Introduction to Rhetoric
August 27-September 18
Introduction to Rhetoric
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Definitions of rhetoric:
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The study of effective, persuasive language use; according to
Aristotle, use of the “available means of persuasion” (Shea 1).
What does it mean to be skilled at rhetoric?
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One has the tools to resolve conflicts without confrontation,
to persuade readers or listeners to support their position, or
move others to take action.
Examples?
The Rhetorical Triangle
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Also called the Aristotelian triangle, because he first
described the interaction among subject, speaker/writer,
and audience.
This triangle will help you to consider the different
components of any written or spoken work and how they
influence the final product.
The Rhetorical
Triangle
Content
Intention
Exigency
Expectations
Exigency
Exigency
Speaker/Writer
Tone
Context
Exigency
Audience
Canons
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Invention
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Arrangement
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Presenting the argument to stir the emotions.
Memory
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Putting together the structure of a coherent argument.
Style
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Finding ways to persuade.
Speaking without having to prepare or memorize a speech.
Delivery
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Making effective use of voice, gesture, etc.
Einstein Letter
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Vote, raise your hand if:
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You found Einstein’s letter effective
You did not find Einstein’s letter effective
Why or why not?
What elements of rhetoric are represented here?
Ethos
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From the Greek for “character”
Authors appeal to ethos to show that they are credible
and trustworthy. They often use
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Appeals to shared values,
A pre-existing reputation,
A tone of reason and goodwill,
Types of information that create a good impression.
Examples?
Logos
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From the Greek for “embodied thought,” or “reason”
Requires a clear main idea or thesis, which must be logical
and supported with evidence.
Often, these appeals rely on an assumption and they
acknowledge counterarguments.
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In acknowledging counterarguments, authors concede that
opposing arguments may be true, but then refute the validity of all
or part of the argument.
This process strengthens the author’s argument.
Examples?
Pathos
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From the Greek for “emotion”
Should be used in conjunction with another type of
appeal, in which case pathos adds an important
dimension because it engages the emotions of the
audience.
Arguments that only use pathos are weak by definition
and are generally propagandistic in purpose and more
polemical than persuasive.
Examples?
Warm Up
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Take a look at the image above, which at first glance depicts the
familiar stars and stripes of the American flag. But a second glance
reveals corporate logos rather than stars. Study the picture
carefully and write for 2-3 minutes about the emotions that the
image arouses in you. Do you respond first to the flag and then to
the logos? What clash of emotional appeals do you see here? Try
your hand at creating one or two possible titles or captions for
this image.
Exercise #1
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To what specific emotions do the following slogans, sales
pitches, and maxims appeal?
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“Just do it.” (ad for Nike)
“Think different.” (ad for Apple Computers)
“Yes we can!” (2008 presidential slogan for Barack Obama)
“It’s everywhere you want it to be.” (slogan for Visa)
Thinking Point: What is the benefit of striking the right
emotional chord with your audience? What happens to
your audience if they trust you?
Appeals

What is the emotional
impact of a Newsweek
cover like this one,
which appeared on May
1, 2006, following initial
indictments in what
became known as the
Duke University rape
case? Does the magazine
seem to be taking sides?
SOAPSTone
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SOAPSTone is an acronym representing a series of
questions you must ask yourself, then answer as you
plan a composition. Some of these elements will be
familiar from the rhetorical triangle.
S – Speaker
O – Occasion
A – Audience
P – Purpose
S – Subject
Tone
SOAPSTone Practice
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Turn on pg. 12 of your Shea’s book. There you will find an
excerpt from Homer’s The Iliad.
Read the provided context, then perform a SOAPSTone
analysis on the excerpt with someone sitting near you.
Each person should write out the elements of the
analysis.
September 7/12
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Objectives
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Assess the use of appeals in political language.
Analyze visual rhetoric.
Warm Up:
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Review Priam’s speech on pg. 12 of your Shea’s book and identify
all elements of the rhetorical triangle in it. Return to your triangle
notes to make sure that you address all pieces of the triangle and
all of the elements that surround and influence it. In addition, do
you think that Achilles would return Hector’s body based on this
speech?
Priam’s Speech
Exercise #1: Practice
recognizing appeals.
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Note: Authors use a combination of all three appeals in their
writing. For the purpose of this exercise, determine the most
dominant appeal and explain why it is effective in persuading an
audience.
1. “Thank you, Ohio. It’s good to be back in the Buckeye State.
And it’s a privilege to be here with two good friends - your
great governor, John Kasich and your outstanding senator, Rob
Portman. Governor Kasich is doing a great job despite the
head winds from Washington. As President, I can't wait to work
with Senator Portman to turn those Obama headwinds into
pro-job policies that will help working families all across Ohio.”
–Mitt Romney
Ethos
Exercise #1: Practice
recognizing appeals.
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2. “I tell the class, ‘I’m legally blind.’ There is a pause, a
collective intake of breath. I feel them look away
uncertainly and then look back. After all, I just said I
couldn’t see. Or did I? I had managed to get there on
my own—no cane, no dog, none of the usual
trappings of blindness. Eyeing me askance now, they
might detect that my gaze is not quite focused…
they watch me glance down, or towards the door
where someone’s coming in late. I’m just like anyone
else.”
-- Georgina Kleege, “Call It Blindness”
Pathos
Exercise #1: Practice
recognizing appeals.
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3. “The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize
new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose
to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed
to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil
men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of
appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before
seen on this earth. Terrorists and terror states do not reveal
these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations - and
responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is
not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world
requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.”
--George Bush's war ultimatum speech from the Cross
Hall in the White House
Logos
Visual Rhetoric
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We’ve talked some about war propaganda, but have
focused our discussion mostly on speeches and written
work.
What do you think may play a role in visual rhetoric?
Satire: An ironic, sarcastic, or witty composition that
claims to argue for something, but actually argues against
it.
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric
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This cartoon was published on the occasion of Rosa
Parks’s death in 2006.
Elements of the rhetorical triangle:
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Who is the speaker?
Who is the audience?
How does Toles interact with his audience?
What is his intention/purpose?
What kinds of appeals do you think are present? Why?
Tips for Analyzing a Visual Image
from The Longwood guide to Writing, 4th ed. Ronald F. Lunsford and Bill Bridges, eds.
1.
2.
3.
4.
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How does the image work with any caption or title given? Does
that caption or title help explain the image or set a context for it?
If there are other words in the image itself, how do they work
with the graphic elements?
How is the image designed? What catches your eye first, second
and so on? Why is your eye drawn to these elements in this
order?
How does this image resonate with other images you’ve seen
before?
What associations do you have with the image? Are these
positive? Negative? Why?
Answer these questions to analyze the two following cartoons.
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric
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Conduct a brief SOAPSTone analysis of the cartoon you
are about to see.
Do you think that the cartoonist is effective (does he
reach his audience with this cartoon)? Why or why not?
What appeals does the cartoonist use? Make sure to
explain your answers.
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric
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Conduct a brief SOAPSTone analysis of the cartoon you
are about to see.
Do you think that the cartoonist is effective (does he
reach his audience with this cartoon)? Why or why not?
What appeals does the cartoonist use? Make sure to
explain your answers.
Visual Rhetoric
Visual Rhetoric Homework
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Think: What similarities were there in the two cartoons?
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Visually?
Thematically?
Write: A paragraph in which you compare the rhetorical
effectiveness of the two political cartoons. What elements of
rhetoric did the cartoonists use well? What appeals did they
use or attempt to use? Why did it go well or poorly?
Remember: This should not be a treatment of your own
political preference. It should be an analysis of rhetoric.
Quick Review
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Define the following terms:
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Ethos
Pathos
Logos
Persona
Closing
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Quickfire Questions:
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Where does intention fall on the rhetorical triangle?
How does context differ from exigency on the rhetorical
triangle?
What is the difference between subject and purpose in a
SOAPSTone analysis?
Which kind of appeal focuses on emotions?
Which kind of appeal frequently addresses a counterargument?
This is the “character” or voice that a speaker or writer
assumes.
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