Introducing GRAPE (Nate Wood)

(This is my general introduction to GRAPE. The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to label the ‘GRAPE’ of any rhetorical situation and to realize how understanding GRAPE increases their rhetorical effectiveness as writers. Over the next two class periods, we’ll inspect each element of GRAPE more closely. Today, I will introduce students to the general framework of GRAPE, which includes a powerpoint and then an activity.)


Objective: Students will begin to understand that thinking rhetorically (GRAPE) will improve their rhetorical effectiveness. As a result, students will realize how an understanding GRAPE increases their rhetorical effectiveness as writers.

Homework due at beginning of class: Mindful Writing Ch. 6

Introduce the principles of GRAPE via GRAPE powerpoint. (30 minutes)

  • What is rhetoric? MW 64-66 (ask class to define/discuss)
  • “…rhetoric is the study and art of effective communication.” Rhetoric is the “available means of persuasion” that help us make others feel, think, or act differently.
  • What do people typically think of when they think of the word rhetoric? Is rhetoric just arguing and shouting?
  • What is the rhetorical situation? MW p. 67-74 (ask class to define discuss)
  • “Rhetorical situations are moments that invite us to communicate with others in a way that’s appropriate or fitting for the moment.” p. 67
  • “Let’s say Grandma dies.” You’re asked to speak at the funeral. Now what? What do you say? How do you make sure you’ll say the right thing? P.67

If there is a right and wrong way to speak at grandma’s funeral, how do we know what to do and not to do? What are the specific rules? What guidelines do we have to help us know the dos and don’ts of rhetoric?

  • Genre MW 68
    • How do you define genre? (ask class/discuss)
    • Genres are “typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations.”
  • Case study: What do we call the speech we give in front of the pulpit on sundays at church? What are the typified rhetorical actions of a sacrament talk? Are there sub-genres of the sacrament talk?

How does being aware of genre help improve your rhetorical effectiveness?

  • Rhetor MW 69
    • Why do you think the rhetor is an important aspect of the rhetorical situation? Will your audience interpret what’s said in light of who says it?
    • Case study: Consider John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. McCain constantly appealed to his dedicated service as a military veteran in order to prove his dedication to the country. But what would happen if the press found out McCain actually never served in the military at all? How would his audiences’ perceptions of him change?
  • Purpose MW 73
    • “One way to discover a rhetor’s purpose is to look carefully at the message and make assumptions about why the rhetor chose the strategies he/she did.”
    • Case study: Do you think news media today are solely motivated by reporting facts accurately? Or do you think they have other purposes they simultaneously want to achieve?

How does remembering your purpose for writing make you a better writer?

  • Exigence MW 73
    • Why should we wait for the opportune moment? Why is what we say conditioned by when we say it?
    • Case study: In your personal opinion, what’s exigent at BYU right now? What needs being said? What needs to change?

How exigence make you a better writer?

  • Audience MW 70-72
    • Why do you think big businesses invest tons of money on product research? Why is it in their best interest to know who is buying their product?
    • The rhetorical effectiveness of what you say depends on to whom you say it.
  • Case study: A scientist needs to explain her newest discovery to 1)her colleagues 2) college students 3) someone who doesn’t believe in science. How might the content of her explanation change as her audience changes? Will she give the same presentation three times?

Grape Exercise (30 minutes)

Organize the class into groups of four, and assign each of them a website linking them to some kind of text. These texts could range anywhere from advertisements, to famous speeches, to general conference talks, to notable opinion editorials, to canonical poems–anything from which you feel you can comfortably teach GRAPE. Whatever you chose, don’t tell your students anything about the texts before they open their unique link. As they study and navigate their links, ask them to label its Genre, Rhetor, Audience, Purpose, and Exigence. 

Here are four possible links you could use:

What Makes Radical and Revolutionary Technology possible?” by DJ Patil (given at a BYU Forum, February 2018.)

Our Misery and Our Despair” by Denis Kearney, a blatantly racist  “rabble rouser” who stirred 19th century Californians to anti-Chinese racism.

This is Water” by David Foster Wallace, commencement speech by contemporary fiction writer

Wikipedia page for Joseph McCarthy. Note that you’re asking students to analyze the wikipedia article, not any of McCarthy’s speeches.

After the groups have discussed the GRAPE of each text, ask them each to share their artifact, and then ‘GRAPE’ it in front of the class. After they present, ask them follow-up questions such as:

  1. How did your knowledge of the audience change the way you see this speech? of the rhetor’s character? of the purpose?
  2. What might you miss about the nature of this article had you not considered its genre?
  3. Why was this speech given?
  4. What historical detail might change your interpretation of this speech?