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Week One Week One Presentation Transcript

  • COMM 401Interpreting Strategic DiscourseWeek One
    Rhetoric & Text
  • Definitions of Rhetoric
    Classical Definitions
    “art of winning the soul by discourse”—Plato
    “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion”—Aristotle
    “speech designed to persuade”—Cicero
    “art of speaking well”—Quintillian
    Modern Definitions
    “Rhetoric is the application of reason to imagination for the better moving of the will”—Francis Bacon
    “that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end. The four ends of discourse are to enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passions, and influence the will”—George Campbell
  • Definitions of Rhetoric
    Contemporary definitions
    “The most characteristic concern of rhetoric [is] the manipulation of men's beliefs for political ends....the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents”—Kenneth Burke
    “Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.”—I.A. Richards
  • Defining Rhetoric
    As system
    As rules
    As argument
    As speech
    As discourse
    As power
    As manipulation
    As female
    As communication
  • Perspectives on Rhetoric
    Single Definition Perspective—reflective of the classical tradition of understanding rhetoric as a relative static activity/phenomenon.
    Rhetoric as the rationale of informative and suasory discourse; concerned with informed opinion based on probability rather than certain truths resulting from scientific demonstration.
    Systems perspective—systems of rhetoric that evolved over time and changed from historical context to historical context. A system is an organized, consistent, coherent way of thinking about something.
    Three systems of rhetoric:
    1) classical system—more “grammatical”;
    2) British/continental systems—more “psychological”;
    3) Contemporary systems—more “sociological.”
  • Historical Evolution of Rhetoric
    Two historical transformations influence the historical development of rhetoric:
    Media—progression from orality to literacy
    Society—nature and type of society/government/social stratification and organization
    Urban vs. rural
    Authoritarian vs. democratic
    Class systems
    Religion and science
  • Orality vs. Literacy
  • The Origins of Rhetoric in Language
    Information about early stages of human language is drawn from:
    Animal communication
    Acquisition of language by children
    Reconstruction of earlier stages of existing languages
    Hypothesizing about the distant past
    Language evolved because humans had a need to express emotions
    Believed language to be the imitation of animal sounds
    May have also involved musical sound production
    Largely a function of the passions – emotional expression
  • Explanations for Language Development
    God created the world through the Word
    God created speech/language – probably Hebrew
    God told Adam to name all living creatures
    The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
     Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
    Genesis 2
  • Tower of Babel
    1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.  3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
     5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
     8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
    Genesis 11
    Acts 2
  • Language and Song
    Ritual and song are likely to have been one of the contexts in which figures of speech developed.
    Out of this context emerged what we call oral and bardic societies.
    Homer lived in an oral society
    Rhetors were bards – storytellers
    Homeric orator learns by imitation and repetition
    Speech is extempore and comes from God
  • The Goddess Peitho
    “Persuasion (peitho/πειθώ) is Aphrodite’s daughter: it is she who beguiles our mortal hearts.”—Sappho
    The goddess of persuasion/seduction was Peitho—sister to Eros and daughter of Aphrodite.
    Highlights the mysterious power of rhetoric, the capacity to influence and change.
  • Rhētorikē in Ancient Greece
    Emerged from use (Homer) and from myth/theory (Peitho)
    The civic art of public speaking
    Similar concepts can be found in other ancient civilizations—Egypt and China
    Occurred in:
    Deliberative assemblies
    Law courts
    Other formal occasions
  • Isocratean Rhetoric
    Isocrates lived from 436-338 B. C. E.
    The originator of sophistic rhetoric in Greece.
    Made rhetoric the basis of the educational system in the Greek and Roman world.
    Training in rhetoric was to the mind what gymnastics was to the body.
    Emphasizes written rather than spoken discourse.
    Emphasizes epideictic rather than deliberative or judicial speech.
    Emphasizes style rather than argument.
    Emphasizes amplification and smoothness rather than forcefulness.
  • Aristotle
    Came from Stagira, on the borders of Macedon.
    In 367, Aristotle went to Athens to study at Plato’s Academy, and remained there for 20 years.
    Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic.
    Rhetoric deals with particular issues involving specific persons and actions.
    Dialectic deals with universal or general questions.
    Rhetoric is “an ability, in each case, to see the available means of persuasion.”
    Different kinds of rhetorical texts—genres of rhetoric:
  • Dialectic vs. Rhetoric
    Dialectic is a faculty of discovering available argument to answer proposed questions – only acceptable form of philosophical reasoning for Plato.
    Rhetoric involves a preselected arbitrary conclusion. The orator selects those arguments which will prove or seem to prove the conclusion, regardless of their truth value.
    Gorgias places rhetoric as a corrective that corrects that which is flawed and has gone wrong – akin to cookery. It is a knack or form of flattery.
  • “Dialectic” & “Rhetoric”—Phaedrus
    Dialectic = discovery of truth.
    Rhetoric = persuasive exposition of truth.
    Handbooks lack attention to dialectic.
    Plato’s Phaedrusupholds the superiority of dialectic – likens rhetoric to writing as fixed and unable to defend itself.
  • Texts in (Con)text
    One dimension of rhetoric emergent from its difference from dialectic is the dependence of rhetoric on context and circumstance.
    Rhetoric is used to give meaning, to define and persuade others about, real circumstances and puzzling contingencies.
    Rhetoric exists in the “real world” and can only be understood as it operates in that context.
  • Understanding Context
    The Rhetorical situation
    Exigence—problem in the world that may be changed/solved by human modification or intervention.
    Audience—individuals subjected to rhetoric that may be agents of change
    Constraints—limits to change or action.
    Constructivist response
    Rhetoric not only provides an answer or resolution to an exigence, but may actually create or enhance the salience of exigencies.
    Audience may be seen in a broader way, accounting for reach beyond immediate change agents.
  • Text: The Gettysburg Address
    "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
  • Text: The Gettysburg Address
    How is the Gettysburg Address an example of a rhetorical text?
    Which type of rhetoric is the GA?
    How do we encounter this text?
    Does it still function rhetorically today?
    Which classical theorist would best explain the GA—Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates?