Lesson One: Rhetorical Situation and the Artifacts That Address Them. Inventing an Argument Over an Artifact
It all starts with a rhetorical situation… <ul><li>What is it? </li></ul>It is a context of things, people, or objects that demand a discourse. D’oh! My fingers are too fat to dial for take-out!
<ul><li>It seeks to produce action, so discourse in response is purposeful. </li></ul>We need bigger phones!! No, Homer. You need to lose weight! You used to be so slim...
<ul><li>This discourse can in turn have an effect on the rhetorical situation, by altering the reality in which it is presented. </li></ul>You’re right... I used to be pretty toned, but I’m not fat. Just big-boned. Besides, the doctor says I’m fine.
So where does an artifact fit into all this? <ul><li>A rhetorical artifact is a humanly made discourse that responds appropriately to a rhetorical situation. </li></ul>
<ul><li>“ Appropriate” does not mean that the artifact has to look a certain way or fall into a conventional response. </li></ul>“ Too much jiggle” on a doctor’s prescription is not a rhetorical artifact, even though it defines an exigence.
<ul><li>It means that an artifact must not only speak to the situation, but have AN EFFECT UPON IT </li></ul>If you don’t believe me, just look at the family picture Maggie drew.
<ul><li>A good rhetorical artifact casts the situation under a certain light, and incites a specific action to change the situation. </li></ul>
Keep in mind… <ul><li>Many situations have their own demands that affect the kind of appropriate response or artifact created. </li></ul>I’m sorry you had to see that Homer, but it was the only way to convince you...
<ul><li>Still, rhetorical artifacts also shape the state of the rhetorical situation… </li></ul>That picture...I’m a monster!
A rhetorical situation can be defined in three parts…
I. Exigence <ul><li>What is it? </li></ul>It is an obstacle, problem, or defect that needs to be fixed immediately You should drop a few pounds Homer, otherwise you could have a heart attack, man.
<ul><li>The exigence is made known through an artifact (or discourse), and so the artifact dictates what actions in response are necessary </li></ul>I don’t want to be that guy anymore. I need to work out!
<ul><li>The exigence is objective, or open to criticism and interpretation, so many kinds of discourse can be created. </li></ul>Or you go on a diet...
II. Audience <ul><li>A rhetorical situation tells us who is involved in the situation- either as part of the exigence or as those who can be influenced and initiate change. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Therefore, a rhetorical audience must be capable of being persuaded and influencing change. </li></ul>
III. Constraint <ul><li>Attached to either the exigence or audience are constraints that limit action or direct it in a certain way </li></ul>
<ul><li>Beliefs, attitudes, facts, or tradition are all constraints that get in the way of an artifact inciting change. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Rhetorical artifacts then have to address these constraints and work around them to get its point across and achieve its goal: </li></ul>Affecting the Rhetorical Situation!
How do you analyze an artifact? <ul><li>There are two kinds of artifacts: </li></ul><ul><li>Rhetorical , which we just described, seeks to persuade and provoke action. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural , which is any artifact communicating something, whether that be an idea, an emotion, a story, or a fact </li></ul>
Rhetorical Artifacts <ul><li>Exigence- what is this artifact trying to change? </li></ul><ul><li>Audience- who has the power to facilitate the change? </li></ul><ul><li>Constraint- what might get in the way of persuading people to incite this change? </li></ul>With a rhetorical artifact- on a basic level- you have to consider three things:
To start… <ul><li>Examine the artifact, but more importantly, carefully observe the effect it has on you </li></ul>Artifact
<ul><li>Ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><li>What does this mean? </li></ul><ul><li>What effect is the artifact meant to have? </li></ul><ul><li>Would this effect only be achievable with certain people? If so, who, and why them? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the constraints this artifact might be working around? </li></ul><ul><li>How are these specific audiences and constraints addressed? </li></ul>
Cultural Artifacts <ul><li>Cultural artifacts are very general because they can be any man-made object that carries meaning </li></ul>
For Any Artifact... <ul><li>Don’t let small details pass you by! </li></ul>Anything that seems out of the ordinary or unique about the artifact means something!
The person in the picture is female. This ad is directed towards women. The clock hints at time-management with concern to weight loss. Why only half a clock? To emphasize how exercise is not time consuming! Most interesting, a person who is already thin and fit is exercising rather than someone overweight. What does that say about fitness?
<ul><li>Search for the seemingly insignificant, subtle, but important effects the small details have on you. Imagine why they are there as opposed to something else </li></ul>
<ul><li>As it turns out, these details tell us something about the audience the artifact is aimed at, the constraints it is negotiating with, and most importantly, </li></ul>HOW THE ARTIFACT IS PRESENTING THE RHETORICAL SITUATION OR COMMUNICATING AN IDEA
For Example.. Consider a woman at a poetry reading. She walks up on stage and from memory, recounts a poem about certain phases of her love life up until now. With every phase, her situation reminds her of a song, and she sings a few lines of these songs when she talks about how she felt throughout these stages. The audience laughs and she finishes with a smile.
Let’s Break It Down <ul><li>The woman’s poem was obviously not trying to persuade anyone to do anything, so her poem was a cultural artifact </li></ul>Instead of analyzing the poem as a whole and simply recounting the poet’s journey, I picked out how the music really affected my experience of the poem. It was something I wouldn’t usually notice, because one would see the songs as existing for entertainment purposes, but there was something more
I made something familiar- an enjoyable musical poem ending with smiles and applause- into something strange. This means questioning the meaning of the artifact, not just enjoying its effects For one, I noticed that the woman never made any concrete statements about her love life, she would simply allude to a song. Her situation was communicated by the lyrics and melody.
Now would everyone in the world have been able to understand her through that medium? No. There were assumptions she made about her audience. <ul><li>They were familiar with American music </li></ul><ul><li>They were emotionally susceptible to the tones of the songs. </li></ul>
Another thing: the effect of the music was comical, even though her story ended with loneliness and apathy. Most people wouldn’t even consider why; there are a lot of times when bad situations are made fun of. This is because of the way an artifact presents those situations So once again, I made this familiar mechanism into something strange. Rather than just accepting what was presented, I asked why it was what it was. How does the music (artifact) and the comedy change the story (situation)? Why would the poet want that effect?
The music either over or under-exaggerated her state and desensitized the reality of the event, such as being left alone. She made something that can be as scary as being lost in the jungle funny with a song like “Mellow Yellow.” One can now see how this poet didn’t want to reconjure hurtful feelings, but rather laugh them off, and the music was one medium for doing just that.
Now It’s Your Turn <ul><li>Take this poem, and read it several times thoroughly. Pick just one thing that stands out about it, perhaps a particular word or image. Analyze it. </li></ul><ul><li>Infer what it means </li></ul><ul><li>What it’s trying to say </li></ul><ul><li>Why it’s trying to say that </li></ul><ul><li>Who it is directed to </li></ul><ul><li>Why it is directed at that audience </li></ul>