This article describes an assignment that involves students in an exploration of the rhetorical practices common in Facebook, making use of rhetorical savvy that they have—but generally are not aware of—to teach the often-challenging skill of rhetorical analysis. The class discusses articles about Facebook use and redefines traditional Aristotelian rhetorical concepts in the context of the visually rich and collage-like texts that are Facebook profiles. Students take their cues from an anthropologist's analysis of identity representation on dorm doors to explore rhetorical practices of exaggeration also discernable in Facebook profiles. Students and teacher note features from Facebook pages that suggest tendencies to be popular versus being an individual or signs of addiction to the networking tool. This assignment that brings academic analysis to bear on non-academic literacy practices like the construction of Facebook profiles encourages students to reflect critically on daily activities that involve more complex rhetorical skills than they might otherwise notice. In addition to making students' often-tacit rhetorical knowledge explicit, breaking down the usual division between school and non-school rhetorics in this exploration of Facebook helps to educate teachers about their students' digital literacy practices.
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Jane Mathison Fife; Using Facebook to Teach Rhetorical Analysis. Pedagogy 1 October 2010; 10 (3): 555–562. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-2010-007
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