Pike, Becker and Young, "Tagmemics," from Rhetoric: Discovery and Change (N.Y.: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1970)
1) Describe the topic as a "particle," a discrete event: what are its characteristics?
the Viet Nam War: its beginning and end; the combatants; the weaponry; its effect on the military civilian poplulations of Viet Nam, France, America, Cambodia, and other nations; its after-effects.
2) Describe the topic as part of a "wave," a linear series of related events--what are the wave's characteristics, where are its origins and destinations, what frequencies does it follow, does it interact with other waves?
the Viet Nam War: as part of a series of revolutionary wars with origins in European and Chinese colonialism/imperialism and emergent Vietnamese nationalism; the revolutions' development from a subversive and secret guerilla war to a full-scale series of battles involving major ground forces; the revolutions' conclusions either in the replacement of colonial governments by indigenous governments or the suppression of the revolution by dictatorship or the collapse of the state with no clear government.
3) Describe the topic as part of a "field," a three-dimensional network of related events--what are the field's characteristics, where are its boundaries and does it have a center, does it contain predictable waves and do they interact with each other, and does it interact with other fields?
the Viet Nam War as a type of state formation event that could be compared with states which came into being without revolutions, states whose loss of colonial possessions led to their shrinkage or collapse, etc.