Everything!!!!! Letters to the Editor



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Argumentation

EVERYTHING!!!!!

Letters to the Editor

  • Example: letter concerning the re-naming of Highway 290 as “Ronald Reagan Highway”… You are basically arguing whether this is a good idea.

Personal Narrative

  • role of childhood friends
  • most important relative
  • connection to your name
  • biggest embarrassment
  • greatest loss
  • greatest learning experience

Applications

  • Jobs- High School through Adulthood
  • Honor Society
  • College Acceptance

Expository Essay

  • Explain the merits (or ills) of Columbus
  • Explain the causes of the Civil War
  • Explain the efficacy of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima
  • Explain the racial subtexts of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Rhetorical Triangle

  • Speaker
  • Audience
  • Text
  • by Aristotle

What is rhetoric?

  • The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. [American Heritage College Dictionary]
  • “Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of discerning in any given case the available means of persuasion.” [Aristotle]

Aristotle said that when a rhetor (speaker) begins to consider how to compose a speech, he/she must take into account 3 elements: the text, the audience, and the speaker.

  • Aristotle said that when a rhetor (speaker) begins to consider how to compose a speech, he/she must take into account 3 elements: the text, the audience, and the speaker.
  • Audience
  • Speaker
  • Text

Audience

  • The writer/speaker:
  • speculates about audience expectations and knowledge of subject, and
  • uses own experience and observation to help decide on how to communicate with audience.

Text

  • The writer/speaker:
  • evaluates what the audience knows already and needs to know,
  • investigates perspectives (researches), and
  • determines kinds of evidence, format, style, etc that seem most useful (supports assertions with appropriate evidence).

Speaker

  • The writer/speaker uses:
  • who they are,
  • what they know and feel, and
  • what they’ve seen and done
  • to find their attitudes toward a text and their understanding of audience.

Appeals

  • The writer/speaker uses different approaches to influence the audience’s attitude toward the subject. These are:
  • Logos
  • Ethos
  • Pathos

Logos

  • The writer/speaker:
  • offers clear, reasonable premises and proofs,
  • develops ideas with appropriate details, and
  • makes sure readers can follow the progression of ideas.

Ethos

  • The writer/speaker uses it when:
  • he/she demonstrates that they are credible, good-willed, & knowledgeable and
  • he/she connects their thinking to the reader’s own ethical or moral beliefs.
  • Audiences and speakers should assume the best intentions and most thoughtful search for truths.

Pathos

  • The writer/speaker:
  • draws on emotions and interests of readers and
  • highlights those emotions using
  • 1) personal stories and observations
  • to provoke audience’s sympathetic
  • reaction and
  • 2) figurative language to heighten
  • emotional connections.

“Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy

  • calls attention to ethical qualities of the speaker and listener (ethos)
  • proposes a solution to the country’s problems by enlisting the citizens’ help (logos)
  • calls forth emotional patriotism (pathos)

Context and Purpose (intended effect on audience)

  • Context: the situation in which the text
  • occurs
  • Purpose: the emerging aim that
  • underlies many of the writer’s
  • decisions

Rhetorical Triangle Plus

  • Context/Purpose
  • (intended effect on audience)
  • Speaker
  • Text
  • Audience
  • The context (the situation in which the text occurs) is especially important.
  • Context may reflect important socioeconomic, cultural elements, or more mundane things, such as where and when the text occurs.
  • Some like to think of context as “setting.”
  • Man with painting on sidewalk/ or in museum.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Context tends to be more important when you are reading a text. You need to be aware of the situation in which the text was created.

  • Context tends to be more important when you are reading a text. You need to be aware of the situation in which the text was created.
  • When you are composing, the context is usually less important because you are composing here and now, and you are aware of the context.
  • There are always exceptions – if you are writing about moves toward democracy in the Middle East, but you live in the US, you may need to be aware of how your context differs from those who live in the Middle East and that may affect your argument.
  • Purpose (aka intent) is a tricky thing.
  • I tell a joke – you don’t laugh. Is it more important that I want you to laugh or that you don’t laugh? Perhaps my intent to make you laugh and the fact that you don’t laugh are equally interesting to note, but neither is more important.
  • It is my not-so-humble opinion that one of the problems with education has been a focus on the importance of what the author meant (intent), when audience reaction is as important.
  • So – I prefer to refer to purpose as intended effect on audience.

There is purpose!

  • This is not to say there is no such thing as intent or purpose. When you are writing, you must know your purpose.
  • In an academic paper the purpose may be presented in your thesis statement.
  • And Purpose can be clear when you are reading as well – all ads want you to buy the product.

Final thoughts

  • + Remember that the rhetorical triangle is not a recipe or a guideline for writing; it is a way of looking at a situation.
  • + Rhetorical situation is a specific (given) moment in which you ca use the rhetorical triangle +1 to observe what is happening.
  • + In any situation - by definition, really - all parts of the triangle are present.


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