The 5 Canons of Rhetoricand Aristotle’s Classic Model AP English Language and Composition
History of Rhetoric • During the 4th century B.C., Aristotle wrote the Rhetoric in which he defined rhetoric as discovering all available means of persuasion on a topic. • Thus, for Aristotle, rhetoric has a clear persuasive function, but also an epistemic function--it serves as a way to discover what is known and what can be known about a subject.
Con’t • Every time we use language--in speech or in writing--we engage in a rhetorical act. • Another way of saying this would be to say that all communication is rhetorical. • Whenever we use language, we have an intention--a message to communicate or a goal to achieve. • All of us behave rhetorically every time we use language. In fact, a useful modern definition of rhetoric is simply the intentional use of language to influence an audience.
Con’t • Along with grammar and logic or dialectic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. • From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, it was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments.
Con’t • Aristotle and other classical rhetoricians, both Greek and Roman, worked to codify rhetoric, to identify its parts and its functions. • Much of our modern understanding of rhetoric is derived from these classical sources. • Even the incredible impact of technology on ways we speak and write can still be understood and analyzed beginning from this classical foundation. • Part of this classical heritage is our understanding of the 5 canons of rhetoric:
Canon #1 Invention (Inventio) • In the canon of invention, a writer is looking for a starting point—how to come up with what he or she wants to write. • Invention is the art of finding arguments in any situation and developing material. • Determining the Rhetorical Situation: purpose (exigence), audience, and constraints
Canon #2 Arrangement (Dispositio) • In the second canon, the writer accomplishes his or her purpose using Patterns of Arrangement aka Rhetorical Modes. • More than one pattern can, and usually does, appear in essays. Principles of arrangement help a writer plan order, structure, and support the parts of the piece of writing. • More on this later…
Patterns of Arrangement • Exemplification • Compare/Contrast • Cause/Effect • Classification • Process Analysis • Definition • Narration
Canon #3 Style (Elecutio) • In the third canon, writers make choices regarding words, phrases, and sentences. • Conscious choice about stylistic decisions in writing can help writers reflect themselves, communicate meaning, and influence readers. • What does this include?? Schemes and Tropes: Diction, syntax, tone, figurative language, EPL, etc. all depending on the situation…
Canon #4 Memory (Memoria) • “Fixing” the words and proofs in the mind, an art of recall • Classically, the memorization of speeches • Using mnemonic devices (using ideas that are familiar to recall ideas and words that are unfamiliar)
Canon #5 Delivery (Pronuntio) Includes: • Stylistic choices in speeches (voice inflection) • Setting off words in writing • The look of the final published product—the medium of publication: written, visual, spoken • The sound of the final delivered presentation
Six Elements of Classical Argument (Goes With Canon #2) 1) Exordium/Introduction: captures attention of audience; urges audience to consider your case 2) Narratio/Statement of Background: narrates the key facts and/or events leading up to your case 3) Divisio/Proposition: states the position you are taking, based on the information you’ve already presented, and sets up the structure of the rest of your argument
Six Elements of Classical Argument (Cont.) 4) Confirmatio/Proof: discusses your reasons for your position and provides evidence to support each reason 5) Confutatio/Refutation: anticipates opposing viewpoints; then demonstrates why your approach is the only acceptable one (i.e. better than your opponents’) 6) Peroratio/Conclusion: summarizes your most important points and can include appeals to feelings or values (pathos)