Prompt: In the past decade, social media have become a primary method of socialization. Young people—and the adults around them—spend hours each day socializing online with friends, acquaintances, and total strangers.
Articulate a position on the value (good or bad) of social media as a method of socializing others toward common values. Include a discussion of call-out and/or cancel culture as part of your argument.I just need 1-2 Paragraphs of Definition (use the Bedford Reader example to see how it is done), 1-2 Paragraphs of Process Analysis (use Bedford Reader excerpt again). 1-2 Paragraphs of Classification and Division (Bedford Reader Excerpt). Use a Pop Art/Contemporary source to base the cancel culture argument off of, for example: Trisha Paytas. Basically, explain cancel culture within modern times, but use the 3 different ways of arguments: Process Analysis, Definition, Classification and Division.Definition from The Bedford Reader
As a rule, when we hear the word de inition, we immediately think of a dictionary. In that
helpful storehouse—a writer’s best friend—we ind the literal and speci ic meaning (or meanings) of
a word. The dictionary supplies this information concisely: in a sentence, in a phrase, or even in a
synonym—a single word that means the same thing.
Stating such a de inition is often a good way to begin an essay when basic terms may be in
doubt. A short de inition can clarify your subject to your reader, and perhaps help you limit what you
have to say. If, for instance, you are writing a psychology paper about schizophrenia, you might offer a
short de inition at the outset, your subject and your key term.
In constructing a short de inition, the usual procedure is to state the general class to which the
subject belongs and then to add any particular features that distinguish it. You could say:
“Schizophrenia is a brain disease” — the general class—“whose symptoms include hallucinations,
disorganized behavior, incoherence, and, often, withdrawal.” Short de initions may be useful at any
moment in an essay, whenever you introduce a technical term that readers may not know.
When a term is really central to your essay and likely to be misunderstood, a stipulative
de inition may be helpful. This fuller explanation stipulates, or speci ies, the particular way you are
using a term. The paragraph appearing later in this chapter , de ining TV addiction, could be a
stipulative de inition in an essay on the causes and cures of the addiction.
In this chapter, we are mainly concerned with extended de inition, a kind of expository writing
that relies on a variety of other methods. Suppose you wanted to write an essay to make clear what
poetry means. You would specify its elements—rhythm, images, and so on— by using DIVISION or
ANALYSIS. You’d probably provide EXAMPLES of each element. You might COMPARE and CONTRAST
poetry with prose. You might discuss the EFFECT of poetry on the reader. (The poet Emily Dickinson
once stated the effect that reading a poem had on her: “I feel as if the top of my head were taken off.”) In
fact, extended de inition, unlike the other rhetorical modes, is perhaps less a method in itself than the
application of a variety of methods to clarify a purpose. Like DESCRIPTION, extended de inition tries
to show a reader its subject. It does so by establishing boundaries, for its writer tries to differentiate a
subject from anything that might be confused with it.
When Gloria Naylor, in her essay, seeks to de ine a freighted word, she recalls her experiences
of the word as an African American, recounting exactly what she heard in varying situations. Extended
de inition examines the nature of the subject, carefully summing up its chief characteristics and
drawing boundaries around it, striving to answer the question “What makes this what it is, not
An extended de inition can de ine a word, a thing, a condition, a concept, or a general
phenomenon. Unlike a sentence de inition, or any you would ind in a standard dictionary, an extended
de inition takes room: at least a paragraph, often an entire essay. In having many methods of writing at
your disposal, you have ample freedom and wide latitude.
Unlike a de inition in a dictionary that sets forth the literal meaning of a word in an
unimpassioned manner, some de initions imply biases. Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth-century
English critic and dictionary maker, had asked the Earl of Chester ield for inancial help and been
ignored. When later the earl tried to befriend him, Johnson replied with a scornful de inition: “Is not a
Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he
has reached the ground, encumbers hiim with help?” Irony, a igure of speech (metaphor), and a short
de inition have rarely been wielded with such crushing power. (Encumbers, by the way, is a
wonderfully physical word in its context: It means “to burden with dead weight.”)
Methods of Development
The preceding questions will give you a good start on using whatever method or methods of
writing can best answer the overall question “What is the nature of this subject?” You will probably
ind yourself making use of much that you have learned earlier from this book. A short de inition like
the one for schizophrenia may be a good start for your essay, especially if you think your readers need
a quick grounding in the subject. (But feel no duty to place a dictionaryish de inition in the
introduction of every essay you write: The device is overused.) In explaining schizophrenia, if your
readers already have at least a vague idea of the meaning of the term and need no short, formal
de inition of it, you could open your extended de inition by DESCRIBING the experiences of a person
who has the disease:
On his twenty- ifth birthday, Michael sensed danger everywhere. The voices in his
head argued loudly about whether he should step outside. He could see people walking by
who he knew meant him harm— the trick would be to wait for a break in the traf ic and make
a run for it. But the argument and another noise—a clanging like a streetcar bell— made it
dif icult to concentrate, and Michael paced restlessly most of the day.
You could proceed from this opening to explain how Michael’s experiences illustrate some symptoms
of schizophrenia. You could provide other examples of symptoms. You could, through PROCESS
ANALYSIS, explain how the disease generally starts and progresses. You could use CAUSE and EFFECT
to explore the theories of why schizophrenia occurs— from abnormalities in the part of the brain that
controls sensation to incompatibilities in the blood types or antibodies of a mother and her infant.
Process Analysis from The Bedford Reader
A chemist working for a soft-drink irm is asked to improve on a competitor’s product, Green Tea
Tonic. First, she chemically tests a sample to igure out what’s in the drink. This is the method of Division or
Analysis, the separation of something into its parts in order to understand it. Then the chemist writes a
report telling her boss how to make a drink like Green Tea Tonic, but better. This recipe is a special kind of
analysis, called process analysis: explaining step by step how to do something or how something is done.
Like any type of analysis, process analysis divides a subject into its components: It divides a
continuous action into stages. Processes much larger and more involved than the making of a green tea drink
also may be analyzed. When geologists explain how a formation such as the Grand Canyon occurred— a
process taking several hundred million years— they describe the successive layers of sediment deposited by
oceans, loods, and wind; then the great uplift of the entire region by underground forces; and then the
erosion, visible to us today, by the Colorado River and its tributaries, by little streams and lash loods, by
crumbling and falling rock, and by wind. Exactly what are the geologists doing in this explanation? They are
taking a complicate event (or process) and dividing it into parts. They are telling us what happened irst,
second, and third, and what is still happening today.
Because it is useful in explaining what is complicated, process analysis is a favorite method of
scientists such as geologists. The method, however, may be useful to anybody. Two purposes of process
analysis are very familiar to you:
● A directive process analysis explains how to do something or make something. You meet it when you
read a set of instructions for taking an exam or for conducting a chemistry experiment (“From a
5-milliliter burette, add hydrochloride to a 20-milliliter beaker of water . . .”).
● An informative process analysis explains how something is done or how it takes place. You see it in
textbook descriptions of how atoms behave when they split, how lions hunt, and how a fertilized egg
develops into a child.
In this chapter, you will ind examples of both kinds of process analysis— both the “how to” and the “how.” For
instance, Linnea Saukko offers a directive for destroying the environment (not to be taken literally), while
Jessica Mitford spellbindingly informs us of how corpses are embalmed.
Sometimes process analysis is used very imaginatively. Foreseeing that eventually the sun will burn
out and all life on Earth will perish, an astronomer who cannot possibly behold the end of the world
nevertheless can write a process analysis of it. An exercise in learned guesswork, such an essay divides a vast
and almost inconceivable event into stages that, taken one at a time, become clearer and more readily
Whether it is useful or useless (but fun or scary to imagine), an effective process analysis can grip
readers and even hold them fascinated. Say you were proposing a change in the procedures for course
registration at your school. You could argue your point until you were out of words, but you would get
nowhere if you failed to tell your readers exactly how the new process would work: That’s what makes your
proposal sing. Leaf through a current issue of a newsstand magazine, and you will ind that process analysis
abounds. You may meet, for instance, articles telling you how to tenderize cuts of meat, sew homemade
designer jeans, lose fat, cut hair, arouse a bored mate, and score at Internet stock trading. Less practical, but
not necessarily less interesting, are the informative articles: how brain surgeons work, how diamonds are
formed, how cities ight crime. Readers, it seems, have an unshakable thirst for process analysis. In every issue
of the New York Times Book Review, we ind an entire best-seller list devoted to “Advice, How-to, and
Miscellaneous,” including books on how to make money in real estate, how to lose weight, how to ind a good
mate, and how to lose a bad one. Evidently, if anything will still make an American crack open a book, it is a
step-by-step explanation of how he or she, too, can be a success at living.
Here are suggestions for writing an effective process analysis of your own. (In fact, what you are
about to read is itself a process analysis.)
1. Understand clearly the process you are about to analyze. Think it through. THis preliminary survey will
make the task of writing far easier for you.
2. Consider your argument. What is the point of your process analysis: Why are you bothering to tell
readers about it? The thesis statement for a standalone process analysis need do no more than say
what the subject is and maybe outline its essential stages. For instance:
The main stages in writing a process analysis are listing the steps in the process, drafting to explain
the steps, and revising to clarify the steps.
But your readers will surely appreciate something livelier and more pointed, something that says
“You can use this” or “This may surprise you” or “Listen up.” Here are two thesis statements from
essays in this chapter:
[In a mortuary the body] is in short order sprayed, sliced, pierced, pickled, trussed, trimmed,
creamed, waxed, painted, rouged, and neatly dressed— transformed from a common corpse into a
Beautiful Memory Picture.
— Jessica Mitford, “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain”
Poisoning the earth can be dif icult because the earth is always trying to cleanse and renew itself.
— Linnea Saukko, “How to Poison the Earth”
Think about preparatory steps. If the reader should do something before beginning the process, list
these steps. For instance, you might begin, “Assemble the needed equipment: a 20-milliliter beaker, a
5-milliliter burette, safety gloves, and safety goggles.”
List the steps or stages in the process. Try setting them down in chronological order, one at a time— if
this is possible. Some processes, however, do not happen in an orderly sequence, but occur all at once.
If, for instance, you are writing an account of a typical earthquake, what do you mention irst? The
shifting of underground rock strata? Cracks in the earth? Falling houses? Bursting water mains?
Toppling trees? Mangled cars? Casualties? Here is a subject for which the method of classi ication
may come to your aid. You might sort out apparently simultaneous events into categories: injury to
people; damage to homes, to land, to public property.
Check the completeness and order of the steps. Make sure your list includes all the steps in the right
order. Sometimes a stage of a process may contain a number of smaller stages. Make sure none has
been left out. If any seems particularly tricky or complicated, underline it on your list to remind
yourself when you write your essay to slow down and detail it with extra care.
De ine your terms. Ask yourself, “Do I need any specialized or technical terms?” If so, be sure to de ine
them. You’ll sympathize with your reader if you have ever tried to assemble a bicycle according to a
directive that begins, “Position sleeve casing on wheel center in fork with shaft in tong groove, and
gently but forcibly tap in medium pal nut head.”
Use time-markers or transitions. These words or phrases indicate when one stage of a process stops
and the next begins, and they greatly aid your reader in following you. Here, for example, is a
paragraph of plain medical prose that makes good use of helpful time-markers (underlined). (The
paragraph is adapted from Alan Frank Guttmacher’s Pregnancy and Birth: A Book for Expectant
In the human, thirty-six hours after the egg is fertilized, a two-cell egg appears. A
twelve-cell development takes place in seventy-two hours. The egg is still round and has
increased little in diameter. In this respect it is like a real estate development. At irst a road
bisects the whole area, then a cross road divides it into quarters, and later other roads divide
it into eighths and twelfths. This happens without the taking of any more land, simply by
subdivision of the original tract. On the third or fourth day, the egg passes from the Fallopian
tube into the uterus. By the ifth day the original single large cell has subdivided into sixty
small cells and loats about the slitlike uterine cavity a day or two longer, then adheres to the
cavity’s inner lining. By the twelfth day the human egg is already irmly implanted.
Impregnation is now completed, as yet unbeknown to the woman. At present, she has not
even had time to miss her irst menstrual period, and other symptoms of pregnancy are still
several days distant.
Brief as these time-markers are, they de ine each stage of the human egg’s journey. Note how the
writer, after declaring in the second sentence that the egg forms twelve cells, backtracks for a
moment and retraces the process by which the egg has subdivided, comparing it (by a brief analogy)
to a piece of real estate. When using time-markers, vary them so that they won’t seem mechanical. If
you can, avoid the monotonous repetition of a ixed phrase (In the fourteenth stage . . ., In the ifteenth
stage . . .). Even boring time-markers, though, are better than none at all. As in any chronological
narrative, words and phrases such as in the beginning, irst, second, next, then, after that, three seconds
later, at the same time, and inally can help a process to move smoothly in the telling and lodge irmly
in the reader’s mind.
Be speci ic. When you write a irst draft, state your analysis in generous detail, even at the risk of
being wordy. When you revise, it will be easier to delete than to amplify.
Revise. When your essay is inished, reread it carefully against the checklist on the next page. You
might also enlist a friend’s help. If your process analysis is a directive (“How to Eat an Ice-Cream Cone
without Dribbling”), see if the friend can follow your instructions without dif iculty. If your process
analysis is informative (“How a New Word Enters the Dictionary”), ask the friend whether the process
unfolds as clearly in his mind or her mind as it does in yours.
Rhetorical Grammar: Focus on Consistency
While drafting a process analysis, you may start off with subjects and verbs in one form and then shift to
another form because the original choice feels awkward. In directive analyses, shifts occur most often with the
subjects a person and one:
INCONSISTENT To keep the car from rolling while changing the tire, one should irst set the car’s
emergency brake. Then you should block the three other tires with objects like rocks or chunks or
An informative analyses, shifts usually occur from singular to plural as a way to get around he when when the
meaning includes males and females:
INCONSISTENT The poll worker irst checks each voter against the registration list. Then they ask
the voter to sign another list.
To repair inconsistencies, start with a subject that is both comfortable and sustainable:
To keep the car from rolling while changing the tire, you should set the car’s
emergency brake. Then you should block the three other tires with objects like rocks or chunks of
Poll workers irst check each voter against the registration list. Then they ask the
voter to sign another list.
Sometimes, writers try to avoid naming or shifting subjects by using passive verbs that don’t require actors:
INCONSISTENT To keep the car from rolling while changing the tire, one should irst set the car’s
emergency brake. Then the three other tires should be blocked with objects like rocks or chunks of
INCONSISTENT First each voter is checked against the registration list. Then the voter is asked to
sign another list.
In directive analyses, avoid passive verbs by using you, as shown in the consistent example above, or use the
commanding form of verbs, in which you is understood as the subject:
To keep the car from rolling while changing the tire, irst set the car’s emergency
brake. Then block the three other tires with objects like rocks or chunks of wood.
In informative analyses, passive verbs may be necessary if you don’t know who the actor is or want to
emphasize the action over the actor. But identifying the actor is generally clearer and more concise:
Poll workers irst check each voter against the registration list. Then they ask the
voter to sign another list.
PROCESS ANALYSIS IN PARAGRAPHS
Your DVR allows you to schedule recording of any television programming up to two weeks in advance.
Start at the on-screen command center (CMND on the DVR remote) and use the remote’s arrow and “Select”
keys to move around on screens and to make choices. At the command center, select “Record” and then, at the
next screen, “Choose title.” Using the alphabet that appears, spell out the program title. When the title is
complete, select “Done.” At the program screen following, select “Choose episodes.” A list of available episodes
then appears, and you can select the particular ones you want to record. When you’re inished, press “TV” on
the remote to view live television.
How to Poison the Earth
Poisoning the earth can be dif icult because the earth is always trying to cleanse and renew itself.
Keeping this in mind, we should generate as much waste as possible from substances such as uranium-238,
which has a half-life (the time it takes for half of the substance to decay) of one million years, or plutonium,
which has a half-life of only 0.5 million years but is so toxic that if distributed evenly, ten pounds of it could kill
every person on the earth. Because the United States generates about eighteen tons of plutonium per year, it is
about the best substance for long-term poisoning of the earth. It would help if we would build more nuclear
power plants because each one generates only 500 pounds of plutonium each year. Of course, we must include
persistent toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and dichlorodiphenyl trichlorethane (DDT)
to make sure we have enough toxins to poison the earth from the core to the outer atmosphere. First, we must
develop many different ways of putting the waste from these nuclear and chemical substances in, on, and
around the earth.
Putting these substances in the earth is a most important step in the poisoning process. With
deep-well injection we can ensure that the earth is poisoned all the way to the core. Deep-well injection
involves drilling a hole that is a few thousand feet deep and injecting toxic substances at extremely high
pressures so they will penetrate deep into the earth. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
there are about 360 such deep injection wells in the United States. We cannot forget the groundwater aquifers
that are closer to the surface. These must also be contaminated. This is easily done by shallow-well injection,
which operates on the same principle as deep-well injection, only closer to the surface. The groundwater that
has been injected with toxins will spread contamination beneath the earth. The EPA estimates that there are
approximately 500,000 shallow injection wells in the United States.
Burying the toxins in the earth is the next best method. The toxins from land ills, dumps, and lagoons
slowly seep into the earth, guaranteeing that contamination will last a long time. Because the EPA estimates
there are only about 50,000 of these dumps in the United States, they should be located in areas where they
will leak to the surrounding ground and surface water.
Applying pesticides and other poisons on the earth is another part of the poisoning process. This is
good for coating the earth’s surface so that the poisons will be absorbed by plants, will seep into the ground,
and will run off into surface water.
Surface water is very important to contaminate because it will transport the poisons to places that
cannot be contaminated directly. Lakes are good for long-term storage of pollutants while they release some
of their contamination to rivers. The only trouble with rivers is that they act as a natural cleansing system for
the earth. No matter how much poison is dumped into them, they will try to transport it away to reach the
The ocean is very hard to contaminate because it has such a large volume and a natural buffering
capacity that tends to neutralize some of the contamination. So in addition to the pollution from rivers, we
must use the ocean as a dumping place for as many toxins as possible. The ocean currents will help transport
the pollution to places that cannot otherwise be reached.
Now make sure that the air around the earth is very polluted. Combustion and evaporation are major
mechanisms for doing this. We must continuously pollute because the wind will disperse the toxins while the
rain washes them from the air. But this is good because a few lakes are stripped of all living animals each year
from acid rain. Because the lower atmosphere can cleanse itself fairly easily, we must explode nuclear test
bombs that shoot radioactive particles high into the upper atmosphere where they will circle the earth for
years. Gravity must pull some of the particles to earth, so we must continue exploding these bombs.
So it is that easy. Just be sure to generate as many poisonous substances as possible and be sure they
are distributed in, on, and around the entire earth at a greater rate than it can cleanse itself. By following these
easy steps we can guarantee the poisoning of the earth.
Get It Right: Privatize Executions
The time has come to consider the privatization of executions.
There can no longer be any doubt that government— society itself— is incapable of doing anything
right, and this certainly applies to the executions of convicted criminals.
At present, the thing is a total loss, to the convicted person, to his family, and to society. It need not be
People can be executed in places like Shea Stadium before immense paying audiences. The income
from the spectacle could be distributed to the prison that fed and housed him or to a trust fund for prisoner
rehabilitation and his own family and/or girlfriend, as he himself chose.
The condemned would of course get a percentage of the gate, to be negotiated by his agent or a
promoter, if he so desired.
The take would, without question, be sizable, considering the immense number of Americans in favor
of capital punishment. A $200 to $300 ringside seat would not be excessive, with bleachers going for, say, $25.
As with all sports events, a certain ritual would seem inevitable and would quickly become an
expected part of the occasion. The electric chair would be set on a platform, like a boxing ring without the
rope, around second base.
Once the audience was seated, a soprano would come forward and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
When she stepped down, the governor, holding a microphone, would appear and describe the condemned
man’s crimes in detail, plus his many failed appeals.
Then the governor would step aside and a phalanx of police of icers or possibly National Guard or
Army troops would mount the platform and surround the condemned. This climactic entrance might be
accomplished by a trumpet fanfare or other musical number by the police or Army band, unless it was thought
to offend good taste.
Next, a minister or priest would appear and offer a benediction, asking God’s blessing on the
The condemned, should he desire, could make a short statement and even a plea of innocence. This
would only add to the pathos of the occasion and would of course not be legally binding. He would then be
strapped into the chair.
Finally, the executioner, hooded to protect himself from retaliation, would proceed to the platform. He
would walk to a console where, on a solemn signal from the governor, he would pull the switch.
The condemned man would instantly surge upward against his bindings, with smoke emitting from
his lesh. This by itself would provide a most powerful lesson for anyone contemplating murder. For those not
contemplating murder, it would be a reminder of how lucky they are to have been straight and honest in
For the state, this would mean additional income; for the audience, an intense and educational
experience—people might, for example, wish to bring their children.
And for the condemned, it would have its achievement aspect, because he would know that he had
not lived his life for nothing.
Some might object that such proceedings are so fundamentally attractive that it is not too much to
imagine certain individuals contemplating murder in order to star in the program. But no solution to any
profound social problem is perfect.
Finally, and perhaps most important, it is entirely possible that after witnessing a few dozen
privatized executions, the public might grow tired of the spectacle—just as it seizes on all kinds of
entertainment only to lose interest once their repetitiousness becomes too tiresomely apparent.
Then perhaps we might be willing to consider the fact that in executing prisoners we merely add to
the number of untimely dead without diminishing the number of murders committed.
At that point, the point of boredom, we might begin asking why it is that Americans commit murder
more often than any other people. At the moment, we are not bored enough with executions to ask this
question; instead, we are apparently going to demand more and more of them, most probably because we
never get to witness any in person.
My proposal would lead us more quickly to boredom and away from our current gratifying
excitement—and ultimately perhaps to a wiser use of alternating current.
Classification & Division from The Bedford Reader
Division or Analysis
A chemist working for a soft-drink company is asked to improve on a competitor’s product, Green Tea
Tonic. To do the job, the chemist irst has to igure out what’s in the drink. She smells the stuff and tastes it.
Then she tests a sample chemically to discover the actual ingredients: water, green tea, corn syrup, citric acid,
sodium benzoate, coloring. Methodically, the chemist has performed Division or Analysis: She has separated
the beverage into its components. Green Tea Tonic stands revealed, understood, ready to be bettered.
Division or analysis (the terms are interchangeable) is a key skill in learning and in life. It is an
instrument allowing you to slice a large and complicated subject into smaller parts that you can grasp and
relate to one another. With analysis you comprehend— and communicate— the structure of things. And when
it works, you ind in the parts an idea or conclusion about the subject that makes it clearer, truer, more
comprehensive, or more vivid than before you started.
If you have worked with the previous rhetorical modes, you have already used division or analysis in
explaining a Process Analysis and in Comparing and Contrasting. To make better Green Tea Tonic (a
process), the chemist might prepare a recipe that divides the process into separate steps or actions (“First,
boil a gallon of water . . .”). When the batch is done, she might taste-test the two drinks, analyzing and then
comparing their green tea lavor, sweetness, and acidity. As you’ll see in the other rhetorical modes, too,
division or analysis igures in all the other methods of developing ideas, for it is basic to any converted
thought, explanation, or evaluation.
Kinds of Division or Analysis
Although division or analysis always works the same way— separating a whole, singular subject into
its elements, slicing it into parts— the method can be more or less dif icult, depending on how unfamiliar,
complex, and abstract the subject is. Obviously, it’s going to be much easier to analyze a chicken (wings, legs,
thighs . . .) than a poem by T.S. Eliot (this image, that allusion . . .), easier to analyze the structure of a small
business than that of a multinational conglomerate. Just about any subject can be analyzed and will be the
clearer for it. In “I Want a Wife,” an essay in this chapter, Judy Brady divides the role of a wife into various
functions or services. In an essay called “Teacher” from his book Pot Shots at Poetry (1980), Robert Francis
divides the knowledge of poetry he imparted to his class into six pie sections. The irst slice is what he told his
students that they knew already.
The second slice is what I told them that they could have found out just as well or better from
books. What, for instance, is a sestina?
The third slice is what I told them that they refused to accept. I could see it on their faces, and
later I saw the evidence in their writing.
The fourth slice is what I told them that they were willing to accept and may have thought they
accepted but couldn’t accept since they couldn’t fully understand. This also I saw in their faces and in
their work. Here, no doubt, I was mostly to blame.
The ifth slice is what I told them that they discounted as whimsy or something simply to ill up
time. After all, I was being paid to talk.
The sixth slice is what I didn’t tell them, for I didn’t try to tell them all I knew. Deliberately I kept
back something— a few professional secrets, a magic formula or two.
There are always multiple ways to divide or analyze a subject, just as there are many ways to slice a
pie. Francis could have divided his knowledge of poetry into knowledge of rhyme, knowledge of meter,
knowledge of imagery, and so forth— basically following the components of a poem. In other words, the
outcome of a Division or Analysis depends on the rule or principle used to do the slicing. This fact accounts for
some of the differences among academic disciplines: A psychologist, say, may look at the individual person
primarily as a bundle of drives and needs, whereas a sociologist may emphasize the individual’s roles in
society. Even within disciplines, different factions analyze differently, using different principles of division or
analysis. Some psychologists are interested mainly in thought, others mainly in behavior; some psychologists
focus mainly on emotional development, others mainly on moral development.
Division or Analysis in Paragraphs
Writing about Television
Many television comedies, even some that boast live audiences, rely on laugh tracks to ill too-quiet
moments. The effect of a canned laugh comes from its four overlapping elements. The irst is style, from titter
to belly laugh. The second is intensity, the volume, ranging from mild to medium to earsplitting. The third
ingredient is duration, the length of the laugh, whether quick, medium, or extended. And inally, there’s the
number of laughers, from a long giggler to a roaring throng. According to rumor (for the exact workings are
still a secret), the laugh-track editor draws from a bank of hundreds of prerecorded laugh iles. Playing them
singly or in combination, the editor blends the four ingredients as a maestro weaves a symphony out of brass,
woodwinds, percussion, and strings.
Writing in an Academic Discipline
The model of social relationship which its these conditions of realistic equality between patient and
doctor is that of the contract or covenant. The notion of contract should not be loaded with legalistic
implications, but taken in its more symbolic form as in the traditional religious or marriage “contract” or
“covenant.” Here two traditional individuals or groups are interacting in a way where there are obligations
and expected bene its for both parties. The obligations and bene its are limited in scope, though, even if they
are expressed in somewhat vague terms. The basic norms of freedom, dignity, truth-telling, promise-keeping,
and justice are essential to a contractual relationship. The premise is trust and con idence even though it is
recognized that there is not a full mutuality of interests. Social sanctions institutionalize and stand behind the
relationship, in case there is a violation of the contract, but for the most part the assumption is that there will
be a faithful ful illment of the obligations.
— Robert M. Veatch,
“Models for Medicine in a Revolutionary Age”
Classification from The Bedford Reader
To classify is to make sense of the world by arranging many units— trucks, chemical elements,
wasps, students— into more manageable groups. Zoologists classify animals, botanists classify plants— and
their classi ications help us understand a vast and complex subject: life on earth. To help us ind books in a
library, librarians classify books into categories: iction, biography, history, psychology, and so forth. For the
convenience of readers, newspapers run classi ied advertising, grouping many small ads into categories such
as Help Wanted and Cars for Sale.
Subjects and Reasons for Classification
The subject of a classi ication is always a number of things, such as peaches or political systems. (In
contrast, Division or Analysis usually deals with a solitary subject, a coherent whole, such as a peach or a
political system.) The job of classi ication is to sort the things into groups or classes based on their similarities
and differences. Say, for instance, you’re going to write an essay about how people write. After interviewing
lot of writers, you determine that writers’ processes differ widely, mainly in the amount of planning and
rewriting they entail. (Notice that this determination involves analyzing the process of writing, separating it
into steps. On the basis of your indings, you create groups for planers, one-drafters, and rewriters. Once your
groups are de ined (and assuming they are valid), your subjects (the writers) almost sort themselves out.
Classi ication is done for a purpose. In a New York City guidebook, Joan Hamburg and Norma Ketay
discuss low-priced hotels. (Notice that already they are examining the members of a group: low-priced as
opposed to medium- and high-priced hotels.) They cast the low-priced hotels into categories: Rooms for
Singles and Students, Rooms for Families, Rooms for Service-people, and Rooms for General Occupancy.
Always their purpose is evident: to match up the visitor with a suitable kind of room. When a classi ication has
no purpose, it seems a silly and hollow exercise.
Just as you can analyze a subject (or divide a pie) in many ways, you can classify a subject according
to many principles. A different New York guidebook might classify all hotels according to price: grand luxury,
luxury, moderate, low-priced (Hamburg and Ketay’s category), leabag, and lophouse. The purpose of this
classi ication would be to match visitors to hotels itting their pocketbooks. The principle you use in
classifying things depends on your purpose. A linguist might explain the languages of the world by classifying
them according to their origins (Romance languages, Germanic languages, Coptic languages . . .), but a student
battling with a college language requirement might try to entertain fellow students by classifying languages
into three groups: hard to learn, harder to learn, and unlearnable.
Kinds of Classification
The simplest classi ication is binary (or two-part), in which you sort things out into (1) those with a
certain distinguishing feature and (2) those without it. You might classify a number of persons, let’s say, into
smokers and nonsmokers, heavy metal fans and nonfans, runners and nonrunners, believers and
nonbelievers. Binary classi ication is most useful when your subject is easily divisible into positive and
Classi ication can be complex as well. As we are reminded by the English writer Jonathan Swift
So, naturalists observe, a lea
Hath smaller leas that on him prey,
And these have smaller yet to bite ‘em.
And so proceed ad in initum.
In being faithful to reality, you will sometimes ind that you have to sort out the members of categories into
subcategories. Hamburg and Ketay did something of the kind when they subclassi ied the class of low-priced
New York hotels. Writing about the varieties of one Germanic language, such as English, a writer could
identify the sub-classes of British English, North American English, Australian English, and so on.
As readers, we all enjoy watching a clever writer sort things into categories. We like to meet
classi ications that strike us as true and familiar. This pleasure may account for the appeal of magazine
articles that classify things (“The Seven Common Garden Varieties of Moocher,” “Five Embarrassing Types of
Social Blunder”). Usefulness as well as pleasure may explain the popularity of classi ications that evaluate
things. The magazine Consumer Reports sorts products as varied as computer monitors and canned tuna into
groups based on quality (excellent, good, fair, poor, and not acceptable), and then, using Description,
discusses each product. (Of a frozen pot pie: “Bottom crust gummy, meat spongy when chewed, with
nondescript old-poultry and stale- lour lavor.”)
Purposes and Theses
Classi ication will usually come into play when you want to impose order on a complex subject that
includes many items. In one essay in this chapter, for instance, Stephanie Ericsson tackles the lies people tell
one another. Sometimes you may use Classi ication humorously, as Russell Baker does in another essay in
this chapter, to give a charge to familiar experiences. Whichever use you make of classi ication, though, do it
for a reason. The iles of composition instructors are littered with student essays in which nothing was
ventured and nothing gained by classi ication.
Things can be classi ied into categories that reveal truth or into categories that don’t tell us a thing. To
sort out ten US cities according to their relative freedom from air pollution or their cost of living or the degree
of progress they have made in civil rights might prove highly informative and useful. Such a classi ication
might even tell us where we’d want to live. But to sort out the cities according to a super icial feature such as
the relative size of their cat and dog populations wouldn’t interest anyone, probably, except a veterinarian
looking for a job.
Your purpose, your thesis, and your principle of classi ication will all overlap at the point where you
ind your interest in your subject. Say you’re curious about how other students write. Is your interest
primarily in the materials they use (computer, felt-tip pen, pencil), in where and when they write, or in how
much planning and rewriting they do? Any of these could lead to a principle for sorting the students into
groups. And that principle should be revealed in your thesis statement, letting readers know why you are
classifying. Here, from the essays in this chapter, are two examples of classi ication thesis statements:
Inanimate objects are classi ied into three major categories— those that don’t work, those that break
down, and those that get lost.
—Russell Baker, “The Plot against People”
[I]t’s not easy to entirely eliminate lies from our lives. No matter how pious we may try to be, we will
still embellish, hedge, and omit to lubricate the daily machinery of living. But . . . acceptance of lies
becomes a cultural cancer that eventually shrouds and reorders reality until moral garbage becomes
as invisible to us as water is to a ish.
—Stephanie Ericsson, “The Ways We Lie”
For a workable classi ication, make sure that the categories you choose don’t overlap. If you were
writing a survey of popular magazines for adults and you were sorting your subject into categories that
included women’s magazines and sports magazines, you might soon run into trouble. Into which category
would you place Women’s Sports? The trouble is that both categories take in the same item. To avoid this
problem, you’ll need to reorganize your classi ication on a different principle. You might sort out the
magazines by their audiences: magazines mainly for women, magazines mainly for men, magazines for both
women and men. Or you might group them according to subject matter: sports magazines, literary magazines,
astrology magazines, fashion magazines, celebrity magazines, trade journals, and so on. Women’s Sports would
it into either of those classi ication schemes, but into only one category in each scheme.
When you draw up a scheme of classi ication, be sure also that you include all essential categories.
Omitting an important category can weaken the effect of your essay, no matter how well written it is. It would
be a major oversight, for example, if you were to classify the residents of a dormitory according to their
religious af iliations and not include a category for the numerous non-af iliated. Your reader might wonder if
your carelessness in forgetting a category extended to your thinking about the topic as well.
Some form of outline can be helpful to keep the classes and their members straight as you develop
and draft ideas. You might experiment with a diagram in which you jot down headings for the groups, with
plenty of space around them, and then let each heading accumulate members as you think of them, the way a
magnet attracts paper clips. This kind of diagram offers more lexibility than a vertical list or an outline, and it
may be a better aid for keeping categories from overlapping or disappearing.
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