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Post #7: Rhetorical Analysis

Due by the class period on Friday, April 1st

This posting is supposed to be the first prewriting exercise for our upcoming Critical Essay #2 (conference length essay).

  1. What method of rhetorical criticism do you plan to use for this essay?
  2. What artifact do you plan to use? Why? What is the significance of analyzing this artifact from a rhetorical perspective (significance of uncovering its underlying messages)?
  3. What is the rhetorical situation of this artifact? In a few sentences, identify the elements of the rhetorical situation for this artifact: rhetor, topic, audience, purpose, context).
  4. Finally, in a few sentences: why do you think your selected method is appropriate to analyze this artifact? (Does it indicate use of metaphors to uncover? Is it crucial to uncover any human motivation by identifying the artifact’s pentadic orientation? Is the narrative constructed such as special way to guide our interpretation of the situation? Is there a new genre? Application of a genre, or participation in a genre? Etc. Be specific!)

*Be ready to share and brainstorm ideas with your peers on Friday.

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Post #6: Narrative vs Pentadic Criticism

Due by the class period on Monday, March 28th

Post your responses to the following in your own blog, and be ready to share your responses during our upcoming class meetings.

  1. Find a short commercial or a video (a few minutes), and identify its pentadic elements. Then, in a few sentences, explain the rhetorical implications of each element.
  2. Now, also identify the elements of the artifact through narrative criticism (its objective, its features [setting, theme, etc]. Just identify the elements (you don’t need to explain the implications for all elements at this point).
  3. Finally, think about the narrative breakdown compared to your preliminary pentadic criticism, and consider the similarities and differences between what you have found as a result of each. Based on your observations: What are the similarities and/or differences between narrative criticism and pentadic criticism of this artifact? What are the possible overlaps in the findings of each analysis? What else (in addition to the findings of a narrative criticism) can pentadic criticm help us reveal about the underlying rhetorical messages of an artifact?

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Post #5: Metaphor Criticism and Ideology

Due by the class period on Friday, February 26th

Based on your reading and our class discussions of metaphor criticism, blog about the following two prompts.

1) Find an artifact that either…

-presents a metaphor (e.g., “Argument is War” presented through lines in a film dialogue, such as “He attacked my argument”, “I demolished her argument”, “She won the argument”, “I shot his argument down”);

-or serves entirely as a metaphor (e.g., the plot line of a sci-fi TV show actually serving as a metaphor for a certain group’s everyday life).

Demonstrate how this artifact either presents a certain metaphor (for example, equating argument to war or dance or something else–but you should find an artifact with a different metaphor) OR serves as a metaphor itself, by providing at least a few (3 or so) brief textual examples (from the verbal and visual details presented in the artifact).

2) What is the relationship between ideological criticism and metaphor criticism? Discuss at least in a few sentences.

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Post #4: Generic Criticism

Due by the class period on Friday, February 12th

Based on your reading and our class discussions of generic criticism, find at least two artifacts that you feel might comprise of a genre (generic description) or one particular artifact to assess whether it fits in an existing genre (generic participation) or one artifact that appears to be part of a genre but might digress from it in interesting ways, etc (generic application). In other words, the artifacts should be linked in such a way that you can make a case for an emerging genre or whether the artifact participates in an existing genre or not. Using the points from our class discussion, perform a short generic criticism of your artifact(s): generic description, generic participation, or generic application. Don’t forget to name the genre you’ve pinpointed for your artifact/s. An example is “wedding-themed comedies”; but you should produce a name of your own that may be fitting. You may want to use the observation sheet delivered in class to analyze each artifact and then identify the commonalities between the artifacts OR identify the qualities that make an artifact participate in a genre OR qualities that make it digress from an existing genre, etc (post some of your notes here). Finally make a list of the organizing principles for your analysis (see the sample essays in the textbook to get ideas for generating possible organizing principles in a generic analysis).

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Post #3: Neo-Aristotelian Criticism

Due by the class period on Friday, February 5th

For your first formal critical essay in our class, you will use the rhetorical method of Neo-Aristotelian criticism to discover and write about the available means of persuasion in a speech of your choice. (Follow our class meetings on steps for writing a Neo-Aristotelian criticism.) Locate a speech for your analysis. You are free to locate a speech from any media, and the speech can be either a fiction or nonfiction one. For example, the speech can be an actual presidential address which can help you make a case about a certain type of leadership rhetoric and its possible effect on audiences. Or you can find a movie, a TV program, or another mediated text that features the delivery of a speech and analyze it in relation to a certain issue (identity, race, gender, morality, or another everyday exigency). Feel free to discuss your ideas with me inside or outside of the class period. In your Post #3, describe the rhetorical situation (rhetor, audience, topic, purpose, and context) of your selected artifact (2-3 paragraphs); the more details you can provide to inform us about your selected artifact, the better. We will build on this posting during our rhetoric lab on Friday (so your timely posting is essential).


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Post #2: Looking for Rhetoric

Due by 5 p.m. on Monday, January 25th

Our syllabus states that “Rhetorical criticism is a systematic analysis of rhetorical tools as they are used by a rhetor; 2) the examination of how those tools help to convey meaning; 3) and an examination of the effects, as far as they can be determined, of a rhetorical artifact under consideration.”

In order to identify the rhetorical strategies a rhetor is using in a text (speech, video, article, etc), we should first identify our definition of rhetoric and identify our “units of analysis” to guide our examination of the text. Review the definition assigned to you below. If this were the definition to guide your rhetorical analysis, what would your unit of analysis be? In other words, what would you be looking for in the text to help you identify the rhetor’s rhetorical strategies/tools/etc? Feel free to contemplate about this in any way you want–this is just to get our discussion started, so don’t worry so much about getting it right. Just think and freewrite about it.

Garrett Badgley>>Quintilian:  “Rhetoric is the art of speaking well” or “…good man speaking well.”

Tracey Burnham>>Plato:  [Rhetoric] is the “art of enchanting the soul.” (The art of winning the soul by discourse.)

Zachary Carmon>>Gerard A. Hauser: “Rhetoric is an instrumental use of language. One person engages another person in an exchange of symbols to accomplish some goal. It is not communication for communication’s sake. Rhetoric is communication that attempts to coordinate social action. For this reason, rhetorical communication is explicitly pragmatic. Its goal is to influence human choices on specific matters that require immediate attention.”

Chris Crider>>John Locke: “[Rhetoric,] that powerful instrument of error and deceit.”

Colin Deans>>Francis Bacon: The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will.

Laikyn Farmer>>Erika Lindemann:  “Rhetoric is a form of reasoning about probabilities, based on assumptions people share as members of a community.”

Jake Hull>>Philip Johnson: “Rhetoric is the art of framing an argument so that it can be appreciated by an audience.”

Shelby Shelton>>A. Richards:  Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.

Chelsea N. Smith>>Kenneth Burke: “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.”

Lacey Sullivan>>George Kennedy: Rhetoric in the most general sense may perhaps be identified with the energy inherent in communication:  the emotional energy that impels the speaker to speak, the physical energy expanded in the utterance, the energy level coded in the message, and the energy experienced by the recipient in decoding the message.

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Post #1: Personal Introduction

Due by 12:00 p.m. on January 25

1) Watch this video and create your own Longwood course blog for our course: [youtube][/youtube]

You need to make your blog “public” so please leave the boxes by privacy settings unchecked. One you create a blog, you may go to Dashboard and/or Customize you individualize its theme and other features. Have fun with it!

2) You should also share your blog URL with me by submitting it on Canvas. To submit your URL, go to Canvas>Course Blog>Post #1 as click “Reply” to submit your URL as a discussion response so we can all see it.

Please make sure to submit the right link. My course blog URL is

Yours should also begin with but will have the URL name you choose after the last slash; you will enter this in the form for creating your blog. The URL extension can be anything you choose or something about rhetoric or rhetorical criticism (e.g., mine is “rhetcrit”).

3) Please title your posts in the same way I title mine (Post #1: Personal Introduction, and so on) so that I can clearly identify your respective posts for evaluation.

4) Now, it is time to make your first blog post! The main purpose of your first blog post is to clarify why your blog exists and other related questions that your readers might have upon stumbling upon your blog. Therefore, in your first blog post, please clarify the “rhetorical situation” for your blog (which is a rhetorical artifact): writer, purpose, message, audience, context.

-Who is the writer/blogger (brief info about you)?

-What is the writer/you writing about? What is the purpose of your blog (include the course information but you may also include a purpose of your own)? Who is your intended audience (write one or two sentences about who might make use of this blog or would like to check it out, etc)?

-What is the context for this blog (you can think about the classroom and beyond)? Since you will want to mention our Rhetorical Criticism course, it is also appropriate to give some information about your reasons for taking the class, any past rhetoric/writing classes you have taken, etc.

There is no one way of answering these questions, so be flexible and use your creativity. Feel free to make your posts more colorful and interesting with media (images, video, etc); cite your images and try to use ones that are in the public domain (not copyrighted), but you should be fine sharing any YouTube videos. You may also create your own images (take photos, etc) and add them to your blog, too.

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Welcome to ENGL 301: Rhetorical Criticism!

Welcome to our course blog! This blog will serve as a medium for us to communicate about our course, which will allow you to study various methods of rhetorical criticism and use them to examine examples of verbal and nonverbal communication.


Gallery of Views of Modern Rome, Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1759 — Image courtesy of WikiArt

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