Chapter 6 Claiming Your Identity and Agency as a 21st Century Rhetor

Cynthia Kiefer

6.o Introduction

The purpose of this first-year composition course is to provide instruction and writing experiences requiring critical thinking, reading, writing, and research. Through the course readings, instruction, assignments, feedback, and engagement with peers, you will expand your academic and personal writing, rhetoric, and research skills while investigating key issues in our culture and the local, national, and global issues that affect us most directly today. The purpose of Chapter 6 is to lead you through a reflective invention and composing process resulting in a course capstone reflection paper, presentation, portfolio cover essay, or project.

Learning Objectives and Aligned Course Level Competencies

In this chapter, you will learn:

  • To compose an analytic, reflective, and formal personal essay, project, or presentation detailing your rhetorical journey through this course.
  • To reflect and learn from your engagement with course content and assignments.
  • To explain the strengths and values you bring to every rhetorical situation.
  • To demonstrate understanding of analytic reflection and expected genre norms (i.e. personal essay, tone, organization, content, conventions).
  • To apply key rhetorical concepts and terms within a reflection on your rhetorical awareness and skill development throughout the course.
  • To reflect on your growth as a rhetor who demonstrates internal ethos in communications, across personal, social academic, and professional situations.
  • To explain how key understandings and skills you developed through this course align with the roles you see yourself in in your near future.
  • To engage in self-reflection to understand how you can use your rhetorical awareness and knowledge to effectively engage in your discourse communities.

English 102 Course Competencies

  1. Write for specific rhetorical contexts, including circumstance, purpose, topic, audience and writer, as well as the writing`s ethical, political, and cultural implications.
  2. Organize writing to support a central idea through unity, coherence and logical development appropriate to a specific writing context.
  3. Use appropriate conventions in writing, including consistent voice, tone, diction, grammar, and mechanics.
  4. Find, evaluate, select, and synthesize both online and print sources that examine a topic from multiple perspectives.
  5. Integrate sources through summarizing, paraphrasing, and quotation from sources to develop and support one`s own ideas.
  6. Identify, select and use an appropriate documentation style to maintain academic integrity.
  7. Use feedback obtained through peer review, instructor comments, and/or other sources to revise writing.
  8. Assess one`s own writing strengths and identify strategies for improvement through instructor conference, portfolio review, written evaluation, and/or other methods.
  9. Generate, format, and edit writing using appropriate technologies.

6.1 Reflecting on Your Rhetorical Journey


Decorative Journey Icon
“Journey” by Creative Mania

Over the course of this textbook, you have explored and developed your experience as a multiliterate and metaliterate rhetor and critical writer, reader, and researcher. In Chapter 1, our goal was to lead you through a reflective self-examination of your values, life experiences, socio-cultural influences, general knowledge, and literacies you bring to any rhetorical, academic, or “real world” situation. In Chapter 2, you developed a deeper understanding of what rhetoric is and how we use rhetoric to achieve our purposes in any given rhetorical situation, whether the situation is an everyday, “real life” situation or one that requires academic analysis and critical reading and writing. You were becoming an academic insider to rhetorical knowledge and analysis who could also explain how rhetoric reveals itself in our everyday lives.

In Chapter 3, you learned how to research rhetorically and developed your identity as a competent academic researcher. With an open, inquiry-oriented mindset, you were becoming an academic insider to the metaliteracy practices necessary to investigate a topic, develop a perspective, narrow the research focus, and locate the best external support and evidence to address the narrowed focus. Then, you SIFTed and selected the most relevant and credible sources and applied them effectively and ethically support your rhetorical purpose.  In Chapter 4, you put these skills to work when you developed a researched proposal argument essay and/or project.

With the key task of composing a researched (or “documented”) argument, Chapter 4 required bringing together the critical reading, writing, and research skills you had developed and practiced up to that point. As a college writer with a growing sense of agency, you activated your literacies and rhetorical knowledge to inform and persuade an audience through your well-supported and relevant argument.

Chapter 5 provided explanations and examples to help you develop and integrate your evidence smoothly and accurately into your argument. In addition, you learned more about planning for rhetorical variety in your evidence and purposeful selection of specific types of evidence to make a logical, emotional, or ethical rhetorical appeal. We hope that once you had completed the readings, activities, and assignments in Chapter 4 and 5, you began to recognize and own your growing internal ethos and identity as an empowered rhetor and academic insider.

Now, as you find yourself at the end of this course, we ask you to reflect on all that you have learned and produced in the course to generate a final comprehensive reflection essay and/or project. The first step is to collect evidence from your work.

Collect the Evidence

 Just as you would with any project,  you need data to inform your claims and subclaims and to use later as evidence to support those claims. A review of your assignments throughout the course is a way to begin reflecting in depth on what you have learned, and soon, some ideas will start coming to you as you see patterns of improvement, style, and confidence in your work. 

Exercise: Collect Your Evidence

Before you begin, a good approach to connecting with this assignment is to go back and review your major assignments and your notebook if you are keeping one in the order in which you completed them.  The “left turns” and the turning points will become more obvious to you if you follow the chronological development of your work in the course.  I recommend setting up a two column chart so you can write your assignments on the left and your observations and memories about that assignment on the right. This content will help you come up with some ideas through the patterns of success and obstacles of your journey as a rhetoir

writE a Focused Free Write

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”  E. M. ForsterThink about your reading, writing, and research work through this semester. Then, set aside fifteen to twenty minutes to write non-stop about your growth through the course, what you have learned that made a lasting impact, the rhetorical skills and strategies you will take from this course, and how you felt through each assignment.

Exercise: Focused Freewrite Prompts

Consider these questions as prompts to help you focus your thinking and generate content you can stream easily.  Then, let your pen flow or your fingers fly!

  • Have I found and claimed my voice as a college writer and communicator?
  • Do I feel competent and empowered to express myself? In what contexts?
  • What new ways of thinking have I embraced?
  • How have my critical literacy skills evolved?
  • What do you think you will take away from this experience and into your “real world?”
  • How and in what ways are you empowered as a lifelong learner as a result of your literacy growth?

Three Memes Assignment

Create your own memes to reflect your journey. These may end up providing points of connections with other students if you use them as background in the final presentation project.

Exercise: Three Memes Assignment


  • To have some fun while identifying relevant images to place in your TED Talk.
  • To find three memes, images with a short message (cultural visual rhetoric) most of us can relate that you can integrate into your TED Talk.

To engage your mind with a creative activity by appropriating visual rhetoric to serve your own purpose and associated meaning.

1. One meme capturing you at the beginning of your rhetoric and composition journey.

2. One meme capturing your state of mind as you wrap up your capstone paper.

3. One meme capturing the end of your rhetoric and composition journey or the beginning of your next journey – something that communicates ending or transition to a new beginning. (Think about how will what you have learned show up in a career or further academics?


  1. Before you locate your memes (and you can create your own, by the way), Open a Google Slides file and paste each meme on a separate slide.
  2. Cite the source of the meme on the slide.
  3. Place the image slides in the order they would appear in your presentation.
  4. Submit and add a submission note in response to this prompt:  After completing this exercise, I thought/I felt/I wondered . . .

6.2 CREATE YOUR rhetorical journey TED TALK

Training Noun Project

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.                                             

-Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French Author


Reflect over your journey through first year composition and create a list of takeaways from the experience.  How did you feel about writing in the college context in the first months compared to now? When you look back at your first papers, what do you notice about them? When you compare your earlier work to your later assignments, what consistent behaviors do you see? Are you ready to take on any college writing assignment your future college professors will assign to you? Why? Why not? What did you learn that you will take forward with you because you now know it forever? Was any one assignment a turning point for you? How would you evaluate your internal ethos as a student writer in the college context? Have you become more rhetorical in the ways you communicate with others? In what ways?


Create a prepared, 5–6-minute TED Talk, supported with a visual presentation and one or two interactive elements to share key takeaways from your participation and classwork in this two-course sequence. Based on your in-depth review and reflection of the courses’ major assignments, select two to three key takeaways from your journey through a year of first year composition to share with your peers in this organized and well-delivered TED Talk-style presentation. Plan to conclude your reflection by describing your internal ethos as a writer and ethical user of information, your sense of agency (empowerment) as a college writer in any context, and your explanation of how your rhetorical knowledge and skill manifest in your daily lives now and in your future.


Your audience includes your peers and your professor, so strike a less formal (but still not informal), but friendly tone, and feel free to share some insider humor, memes, quotes, and expressions, we all would understand. Your visual support in your presentation is not your presentation. Your talk is. Have fun with this, but also be sure your points are clear and your evidence and supporting detail are specific. Be sure to pre-assess your “talk” and visual elements against the rubric criteria below and practice your talk several times while looking in a mirror prior to giving it.


  • To learn from your overall experience through a deep dive into reviewing your work and course experiences through metacognitive reflection. (Informed reflection)
  • To practice your speaking skills and taking a position as a reflective and rhetorical learner.
  • To connect your college literacy development with your own identity as a college student and rhetorically agile writer, reader, and researcher.
  • To connect your college literacy development with a sense of agency in communicating your thoughts and presenting your informed opinions and decisions in any rhetorical context.

Works Cited

“E.M. Forster > Quotes > Quotable Quote.” Goodreads. 2021,


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