Author Archives: Todd Battistelli

About Todd Battistelli

Rhetorician and writing teacher. Keeping an eye on the state of civic discourse.

I can’t quit paper

As both student and teacher, I have used a lot of digital tools. During my graduate studies at the University of Texas, I worked at the Digital Writing and Research Lab. I’ve been responding to student writing in digital-only format … Continue reading

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Think of the Children, Avoid the Issue

People who run afoul of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause say the strangest things in defense of their violations. Instead of admitting their error, they try to rationalize it, often painting defenders of the Constitution as the real wrongdoers. I know … Continue reading

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Buyer Beware, Rhetor Beware

My mobile phone service provider Ting tweeted about an endorsement they received on reddit recently. Commericial rhetoric often serves as classroom fodder for analysis of manipulative persuasive techniques, but the reddit discussion demonstrates some different problems that arise in a context … Continue reading

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The Courage of Pseudonymous Conviction

Anonymous speech poses a challenge to defining responsible civic discourse. The New Rhetoric provides one model of responsibility in noting that “since rhetorical proof is never a completely necessary proof, … thinking [people] who give [their] adherence to the conclusions … Continue reading

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Begging Off The Question By Changing It

It seems at times that people will do anything they can to avoid engaging in an extended back-and-forth conversation. Obviously we all would like to frame our positions in the most favorable light, but when we go beyond framing to … Continue reading

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The Uses and Abuses of Dyslogistic Phrasing

Laura Sneddon at comicbookGRRRL offers a moving condemnation of DC Comics’ decision to hire Orson Scott Card to write a Superman story. I couldn’t agree more with her conclusion: When the greatest hero of all is written by someone like … Continue reading

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Lighting A Lamp And Cursing The Darkness

Religion Professor Stephen Prothero’s essay on the place of religion in politics exemplifies the muddled terminology that often accompanies state-church separation discussions that I consider in my research. Prothero’s argument also interests me for another reason. In advocating for the … Continue reading

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Visualizing Astroturf

Via Adam Lee’s Daylight Atheism, I came across Geoff Ó Laoidhléis interesting use of word frequency analysis to uncover evidence of an astroturfed anti-abortion group. The group Pro Life Atheists claims to represent atheists opposed to legal abortion. However, Laoidhléis’ analysis … Continue reading

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Terrorism is in the Eye of the Property Holder

Some members of the Texas legislature object to a curriculum program asks students to think about the Boston Tea Party as a terrorist act.  According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman by Ben Kamisar, “The lesson asked the teacher … Continue reading

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Stasis in the State of the State

Texas Governor Perry gave his State of the State address yesterday. Our local NPR affiliate KUT included a couple quotes in its report that caught my attention, highlighting the difficulty people have converging on the same question in political rhetoric. … Continue reading

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