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Notes on Fantasy Theme, Narrative, and Pentadic Approaches to Criticism John A. Cagle.

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Presentation on theme: "Notes on Fantasy Theme, Narrative, and Pentadic Approaches to Criticism John A. Cagle."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Notes on Fantasy Theme, Narrative, and Pentadic Approaches to Criticism John A. Cagle

3 Ch. 5 Fantasy-Theme Criticism The fantasy-theme method of rhetorical criticism, created by Ernest G. Bormann, is designed to provide insights into the shared worldview of groups.

4 Symbolic Convergence Theory Communication creates reality. Symbols not only create a shared reality for individuals but that individuals’ meanings for symbols converge to create a shared reality or community consensus.

5 Fantasy theme is the basic unit of analysis Fantasy is the creative and imaginative interpretation of events. A fantasy theme is the means through which the interpretation is accomplished in communication.

6 A fantasy theme is a word, phrase, or statement that interprets events in the past, envisions events in the future, or depicts current events that are removed in time and/or space from the actualities of the group. Fantasy themes tell a story about a group’s experience that constitutes a constructed reality for the participants.

7 A fantasy theme depicts characters, actions, and settings that are moved from an actual current group situation in time and place. Fantasies are characterized by their artistic and organized quality.

8 Fantasies and argumentation Shared fantasies provide the group for arguments or establish the assumptive system that is the basis for arguments.

9 Three types of fantasy themes Setting themes depict where the action is taking place. Character themes describe the actors or people in the drama, ascribe characteristics or qualities to them, and assign motives to them. Action themes deal with the action of the drama.

10 Fantasy themes in criticism The artifact should be one for which you have evidence that symbolic convergence has occurred. First, the critic codes the artifact, sentence by sentence, to identify fantasy settings, characters, and action themes. Then the critic constructs the rhetorical vision created by these themes.

11 Uses of the rhetorical vision Critical questions emerge Strategies used to accomplish particular objectives The kinds of messages that are being communicated through particular rhetorical visions The functions of particular rhetorical visions The implications of particular rhetorical visions for rhetorical processes

12 Components of a fantasy theme critical essay An introduction, discussing the research question, its contribution to rhetorical theory, & its significance A description of the artifact and its context A description of the critical method A report on the findings A discussion of the contribution the analysis makes to rhetorical theory and history

13 Ch.10 Narrative Criticism Narratives organize the stimuli of our experience so that we can make sense of the people, places, events, and actions of our lives. They allow us to interpret reality because they help us decide what a particular experience “is about” and how the various elements of our experience are connected. In the communication discipline, Walter R. Fisher has been influential in helping us understand the narrative paradigm.

14 Narratives are found in many kinds of artifacts: short stories, novels, comic strips, films, songs, and other things, including conversations with friends, interviews, speeches, and paintings and quilts. Narratives advance persuasion by disarming listeners, awakening dormant experiences and feelings, and exposing some sort of propositional argument.

15 Four features of narratives 1. The narrative is comprised of events that may be active (expressing action) or static (expressing a state or condition). 2. The events in a narrative are organized in time order. 3. The narrative must include some kind of causal or contributing relationship among the events in a story. 4. The narrative must be about a unified subject.

16 The Narrative in criticism Any artifact that is a narrative or includes a story. First, the critic identifies the dimensions of the narrative and Then the critic discovers an explanation for the narrative.

17 Identifying the dimensions of the narrative The critic identifies primary features of the narrative in detail: Setting Characters Narrator Events Temporal relations Causal relations Audience Theme

18 Discovering an explanation for the narrative Critical task is to identify which of the features of the narrative are most interesting and significant and have the most explanatory value for the artifact, e.g., The significant features suggest various explanations: How the narrative directs the interpretation of a situation How the narrative functions as an argument to view and understand the world in a particular way What the narrative reveals about an individual’s identity

19 Narrative critical questions Knowing a rhetor’s worldview can be the basis for understanding many different rhetorical processes and for asking questions: Does the narrative spring from a Master Narrative (older narratives)? What propositional content is the narrative designed to reveal? What propositional content is the narrative designed to mask? How effectively and how faithfully does the narrative deal with its subject matter?

20 Criteria by which to judge narratives Does the narrative embody and advocate values that you see as desirable and worthwhile? What ethical standards does the narrative suggest? How readily can the narrative be refuted? Is the narrative coherent? Does the narrative convey truth or what rings as true? Does the narrative fulfill the purpose of its creators? Does the narrative provide useful ideas for living your life?

21 Components of a narrative critical essay An introduction, discussing the research question, its contribution to rhetorical theory, & its significance A description of the artifact and its context A description of the critical method A report on the findings, in which you reveal the dimensions of the narrative that are most significant A discussion of the contribution the analysis makes to rhetorical theory and history

22 Ch. 11 Pentadic Criticism Pentadic criticism grows out of the work of Kenneth Burke. Pentadic criticism is rooted in Burke’s notion of dramatism, the analysis of human motivation through terms derived from drama.

23 Action corresponds to the ability of an organism to acquire language or a symbol system. Three conditions for action: Action must involve freedom of choice. Humans develop and present messages in the same way a play is presented—we use rhetoric to constitute and present a particular view of our situation. Our language provides clues to our motives—how we justify, explain, and account for our actions.

24 The Pentad Rhetors describe their situations using the five basic elements of drama: act, scene, agent, agency, & purpose

25 Dramatistic Pentad Act: A critic’s label for the act pictures what was done. Scene: The description of the scene gives a context for where and when the act was performed. Agent: The agent is the person or people who performed the act. Agency: Agency is the means the agent used to do the deed. Purpose: The speaker’s purpose is the stated or implied goal of the address.

26 Pentadic Ratios T he strategy of a rhetor will more likely focus the message on a combination or ratio between elements. A ratio is a pairing of two of the key terms that allows the critic to investigate how the first term in the pair affects the second.

27 Pentadic ratios can be used to define the central relationship of any story: scene-act, scene-agency, scene- purpose, act-purpose, act-agent, act- agency, agent-purpose, agent- agency, and agency-purpose.

28 The Pentad in criticism Virtually any artifact is appropriate for pentadic analysis. First, the critic labels the five terms of agent, act, scene, purpose, and agency in the artifact and Then the critic applies the ratios to identify the dominant term by exploring the relationship between them and the nature of the influence each has on the other.

29 Labeling terms The critic identifies the five terms from the perspective of the rhetor: The agent names the group or individual who is the protagonist or main character The act is the rhetor’s presentation of the major action taken by the agent or protagonist The agency is the means used to perform the act or instruments used to accomplish it. The scene is the group, location, or situation in which the rhetor says the act takes place The purpose of the act is what the rhetor suggests the agent intends to accomplish by performing the act

30 Applying the ratios to identify the dominant term Critical task is to identify which of the five terms identified dominates or is featured in the rhetoric. This work is done in the background to prepare for the essential critical task: to identify the philosophical system to which it corresponds, with that system generating ideas about the definition of a situation, its meaning for rhetors and audiences, and its possible consequences.

31 Pentadic critical questions Knowing a rhetor’s worldview can be the basis for understanding many different rhetorical processes and for asking questions: The significance of a particular term as controlling The nature of a message in which a particular term is controlling The implications of particular constructions of the world and motive for rhetoric purposes or public controversies.

32 Components of a pentadic critical essay An introduction, discussing the research question, its contribution to rhetorical theory, & its significance A description of the artifact and its context A description of the critical method A report on the findings, in which you identify the five pentadic terms in your artifact and suggest which one is dominant A discussion of the contribution the analysis makes to rhetorical theory and history

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