Backpacks And Briefcases Jake Slimp


First Impressions
  • You have become able to analyze quickly what people are saying about themselves through the way they choose to dress, accessorize, or wear their hair.
  • The more we know about how to analyze situations and draw informed conclusions, the better we can become about making savvy judgments about the people, situations and media we encounter.
Implications of Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetoric, the way we use language and images to persuade-is what makes the media work.
  • Understanding rhetorical messages is essential to help us to become informed consumers, but it also helps evaluate the ethics of messages, how they affect us personally, and how they affect society.
  • It also asks you to trust the company’s credibility, or ethos, and to believe the messages they send
  • Stories, which are often heart-wrenching, use emotion to persuade you—also called pathos.
  • Many of the analytical processes that you already use to interpret the rhetoric around you are the same ones that you’ll use for these assignments.
  • Kenneth Burke, rhetoric is everywhere: “wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric. And wherever there is ‘meaning,’ there is ‘persuasion.’
The Rhetorical Situation, Or Discerning Context
  • Context; rhetorical messages always occur in a specific situation or context.
  • Three parts to understanding the context of a rhetorical moment:
    1. Exigence is the circumstance or condition that invites a response; imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be (Bitzer 304).
    2. Audience, those who are the (intended or unintended) recipients of the rhetorical message.
    3. Constraints, the constraints of the rhetorical situation are those things that have the power to constrain decision and action needed to modify the exigence (Bitzer 306).
  • Rhetorical Triangle, writer, reader, and purpose.
  • We can discern the purpose by asking questions like “what does the rhetor want me to believe after seeing this message?” or “what does the rhetor want me to do?”
The Heart of the Matter—The Argument
  • What you really want to understand is the argument—what the rhetor wants you to believe or do and how he or she goes about that persuasion.
  • Aristotle articulated three “artistic appeals” that a rhetor could draw on to make a case:
    1. Logos is commonly defined as argument from reason, and it usually appeals to an audience’s intellectual side.
    2. Pathos is an appeal to the readers emotions.
    3. Ethos refers to the credibility of the rhetor—which can be a person or an organization. A rhetor can develop credibility in many ways. The tone of the writing and whether that tone is appropriate for the context helps build a writer’s ethos, as does the accuracy of the information or the visual presentation of the rhetoric.
Beginning to Analyze
  • Once you have established the context for the rhetoric you are analyzing, you can begin to think about how well it fits into that context.
  • One of the reasons you work to determine the rhetorical situation for a piece of discourse is to consider whether it works within that context. You can begin this process by asking questions like:
    • Does the rhetoric address the problem it claims to address?
    • Is the rhetoric targeted at an audience who has the power to make change?
    • Are the appeals appropriate to the audience?
    • Does the rhetor give enough information to make an informed decision?
    • Does the rhetoric attempt to manipulate in any way (by giving incomplete/inaccurate information or abusing the audience’s emotions)?
    • What other sub-claims do you have to accept to understand the rhetor’s main claim? (For example, in order to accept the Ad Council’s claim that the arts boost math and science scores, you first have to value the boosting of those scores.)
    • What possible negative effects might come from this rhetoric?
  • In order to perform analysis, you must understand the context and then you must carefully study the ways that the discourse does and does not respond appropriately to that context.
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