Teach to the Text Message Rhetorical Analysis

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In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the character Polonius states, “Brevity is the soul of wit” implying that being concise when communicating is the mark of intelligence (II. ii. 90). A similar theme is developed in an article written by Andy Selsberg, “Teaching to the Text Message.” Selsberg, as an English professor at John Jay College, uses many of his own experiences as a professor to argue that the new forms of media can be beneficial because students are forced to learn how to write concisely in their online interactions to be “more in-tune with…the world’s conversation” (Selsberg 102). The article was published in the opinion editorial section of the New York Times, giving the entire general public access. However, the narrow spectrum of people who tend to regularly read this newspaper are the true audience; this newspaper tends to attract the older generation, educated conservative class as many of the articles written in it pertain to such. As part of the older generation, a large portion of this audience may not see the opportunities presented by the new media which Selsberg points out. Selsberg uses several key rhetorical devices, such as the form of his article, allusions to philosophers, and referencing his work as a professor to show the advantages of the conciseness of new media to the older generation upper class. By paying close attention to the structure and content of his article, Selsberg reinforces his main idea to his audience. His basic idea throughout the article is that through the interactive nature of new media with blogs, commenting on products, and chat rooms, we are forced to adapt our writing style to share our ideas as concisely as possible without losing any clarity or meaning. This main idea, or content of the article, is reinforced as the structure reflects this content: the article is short – only a single page of typed text.

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