Martha Kolln is part of my Great Unread, unfortunately. Along with Polya.
So, since I don't know enough about rhetorical grammar (pdf file) to write a post about it, here is a terrific passage from Geoffrey Pullum's 50-year anniversary take-down of Strunk and White, which I believe is the kind of analysis Kolln does:
"Use the active voice" is a typical section head. And the section in question opens with an attempt to discredit passive clauses that is either grammatically misguided or disingenuous.thanks to Karen H
We are told that the active clause "I will always remember my first trip to Boston" sounds much better than the corresponding passive "My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me." It sure does. But that's because a passive is always a stylistic train wreck when the subject refers to something newer and less established in the discourse than the agent (the noun phrase that follows "by").
For me to report that I paid my bill by saying "The bill was paid by me," with no stress on "me," would sound inane. (I'm the utterer, and the utterer always counts as familiar and well established in the discourse.) But that is no argument against passives generally. "The bill was paid by an anonymous benefactor" sounds perfectly natural. Strunk and White are denigrating the passive by presenting an invented example of it deliberately designed to sound inept.
April 17, 2009
50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice
By Geoffrey K. Pullum