This essay explores the rhetoric of food and food packaging, showing how it reflects the concerns of the culture that produces it. This analysis comes in two parts, each suggested in the title.
First: discussion of the current emphasis on what isn’t in our foods—the “nothing”—in our modern culture of abundance. We worry less about the nutritive content of processed food and more about fashionable things to avoid. From non-GMO foods, to fat-free, low-cholesterol, gluten-free, soy-free labels (good visuals to include with essay), today’s food packaging/marketing pays more attention to what’s out of the food than what’s in it.
Second: discussion of how color is used in food labels. Consumers associate color with products to the point that colors can be trademarked just as text can be copyrighted. The color of packaging conveys information faster than words—think of sweetener packets, decaf coffee, or the red of Coca-Cola (each an obvious opportunity for visual support).
I argue that the language of our food packaging tells us much about the priorities of the culture that produces it and show how the discipline of rhetoric helps us read food as a cultural text.
When teaching argumentative essays, we often rely on ethos, logos, and pathos to provide the foundation of a “rhetorical triangle” that strengthens the author’s position. These three rhetorical tools work well in speeches and essays—long-form writing with a slow development period. But today’s idea exchanges happen on the scale of seconds, and our composing processes need to keep up. The timeliness of our messages are governed by another rhetorical device, kairos—the relevance of a text to the moment in which it exists.
“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
In this essay, I rhetorically analyze a single tweet from President Obama, posted on Sept. 16, 2015. His 26-word message acknowledges youthful ingenuity trapped by socialized fears, contrasts respect for science with intolerance of religious differences, and highlights inflexible policies against innocent invention—by being timely. By skillfully employing kairos, Obama reinforced the kind of change he advocated for in his 2008 campaign, giving it the impression of constancy. I illustrate how, from a rhetorical perspective, a text gains significance through its relation with time.
As online education grows in popularity, the literature on such courses has expanded as dramatically. However, discussion of online tools specifically for composition instruction has received far less attention than general course-management systems and online discussion forums. The composition process has changed with the advent of computer processing, yet composition research rarely focuses on the advantages of the digital composition process. That process could change again with recent developments in social systems and networked, cloud-based applications. This article highlights the way online composition platforms can meet the needs of writing courses. New tools can provide new opportunities for student collaboration, teacher involvement, and writing-process research. This article uses Sally J. McMillan’s model of Cyber-Interactivity and Robert R. Johnson’s model of User-Centered Design as frameworks in which to view collaborative writing, arguing that students in online composition courses need collaborative tools that allow a single document to be created by a student, edited by others, and commented on by all. The ill-fated Google Wave platform is evaluated through this perspective. Practical benefits of the platform and implications for writing instruction are included. Collaborative online composition, using systems with features like Google Wave, is presented as essential in modern composition courses.