Rhetoric and Persuasion

Category: Education

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Overview of Rhetoric An older definition--Aristotle : Rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.” A more recent definition--Kenneth Burke: “The basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents .” An understanding of rhetoric and an ability to analyze rhetoric can help YOU write, speak, and think more persuasively

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Rhetorical Analysis What we do when we analyze rhetoric: We normally read for content rather than the way a piece is written. But -- Rhetorical analysis focuses less on what the writer/speaker says than on how he/she says it. So -- Analyzing rhetoric involves thinking about the way a writer/speaker persuades, not what he/she says

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Argument What we do when we use rhetoric: Address the intended audience and cater the persuasive message to that audience State the position, assertion, claim, or analysis (thesis) so that it fulfills the purpose of the persuasive message Consider the context and how it might impact the effectiveness of the persuasive message

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More on Persuasion Stakeholder: someone who affects or is affected by an issue; has a stake Audience: group of people at which persuasion/message is aimed Purpose: goal of the persuasion/ message; in many cases, goal is to influence opinion and/or prompt action Context: the “climate ” or “culture”— time period, prevailing opinion in society, state of the culture

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Rhetoric and Persuasion: Good or Bad?

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