An Introduction to Rhetoric

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An Introduction to Rhetoric

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1. An Introduction to Rhetoric Meaning or Manipulation?

2. “Rhetoric”: Poisonous Apple or Juicy Fruit? Negative Assumptions Automatically suggests trickery, deception, and/or manipulation Assumes speaker wants to obscure a point or create “spin” “Empty Rhetoric” is a common criticism Positive Applications Actually defined by Greek philosopher Aristotle as “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” Can be a thoughtful, reflective activity leading to effective communication Can include the rational exchange of opposing viewpoints Those who can understand and use the available means to appeal to an audience gain a position of strength have the tools to resolve conflict without confrontation, Persuade audience to support a position Move others to take action

3. Key elements of Rhetoric Lou Gehrig’s speech on Appreciation Day July 4, 1939 Had recently learned he was suffering from a neurological disorder with no cure Fans chanted, “We want Lou!” One of the all-time most powerful, heartfelt, and brief speeches of all time http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechprideoftheyankees.html

4. Why was this an effective speech? He understood that rhetoric is ALWAYS situational Maintains his focus: celebrate the occasion and get back to playing ball Context: the occasion, time, and/or place it was written/spoken Between games of a doubleheader The poignant contrast between celebrating his athletic career and the life-threatening diagnosis Purpose: what the speaker/writer wants to achieve Remain positive by looking at the bright side Downplaying the bleak outlook

5. Context and Purpose Both are essential to analyzing effective rhetoric. Sometimes CONTEXT arises from current events or cultural BIAS. Ex: someone writing about freedom of speech to a community that has experienced hate graffiti must take that context into account and adjust the purpose so as not to offend the audience When reading any text, ask about the context in which it was written and then consider its purpose. What are some various PURPOSES of a speaker/writer? Win agreement Persuade audience to take action Evoke sympathy Make someone laugh Inform, provoke, celebrate, repudiate, propose Secure support

6. Other Reasons It Is Effective It has a crystal clear MAIN IDEA: he’s the “luckiest man on earth.” Main Idea A.K.A THESIS, CLAIM, ASSERTION Gehrig knew his SUBJECT Baseball in general New York Yankees in particular As a SPEAKER he presented himself as a common man Not polished or sophisticated Modest and glad for the life he’s lived He considered his AUDIENCE. His teammates and coach His fans (in the stands and listening on the radio)

7. The Rhetorical/Aristotelian Triangle: The Subject One way to consider the elements of a text/speech The interaction between subject (message), communicator (speaker, writer), and audience (listener, reader) The interaction of these elements determines the structure and language of the argument (the text/image that establishes a position) Skilled communicators first choose a subject and then evaluate: what they know about it, what others have said about it, and what evidence/proof will help develop an effective position

8. The Rhetorical/Aristotelian Triangle: The Communicator (Speaker/ Writer) Need to identify the speaker- not as easy as it may sound Often assume a persona- the character that the speaker/writer creates which depends on the context, purpose, subject, and audience Poet Comedian Scholar Expert or novice Critic Concerned citizen

9. The Rhetorical/Aristotelian Triangle: The Audience Important to think about the audience Each audience requires the writer/speaker to use different information topresent their argument effectively. Consider the difference between: Essay for college application Letter to a prospective employer Letter to a newspaper about an newly-proposed policy by an elected official Questions to consider: What does the audience know about the subject? What is their attitude toward it? Is their common ground between the writer’s and reader’s views on the subject?

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