Course Information


  • Number: ENGL 355
  • Title: Rhetoric of Style
  • Term: Fall 2019


  • Name: Andrew Pilsch
  • Contact:
  • Office Hours & Locations:
    • T & Th, 9:30-11 LAAH 417

Course Description

Fosters an appreciation for and better understanding of English prose style; the history of English prose; representative prose models for analysis and imitation; the impact of computer analysis.


Assignment Values

Assignment Due Date Value
Attendance Ongoing 10%
Imitation Analysis Notebook Twice 25%
Take-home Exam 11/21 20%
Analysis Paper 1 10/03 15%
Analysis Paper 2 12/10 30%

Assignment Descriptions

These are intended as overviews of the general goals of each assignment. Longer hand-outs will be provided along with discussion of the assignments during class.

Imitation / Analysis Notebook

Throughout the course, you will be asked to produce short imitation and short analyses of the readings we do for class. Twice in the semester, the notebooks will be collected and graded.


For the imitation, you may write about whatever subject matter you choose, though you are required (and will be evaluated on ability to) write imitating the style of the piece we are working with.


For the analysis piece, we will have discussed some concept relating to the theory of rhetorical style in the previous lesson. Evaluate the author’s use of that concept, citing specific examples, and discuss how this concept benefits their overall rhetorical purpose in writing.


Every time the schedule mentions “Analyze” or “Imitate”, you are to produce an imitation or analysis entry in your notebook. For the semester, you will produce:

  • 10 Imitations
  • 9 Analyses

On the following texts:

  1. Shelly or Borges
  2. Dyson or Burrington
  3. Darwin or More
  4. Lovecraft
  5. Steffan (only analyze either Lovecraft or Steffan)
  6. A.I. Editorial 1
  7. A.I. Editorial 2
  8. Joy
  9. Ellison
  10. Russ

Due Dates

  • 9/19
  • 12/05

Take-home Exam

To test your knowledge of both sentence modification and rhetorical figures, a take-home exam will be distributed at the end of class two days before the due date (listed above). You will be required to return the completed exam to my office by the end of what would be the next class period (there will be no class on the due date). If you are finished with the exam early, you may slip your completed exam under my office door.

This exam is open note and is designed to test your abilities to identify and describe characters and actions, complex sentence modifications, tropes, and schemes.

If you miss class on the day the exam is distributed, a copy will be posted to eCampus, but you are responsible for printing your own copy.

Analysis Paper 1

Pick a text we have not discussed in class. In 4 pages, describe the overall feel of the text. This can be both how you feel about the text but, more importantly, how the author wants you to feel as you read. The challenge of this portion of the assignment is twofold: one, how do we describe a feeling without attempting to reproduce it ourselves? two, how do we use evidence from the text to support our claims about this feeling?

Having described the feeling, explain why that feeling matters by considering the context in which the text was produced. This portion of the assignment will more than likely require outside research into the author’s biography, the political environment in which it was written, and the general culture of the times at which it was produced.

Analysis Paper 2

Revising and expanding your first paper, you can now more accurately leverage the skills you have acquired in this class to describe the mood of the piece. This paper will be 8 to 10 pages in length and will include additional elements beyond the first.

In addition to the revision of the first argument, spend some time getting into detail about the stylistic devices the writing uses to present it’s point. This detailed discussion is not intended to be a laundry list of tropes, schemes, and sentence structure; rather, I expect you to tie this argument to a larger meditation on the constraints, strategies, motivations, and cultural contexts that shape the writing in question.

Course Policies

These are the policies that govern our class. You are responsible for knowing the information on this page before contacting me regarding policy questions.

Student Visiting Hours

At the times listed in the sidebar throughout this site, I am in my office and it is your time to come talk to me about anything related (or unrelated) to class. This time is yours, I am not (supposed to be) doing anything else; you will not be interrupting me. If you have questions about class or have other questions I might be able to answer, please drop by.

Email Office Hours

I am available to answer email from 9:00am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Emails arriving outside of that time will be answered at my earliest convenience, but do not count on a quick answer to emails sent late at night or on the weekends.

Office Door

If my door is closed and it is not during office hours, please do not knock. I open my door when I’m available to chat outside of office hours, but close my door if I am working and cannot be disturbed.


Per university policy, I cannot discuss grades via email. Please visit my office hours if you would like to discuss your grade on an assignment.

Grade Values

  • A 90-100
  • B 80-89
  • C 70-79
  • D 60-69
  • F 59 or less

These points will be weighted according to the point breakdown described on the Assignments page, which will determine your overall final grade.


Attendance in class is mandatory and is necessary for you to get what you need out of this course. You may have 2 unexcused absences. Every absence after 2 will result in a 5 point deduction from your attendance grade. I must have documentation (doctor’s notes, schedule for sports, etc) for excused absences. Please talk to me in advance if you have any extenuating circumstances.

Excused Absences

Student Rule 7 covers the cases in which absences will be excused and in which late work will be tolerated. The following conditions will be excused:

  • Participation in an activity appearing on the university authorized activity list. (see List of Authorized and Sponsored Activities)
  • Death or major illness in a student’s immediate family. Immediate family may include: mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents, spouse, child, spouse’s child, spouse’s parents, spouse’s grandparents, stepmother, step-father, step-sister, step-brother, step-grandparents, grandchild, step-grandchild, legal guardian, and others as deemed appropriate by faculty member or student’s academic Dean or designee.
  • Illness of a dependent family member.
  • Participation in legal proceedings or administrative procedures that require a student’s presence.
  • Religious holy day. (See Appendix IV.)
  • Injury or Illness that is too severe or contagious for the student to attend class.
  • Required participation in military duties.
  • Mandatory admission interviews for professional or graduate school which cannot be rescheduled.
  • Mandatory participation as a student-athlete in NCAA-sanctioned competition.
  • In accordance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Texas A&M University shall treat pregnancy (childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy and recovery therefrom) and related conditions as a justification for an excused absence for so long a period of time as is deemed medically necessary by the student’s physician. Requests for excused absence related to pregnancy should be directed to the instructor; questions about Title IX should be directed to the University Title IX Coordinator.

Note About Excused Absences

In the event of a chronic illness or other sudden condition that will result in significant time away from class, please inform me of the situation before you return to class, so that we can work out how to handle the situation before it becomes an issue.

Late Work

Under Student Rule 7.4, I am under “under no obligation to provide an opportunity for the student to make up work missed because of an unexcused absence.” However, I do accept late work and will take off 5 points for every day late. A paper that would have received an 85% that was 3 days late will receive a 70%.

Extension Policy

Additionally, if you are falling behind on a project and feel that you are not going to finish on time, email me 24 hours before the assignment is due to request an extension. In this email, propose how many additional days you will need to finish the assignment. Requests for extension that do not contain this information will not be honored.


In the 21st century, it is unreasonable to accept “my computer died” as an excuse for late work. If you are working on assignments on a computer, please back up your work offsite. Sites such as Dropbox and Google Drive provide space for storing copies of your work; even a USB drive can be enough. I have recently started using BackBlaze and found it to be a great and inexpensive online, automated backup. Save multiple times throughout each work session to both your backup and your computer’s copy. In this class, I hold you accountable for making sure your technology is working correctly.

Title IX and Statement on Limits to Confidentiality

Texas A&M University and the College of Liberal Arts are committed to fostering a learning environment that is safe and productive for all. University policies and federal and state laws provide guidance for achieving such an environment. Although class materials are generally considered confidential pursuant to student record policies and laws, University employees – including instructors – cannot maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues that jeopardize the health and safety of our community. As the instructor, I must report (per Texas A&M System Regulation 08.01.01) the following information to other University offices if you share it with me, even if you do not want the disclosed information to be shared:

  • Allegations of sexual assault, sexual discrimination, or sexual harassment when they involve TAMU students, faculty, or staff, or third parties visiting campus.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In many cases, it will be your decision whether or not you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with the Student Counseling Service.

Students and faculty can report concerning, non-emergency behavior at

Academic Integrity

Aggie Honor Code.An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” It is the student’s responsibility to know the Aggie Honor Code and to understand what constitutes scholastic dishonesty and to avoid it all costs. Anything (particularly plagiarism and cheating on quizzes or projects) that appears to be a violation of the Aggie Honor Code will be reported to the appropriate authorities. For additional information please visit:

Also, the following is a helpful resource for describing kinds and severity of plagiarism. Note this graphic is not from A&M, where rules may differ:

Students Needing Support Service

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845- 1637. For additional information, visit

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (UWC), located in 214 Evans Library and 205 West Campus Library, offers one-on-one consultations to writers preparing documents, slides, or oral presentations. UWC consultations are highly recommended but are not required. Help is available for all of the steps of the writing and speechwriting process including assistance with brainstorming ideas, narrowing the topic, creating outlines or drafts, and presenting a speech to an audience. UWC consultants can help you practice your speech with a real audience or develop visual presentation aids like slides and handouts. Consultants can also help you improve your proofreading and editing skills. If you visit the UWC, take a copy of your assignment, a hard copy of your draft or any notes you may have, as well as any material you need help with. To find out more about UWC services or to schedule an appointment, call 458-1455, visit the web page at, or stop by in person.

Diversity Statement

It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength, and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture, perspective, and other background characteristics. I encourage your suggestions about how to improve the value of diversity in this course.



Methodological readings will come from the following text, which is available as an eBook from the library:

Other Materials

  • One bound notebook (spiral or composition book) to be used for imitation and evaluation exercises.
  • All other readings are linked from the syllabus or online on Blackboard. It is required you print the readings that are not from Performing Prose, as we will be working with them in class. Find a printing arrangement now. Do your reading with the printed copy and make sure that you have a printed copy with you in class on the day we read it.


Unit 1 – Approaching Style

Week 1 – Introduction

Tue 08/27

  • Syllabus
  • Overview of Style / Rhetoric

Thu 08/29

  • No Class Because Football

Week 2 – Values and Valuation

Thu 09/05

  • Introducing First Analysis Assignment
  • PP 1&2
  • Analyze Shelley or Borges
  • Bring Notebook To Class

Week 3 – Levels of Style

Thu 09/12

  • PP 3&5
  • Analyze Dyson or Burrington

Week 4 – Analyzing Feeling

Thu 09/19

  • PP 4
  • Analyze Darwin or More
  • First Notebook Check

Week 5 – Case Study

Unit 2 – Sentence Analysis

Week 6 – Basic Sentence Analysis

Tue 10/01

  • Rough Draft, Bring Copy of Whatever You Have
  • Analyze Lovecraft or Steffan

Thu 10/03

  • Basic Sentence Analysis 1
  • Paper 1 Due at 11:59PM

Week 7 – More Sentence Analysis

Thu 10/10

  • Basic Sentence Analysis 3

Week 8 – Sentence Modification

Tue 10/15

  • Sentence Modification 1
  • Rhetorical Style Ch 8 (PDF online)
  • Analyze A.I. Reading

Thu 10/17

  • No Class, Instructor Traveling

Week 9 – More Sentence Modification

Tue 10/22

Thu 10/24

  • Sentence Modification 3

Week 10 – Sentence Construction

Tue 10/29

  • Sentence Construction 1
  • PP 9
  • Rhetorical Style Ch 9 (PDF online)
  • Analyze A.I. Reading

Thu 10/31

Unit 3 – Tropes & Schemes

Week 11 – Tropes

Tue 11/05

  • PP 6
  • Analyze

Week 12 – Scheme

Tue 11/12

  • PP 7
  • Analyze

Week 13 – Exam

Tue 11/19

  • Exam Review
  • Paper 2 Overview
  • Analyze
  • Take-home Exam Distributed

Thu 11/21

  • No Class
  • Take-home Exam Due by 3:35 to LAAH 417

Week 14 – Turkey

Tue 11/26

  • Paper 2
  • Outlining

Thu 11/28

No Class


Week 15 – Finishing Up

Tue 12/03

  • Paper 2 Workshop
  • Second Notebook Check
  • Paper 2 Due 12/10 at 11:59PM

Thu 12/05

  • No Class, Reading Day