and classical invention strategies (e.g. dissoi logoi, stasis, kairos) (1).

Application of Theory:

The rhetorical analysis that I wrote for this portfolio, “Agency and Audience: An Analysis of Contrasting Rhetoric,” most succinctly and directly demonstrates my ability to apply rhetorical methodologies, principles, and research. In this analysis I use the Sophistic concepts of mythos, logos, and nomos, classical stylistic analysis, Burkean pentadic analysis, and Perelman and Olbrecht-Tyteca’s concepts of value, presence, audience, and adherence to examine the two articles.

Development of Ideas:

Although I have already mentioned my History of Rhetoric paper, I think that my handling in it of the question “Why are our contemporary ideas of invention so different from ancient ideas?” synthesized ideas into a coherent explanation (8-12).

Academic Style:

I would suggest that my two most purely analytic papers, Metaphor and Meaning in Obama’s Race to the Top Speech and my rhetorical analysis “Agency and Audience: An Analysis of Contrasting Rhetoric” best demonstrate my academic writing style.

Pedagogical Insight:

In the paper I wrote for Teaching Freshman Composition, “Visual Rhetoric in First-Year Composition: Looking Forward to Writing in the Disciplines,” I explain the importance and theoretical background of teaching visual rhetoric (7-10) and demonstrate how teachers could incorporate visual rhetoric in the FYC classroom (11 ff.), including examples of what should be taught (13-14), lessons (11-14), resources (12-14), and misconceptions (15-17).

My paper for Composition Theory, Teaching for Transfer,” could readily be presented to fellow teachers as an introduction to the principles of teaching for transfer in the college classroom (pp. 7-11), and my TESL paper, How Teachers’ Choice of the Third Move Affects Learning,” is replete with questions that would be beneficial for teachers to consider as they reflect on their pedagogical practice.

Research:

Two of my papers have a significant empirical research focus: Visual Rhetoric in First-Year Composition: Looking Forward to Writing in the Disciplines,” in which I developed research questions, conducted a pilot study, and made recommendations based on my findings; and Invention—Social or Individual?: A Practical and Theoretical Investigation,” in which I investigated what effect teaching classical invention strategies had on the argumentative essays written by students in my ENG 104 class.

I hope that my portfolio serves as an encouragement to you that all the time and energy that you devote to your students truly does pay off. Thank you for that investment.

Sincerely,

Terry Steagall

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