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Transcript File - Mrs. Stanford`s School of English

Tackling Rhetoric
Week of August 25, 2014
What is Rhetoric?
From Aristotle: The faculty of observing in any given case the
available means of persuasion.
Rhetoric is a thoughtful, reflective activity leading to effective
communication, including the rational exchange of opposing
In the time of Aristotle, and now in the 21st century, those who
understand and can use the available means to appeal to an
audience of one or many find themselves in a position of
Tools to resolve conflict
Persuade readers/listeners
Move others to take action
Where is Rhetoric?
You might use rhetoric to convince a friend that Iggy Azalea is
worth listening to.
To explain to readers of your blog that The Walking Dead is
extremely influential in the realms of zombie cinema.
To persuade your parents that they should buy you a car.
It’s important to note that rhetoric is not just about speeches.
Every essay, political cartoon, photograph, and advertisement is
designed to convince you of something.
These texts are cultural products that can be read, meaning not just
consumed and comprehended, but investigated.
We need to be able to read between the lines regardless of what we
are reading or viewing.
What are these advertisements
saying to you?
Now what about these?
The Rhetorical Situation
Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech
July 4, 1939
Transcript reading
Why is this an effective speech?
Occasion – the time and place the test was written/spoken
Context – the circumstances, atmosphere, attitudes and events
surrounding the text
Purpose – the goal the speaker wants to achieve
How does the video enhance the overall effect of the speech?
The Rhetorical Triangle
Represents the relationships
within a rhetorical situation.
The Speaker/Author is the
person or group that creates the
 Don’t think of the speaker as
solely a name, but consider a
description of who the
speaker is in context of the
 Persona – the difference
between who the speaker is in
real life and the role they
speaker plays when
delivering the message.
Rhetorical Triangle
The audience is the listener,
viewer, or reader of a text or
There may be multiple
Speakers must ask what
values their audience holds,
and their general mood
toward the subject matter.
The subject/text is the topic.
It should not be confused with
the purpose, which is the goal
the speaker wishes to achieve.
Construct and analyze a
rhetorical situation for writing
a review of a movie, video
game, or concert. Be very
specific in your analysis: What
is your subject? What is your
purpose? Who is your
audience? What is your
relationship to the audience.
This is not an essay – just an
analysis of the rhetorical
In discussing the
rhetorical situation
surrounding a text,
we’ve talked about
some of the
background that you
should consider
(occasion, context,
and purpose) and
relationships that are
more directly related
to the text ( speaker,
audience, subject).
One way to remember
all of these things is
through the acronym
Dear Phyllis
Einstein is responsible for the theory of relativity, quantum
mechanics, and other foundational concepts. He won the
Novel Prize in Physics in 1921. In 1936, he wrote the following
letter to a sixth grade student, Phyllis Wright, in response to
her questions: Do scientists pray? And if so, what do they
pray for?
Analyze Einstein’s response using SOAPSTone.
George W. Bush, 9/11 Speech
SOAPSTone, analyze the
rhetorical situation in G.W. Bush’s 9/11
Rhetorical Appeals
Rhetorical appeals are the
attempts by a speaker to
persuade an audience – or to
put it another way, attempts to
say things that an audience
would find appealing.
Speakers appeal to “ethos”
(Greek for Character) to
demonstrate that they are
trustworthy people who
should be listened to when
they discuss a given topic.
Speaker’s qualifications or
authority play into this appeal
as well.
Speech to Congress, Lyndon B.
Johnson, March 15, 1965
How does LBJ bring ethos into
the rhetorical situation?
The occasion was violence that
had erupted the week prior in
Selma, Alabama, when
African-Americans preparing
to march to Montgomery to
protest voting-rights
discrimination were attacked
by police.
Quick thinking with a partner…
 Think
of a situation in which you are
presenting your view on the same
subject to two different audiences. For
instance, you might be presenting your
ideas on ways to stop bullying (1) to the
school board, and (2) to a group of
middle-schoolers. Discuss how you
would establish ethos in each situation.
Speakers appeal to logos, or
reason, by offering clear,
rational ideas. Appealing to
logos and using specific
details, examples, facts,
statistics, or expert testimony
to support it.
Although Lou Gehrig’s speech
may seem largely emotional, it
is acutally cased on irrefutable
logic. He starts with a thesis, “I
am the luckiest man on the
face of the earth” and supports
it with 2 logical points
Love and kindness
His list of great people
Logos continued…
One way to appeal to logos is to acknowledge a
counterargument – that is, to anticipate objections or
opposing views.
You’ll be vulnerable if you ignore ideas that run counter to your
In acknowledging a counterargument you agree (concede) that
an opposing argument may be true or reasonable. But then you
deny (refute) the validity of all or part of the argument.
This combination of concession and refutation actually
strengthens your own argument; it appeals to logos by
demonstrating that you understand a viewpoint other than your
own, you’ve thought through other evidence, and you stand by
your position.
Alice Walker – Slow Food Nation
From Slow Food Nation…
It's no wonder our national attention span is so short: We get
hammered with the message that everything in our lives should be
fast, cheap and easy -- especially food. So conditioned are we to
believe that food should be almost free that even the rich, who pay a
tinier fraction of their incomes for food than has ever been paid before
in human history, grumble at the price of an organic peach -- a peach
grown for flavor and picked, perfectly ripe, by a local farmer who is
taking care of the land and paying his workers a fair wage! And yet, as
the writer and farmer David Masumoto recently pointed out, pound for
pound, peaches that good still cost less than Twinkies. When we claim
that eating well is an elitist preoccupation, we create a smokescreen
that obscures the fundamental role our food decisions have in shaping
the world. The reason that eating well in this country costs more than
eating poorly is that we have a set of agricultural policies that
subsidize fast food and make fresh, wholesome foods, which receive
no government support, seem expensive. Organic foods seem elitist
only because industrial food is artificially cheap, with its real costs
being charged to the public purse, the public health and the
+ China’s Appetite for Coal
– George Will
Half of the 6 billion tons of coal burned globally each year is burned in China. A
spokesman for the Sierra Club, which in recent years has helped to block construction of
139 proposed coal-fired plants in America, says, "This is undermining everything we've
accomplished." America, say environmentalists, is exporting global warming. Can
something really be exported if it supposedly affects the entire planet? Never mind.
America has partners in this crime against nature, if such it is. One Australian company
proposes to build the Cowlitz facility; another has signed a $60 billion contract to supply
Chinese power plants with Australian coal.
The Times says ships - all burning hydrocarbons - hauled about 690 million tons of
thermal coal this year, up from 385 million in 2001. China, which imported about 150
million tons this year, was a net exporter of coal until 2009, sending abroad its low-grade
coal and importing higher-grade, low-sulfur coal from, for example, the Powder River
Basin of Wyoming and Montana. Because much of China's enormous coal reserves is
inland, far from coastal factories, it is sometimes more economical to import American
and Australian coal.
Writing in the Atlantic on China's appetite for coal and possible aptitude for using the old
fuel in new, cleaner ways, James Fallows quotes a Chinese official saying that the country's
transportation system is the only serious limit on how fast power companies increase
their use of coal. One reason China is building light-rail systems is to get passenger
traffic out of the way of coal trains.
Fallows reports that 15 years from now China expects that 350 million people will be
living in cities that do not exist yet. This will require adding to China's electrical system a
capacity almost as large as America's current capacity. The United States, China, Russia
and India have 40 percent of the world's population and 60 percent of its coal.
China’s appetite for coal…
How does George Will appeal to logos in
his article?
Pathos is an appeal to emotions,
values, desires, and hopes, on
the one hand, or fears and
prejudices on the other.
Although an argument that
appeals exclusively to emotion
is by definition weak – it’s
generally propagandistic in
purpose and more polemical
than persuasive.
An effective speaker or writer
understands the power of
evoking an audience’s emotions
by using such tools as figurative
language, personal anecdotes
and vivid images.
Richard Nixon – Checkers
One other thing I probably should tell you, because if I don’t they’ll
probably be saying this about me too. We did get something, a gift,
after the election. A man down in Texas hear Pat [Nixon’s wife] on the
radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a
dog. And believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign
trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they
had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It
was a little cocker spaniel in a crate that he’d sent all the way from
Texas, black and white, spotted. And out little girl, Tricia, the 6-yearold, named it “Checkers.” And you know, the kids, like all kids, love
the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what
they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.
What are Nixon’s methods?
 What
emotions are
engaged during
Nixon’s excerpt?
 Do
his words appeal
more to logic or
Humor & Rhetoric
Humor works rhetorically by
wrapping a challenge to our
beliefs in something that
makes us feel good – a joke –
and thus makes us more
receptive to the new idea.
Whether it is gentle tongue-incheek teasing or bitter irony,
humor may help a writer make
a point without seeming to
preach to the audience or take
himself too seriously.
Crackberry Congress..
-Ruth Marcus
The effect of Crackberry Congress
Letter structure
Humor builds her ethos
Lighthearted approach allows her to not sound prudish
She appeals to readers’ sense of humor as well as their
community values:
Don’t we want out elected officials to forego “instantaneous
communication” for more thoughtful deliberations when they are
making decisions about the law of the land?
Combining Ethos, Logos & Pathos
Most authors don’t rely on a just a single type of appeal to
persuade their audience; they combine these appeals to
create an effective argument. And the appeals themselves
are inextricably bound together: if you lay out your argument
logically, that will help build your ethos.
Take a look at Toni Morrison, the only African American
woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, who wrote the
following letter to then senator Barack Obama endorsing him
as the Democratic candidate for president in 2008. The letter
was published in the New York Times.
Morrison’s letter to Obama
Who is Morrison’s audience
for this letter?
Does she need to establish
ethos based on her audience?
How does she develop a
logical argument without
figures or expert sources?
How does she appeal to
Activity – Think, Pair, Share
Choose one of the following rhetorical situations, and discuss
how you would establish your ethos and appeal to logos and
You are trying to persuade your skeptical parents that a “gap year” –
taking a year off between high school and college will be beneficial.
You have been asked to make a presentation to your school’s
principal and food-service staff to propose healthier food choices in
the cafeteria at a time when the overall school budget in
You are making the case for the purchase of a specific model and
make of car that will best fit your family’s needs and resources.
You are the student representative chosen to go before a group of
local businesspeople to ask them to provide financial support for a
proposed school trip.
Fiction & Poetry
Imaginative literature (fictional pieces of literature) often
have a rhetorical purpose, even if it’s not immediately
obvious. The most direct use of rhetoric in imaginiative
literature is through a speech by a character or a persuasive
bit of dialogue between characters.
Consider the soliloquies in Shakespeare’s plays, or Atticus
Finch’s close argument in To Kill a Mockingbird.
These examples of literary rhetoric usually have 2 speakers,
the author and the character. It’s important to keep in mind
the concept of persona and remember that these two
speakers are not necessarily the same and might not have
the same purpose.
 Using
analyze the excerpt
from The Killer
Angels by Michael
When I heard the learn’d
astronomer – Walt Whitman
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and
measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
The poem seems simple enough, but who is the speaker?
Is it Whitman? How do you know for sure?
The poem’s single periodic sentence presents the thoughts
of a person who attends a lecture, becomes bored, and goes
outside to soak in the majesty of nature.
What rhetorical purpose does this poem serve?
Whitman’s attempt to not only express his view but also to
convince us to share in it?
Activity – I sit and sew
In 1920, the African American poet Alice Dunbar-Nelson
wrote “I Sit and Sew,” a dramatic monologue protesting the
limitations of her assigned role during a time of war. Analyze
the poem rhetorically, paying close attention to the argument
the speaker develops.
I sit and sew
Rhetorical Analysis of Visual Texts
Visual Texts
Many visual tests are fullfledged arguments. Although
they may not be written in
paragraphs or have a
traditional thesis, they are
occasioned by specific
circumstances, they have a
purpose (whether it is to
comment on current events or
simply to urge you to buy
something), and they make a
claim and support it with
appeals to authority, emotion
and reason.
Consider this…
Tom Toles drew this cartoon
after the death of civil rights
icon Rosa Parks in 2005. Parks
was the woman who refused to
give up her seat on the bus in
Montgomery, Alabama. Her act
became a symbol for the
struggle for racial equality in
the U.S.
What is the occasion? Who is
the speaker? Who is the
audience? What is his
His purpose and meaning…
Toles’s purpose is to
remember Parks as an
ordinary citizen whose
courage and determination
brought extraordinary results.
The subject is the legacy of
Rosa Parks, a well-known
person loved by many.
The caption appeals to both
pathos and logos. Its emotional
appeal is its
acknowledgement that, of
course, heaven would have
been waiting for this good
Steve Jobs – Visual Rhetoric
Stanford Commencement
Transcript first
What are the differences
between the written version
and watching the actual video
and auditory version?
Which one is more effective?
Sojourner Truth – Ain’t I a Woman?
Video versus text – again,
which is more effective and
Determining Effective and
Ineffective Rhetoric
Is this ad from PETA, an animal rights group
effective? What message(s) is it sending?
The Breakdown…
A positive reading would see
the image of an overweight
child about to bite into a
burger as an attention getter.
Most people would not have
thought of this connection.
Shock value
Childhood obesity
Replacing burgers with
veggies is a healthier
alternative – one that no one
would find questionable.
A negative reading would see
that allowing a child to eat a
hamburger is the same as
committing child abuse – which
is a serious allegation.
Ad loses it’s purpose because of
the exaggeration.
No one would argue with “fight
the fat” – but to link the
consumption of any kind of meat
with a heinous act of child abuse
might not seem logical to every
viewer – which undermines the
ad’s effectiveness.
The Verdict…
Let’s look at another piece…
If the Japanese Can’t Build a Safe
Reactor, Who Can?
Does Applebaum miss her mark?
Does she use a worst-case scenario
to make her case?
Do her references to 9/11 and
WW2 make nuclear power seem
alarming, or do they just make her
sound like an alarmist?
Are her fears justified?
 Take
a look at the rhetorical analysis of the
effectiveness of Anne Applebaum’s
argument written by an AP student, Tamar
Demby. How does she develop her
position? Do you agree or disagree?
Explain. How might she improve her essay?
Effective or Ineffective? Why?
Effective or Ineffective? Why?
Fallacies of Argument
Scare Tactics
Politicians, advertisers and public figures sometimes peddle
their ideas by scaring people and exaggerating possible
dangers well beyond their statistical likelihood. Such ploys
work because it’s easier to imagine something terrible
happening than to appreciate its rarity.
Scare tactics can also be used to stampede legitimate fears
into panic or prejudice.
People who genuinely fear losing their jobs can be persuaded to
fear that immigrants might work for less money.
Such tactics have the effect of closing off thinking because
people who are scared often act irrationally. Even wellintended fear campaigns – like those directed against
smoking, drugs, etc – can misfire their warnings because
they are too shrill. People just stop listening.
Either – Or Choices
One way to simplify arguments and give them power is to
reduce complicated issues to just two options, one obviously
preferable to the other.
Either – Or choices can be well-intentioned strategies to get
something accomplished. Parents use them all the time. But
they become fallacious arguments when they reduce
complicated issues to excessively simple terms or when
they’re designed to obscure legitimate alternatives.
I.E.: To suggest that renewable power sources such as wind
and solar represent the only long-term solution to our energy
needs may have rhetorical power, but the choice is too easy
and uncomplicated. Energy shortages can be fixed in any
number of ways, including wind and solar power.
Either Or
Slippery Slope
Slippery slope portrays today’s tiny misstep as tomorrow’s
slide into disaster.
Some arguments that aim at preventing dire consequences
do not take the slippery slope approach (for example the
parent who corrects a child for misbehavior now is acting
sensibly to prevent more serious problems as the child grows
A Slippery Slope argument becomes wrongheaded when a
writer exaggerates the likely consequences of an action,
usually to frighten readers. As a result slippery slope
arguments can also fall under the scare tactics category.
Slippery Slope
Sentimental Appeals
Use tender emotions excessively to distract readers from
High personal and individual – focus attention on
heartwarming or heartwrenching situations that make
readers feel guilty if they challenge the ideas.
Emotions become an impediment to civil discourse when
they keep people from thinking clearly.
I.E.: A news show can document the day-to-day sacrifices of
parents who are trying to meet their mortgage payments and
keep their kids in college in a tough economy. Their on
screen struggle can represent the spirit of an entire class of
people threatened by bankers. While such individual stories
stir genuine emotions, they seldom give the complete picture
of a complex social or economical issue.
Sentimental Appeals (Appeal to
Bandwagon Appeals
Urge people to follow the same path everyone else is taking.
Rather than think independently about where to go, it’s often
easier to get on board the bandwagon with everyone else.
Children use this on their parents all the time.
Not all bandwagon approaches are transparent. Recent
decades have seen bandwagon issues including the war on
drugs, the nuclear freeze movement, the campaign against
drunk driving, campaign finance reform, illegal immigration,
the defense of marriage, and bailouts for banks and
businesses. These issues are all too complex to permit the
suspension of judgment that bandwagon tactics require.
Your culminating project…
Rhetoric at work in our daily