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ERIC Number: EJ879533
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
From Hitler to Hurricanes, Vietnam to Virginia Tech: Using Historical Nonfiction to Teach Rhetorical Context
Beckelhimer, Lisa
English Journal, v99 n4 p55-60 Mar 2010
Historical nonfiction is effective in teaching rhetoric for two main reasons. First, historical texts communicate through a real-world lens that students can understand and find familiar. Students study history and are exposed to current events through the news, school, and each other. Second, since history affects people's lives so broadly, its texts--both written and visual--take form in many genres. History is not confined to books but is available in texts ranging from online archives, websites, and blogs to documentaries, videos, photographs, and editorial cartoons, and from documents such as meeting minutes and government reports to personal writing such as diaries and memoirs and literary sources such as poetry and song lyrics. Reading all these genres helps students to think differently about what constitutes a "text." If students are to "read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world," then authentic, multigenre historical nonfiction provides an appropriate teaching resource for the language arts. Working historical nonfiction into an existing curriculum to teach rhetoric is not difficult. The author uses a rhetorical and comparative analysis essay to introduce students to rhetoric and textual analysis and she uses a research essay to teach students how to use the research process and synthesize texts. The research essay builds upon the skills learned in rhetorical analysis so that students progress in their analytical writing and critical thinking. In this article, the author explains how she introduces rhetoric and focuses the assignments, and she offers examples of student work that show how the assignments fulfill the goals of using authentic and multigenre texts.
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States; Vietnam