An Analysis of the Rhetorical Tools Used in Hidden Intellectualism and Agonism in the Academy Surviving the Argument Culture

“Stay hungry. Stay Foolish” is afamousquote because Steve job used. Steve Jobs addressed thecommencement speech at Stanford University’s graduation. He uses tools to deliver his opinions about how to live. He develops three ideas, which he learned from his entire life, with his experience as examples and quotes for attracting attention. Like Steve jobs’ speech, all texts and speeches use rhetorical tools to explain, to persuade and to argue authors’ thoughts and opinions. I chose two texts, “Hidden Intellectualism” and “Agonism in the Academy: Surviving the Argument Culture”, to explain the rhetorical tools used in essays. In these essays’ the rhetorical tools used in both were strong and worked well to persuade the readers and to fulfill authors’ purpose. In Gerald Graff’s essay, he, wrote They say, I sayand ‘hidden intellectualism’, use the various rhetorical tools in the essay. He argues about the difference between book smarts and street smart. Graff explains both types of smarts cases. Book smarts are usually people highly educated by school, and street smarts are hidden among book smarts. Thus, Gerald calls street smarts “hidden intellectualism.” He argues that street smart can improve their rhetorical skill through any topic which generate deep discussion. He also criticizesthat students miss opportunity to tap into street smarts and passively follow school academic curriculum. To develop his argument Graff uses various tools. For example, he explainsa notion with cases, uses pathos, and plants ‘nay-sayer’ in his essay.

Graff uses cases to explain about book smarts and street smarts. When we have to explain something, readers cannot understand through just statements. Readers cannot figure out how street smarts can be intellectualism because some readers might notexperience it. Therefore, it is much easier to explain with his experience because he knows details and process of being hidden intellectualism like movie.He can explain both types of smarts more clearly and strength argument about how street smart learns rhetorical skills from what they are interested in. He tells his adolescent story experience as an example. He was a sports enthusiast and like to talk about sports, so he began to read sports magazine and novels. These behaviors seems like anti-intellectualism, but it actually provides opportunity to improve rhetorical skills through deep discussion, which it needs to persuade and to explain to other people. Using example to develop argument make argument clear and is helpful to understanding

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Graff uses pathos by changing his tone to darker. Using pathos and emotional words might appeal to readers’ emotion, make it easy to persuade by touching the heart. Graff describes his adolescent period after World War 2 by using word presenting culture and darker atmosphere at that time. Graff says how he became street smarts called hidden intellectualism even though he hated reading books. His feeling and decision were affected by the situation at that time. Besides, half of the essay is based on his experience, so readers could get tired of reading. Thus, Graff may choseschanging tone to attract readers’ attention and to draw empathy. There were middle class ‘Clean-cut’, which he belong to, and working class ‘hood’, which consisted of African American and Native American. Also Graff had experienced inner conflict between proving smart and being bullied because being smart meant being geeky and nerdy at that time, but he naturally kept improving his intellectualism through debate, analysis, and critical thinking during adolescent period. Although he gives an example happened in the past, readers are likely to understand due to emotional appeal. Lastly Graff plants ‘nay-sayer”. Presenting nay-sayer’s view can enhance credibility. As more objection against the argument, it disarms objective arguments by answering about those arguments.Graff might put nay-sayer in his essay because his experience is not enough to generalize and could be very subjective.

Thus, he chooses planting nay-sawyer to avoid being a biased essay. Besides, he could not ignore good function of school education system. Graff said, “If this argument suggests why it is a good to assign readings and topics that are close to students’ existing interest, it also suggests the limits of this tactic” (203). Although nonacademic topic interest can encourage students to improve skills, students need to see all topics with academic eyes. For example, students interested in sportsare likely to write and speak deeply, but he or she may not deeply understand and may not have insight about topic like Shakespeare. Therefore, it is important to have academic eyes over all topics. Another text I chose is ‘Agonism in the Academy: Surviving the argument culture’ written by Decorah Tannen and listed in They say, I say. This text also uses several types of tools and techniques of writing. In the text, Tannen criticizesoffensive discussion which is just finding superficial weakness in opponents’ argument and attack, not to understand inside of a subject deeply. Tannen uses a word “Agonism,” defined by Walter Ong. Tannen said, “it refers to ritualized opposition” (215). Moreover, she talks about effects and solution of offensive debate. ‘Agonism in the Academy’ and ‘Hidden Intellectualism’ are relevant topics about proper academic achievement. However, used tools of writing are a little bit different. Tannen puts the tools in text such as examples of based experience, emotional appeal, and citation of various scholars.

Tannen uses her experience at a reading group. She uses her experience in introduction part and end of the essay. It seems that author wants to use ‘Sandwich’ structure, which could show stability in begging and ending of the essay. Through the structure, Tannen naturally develops her argument from hook to body paragraphs, and from body graphs to ending. In the introduction part, author talks what she felt in the reading group. In that group, one woman criticized about book, they discussed about. However, Tannen was disappointed about her criticism because it was not interesting and very offensive argument that does not focus on value and lesson in the book. At end of essay, Tannen puts her case again to enhance her argument. Tannen shows her disappointment and criticizes that she only focus on form and genre of writing, not subject in the book. Tannen uses her experience as hook and finish. Tannen also uses emotional and metaphorical words like “Hidden Intellectualism.” She describes the various word to explain Agonism. At the introduction part, she directly shows her feeling about offensive debate in the book club, and her experience is written with angered and frustrated voices.She said, “I left the meeting disappointed because I had learned nothing new about the book or its subject.” Through her voice, Tannin could express how this argument culture is bad for discussion. In addition, she criticizesagonistic culture with metaphorical expression. By using metaphorical expression, Tannen can express more vividly how she feels about agonistic culture. She said, “Not only is the agonistic culture of academe not the best path to truth and knowledge, but is also is corrosive to the human spirit” (220). By using these expressions, she explains how agonistic culture undermines and depresses proper debate culture.

Tannen uses citations to enhance her argument throughout her article. Using citation improve credibility and support ideas. First of all, she explains the new notion called ‘Agonism’ from ‘Fighting for Life’, written by Walter Ong. She needs to express notion, which is too long to express as words, as one word. Thus, to describe notion with a word is very efficient way because the word is frequently used throughout the essay. Moreover, she citesan article in ‘the History Teacher’ written by Patricia Rosof who taughtat hunter College High school. Although Tannen is inspired by her experience, she still needs some valid supports which has credibility such as research. Through this article Tannen shows what happen to students’ discussion. Students just want to win the argument, so they ignore complexity and nuance. Nobody wants to understand deeply. Furthermore, she also cites an article in ‘Communication Monographs’ researched by Tracy and Sheryl Baratz. Although purpose of colloquia were “trade ideas” and “learn something,’ students’ discussion ability was assessed by competence. These various citations enhance and support Tannen’s argument.

In conclusion, I discussed about writing tools used in both essays; “Hidden intellectualism” and “Agonism in the Academy: Surviving the Argument Culture.” Graff uses his experience, emotional words, and nay-say as tools. Similarly Tannen usesher experience, emotional words, and various citations. Both essays are very similar because they use similar writing tools and write about topics relevant to academic achievement. Moreover, they point out the problem of current education system. They experienced bad aspect of current education and may think that it need to persuade people to fix these problems. Being a scholar is very difficult and has to stand hard time because learning techniques to persuade reader is very tough and complicated action.

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An Analysis of the Rhetorical Tools Used in Hidden Intellectualism and Agonism in the Academy Surviving the Argument Culture. (2022, Sep 13). Retrieved from