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What is Your Favorite Book?: Using Narrative to Teach Theme Development in Persuasive Writing

Mary Ann Becker

DePaul University College of Law

March 5, 2010

Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2011

This article explores new theories in the area of narrative, applied storytelling, and literature as a means to teach persuasive writing. Students, even upper level ones, often cannot answer the question: "Who cares what happens in this case?" While part of a student's perplexity as to how to apply the theory of the case arises from a lack of experience, part of it also arises from the fact that students are not able to identify with the client's story. Because good writers come from good readers, I developed a technique using students' favorite books in order to give them a concrete example of what constituted good writing and to help them answer the question of "who cares." This article analyzes the three points of view broadly presented in a narrative text and how this literary technique uses those three points of view to remedy the disparity between the abstract concepts of the theory of the case and its concrete application in a persuasive brief. By using students' descriptions of their favorite books to illustrate the underlying theme in something familiar to them, students implicitly identify the three points of view in a narrative text: the character's, the teller's, and the reader's. My article posits that these three points of view are necessary to understand and develop the theme of a brief, which makes them better able to transport a reader and control the outcome of their client's case. Further, this literary technique comports with constructivist learning theories because it is a means of connecting prior educational experiences with new ones to better teach new skills.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: narrative, persuasion, storytelling, legal writing, theory of the case

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Date posted: May 11, 2010 ; Last revised: June 22, 2010

Suggested Citation

Becker, Mary Ann, What is Your Favorite Book?: Using Narrative to Teach Theme Development in Persuasive Writing (March 5, 2010). Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1604146

Contact Information

Mary Ann Becker (Contact Author)
DePaul University College of Law ( email )
25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312.362.5019 (Phone)
312.362.5448 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.depaul.edu/faculty_staff/faculty_information.asp?id=60

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