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ERIC Number: ED422580
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Pages: 15
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Bradley's Nutation, 18th-Century Analytic Argument, and the Contemporary Technical Communication Classroom.
Moran, Michael G.
One of the more difficult elements to teach well in the introductory technical writing classroom is rhetorical form. Although textbooks have gotten much better than in the past at teaching this element, some still imply that structure is a matter of filling up a set form with content. One way to help students avoid this difficulty is to introduce them to historical examples of technical communication to demonstrate three principles about form: (1) form is conventional and has changed over the centuries; (2) earlier technical communicators connected form and thought in sophisticated ways; and (3) early writers used various formal strategies to communicate to a particular audience to achieve rhetorical goals. A good example of 18th-century scientific discourse to use in the contemporary classroom is a section from James Bradley's 1748 "A Letter to the Right Honourable George Early of Macclesfield concerning an apparent Motion observed in some of the fixed Stars," which provided the first evidence of nutation, or the wobbling of the earth on its axis due to the gravitational influences of the sun and the moon. Presented before the Royal Society, the paper contains a classic example of analytic arrangement, a method of organizing a discourse so that it at least appears to recreate the steps in the scientist's experimental problem-solving process. Because of the rhetorical power of analysis, contemporary students would benefit from studying its application in 18th century scientific discourse. (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A