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Second Language Cyber Rhetoric: A Study of Chinese L2 Writers in an Online Usenet Group

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Author(s): Joel Bloch

Journal: Language Learning & Technology
ISSN 1094-3501

Volume: 8;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 66;
Date: 2004;
Original page

ABSTRACT
It has been argued that the expectations of traditional L2 writing classroom can be problematic for Chinese students, particularly in the area of argumentation and critical thinking. On the other hand, writing on the Internet has been shown to be substantially different in ways that may liberate the students from the constraints of the classroom. This argument, however, has typically focused on American writers, ignoring how cyberspace is being appropriated by those outside of the Western tradition of rhetoric. In this study, I examine how Chinese writers use the Internet as an alternative writing space to produce a rhetoric that incorporates traditional Chinese rhetorical forms expressed in English. The study focuses on how a group of Chinese writers respond on the Internet to a television segment accusing the Chinese government of planting spies. I found that the Chinese writers use the Internet to build a collective response to the television show using a variety of rhetorical strategies, even to the point of forcing the television network to meet with them. By situating their arguments in the tradition of Chinese rhetoric, I found that these alternative forms of writing found in cyberspace are affected by the traditions of Chinese rhetoric.
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