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Tools for Analyzing Rhetoric: The Rhetorical Triangle and SOAPSTone. What is Rhetoric?. As we discussed earlier, Corbet and Connors describe rhetoric as “the art or the discipline that deals with the use of written, spoken, or visual discourse to inform, persuade, or motivate an audience.”.

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what is rhetoric
What is Rhetoric?

As we discussed earlier, Corbet and Connors describe rhetoric as “the art or the discipline that deals with the use of written, spoken, or visual discourse to inform, persuade, or motivate an audience.”

aristotle and rhetoric
Aristotle and Rhetoric

The art of rhetoric has its roots in ancient Greece. The sophists, a group of wise men who advised the government for a fee, emphasized the importance of logical and clear speech when discussing issues of politics.

The philosopher Aristotle split from the sophists and believed rhetoric should be a free endeavor. He wrote a text called The Art of Rhetoric which outlined rules how one engaging in rhetoric should behave. Aristotle argued one must use rhetoric “by any means possible” to reach their message to their audience.

the speaking triangle
The Speaking Triangle

Aristotle described two ways one can examine rhetoric. The first is called the Speaking Triangle.

Aristotle believed that a the structure and language of an argument are determined by the interaction between the speaker, audience, and subject of a text.

speaking triangle example
Speaking Triangle Example

Let us return to Lou Gehrig’s farewell address:

Speaker: Speakers create a persona, or character in which he/she presents oneself. Gehrig cast himself as the humble hero who courageously fought a deadly disease

Audience: An audience has an expectation of a speaker that is either confirmed, denied, or altered. Gehrig’s audience expected him to have self-pity for himself after being diagnosed with a fatal illness, but instead he declared he was “the luckiest man on earth.”

Subject: Subjects are the topic addressed by the speaker and the context in which the speech is given. Gehrig gave his farewell address at a sold-out Yankee Stadium to announce his sudden retirement. The audience assumed Gehrig would discuss his “bad break,” but instead he gave a motivational speech focusing on how he was “the luckiest man on earth.”

speaking triangle application
Speaking Triangle Application

Watch the following scene from the movie Braveheartand identify the speaker, audience, and subject of this speech.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8449422937652187164&safe=active#

aristotle s rhetorical triangle
Aristotle’s Rhetorical Triangle

A more specific way Aristotle suggested we analyze rhetoric is looking at Ethos, Pathos, Logos, also known as the Rhetorical Triangle.

ethos an appeal to character
Ethos – An Appeal to Character
  • Aristotle defined Ethos as an appeal character that demonstrates a speaker is trustworthy (ie: street cred).
  • A speaker evoking ethos can be a writer, orator, painter, graphic novelists, songwriter, blogger, etc.
pathos an appeal to emotion
Pathos – An Appeal to Emotion
  • Aristotle defined Pathos as a way a speaker engages the audience to illicit an emotional response, be it nostalgia, anger, compassion, etc.
  • Evoking Pathos is important for a speaker to establish a bond between himself and his audience.
logos an appeal to logic
Logos – An Appeal to Logic

Aristotle defined Logos as an argument based on evidence such as facts, statistics, testimonies, and those based on logical reasoning and common sense.

Appealing to Logos is important because it demonstrates a speakers expertise on a subject by providing evidence to support her claim.

as you watch the following clip identify elements of ethos pathos logos
As you watch the following clip, identify elements of ethos/pathos/logos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhbDrUDvwH0&p=7BF40A17D30835C9&playnext=1&index=31

as you watch the following clip identify elements of ethos pathos logos1
As you watch the following clip, identify elements of ethos/pathos/logos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38qLFOQFTB4

as you watch the following clip identify elements of ethos pathos logos2
As you watch the following clip, identify elements of ethos/pathos/logos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_DQUAuNUvw

soapstone
SOAPSTone

Speaker – Ethos

Occasion – Why and When speech is given.

Audience – The people who observe or listen to the speech and their expectation and reaction.

Purpose – What is the speech trying to do to the audience?

Subject – What the speech is about?

Tone – The attitude of the speaker.

Another tool one can use to analyze rhetoric is SOAPSTone. If the Rhetorical Triangle is a wide angle lens of a speech, SOAPSTone is the close-up shot.

rhetorical triangle and soapstone analysis example the gettysburg address
Rhetorical Triangle and SOAPSTone Analysis Example: “The Gettysburg Address”

President Abraham Lincoln delivered “The Gettysburg Address” on November 19, 1863 as a dedication of the memorial for the 50,000+ soldiers who died 4½ months earlier during the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War in which the Union demonstrated it could defend against an all out attack from the Confederacy who intended to invade Washington, D.C.

Lincoln was expected to give a victory speech, but instead his brief 272 words evoked the Declaration of Independence, personal freedoms, and a roadmap on how to repair the shredded ties that divided the nation. “The Gettysburg Address” is considered one of the greatest speeches in the English language.

speaker audience subject
Speaker/Audience/Subject
  • Speaker: the POTUS, leader of the Union, but also a leader who tries to appeal to his enemy.
  • Audience: the 15,000 dignitaries who attended the speech expected Lincoln to give an inspiring victory speech, yet he defied expectation and looked both to the past and the future.
  • Subject: “that the government of the people, by the people…shall not perish from the earth.”
ethos pathos logos
Ethos/Pathos/Logos

Ethos: Lincoln evoked ethos just being President of the United States. But, he also used his ethos to appeal to the Confederacy. He makes an allusion to the Declaration of Independence declaring “all men are created equal.”

Pathos: Lincoln appeals to pathos by reflecting on how the living should never “forget what they [the soldiers] did here.” This is significant because he doesn’t distinguish sides, but notes all the fallen soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

Logos: Lincoln appeals to logos by looking to repairing the country after a long Civil War. He discusses “the task before us” and adds “the nation shall have a new birth of freedom” – meaning we shall be a stronger America after we have settled the issues we have struggled during the previous years of war.

soapstone1
SOAPSTone

Speaker: The POTUS, but also a uniter, rather than a divider.

Occasion: The dedication of a war memorial .

Audience: All Americans, especially members of the Confederacy

Purpose: To motivate, to reflect, to evoke “the angels of our better nature.”

Subject: “the great task remaining before us.”

Tone: somber, reconciliatory, optimistic.

summary
Summary

Speaking Triangle:

-Speaker –Audience –Subject

Rhetorical Triangle:

-Ethos –Pathos –Logos

SOAPSTone:

-Speaker –Occasion –Audience –Purpose –Subject -Tone