Rhetorical Concepts

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.

New! Knowledge, Belief, and the Role of Rhetoric: This is a mini-module that is designed to build upon “Three Ways to Persuade.”  It explores the problem of knowledge versus belief that Plato raises in the Gorgias.  It also works with Aristotle’s concept of the enthymeme, the argument based on assumed premises, without actually emphasizing that term.

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.

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.

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.  See also the mini-module, The Classical Pattern of Persuasion.

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.

Aristotle’s Poetics in the Classroom–This post discusses what Aristotle sees as the six components of tragedy–plot, character, thought, diction, song, and spectacle.  It ventures into literary criticism, but when Aristotle discusses “thought” he always references the Rhetoric.  Questions are provided to help students apply Aristotle’s ideas to contemporary works, such as novels and films.

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.

What We Talk about When We Talk about “Exigence”: A post about the decades long conversation in the journal Philosophy and Rhetoric about this term, with some questions for students at the end.