West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

West Chester University

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001






Course Information
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements
  LIT 165 Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assigmments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
  Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Notes on 'Before the Law'
  Samuel Beckett Links
  Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
  Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
  Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
  Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
  DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
  Suggested Readings: Independent Project
  Utopia/Dystopia Links
  Character Analysis: Brave New World
  Analyzing the Brave New World
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on the Brave New World
  A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Dante Links
  Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
  Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
  Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
  Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
  Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
  Introducing Canto I
  Approaching the Divine Comedy
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
  Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
  The Birthmark
  Leaf By Niggle
  Responses to Leaf By Niggle
  'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
  Analyzing the Mythic Tales
  The Four Functions of Myth
  Myth and Metaphor
  Myth - Links
  Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
  'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
  Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
  Alice In Wonderland
  The Metamorphosis

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
  Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
  Commentary: Following Up Your Response
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources
  What is Argument?
  Parts of an Argument
  Casebook Assignment Sheet
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
  Expressive Writing
  Short Stories About Identity
  Thoughts on Stories About Identity
  Poems About Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Mind-map: Identity

ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
  ENG Q20 Syllabus
  Frederick Douglass Excerpt
  Propaganda Analysis
  How to Detect Propaganda
  George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda Analysis Exercise

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library



This famous pamphlet was composed in the 1930s to help people analyze the particular rhetorical devices that constitute "propaganda" in the hopes that such knowledge would help us hold politicians more accountable for the kinds of manipulations they tried to get away with. Powerful propaganda was in the air back then. Dangerous nationalists like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, waiting there in the wings…. Would people in those societies have been as vulnerable, as gullible as they were if they'd had this kind of knowledge about how they were being manipulated? The writers of this pamphlet were attempting to inform their American readers about propaganda, in part, to protect them from being vulnerable to its effects.

A few questions we want to ask and answer based on this article are:

  • How does the Institute for Propaganda Analysis define propaganda?
  • What are the propaganda tools to look out for?

We can answer those two questions up there fairly easily.

How does the IPA define propaganda?
Propaganda, defined by the IPA, means deliberately designing messages so that people will be influenced to think or act in predetermined ways, in ways the propagandist prefers. That is, it's an instrument of persuasion meant to get people to form rash judgments. Why rash? Because they're not based on rational thought or inquiry, just bald feeling. In this broad sense, you can see how advertising is "propagandistic," but properly understood, "propaganda" is a term usually reserved for those who wield it, or want to wield it, in an organized way for political purposes. Despite their similarities advertising and propaganda are different. There's a qualitative difference between using persuasion to get you to purchase a pair of jeans and using persuasion to get you to elect a person to office, to give that person enormous power. The difference is that the success or failure of the persuasion advertisers use will affect individuals, whereas political persuasion potentially affects millions. So, while some of the techniques are the same, the effects are not.

What are the propaganda tools to be on the lookout for?
The propaganda tools discussed in the IPA pamphlet are "NAME CALLING," "GLITTERING GENERALITIES," "TRANSFER," "TESTIMONIAL," "PLAIN FOLKS," "CARD STACKING," and "BAND WAGON." It would help to give some of these new names, I think.

Name Calling. Say something nasty about someone. Use broad strokes and never fill them in. Get your audience rushing to judgment without providing any evidence. "He's a pen-pushing bureaucrat." "He's a liberal." (That didn't used to be a bad name!) "He's a terrorist." (Ah, we don't want to admit it, but that's name calling. One person's terrorist is another person's "freedom fighter.")

Glittering Generalities. Use virtue words. Use the same broad strokes, and never fill them in. Get your audience, once again, to rush to judgment without examining any evidence. "He's a good American." "We're for family values." Glittering generalities are feel-good words that will make people feel warm and fuzzy without making them think too hard, or think at all.

Transfer. To make something more palatable, set it next to something we like a lot. Get us to feel good about it by the power of association. "Transfer" that good feeling we have about this thing or idea to that thing (or idea). Get your audience to completely confuse the two as much as possible. (The flag = "America's New War." Several TV news stations have helped us associate our patriotism, our need to bond together, our team spirit, our rallying around the flag, with feeling okay about our "new war."

Testimonial. Display somebody whom a lot of people respect or idolize and ask them to take that person's word for it, whatever it is. ("Mayor Guilliani says he is definitely going to vote for so and so, so what do you think of that?")

Plain Folks. Go out and be among the people, doing and saying the things that ordinary people do. Talk like them. Dress like them. Eat like them. Laugh like them. Get the people to believe you are just like "one of them." Visit the factory and press some flesh with the machine operators if you really want their votes (and all the other working class folks out there watching on the evening news.)

Card Stacking. "Stack the cards" or "arrange the deck" of facts against the truth. Use under-emphasis and over-emphasis. Suppress facts that don't support your side. Dodge questions, avoid issues, evade facts. Even lie if you have to. Use censorship, distortion. Omit things. Offer false testimony. Create a diversion, raising new issues when you want something forgotten. Draw a red herring across the trail to keep nosy inquisitors off your trail. Make the unreal appear real and the real appear unreal. Encourage half-truth to masquerade as the whole truth. Use as much sham, hypocrisy, and effrontery as you can get away with! (Ask the American people and the rest of the global community to believe Iraq was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. without presenting credible evidence.)

The Band Wagon. Encourage everyone to conform, to follow the crowd, to join in the parade, to get that fellow feeling of belonging to the group. Hey, don't you know "everybody's doing it," so what's your problem? Get with the program! Hop on! Flatter and pander and play on people's prejudices, biases, convictions and ideals-work their emotions until they join. (Don't you support our war in Iraq yet? What do you mean you think this was the wrong war? That's not what all the rest of us good people think!)







Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2005 by Stacy Tartar Esch.

The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
These contents are for educational purposes only.