UPDATED Restorative Counterargument


You’ll craft the equivalent of a 3-page, double-spaced counterargument in which you’ll counter one of the pathological effects of the artifact you analyzed in the previous assignment. The goal of this assignment is restorative: your aim is to redress some aspect of your artifact’s wounding effects in rhetoric’s sensorium. You’ll also complete and include a description of your rhetorical goals for the assignment. 

We typically understand “counterargument” to mean an argument explicitly crafted to oppose another argument: its claims, its evidence, or both. That is not what we’ll mean by it here. Your goal will be neither to explicitly refute the claims and evidence offered in the original artifact nor to persuade its author of your own position. The artifact will be your inspiration, but your response will not be constrained by the artifact’s context or frame. Consider this a moment of invention and intervention. You may opt to not mention the original artifact at all; your audience will not be the author of the original artifact, either, but a broader community who may be moved to take up a different way of thinking and responding that might also be restorative. 

The Counterargument

You have already analyzed your artifact’s pathological effects and how it produces them. Your aim in this assignment is to find a way to begin to creatively undo them. So again: what you’ll be countering is one of the pathological effects of your original artifact. If your artifact reinforced the stickiness of negative emotions with certain bodies, for example, you may produce a response that aims to “unstick” them. If your artifact erased certain histories or ignored perspectives that would, if they were given voice, undermine the artifact’s injurious claims from the inside, you might give voice to those histories or perspectives.

You may, if necessary, artfully correct any factual inaccuracies in the original artifact, but your goal is not simply to hammer home “the facts,” as if logos and pathos were discrete rhetorical appeals. Your goal is to offer a restorative response that undoes some aspect of the us/them border inscribed in the original artifact so that “rhetoric’s sensorium” is again affirmed. Your appeals should be thoughtful and moving, designed to undo violent appropriations without neglecting to address the affective network in which they take place.

Description of rhetorical goals

Before you begin crafting your counterargument, respond to the following prompts, in order, to describe what it will aim to do, how it will do it, and for whom. You’ll attach this description to the end of your counterargument when you upload it to Canvas:  

  • Identify the pathological effect (from your original artifact) that your counterargument will counter.
  • Identify your audience. Who do you want to talk to, to move? It may or may not include the audience of the original artifact, but it will be broader than that one.
  • Determine the form your counterargument will take (an op-ed, a blog post, the transcript for a speech or a podcast, etc.) and the forum it’s designed for (a community gathering, a specific blog or social media site, a specific newspaper, etc.). Make sure the forum is a good way to reach the audience you most hope to reach.
  • Articulate how your essay will counter the pathological effect you specified, including what feelings it will aim to stir.


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