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PWR 1RB: Writing For and About Success

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Catalog Number: PWR 1RB

Instructor: Robert Bathrick

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Prerequisite: None

Course Feature: WR-1 requirement


We all want to succeed, yet the path to success is often not linear, with unexpected twists and turns. On top of this, we all have a different definition of what success is. So how can we discuss success if we don’t define it the same? For some success might be 10,000 followers on Tik-Tok, or getting a college degree, or earning a $250,000 salary, or simply being happy. To others, reaching goals, having inner peace, traveling the world by bicycle, or dropping out of “the rat race” might be deemed successful.

In this class we will be looking at the rhetoric surrounding success as a way to become more successful writers and researchers. We will read excerpts from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, where he argues that cultural perceptions of success are often inaccurate; we will watch TED talks that speak to success in a variety of ways, like business, school, and psychology; and we will look at journal articles from a variety of fields that touch on how success is viewed in those fields. And, of course, we will look at the flip side of success – failure – and how that is navigated in order to be resilient and learn from those experiences.

Some possible research topics you might explore in this class include: How are SAT and ACT scores reliable measures of student success at university? How do vaccine mandates reduce the spread of COVID-19? How effective are Instagram influencers at influencing their followers? How does a Buddhist culture influence a country’s happiness quotient? Ultimately, the topics you explore will be up to you – the sky is the limit!

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1200-1500 words; 3-4 pages) Choose from a series of media that I will provide to you, and evaluate the rhetoric an author chooses to use to convince their audience of their purpose. To do this, you will need to look at the author’s personal or cultural biases and see how they play a role in their argument; how they use the definition of success to their advantage; who the intended audience is, and how they use rhetoric to convince their audience of their goals.

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) Find an aspect of success where there are differing ideas and opinions and generate a research question that will guide you to explore those various aspects of success. Build your knowledge and explore concepts that you are curious about as you synthesize the materials to create a cogent conversation.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages) Use information gained from the previous assignment to guide your decision in selecting a topic within the concept of success to hone an argument about. How will you work to convince your audience of your position? What strategies can you employ to create a text that will have your audience take up your desired outcome?