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A quick guide to neo aristotleian rhetorical analysis

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Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis

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  • 1. A How to Guide Via Stasis Theory/Heuristic Questions
  • 2.  You need to first establish the context for your rhetorical artifact. To do so consider the following questions:  In what historical moment did the artifact come into being?  In terms of sociology and psychology, what’s in play in the artifact?  What form does the artifact take, and what conventions of the form are obeyed or flouted?  Who is the person(s) behind this piece?  Key Question: Who is the audience, and why does the rhetor choose this audience to convey her or his message?
  • 3.  How are ethos, logos, and pathos used?  What types of evidence are used for what reason (kairos)?  Key Question: What seems to be the larger, overall message of the rhetor?
  • 4.  What is emphasized and how is it emphasized in terms of the structure of the artifact?  Key Question: Is the artifact set up to be experienced in a certain way (i.e. through comparison, division, etc.)?
  • 5.  If there is text, how is the text written? In a formal, informal, or some other tone/style?  If the text has visual elements, what visual elements are there and how do they contribute to the rhetor’s message?  Key Question: How might you describe the overall feel/style of the artifact?
  • 6.  If there are people in the piece, how are they moving, acting, using space?  If the artifact is digital, how is the piece set up to be received by folks?  Key Question: If you are dealing with digital media, how is the audience supposed to interact with the artifact?
  • 7.  What role, if any, does human memory play in your artifact? (Remember that actors memorize lines, slam poets their poems, and many online speakers parts of their speeches.)  Key Question: How memorable is the piece, and why is it, or isn’t it, a memorable rhetorical artifact?
  • 8.  How do the canons of rhetoric (and the attendant questions we just answered) help you establish that the rhetorical artifact was/is effective at helping your rhetor reach a given audience?  THE POINT IS NOT TO SAY IF SOMETHING IS “GOOD” OR “BAD” AESTHETICALLY OR OTHERWISE— YOU NEED TO SAY HOW AND WHY THE RHETORIC WORKS OR DOESN’T WORK.
  • 9.  Foss, Sonja, K. Rhetorical Criticism. Long Grove, Il: Waveland Press, 2004. Print.