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Office Of Assertion: An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay

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A frivolous argument or inflated claim is often dismissed with the reply, "That's just rhetoric!" But as Scott Crider explains in The Office of Assertion, the classical tradition of rhetoric is both a productive and a liberal art. The ability to employ rhetoric successfully can enable the student, as an effective communicator, to reflect qualities of soul through argument. A frivolous argument or inflated claim is often dismissed with the reply, "That's just rhetoric!" But as Scott Crider explains in The Office of Assertion, the classical tradition of rhetoric is both a productive and a liberal art. The ability to employ rhetoric successfully can enable the student, as an effective communicator, to reflect qualities of soul through argument. In that sense, rhetoric is much more than a technical skill. Crider addresses the intelligent university student with respect and humor. This short but serious book is informed by both the ancient rhetorical tradition and recent discoveries concerning the writing process. Though practical, it is not simply a "how-to" manual; though philosophical, it never loses sight of writing itself. Crider combines practical guidance about how to improve an academic essay with reflection on the final purposes—educational, political, and philosophical—of such improvement.


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A frivolous argument or inflated claim is often dismissed with the reply, "That's just rhetoric!" But as Scott Crider explains in The Office of Assertion, the classical tradition of rhetoric is both a productive and a liberal art. The ability to employ rhetoric successfully can enable the student, as an effective communicator, to reflect qualities of soul through argument. A frivolous argument or inflated claim is often dismissed with the reply, "That's just rhetoric!" But as Scott Crider explains in The Office of Assertion, the classical tradition of rhetoric is both a productive and a liberal art. The ability to employ rhetoric successfully can enable the student, as an effective communicator, to reflect qualities of soul through argument. In that sense, rhetoric is much more than a technical skill. Crider addresses the intelligent university student with respect and humor. This short but serious book is informed by both the ancient rhetorical tradition and recent discoveries concerning the writing process. Though practical, it is not simply a "how-to" manual; though philosophical, it never loses sight of writing itself. Crider combines practical guidance about how to improve an academic essay with reflection on the final purposes—educational, political, and philosophical—of such improvement.

30 review for Office Of Assertion: An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Armstrong

    I’m reading this book for the Circe teaching apprenticeship. I think it deserves 5 stars for its general organization/clarity and its message. I gave it 4 because I would have loved to cut the organization and style chapters in half and say, “Read incessantly and then all of this will come intuitively!” But I know that’s not really reasonable. Still, those chapters were a slog for me at times. I’m hoping as we continue to study the book together, my appreciation for those chapters will grow.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt Moser

    A gem of a book. Crider offers an insightful, clear, and practical guide to writing well. But this book is so much more than a guide to writing. It is an apologia for rhetoric as both a skill and a way of being. Crider understands that education is about the formation of the mind, imagination, and affections and he situates writing within that grand educational vision. A remarkable and useful and easy read. A favorite quote: "An education for economic productivity and political utility alone is A gem of a book. Crider offers an insightful, clear, and practical guide to writing well. But this book is so much more than a guide to writing. It is an apologia for rhetoric as both a skill and a way of being. Crider understands that education is about the formation of the mind, imagination, and affections and he situates writing within that grand educational vision. A remarkable and useful and easy read. A favorite quote: "An education for economic productivity and political utility alone is an education for slaves, but an education for finding, collecting, and communicating reality is an education for free people, people free to know what is so. Remember, knowing the real is a good before it is a power" (123).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jill Courser

    Even better the second time around after spending a year with the Lost Tools of Writing!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    This is a pretty specialized examination of rhetoric (in the context of an academic essay), so there are several aspects of this that won't be applicable for rhetoric in general. With regards to its specific focus of academic essays, I found it a bit of a mixed bag. The chapter on organization was quite good, but certain chapters like the chapter on invention and the chapter on style didn't seem well-suited to written form. They seemed like they would have been more effective as a lecture in cla This is a pretty specialized examination of rhetoric (in the context of an academic essay), so there are several aspects of this that won't be applicable for rhetoric in general. With regards to its specific focus of academic essays, I found it a bit of a mixed bag. The chapter on organization was quite good, but certain chapters like the chapter on invention and the chapter on style didn't seem well-suited to written form. They seemed like they would have been more effective as a lecture in class accompanied by illustrations and visuals than by the written page. I also wished that Crider had followed more of his own advice on style; despite arguing for a "medium" style for academic writing, this was pitched at a higher style than felt appropriate. Perhaps part of the issue lies in his narrow focus on academic writing. While certain styles are suited for academic writing, a short book aimed at teaching students rhetoric should not be written in the same style as something academic. A large part of rhetoric is knowing one's audience, and I don't see the style of this work as being great for high school audiences (not his target audience, but the audience that I teach) or the college freshmen (I fell in that camp not so long ago). Crider has some good advice, and for someone unfamiliar with the classical model of argumentation, this could be a decent introduction, but while there were a couple good insights, I didn't feel like he was always an effective written communicator here. Rating: 2.5 Stars (Okay).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisajean

    I agree with most of what Crider has to say about writing, although his style is off-putting in its careful formality bordering on pompousness. This book could be helpful for a student to read and reflect on their writing; as a teacher, there was little that I could implement in the classroom.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Highly recommended by Phil Donnelly. Now I can see why. I used this in ENG 1304 (research paper) beginning in the Fall 2015 semester, but this text is even better for those writing essays on literature (because of the book's own emphasis on literature). In October 2017, I heard from a UD grad that Crider is a Buddhist. I totally had assumed that the author was a Christian.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kiersten

    In Crider's own words, "This is fine prose, but its diction and syntax are more elevated than contemporary taste would appreciate." I found other books to be more friendly for laymen looking for information about the art of rhetoric. If you're an English teacher, this book serves as a good review. I really enjoyed the chapter about style. Again, it throws a lot of grammar at you at once, so you should have more than a tenuous grip on grammar, but I got some juicy tidbits about conjunctive adverb In Crider's own words, "This is fine prose, but its diction and syntax are more elevated than contemporary taste would appreciate." I found other books to be more friendly for laymen looking for information about the art of rhetoric. If you're an English teacher, this book serves as a good review. I really enjoyed the chapter about style. Again, it throws a lot of grammar at you at once, so you should have more than a tenuous grip on grammar, but I got some juicy tidbits about conjunctive adverbs and such.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    My professor assigned this as the textbook for our introductory composition course. Very beautiful, stirring presentation of the fundamentals of good writing as good thinking, draws heavily from Plato and Aristotle.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan1243

    Clearest book on rhetorical writing, both for my own understanding and for my students, who will soon read it, with me, in class. Simple and direct. I only know about it because I’m taking the Atrium course at CiRCE. Highly recommend if you are a teacher or a rhetorician.

  10. 5 out of 5

    BookishBrunette

    Great book! Mr. Crider is a great writer. He makes the art of rhetoric look beautiful in the eyes of the reader. Fantastic! A must read for all high schoolers and writers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan Yingst

    Truly excellent and clear, wish I had come upon it years ago.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tulip

    Great reference to improving essay arguments. Covers organization, style, and how to revise your essay. I would recommend buying this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Fitzroy

    Pithy, concise, exemplary.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josue Manriquez

    Many books have been written on the topic of writing. Still more have been written on the topic of rhetoric. I've read a handful of each, and I can confidently say that this book is one of the better ones I've read. The strengths of this book are many. I'll list only a few: 1. It is clear, concise, and precise 2. It is neither superfluous nor pedantic (if you don't know what those words mean, you'll have no trouble reading this book!) 3. It is a great example of the author's own instructions I could Many books have been written on the topic of writing. Still more have been written on the topic of rhetoric. I've read a handful of each, and I can confidently say that this book is one of the better ones I've read. The strengths of this book are many. I'll list only a few: 1. It is clear, concise, and precise 2. It is neither superfluous nor pedantic (if you don't know what those words mean, you'll have no trouble reading this book!) 3. It is a great example of the author's own instructions I could go on. To conclude: This is the perfect book to read if you're looking for a brief but serious rhetoric. It abounds with very helpful—and much needed—instruction for refining one's academic essay from start to finish. Although it was written primarily for undergraduate students, even graduates can profit from this book. So if you're soon to enter college, read this book! If you're going on to graduate school and want to refine your writing skills, read this book! If you just like reading and you want to read a fine example of the office of assertion, read this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    H.

    If there were to be only one book read on writing essays, this is that book. I can't say enough good about _The Office of Assertion_. It distills clearly and concisely the big ideas of rhetoric without simplifying. I especially liked how Crider always connects his discussion back to the cosmic, reminding the reader of his potential for soul leading and the responsibilities that come with the job.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Titus

    If you love writing academic essays and if you love the classics or America's founding documents, you'll love this resurrection of rhetoric as a liberal art. I found his understanding of rhetoric as "soul-leading" to be very remarkable. Also, it's a good reference for other resources in this area of study.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brent Pinkall

    A fluff-free crash courses in academic writing, straight and to the point -- perhaps a bit too straight and too pointed. I would have liked to see him elaborate a bit more on a few points and give a few more examples (many times he gives no examples); nevertheless, this is a very helpful resource for any academic writer.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey (janethebookworm)

    Very helpful for writing my persuasive essays for my college British Lit. course.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    GREAT book on, yes, the essay, but really, I found it to be quite helpful in communication in general. Who doesn't need help in forming their thoughts with greater focus and presenting them more clearly and with greater style and flow?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tam Nguyen

    Great book for college writing

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Petree

    This was an amazing book, a short read, and provided stimulating and fascinating commentary about how to truly write well, and about what rhetoric really means. In short, I completely loved it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ewan

    An excellent, concise reference for essay-writing. Highly recommended! It fits very well with the Lost Tools of Writing curriculum.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Dr. Crider is the best! I can't wait to read this. I think he wrote this while I was still his student.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    excellent

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Goodman

    Great resource for writing and especially thinking clearly. this will help bloggers the world over and parents of teens trying to write well in high school and college. Short and easy to read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  27. 5 out of 5

    Toni Payne

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erick

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

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