Rhetorical Concepts: Ancient and Modern

Ancient Concepts

Argument Versus Persuasion: A False Dichotomy: This article disputes the tendency to see argument as truth-seeking and persuasion as manipulative.

Aristotle’s Three Appeals: An introduction to ethos, logos, and pathos.

A Problem with the Aristotelian Appeals: This was written in response to a reported tendency among students to combine the five-paragraph essay with the three appeals to argue that the writer “uses” all three appeals.

Three Ways to Persuade: Integrating the Three Appeals: This is an update of the “Three Ways to Persuade” article, in part to address the problem noted in the previous post.  Note: Also see the mini-module.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos: Heidegger on Aristotle: This post re-imagines the relationships between the three appeals based on James Crosswhite’s reading of Heidegger’s lectures on Aristotle’s Rhetoric.

Pathos as Inquiry and Strategy: This post discusses pathos as a concept useful for audience analysis, using the first emotion Aristotle discuss, anger.

More on Pathos as Inquiry: This post expands the method used in the previous post to a wider range of emotions.

“Three Ways to Persuade” Mini-Module: This module explores Aristotle’s three appeals–ethos, logos, and pathos–plus the distinction between belief and knowledge.  The writing assignment asks students to consider four arguments from Aristotle in defense of rhetoric.  A good introduction to thinking rhetorically.

Pathos as Inquiry: A Mini-Module: This post links to an ERWC-style mini-module with learning goals, an article to read, several activities, and a writing assignment.

Stasis Theory–A Mini-Module: An introduction to an ancient invention strategy that is still quite useful and relevant today.  The mini-module includes an article, “Stasis Theory: Finding Common Ground and Asking Pertinent Questions,” plus scenarios, activities, and a brief writing assignment. Update: Modifying Stasis Theory for the Classroom.

New!The Classical Pattern of Persuasion–This introduces the Roman six-part speech as a flexible and more effective alternative to the essay organization formulas that students are often taught.  It presents the Classical pattern as a chart, a series of questions for the writer, and as a series of questions for a critical reader.  The Latin terms are included, but not emphasized.

Enthymemes!: This post explains Aristotle’s concept of logos in terms of its basic element, the enthymeme or “rhetorical syllogism.”

The Roman Six-Part Speech as an Essay: This post offers the Roman six-part speech as an alternative form to the five-paragraph essay. It contains questions that can be used to analyze articles and op-ed pieces as well as generative questions that students can use to plan essays.

Descriptive Outlining and Arrangement: This post is a follow-up on the previous one that applies Ken Bruffee’s practice of descriptive outlining to look at the organizational structure of three related op-ed pieces.

Modern Rhetoric

Kenneth Burke’s Pentad and Gatsby: An application of Burke’s pentad–act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose–to Fitzgerald’s novel.

Using Kenneth Burke’s Pentad: A handout designed to help students apply the pentad to real world situations and literary criticism.  Eventually this will become a mini-module.

How Texts Construct Readers: A mini-module that applies concepts from Glen Stillar’s Analyzing Everyday Texts to an anti-smoking sign.