This article describes a single class session in Fall Semester 2020 with my undergraduate freshmen, featuring a “lab” discussion of a poem by Sun Yung Shin. The “dissection” of her poem proceeds by means of an application of classical rhetorical tools -- particularly the appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos -- the “lenses” by means of which a process of critical analysis takes place. The intention of my article is to demonstrate how productively students can apply such rhetorical tools when they have been carefully trained in their use for several weeks in a semester. To shift the metaphor slightly, the dissection becomes an exercise in reverse engineering, one that produces original insights, or “inventions” that can lead directly to improvements in student writing.

Author Biography

I have been a member of the regular faculty of Christopher Newport University’s English Department for over thirty years, during which time I have taught a wide range of courses in literature and language arts. I frequently teach freshman writing seminars that emphasize the development of enhanced critical thinking, reading, and communicating strategies and skills. My scholarly interests include the novels of Patrick O’Brian and the poetry of Percy Shelley, Wallace Stevens, and Henry Taylor.