Restorative Counterargument

Overview. You’ll craft the equivalent of a 4-page, double-spaced counterargument in response to the pathological text you analyzed in the previous assignment. What you’ll be countering in this counterargument is a pathological effect of that artifact. Your counterargument should not be combative but restorative, healing, in other words. You may or may not directly address or even refer to the original artifact (it will depend on what you aim to do), but you will attempt to repair some aspect of its pathological effects. You’ll complete and turn in with the main assignment a description of your counterargument’s rhetorical goals and approach.

The Counterargument. 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 the inspiration for your response, but your response will not be constrained by the artifact’s context or frame. Consider this a moment of invention and intervention. In your response, 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. 

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 in this counterargument is a pathological effect 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 section of the us/them border inscribed in the original artifact so that “rhetoric’s sensorium” is again acknowledged and 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.

The 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 (a speech, a profile piece, an op-ed, the transcript for a YouTube video 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, how it will stir those feelings, and what behavior you hope such feelings will promote.



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