Applying Rhetorical Tools

toolboxWhether people are aware of it or not, everyone uses rhetoric.  In high school speech class I was taught that rhetoric consisted of the concepts of pathos, ethos, and logos.  While that’s true, rhetoric is made up of much more than just those three tools.

“Rhetorial Toolbox” by Bowdon and Scott describes how rhetoric dates back to ancient Greece and Rome when the goal of its use was to persuade or deliberate the best course of action through speech.  This is why rhetoric is often only associated with political speeches today.  However, rhetoric is constantly adapted and interpreted to apply to the society and culture we live in.

Other concepts of rhetoric include exigence, writer(s), purpose, genre, culture, rhetorical appeals (here is where the ethos, pathos, and logos come in!), and canons.  Would you send a professor a Facebook message about your weekend plans?  Probably not.  An appropriate communication with a professor would be an email about your grade or upcoming assignments.  The fact that most of us are aware of the appropriateness of these interactions without officially taking a course in rhetoric indicates that we naturally consider rhetorical situations.

This new understanding of rhetoric and rhetorical situations proved very helpful in my first assignment for this course.  The assignment required each student to write two pieces of correspondence.  For the first piece, we were given the rhetorical situation.  It was supposed to be a letter written to our classmates and teacher introducing the topic of our research and writing.  However, for the second piece of correspondence, each student had to come up with his or her own rhetorical situation.  I decided to write an email to Joel Salatin, who is a pioneer in the field of sustainable farming. The purpose of my email was to inform him of my project and persuade him to do an interview with me as part of my research. In order to persuade him, I expressed my interest in the field, explained my personal experiences with sustainable farming, and detailed why my project is important for spreading his knowledge.

I am looking forward to expanding on my knowledge of the concepts of rhetoric throughout this course and using it in my future writing!

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5 Responses to Applying Rhetorical Tools

  1. sel62 says:

    I really like the way you restate the concepts of rhetoric that we learned in organized manners. It is very important to be aware of this concept in order to successfully persuade and inform other people. I am looking forward to see your email to Joel Salatin using the rhetorical methods.

  2. Interviews are my least favorite part of journalism. I prefer to glean information from static sources that are easily accessed, which is basically taking the easy way out in most cases. I am impressed with your goals, however, and hope you can show us how to get an important person/authority’s ear for an interview on a topic. Good luck.

  3. I am interested to learn more about sustainable and rotational farming. I think getting information from an interview with a credible source on the topic is a great idea and could really make your research more interesting. I also like the way coherence and flow of this post as you first informed and provided mental stimulation about rhetoric with a question and example followed by introducing your topic. Good luck with the interview and I look forward to hearing what to what they say!

  4. Pingback: Digital Media’s Impact on Public Writing | Writing for the Public

  5. Pingback: Assignment Four/Rhetorical Writing II/Public Service Announcement | Buydezine

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