Rhetorical Analysis1 Senior English: Logic, Rhetoric, and Persuasion [AP/HN] Mr. Sanders
Thing One • [Rhetoric is] all around us in conversation, in movies, in advertisements and books, in body language, and in art. We employ rhetoric whether we’re conscious of it or not, but becoming conscious of how rhetoric works can transform speaking, reading, and writing, making us more successful and able communicators and more discerning audiences. --from Hepzibah Roskelly in “What Do Students Need to Know about Rhetoric?”
Rhetorical Analysis • Examination of written texts, literary or ordinary, to determine how the author has shaped the content in order to achieve an identifiable purpose for a given audience. • Rhetorical analysis commits the intentional fallacy and affective fallacy with impunity. • You have to start thinking that everything’s an argument for, or against, something. • Some people are sitting here thinking, “Well, duh!” • Others feel the previously mentioned people are wrong. • Which group is right?
Rhetoric • “The faculty of finding the available means of persuasion in a given case” (Ars Rhetorica) • “The art of featuring content” (William Covino & David Jolliffe, Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries)
Exigence • What event or realization caused the author to write? • Some rhetoricians ask, “What’s stuck in the author’s craw?” • Craw means throat. • When you address an argument, it’s good to ask, “What’s this author’s exigence?”
Audience • To whom is the argument addressed? • Rhetoricians tend to think in terms of the primary audience and the mediated audience. • The primary audience is, of course, the person or people whose beliefs and actions the speaker intends to change. • The mediated audience is that person or people who make up a secondary audience. Question: Which is the mediated audience when a television show is taped before a live audience—the live studio audience or the television audience?
Purpose and Intentionality • What is the author’s intention in writing or speaking? • This is where rhetoricians commit the intentional fallacy I mentioned earlier. The assumption is that an author’s intentions can be interpreted when they aren’t explicitly stated or when an author misleads his audience.
Rhetorical Appeals • Aristotle • Ethos: Is the argument an appeal to character? • Pathos: Is the argument an appeal to emotion? • Logos: Is the argument an appeal to reason? • Sanders’ Corollary • Context: An argument must, if its author’s intentions are going to be fully understood, be examined in its original social, political, moral context. • See also the handout “The Rhetorical Triangle.”
Enthymeme • What are the work’s minor premise, major premise, and conclusion? • MajorPremise: a Rule or Principle • MinorPremise: a Example or Demonstration of the Principle of the Major Premise • Conclusion: So what? • NOTE: Rhetoricians assume that everything created by an agent has these 3 elements.
Paradigm • A paradigm is a model for whatever set is under consideration. Members of the set are judged in comparison to that model. • Consider what follows if Angelina Jolie were to be established as the paradigm of feminine beauty? • Conclusion: A lot of women who were previously considered beautiful will no longer be consider to be so. • In rhetoric, one might ask, What is the paradigm under consideration? What follows if the paradigm were to be accepted?
Diction and Syntax • Why has the author chosen particular words and word order? • A rhetorician might ask why George Bush chose the words he did and the order in which he expressed them about this quotation from a speech in Washington, D.C., on July 12, 2007: “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.”
Tropes and Schemes2 • Commonly understood as Figures of Speech • In classical rhetoric, the tropes and schemes fall under the Canon of Style. • These stylistic features add spice to writing and speaking, and they’re commonly thought to be persuasive because they dress up otherwise mundane language.
Trope • The use of a word, phrase, or image in a way not intended by its normal signification. Examples: • Synecdoche: a trope in which a part stands for the whole. Example: “Tom just bought a fancy new set of wheels.” • Litotes: a trope in which one makes a deliberate understatement for emphasis. Example: Young lovers are kissing and an observer says, “I think they like each other.”
Schemes • A change in standard word order or pattern. Examples: • Anastrophe: A scheme in which normal word order is changed for emphasis. Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” • Antithesis: A scheme that makes use of contrasting words, phrases, sentences, or ideas for emphasis (generally used in parallel grammatical structures). Example: “Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities.”
Endnotes 1Most information for this tutorial comes from Everyday Use: Rhetoric at Work in Reading and Writing by Hephzibah Roskelly and David Jolliffe and the AP Summer Institute in English Language and Composition, DePaul University. 2Cline, Ph.D., Andrew R. "Rhetorica: Tropes and Schemes." Rhetorica. 2008. Missouri State U. 21 Jan. 2008 <http://rhetorica.net/>.