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Definition The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined “rhetoric” as “the facility of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion”; NOTE: rhetoric does not, in itself, have a negative connotation, even though it often does today. Example: Consider a documentary film: every decision– such as what lighting to use for an interview, what music to play what to show and what to leave out– are rhetorical choices based on what the filmmaker thinks will be the most persuasive.
What a rhetorical analysis examines:
Because rhetoric is always situational, a rhetorical analysis examines: Occasion– time and place the text was written or spoken Context– circumstances, atmosphere, attitude, events surrounding the text Purpose– goal the speaker/writer hopes to achieve
Illustration Rhetorical Triangle (AKA the Aristotelian Triangle)
In a nutshell Look at SOAPS Subject Occasion Audience Purpose Speaker
Ethos Summary Credibility and Trustworthiness Establish shared values
Explain your credentials
Logos Summary Details Examples Facts Stats Expert Testimony
Clear reasoning Counterargument– concession AND refutation
Pathos Summary Appeal to emotions, values, desires, hopes, fears, prejudices Think about connotation Tone
Analysis of Rosa Parks Cartoon:
Occasion: Death of Rosa Parks Speaker: Tom Toles, respected and award-winning political cartoonist Audience: readers of The Washington Post, assumes his audience shares as admiration and respect for Parks and view her passing as the loss of a public hero Context: memorial for a well-loved civil-rights activist Subject: Rosa Park’s legacy Ethos– respect for Parks, his own reputation Pathos– devout Christian about to enter Heaven Logos– “Holding [the front row] open since 1955”– logic appeal to historical moment of refusing to sit in the back of the bus
Let’s try this out: Ad from US Dept
Let’s try this out: Ad from US Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration Occasion: Speaker: Audience: Context: Subject: Ethos: Pathos: Logos:
Analyzing an article, Questions to Explore:
1. What is the purpose of this argument? What does it hope to achieve? Who is the audience for this argument? What appeals or techniques does the argument use– ethos, pathos, logos? Who is making the argument? Trustworthy? Respected? Biases? What other things has the author written? Contributers/funding? What authorities does the argument rely on or appeal to? What facts are used in the argument? How is the evidence arranged and presented? What claims are advanced in the argument? What issues are raised and which are ignored? What are the contexts– social, political, historical, cultural– for this argument? Whose interests does it serve? Who gains or loses by it? How does the language or style of the argument work to persuade an audience? Are key abstract terms defined clearly? Does it treat the audience fairly and honestly, with respect and attempt to draw upon shared values? Are all ideas solidly linked and all promises from the thesis fulfilled? Have they incorporated and documented their sources?
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