1 Name AP Language, period Ms. Lockwood Rhetoric - The Basics Style analysis asks you to separate the content you are taking in from the methods used to successfully convey that content. This is a skill you will be developing in this AP Language course. The multiple choice questions on the AP exam ask you to identify strategies and their purposes, and one of the essay prompts on the AP exam asks you to describe the effectiveness of the rhetorical devices used by the writer, so being familiar with the terms will make it easier to identify the devices. Each piece will contain a different range of rhetorical devices to convince you of the author s insight on the subject. The more successful rhetorician will captivate his/her audience with appropriately-chosen devices for his subject. The term rhetoric comes from Greek and Latin terms that focused on a skilled orator, usually a male, who could sway the masses. Over time, the term has come to imply a series of devices that generate reader or listener buy-in to an argument. So, nearly any method that prompts such buy-in can be defended as a rhetorical device. Rhetoric means the effective use of words, written or verbal, to persuade or influence. Rhetoric refers to two things: 1. The art of analyzing all the language choices that writers, speaker, reader, or listener might make in a given situation so that the text becomes meaningful, purposeful, and effective. 2. The specific features of texts, written or spoken, that cause them to be meaningful, purposeful, and effective for readers or listeners in a given situation. Rhetorical strategies a writer may use to support his/her argument include: diction (word choice): formal vs. informal, abstract vs concrete, innocent or loaded with connotations, syntax (sentence structure): long versus short sentences, periodic vs. loose sentences, active voice vs passive voice, patterns of balance (parallelism, balanced sentence, and repetition, figurative language: (tropes): metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche, personification, irony, hyperbole, litotes (understatement), periphrasis, symbolism; (schemes) antithesis, anadiplosis, anaphora, antistrophe, chiasmus, hyperbaton, asyndeton, anacoluthon, apostrophe, rhetorical question, epistrophe, polysyndeton, periphrasis, oxymoron, zeugma; figures of sound: alliteration, assonance, consonance Note: You will see figurative language referred to as tropes and schemes, Aristotle s terms. A trope is a figure of thought that extends the meaning of the words, while a scheme is figure of speech that affects the word s order or the impact upon an audience. We generally consider tropes as the more important figures of speech. Imagery: auditory, visual, gustatory, olfactory, tactile imagery tone (author s attitude): formal, intimate, pompous, ironic, light, satiric, sentimental, etc. organization: point of view, analogy, anecdotes, details, facts, paradox, juxtaposition, antithesis, invocation, comparison, dialog, appeals, definitions, shifts, allusions, punctuation (dash, ellipsis, italics), capital/lower case letters
2 The goal for students in this course is to become skilled at rhetoric. This means: Being skilled at rhetoric means being able to make good speeches and write good papers, but it also means having the ability to read other people s compositions and listen to their spoken words with a discerning eye and a critical ear. Being skilled at rhetoric means reading not only to understand the main and supporting points of what someone writes but also to analyze the decisions the rhetor makes as he or she works to accomplish a purpose for a specific audience. Being skilled at rhetoric means being able to plan and write compositions, not just write them. Being skilled at rhetoric means being able to examine a situation in school, in your community, in society as a whole and determine what has already been said and written, what remains unresolved, and what you might say or write to continue the conversation or persuade readers to take action. In total, a person skilled at rhetoric needs to develop a very full menu of reading and writing techniques, strategies, and skills, and be judicious in how he or she uses them. The Rhetorical Triangle To begin developing skill with rhetoric, it is best to envision the basic rhetorical activity: creating a text that you hope will be meaningful, purposeful, and effective for a reader, or reading a text so that it becomes meaningful, purposeful, and effective for you. The rhetorical triangle (or Aristotelian triad) has its roots in the work of Aristotle, a fourthcentury B.C.E. Greek philosopher who wrote extensively about rhetoric. It suggests that a person creating or analyzing a text must consider three elements: the subject and the kinds of evidence used to develop it the audience their knowledge, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs the character of the rhetor in particular, how the rhetor might use his or her personal character effectively in the text. Notice that the triangle has arrows from one point to another and that the arrows go both ways, showing the dynamic nature of the rhetorical act. The rhetor understands something about his/her audience who they are and what they know and understanding makes the rhetor highlight certain elements of his or her own personality and downplay others. The rhetor creates a persona based in part on who he or she presumes the audience to be and in part on what he/she knows and believes about the subject of the text. Members of the audience, in turn, hold some beliefs,
3 based on knowledge and past experience, about the rhetor and about the subject, and they tap into these beliefs as they listen or read. Members of the audience also use their ability to reason to put together evidence logically and they are persuaded by the strength of the evidence presented about the subject. Keys to Effective Rhetoric 1. The rhetor understands persona: 1) He can speak or write so that the audience perceives him as a distinct character, usually one who is educated, considerate, trustworthy, and well-intentioned. 2) He can make inferences and judgements about the character and personality of another writer or speaker, analyzing how that writer appeals to the audience. 2. The rhetor understands appeals to the audience. A text becomes rhetorical only when an audience hears or reads it and responds to it. A key to developing skill with rhetoric, therefore, is understanding how a text appeals to the audience. Once again, Aristotle s ideas are influential. Aristotle taught his students that persuasion happens because a rhetor makes three kinds of closely related appeals to his or her audience through a spoken or written text: A rhetor appeals to logos by offering a clear, reasonable central idea (or set of ideas) and developing it with appropriate reasoning, examples, or details. A rhetor appeals to ethos by offering evidence that he or she is credible that he or she know important and relevant information about the topic at hand and is a good, believable person who has the readers best interests in mind. A rhetor appeals to pathos by drawing on the emotions and interests of the audience so that they will be sympathetically inclined to accept and buy into his or her central ideas and arguments. The rhetor does not necessarily make these appeals in separate sections of a text. A single sentence can appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos. A rhetor seldom uses one of the appeals to the exclusion of all others, but a writer s primary responsibility is to appeal to logos to the audience s inherent need for a meaningful, purposeful, and effective text. In appealing to logos, writers establish and support their character and credibility (called the appeal to ethos) and invigorate the audience s emotions and interests (appeal to pathos). 3. The rhetor understands subject matter and its treatment. The successful rhetor is a good person speaking well he is skillful in treating the subject matter fairly, fully, and effectively in a text. He recognizes that any topic, proposition, question, or issue must offer at least two paths of interpretation, analysis, or argument; the subject must be an open one. A text can never be effective rhetorically if it covers a subject matter about which everyone already agrees. The rhetor s topic must be debatable. A successful speaker or writer generates effective material by capitalizing on what his or her audience already knows, making them curious to know more about the topic, and then satisfying their curiosity by providing facts, ideas, and interpretations that build on what they already know. The basic move of all effective rhetorical texts is claim-plus-support. The central responsibility of a rhetor developing a subject is to generate ample, substantial material to support the points he or she wants to make. All successful texts, written or spoken, are made up of a series of points the rhetor wants to make. One of these points may be the main point of the text sometimes called the thesis
4 statement. To develop this main point, the rhetor generates a series of subsidiary, supporting points, and to flesh out these points, the rhetor comes up with facts, details, examples, illustrations, and reasons all those things that cause a reader or listener to think, Ah, I see why and how the point is being made. A good rhetor will often produce more material more general points and supporting material than he actually needs in a text, just so he can choose the points and material that will be most effective with the audience. Modifying the Basic Rhetorical Triangle: Rhetoric Occurs in a Context While the basic rhetorical triangle set out the three initial keys to developing skill with rhetoric, the triangle needs to be modified so that it reflects three vital facts. 1. Rhetorical transactions always take place in a context a convergence of time, place, people, events, and motivating forces that influences how the rhetor understands, analyzes, and generates the personal, the appeals, and the subject matter material. 2. Every rhetorical transaction is designed to achieve an aim, a purpose, or an intention. 3. When rhetors consider what aim they hope to accomplish in a particular context, they select an appropriate type of text, or genre, to achieve that purpose. These three facts thus lead to three additional keys to developing skill with rhetoric. Context can be immediate or distant, bound by current events or ongoing events. Intention (aim or purpose) is what the rhetor wants to happen as a result of the text, what he wants the audience to believe or do after hearing or reading the text. A rhetor may know his intention right from the start, or he may find that the intention becomes clear as the text evolves. Genre: Because every writer writes to accomplish an aim and every reader reads to discover that intention, every rheto chooses to produce a certain type of text a genre that is appropriate to accomplish his intention in the particular context. Above information extrapolated from Everyday Use, Rhetoric at Work in Reading and Writing by Hephzibah Roskelly and David A. Jolliffe. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2005.
5 Rhetoric, as an art, is divided into five major categories or canons: Invention considers the subject matter and the ability to persuade the audience. It involves coming up with a topic, a focus and a argumentative strategy; developing proof, perhaps starts drafting. Strategies for developing your topic can be systematic (journalism s who, what, when, where, why, how is one system) or intuitive. The rhetor decides the means of persuasion logos, ethos, and pathos. Arrangement means the organization of the materials into parts: how and where to place ideas, facts and examples to make them most effective (order, structure, support); which genre to use. The arrangement should include an introduction, narration, proof and conclusion. Forms of Argument: 1. Induction: Argument by induction builds from evidence and observation to a final conclusion (scientific method). Simple induction moves from reasons and examples to conclusion. 2. Deduction: Argument by deduction builds from accepted truths to specific conclusions. The syllogism* and enthymeme are examples of deductive arguments. 3. Narrative: Narrative argues partly by denying its ability to persuade. Stories and anecdotes are powerful persuasive techniques style - the choices a writer makes regarding words, phrases, sentences (jargon, active/passive voice, sentence types, formality of words, figurative language, connotation of words, comparisons, interruptions, repetition, etc.) memory - the techniques an orator uses to remember important points (In ancient Greece and Rome, citizens usually spoke; they had to remember their arguments.) Today, writers try to tap into the cultural memory of the readers. delivery - Historically, this referred to the oral presentation. Today, it refers to the format and mode of delivery: electronic or print? Photograph or drawing or description? Speech or magazine article or short story? Type style, paper color, use of white space, punctuation, spelling, etc. Understanding the five traditional canons of rhetoric can help the writer have strategies for creating clear, compelling texts that appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos. * Syllogism (SIH-lul-jih-z m): logical reasoning in which the pattern is in three parts: a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. The major premise is always some irrefutable generalization about the world, the minor premise is always some particular statement that falls under the general category, and the conclusion is always the statement that follows from the major premise and the minor premise. Here is a classic syllogism, taught in logic courses for centuries: Major premise: All humans are mortal. (Irrefutable generaization) Minor premise: Socrates is a human. (Particular instance of the generalization) Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (Idea that logically follows) Faulty syllogism: Major premise: Women are wise. Minor premise: Kate is a woman Conclusion: Therefore, Kate is wise. This is faulty because the major premise is arguable; the syllogism breaks down.