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Rhetorical Patterns - Classification/Division
The Rhetorical Patterns - Organizing Essays for Different Rhetorical Situations
The following pages will provide you with several effective ways of organizing information in your essays. Oftentimes, when you know who your audience is and what your purpose is for writing (which is called your rhetorical situation), you can begin to consider the organization of what is going to be in your paper, how you will introduce your paper, and what to write for your conclusion. The following rhetorical patterns will help you answer these questions.
Definition: Classification/Division, essentially, is a system of exclusive organization using categorized examples.
Description: When you consider which examples to use in a classification/division essay, you should begin both grouping (or classifying) your examples together according to their similarities and excluding (or dividing) them apart based on their differences.
Classification helps your readers completely understand the subject of your paper because you have organized the things you are considering according to a logical method.
Through classification and division, readers can understand what might appear to them to be unassociated ideas because your logical method has identified relationships between them all. In many rhetorical situations, classification/division brings a sense of order to what your readers might have perceived as a chaotic scenario. Although, both classification and division are two separate steps, they must occur together in the same paper.
Conventions: Most readers of classification essays will want a detailed understanding about your principle of classification, which you will recall is how you divided and organized your paper’s things or examples. Readers may want you to announce in the first person that you are creating a class (i.e., “These things can be divided into four categories, of which I will exclude the first three. These categories are…”). On the other hand, your readers will probably become distracted if larger, first person elements of narration intrude and interrupt your discussion of your classification principle. Most classification/division essays are written in the present tense, unless, that is, the principle of classification deals with historical analysis. Finally, the internal logic most readers expect from a classification/division essay results from adherence to three ideas: The principle of classification will produce all the classes and categories; all of the sub-categories and sub-classes are equal in value; and, that you will consider all objects and examples within the category or class that you analyze.
Strategies: When you begin to classify, consider your individual things or examples and sort and parse them into classes or categories. Many of these things will have several different elements and characteristics, so realize that they can be classified in many different ways. Then divide these groups further, so that you can isolate a certain class. While you are performing these operations, you should consider what particular principle helped you to assign specific things to one category or to another. Then analyze, and perhaps use as the basis of an argument, the examples or things in the class you have developed.
Organization: The principle of classification you choose would depend on how you wished to approach the members of this large and diverse group. This principle should be specifically articulated in detail in your introduction. Once a class has been identified and assigned, and its principle is known to your readers, they will generally prefer to have a body paragraph devoted to each of the objects in the class or to each of the attributes of the one exemplary object in the class. Since classification/division lends itself so well to social science papers, most readers will want to know any implications or ramifications of your analysis in the conclusion.
What is division?
Division is the separation of the things into groups and classes. Normally, readers expect that you will divide things into large groups, and then smaller and smaller groups, based on the similarities of the things in each class. Consistent or mutually-exclusive categories are what you are aiming for. You want each of your classes or categories to have things in it that would not belong to other classes or categories.
What is classification?
Classification is the system that you use to get from all the things to a certain number of categories of things. Complete or exhaustive classes are what you are aiming for. You want all of your items or things to fit into one of your classes. Each classification system can differ depending on what you are classifying; there are certain classification words that are conventional. Some of these are:
Develop your classification system logically and according to your purposes.
How do I draft my introduction?
Your readers will almost certainly look for a description of the entire population you will divide and classify and your principle of division and classification in your introduction.
How do I focus my main point or thesis?
Some readers and writers prefer the multipart thesis, which provides the categories in their order and use the categories as cue words for the body paragraph topic sentences.
Students who succeed at college normally fall into the categories of academics, athletes, and socializers.
How do I draft my body paragraphs and focus on my principle of classification?
Your body paragraphs should deal with each category, probably in the same order that you developed them as you presented your principle of classification, methodically and comprehensively. The aim of the body paragraphs is two-fold: develop your analysis and reinforce your principle of classification.
How can I draft my conclusion?
There are other techniques for wrapping up your paper. You might return to the technique that you used to open your introduction and further develop it. Or you might do one of the following:
- Give your interpretation of what has happened.
- Make a prediction about the future.
- Provide a solution to a problem raised in your paper.
- Offer a suggestion or advice to people dealing with problems raised in your paper.
- Formulate new questions that might be asked given your analysis of the situation. Where can further research go?
Peer-Review Worksheet for Classification:
What is the total population of the things that you can divide and classify?
(Have these things already been divided and classified in a way that you can use, modify, or suggest an alternative to?)
What is your purpose for dividing and classifying?
Who is your primary audience? Does your audience already know something about your paper’s subject? If so, what kinds of things does your audience know?
How will you divide your total population? Into what groups and classes?
Are there any “problems” for your principle of classification? Would some readers think that certain groups might contain elements from other groups? Explain how you will deal with this problem.
What is the thesis statement?
What are your topic sentences?
What will you do in your conclusion?