Monday, April 30, 2012

Joseph Kerwin's e-Portfolio

My name is Joseph Kerwin and I am currently an undergraduate at the Pennsylvania State University. I am enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts with a double major in Political Science and History. I am a member of the Nittany Lion Battalion as well, Penn State’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps unit. My goals are to serve in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as an infantry officer and to attend the Dickinson School of Law at the Pennsylvania State University.

Being a student in LA 101H: Civics and Rhetoric, I became accustom to creating rhetoric as well as absorbing rhetoric into my academic mindset. LA101H gave me the tools to be able to take rhetorical situations and break them down to understand what makes rhetoric effective in persuading or forming opinions and distributing information. When I first began LA101H at the beginning of the Spring 2012 semester, I had a very general understanding of the importance of rhetoric and I did not understand how to create my own rhetoric.

As the course progressed though I was able to fully grasp the importance of both distributing and consuming rhetoric. I understood how concepts such as ethos, pathos, and kairos were effectively employed in writing as well as speech. I also learned how to decipher everything from advertisements to political rhetoric to understand what made these items so essential in disseminating information and forming as well as solidifying opens. Slowly I learned the components of rhetorical situations and how to effectively employ them in my own writing strategies. I was also able to further my speaking skills by preparing for and delivering to speeches in front of a live audience. Understanding how to deliver a message verbally is just as necessary as being able to write the rhetorical message on a piece of paper.

Without taking LA101H: Civics and Rhetoric, I would have been completely ignorant to how rhetoric is used and how it I witness its use everyday throughout all sectors of society. I now understand the major parts that form rhetorical situations and how to use these parts when developing my own rhetoric whether through speech or writing.
Link to Joseph Kerwin's e-Portfolio

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Rhetoric of a Killing

This is it! The last  post of the semester for Rhetoric and Civic life….we have conquered the multimedia project this week and made it to our last post. This week I would like to throw my input in on the rhetorical situation that the Trayvon Martin killing has created.  The slaying of the seventeen year old Martin has split the nation and caused an uproar about everything from gun control to racism. The background to the incident is that George Zimmeran, a Hispanic neighborhood watchman with a tendency to call 911 a lot, drew down on seventeen year old, un-armed Trayvon Martin with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and killed him after running home him down. There is much that surrounds this incident so I am not going to post my opinion, I just want to show the rhetorical effect it has.
Riot have erupted after the shooter, Zimmerman claimed self defense. People across the country are infuriated that seventeen year old Martin was killed. Many think it was because he was an African American and he just looked “the wrong way”.
Politicians have seized the kairos of the situation to push for gun control and to advocate for their own personal policies that they want to see placed into law. A tragic event like this is the perfect trigger for politicians to try to enact legislation.  The symbol of Skittles and a container of ice tea along with a hooded sweatshirt have been the symbol of Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate death.
Representative Bobby Rush took special care to use the kairos of this situation by donning a hooded sweatshirt to make a statement about racial profiling in America. Rep. Rush used the sweatshirt to show that anybody can where a hooded sweatshirt whether they are black or white and that does not make them a killer or criminal.
The killing of Trayvon Martin goes to show how rhetoric whether involving crime, guns, or racism can get the people of this country upset and ready to take action. This event also shows that even the highest echelons of government will act after an event at a local level occurs.


"A Guide To The Trayvon Martin Killing | TPMMuckraker." TPMMuckraker. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.
"Rep. Bobby Rush's Hoodie Moment Recalls His Own Family Tragedy : It's All Politics : NPR." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.
the. "Lawyers: Zimmerman whispered 'punks' before shooting Trayvon Martin -" - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.