literally, a repetition within a process. The writing process is iterative because it is non-linear and because an author often has to repeat, revisit, or reapproach different steps along the way.


the cognitive process and/or rhetorical mode of studying constituent parts to demonstrate an interpretation of a larger whole.

annotated bibliography

a research tool that organizes citations with a brief paragraph for each source examined.


engaged reading strategy by which a reader marks up a text with their notes, questions, new vocabulary, ideas, and emphases.


a rhetorical mode in which different perspectives on a common issue are negotiated. See Aristotelian and Rogerian arguments.

Aristotelian argument

a mode of argument by which a writer attempts to convince their audience that one perspective is accurate.


the intended consumers for a piece of rhetoric. Every text has at least one audience; sometimes, that audience is directly addressed, and other times we have to infer.

authorial intent

the inferred or speculated intention of a writer. Must be overlooked in the process of text wrestling analysis.


a posture from which to read; reader makes efforts to appreciate, understand, and agree with the text they encounter.

block quote

a direct quote of more than four lines which is reformatted according to stylistic guidelines.


the process of finding new sources using hyperlinked subject tags in the search results of a database.


a persuasive writer’s directive to their audience; usually located toward the end of a text. Compare with purpose.


the process by which an author builds characters; can be accomplished directly or indirectly.

citation mining

the process of using a text’s citations, bibliography, or notes to track down other similar or related sources.

claim of evaluation

an argument determining relative value (i.e., better, best, worse, worst). Requires informed judgment based on evidence and a consistent metric.

claim of phenomenon

an argument exploring a measurable but arguable happening. Typically more straightforward than other claims, but should still be arguable and worth discussion.

claim of policy

an argument that proposes a plan of action to address an issue. Articulates a stance that requires action, often informed by understanding of both phenomenon and evaluation. Often uses the word “should.” See call-to-action.

close reading

a technique of reading that focuses attention on features of the text to construct an interpretation. (This is in contrast to interpretive methods that rely on research, historical context, biography, or speculation.)

complaint tradition

the recurring social phenomenon in which a generation complains about the way things have changed since their earlier years. Coined by Leonard Greenbaum.


the associated meanings of a word, phrase, or idea beyond its ‘dictionary’ definition; the complex, subjective, and dynamic meanings of a word, phrase, or idea the shift based on interpretive position. Contrast with denotation.

constraint-based writing

a writing technique by which an author tries to follow a rule or set of rules in order to create more experimental or surprising content, popularized by the Oulipo school of writers.


a technique for evaluating the credibility and use-value of a source; researcher considers the Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose of the source to determine if it is trustworthy and useful.


the degree to which a text—its content, its author, and/or its publisher—is trustworthy and accurate.

critical/active reading

also referred to in this text as engaged reading, a set of strategies and concepts to interrupt projection and focus on a text.


a method of reading, writing, and thinking that emphasizes the interruption of automatization. Established as “остранение” (“estrangement”) by Viktor Shklovsky, defamiliarization attempts to turn the everyday into the strange, eye-catching, or dramatic.


the dictionary definition of a word, phrase, or idea; the standard and objective meaning of a word, phrase, or idea which, theoretically, does not vary based on interpretive position. Contrast with connotation.


a rhetorical mode that emphasizes eye-catching, specific, and vivid portrayal of a subject. Often integrates imagery and thick description to this end.


a communication between two or more people. Can include any mode of communication, including speech, texting, e-mail, Facebook post, body language, etc.

diegetic gap

from “diegesis,” the temporal distance between a first-person narrator narrating and the same person acting in the plot events. I.e., the space between author-as-author and author-as-character.

direct quote

the verbatim use of another author’s words. Can be used as evidence to support your claim, or as language to analyze/close-read to demonstrate an interpretation or insight.


a posture from which to read; reader makes efforts to challenge, critique, or undermine the text they encounter.

dynamic character

a character who noticeably changes within the scope of a narrative, typically as a result of the plot events and/or other characters. Contrast with static character.


a character’s sudden realization of a personal or universal truth. See dynamic character.


a medium, typically nonfiction, by which an author can achieve a variety of purposes. Popularized by Michel de Montaigne as a method of discovery of knowledge: in the original French, “essay” is a verb that means “to try; to test; to explore; to attempt to understand.”


a study of a particular culture, subculture, or group of people. Uses thick description to explore a place and its associated culture.


a rhetorical appeal based on authority, credibility, or expertise.


a part or combination of parts that lends support or proof to an arguable topic, idea, or interpretation.

figurative language

language which implies a meaning that is not to be taken literally. Common examples include metaphor, simile, personification, onomatopoeia, and hyperbole.

flat character

a character who is minimally detailed, only briefly sketched or named. Generally less central to the events and relationships portrayed in a narrative. Contrast with round character.


uneconomical writing: filler language or unnecessarily wordy phrasing. Although fluff occurs in a variety of ways, it can be generally defined as words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that do not work hard to help you achieve your rhetorical purpose.


a specific category, subcategory, style, form, or medium (or combination of the above) of rhetoric. A genre may have a “generic imperative,” which is an expectation or set of expectations an audience holds for a particular genre of rhetoric; the foundational assumptions that particular genres carry.


sensory language; literal or figurative language that appeals to an audience’s imagined sense of sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste.


the process of consuming rhetoric to create meaning. “An interpretation” refers to a specific meaning we build as we encounter a text, focusing on certain ideas, language, or patterns.

interpretive position

the unique position from which each of us interprets a text—necessarily different for all people at any given time, and often different for the same person at different times in their life.


literally, a repetition within a process. Analysis is iterative because it requires repeated critical encounters with a text.


the setting (time and place) or atmosphere in which an argument is actionable or ideal. Consider alongside “occasion.”

learning community

a network of learners and teachers, each equipped and empowered to provide support through horizontal power relations. Values diversity insofar as it encourages growth and perspective, but also inclusivity. Also, a community that learns by adapting to its unique needs and advantages.


a metaphor for the conceptual framework a reader applies to an analysis. A “lens” brings certain elements into focus, allowing the reader to attend to specific parts of a text to develop an interpretation.

logical fallacy

a line of logical reasoning which follows a pattern of that makes an error in its basic structure. For example, Kanye West is on TV; Animal Planet is on TV. Therefore, Kanye West is on Animal Planet.


a rhetorical appeal to logical reasoning.


the channel, technology, or form through which rhetoric is constructed and communicated. Different rhetorical situations value different media, and different media value different kinds of rhetoric.


literally, “thinking about thinking.” May also include how thinking evolves and reflection on growth.


the style and techniques employed by of a piece of rhetoric to achieve its purpose. Different rhetorical situations value different modes, and different modes value different kinds of rhetoric. Compare to genre.


the emotional dimension which a reader experiences while encountering a text. Compare with tone.


a recurring image or phrase that helps convey a theme. Similar to a symbol, but the relationship between symbol and symbolized is more one-to-one than between motif and theme.

multimedia / multigenre

a term describing a text that combines more than one media and/or more than one genre (e.g., an essay with embedded images; a portfolio with essays, poetry, and comic strips; a mixtape with song reviews).


a neologism from ‘impartial,’ refers to occupying and appreciating a variety of perspectives rather than pretending to have no perspective. Rather than unbiased or neutral, multipartial writers are balanced, acknowledging and respecting many different ideas.


a rhetorical mode involving the construction and relation of stories. Typically integrates description as a technique.

narrative pacing

the speed with which a story progresses through plot events. Can be influenced by reflective and descriptive writing.

narrative scope

the boundaries of a narrative in time, space, perspective, and focus.

narrative sequence

the order of events included in a narrative.


the sociohistorical circumstances that prompt the production of a piece of rhetoric, determined by personal experiences, current events, language, and culture. Every text has an occasion.


author reiterates a main idea, argument, or detail of a text in their own words without drastically altering the length of the passage(s) they paraphrase. Contrast with summary.


a rhetorical appeal to emotion.


a notable sequence; structure or shape; recurring image, word, or phrase found in a piece of rhetoric.


the events included within the scope of a narrative.


the perspective from which a story is told, determining both grammar (pronouns) and perspective (speaker’s awareness of events, thoughts, and circumstances).

primacy effect

a psychological effect experienced by most audiences: the opening statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they leave a ‘first impression’ in the audience’s memory. Contrast with recency effect.


a complex and multifaceted sequence that results in a product. As applied in “writing process,” non-linear and iterative. Contrast with product.


the end result of a creative process. Often shows little evidence of the process that created it.


the intended result of a piece of rhetoric. Can be stated using an infinitive verb phrase (“to entertain,” “to persuade,” “to explain”). Every text has at least one purpose, sometimes declared explicitly, and other times implied or hidden.

recency effect

a psychological effect experienced by most audiences: the concluding statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they are more recent in the audience’s memory. Contrast with primacy effect.


a connection a text makes to another text. Can be explicit or implicit; might include allusion, allegory, quotation, or parody. Referencing text adopts some characteristics of the referenced text.


a rhetorical gesture by which an author looks back, through the diegetic gap, to demonstrate knowledge or understanding gained from the subject on which they are reflecting. May also include consideration of the impact of that past subject on the author’s future—“Looking back in order to look forward.”


a mode of writing that values the reader’s experience of and reactions to a text.


the iterative process of changing a piece of writing. Literally, re-vision: seeing your writing with “fresh eyes” in order to improve it. Includes changes on Global, Local, and Proofreading levels. Changes might include:

rewriting (trying again, perhaps from a different angle or with a different focus)

adding (new information, new ideas, new evidence)

subtracting (unrelated ideas, redundant information, fluff)

rearranging (finding more effective vectors or sequences of organization)

switching out (changing words or phrases, substituting different evidence)

mechanical clean-up (standardizing punctuation, grammar, or formatting)


a combination of textual strategies designed to do something to someone. In other words, ‘rhetoric’ refers to language, video, images, or other symbols (or some combination of these) that informs, entertains, persuades, compels, or otherwise impacts an audience.

rhetorical appeal

a means by which a writer or speaker connects with their audience to achieve their purpose. Most commonly refers to logos, pathos, and ethos.

rhetorical situation

the circumstances in which rhetoric is produced, understood using the constituent elements of subject, occasion, audience, and purpose. Each element of the rhetorical situation carries assumptions and imperatives about the kind of rhetoric that will be well received. Rhetorical situation will also influence mode and medium.

Rogerian argument

a mode of argument by which an author seeks compromise by bringing different perspectives on an issue into conversation. Acknowledges that no one perspective is absolutely and exclusively ‘right’; values disagreement in order to make moral, political, and practical decisions.

round character

a character who is thoroughly characterized and dimensional, detailed with attentive description of their traits and behaviors. Contrast with flat character.


a phrase or sentence that directs your reader. It can help you make connections, guide your reader’s interpretation, ease transitions, and re-orient you to your thesis. Also known as a “signal phrase.”


an engaged reading strategy to improve comprehension and interrupt projection. Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.

static character

a character who remains the same throughout the narrative. Contrast with dynamic character.


the topic, focus, argument, or idea explored in a text


a rhetorical mode in which an author reiterates the main ideas, arguments, and details of a text in their own words, condensing a longer text into a smaller version. Contrast with paraphrase.


a line of logical reasoning similar to the transitive property (If a=b and b=c, then a=c). For example, All humans need oxygen; Kanye West is a human. Therefore, Kanye West needs oxygen.


an artifact (usually something concrete) that stands in for (represents) something else (often something abstract).


a cognitive and rhetorical process by which an author brings together parts of a larger whole to create a unique new product. Examples of synthesis might include an analytical essay, found poetry, or a mashup/remix.


any artifact through which a message is communicated. Can be written or spoken; digital, printed, or undocumented; video, image, or language. Every text is rhetorical in nature. See rhetoric.

text wrestling

a rhetorical mode in which an author analyzes a text using close reading, then presents an interpretation supported by evidence from the text.

the naysayer’s voice

a voice that disagrees with the writer or speaker included within the text itself. Can be literal or imaginary. Helps author respond to criticism, transition between ideas, and manage argumentation.

Thesis (statement)

a 1-3 sentence statement outlining the main insight(s), argument(s), or concern(s) of an essay; not necessary in every rhetorical situation; typically found at the beginning of an essay, though sometimes embedded later in the paper. Also referred to as a “So what?” statement.

thick description

economical and deliberate language which attempts to capture complex subjects (like cultures, people, or environments) in written or spoken language. Coined by anthropologists Clifford Geertz and Gilbert Ryle.


the emotional register of the text. Compare with mood.


the degree to which a text is usable for your specific project. A source is not inherently good or bad, but rather useful or not useful. Use-value is influenced by many factors, including credibility. See credibility and CRAAP Test.