Rhetorical Criticism

Rhetorical Criticism:

It is the analysis of a wide range of items associated to using language to have an effect on an audience. It is frequently but not always applied to writing, where the author intends to contain a certain impact on readers. Generally, Rhetoric is very broadly described as any aspect of speech or writing that reaches out to an audience. Criticism, as it is described for literary criticism, rhetorical criticism, and other types of same kind of analysis, is the procedure of examining something for its basics or underlying nature. Rhetorical criticism notices units of language and other auxiliary products of writers or speakers to analyze the intent as well as the context of a piece of specific communication to an audience.

The fame of rhetorical criticism has grown and diminished over time during its history in human civilization. In some of the ways, the rise of rhetorical criticism is as old as the common usage of written language. Some of the date this discipline back to Plato and the societies of ancient Greece.

Academics use rhetorical criticism to understand how communicators use symbols to impact their audiences. These researchers can study film, text or audio recordings to discover rhetorical symbols for analysis. They can utilize precise words or phrases to provide insight into the speaker’s or writer’s intent. In general, those who study rhetoric will build a collection of symbols, attempt to work them together into a central thesis, and slowly develop a meta-narrative about the ultimate nature of that writing, speech or rhetoric-based art work.

Some of the experts have built definite categories of rhetorical criticism. For example, there is a general focus in some of the academic communities on the “rhetorical effect of spectacle,” where broad rhetorical techniques are used to generate cathartic reactions in an audience. This type of study examines the visual and auditory both components of rhetoric in search of more information regarding how communications will be attained by a large group of people.

The products of rhetorical criticism can take various forms. Research papers may draw a great deal from this sort of study. In some of the academic departments associated to communications, students may be tested on their responses to this sort of analysis. Some of the academic journals may publish articles associated to the study of rhetoric in contemporary societies. All of this adds to the general body of work around the employ of rhetoric in diverse contexts and scenarios.

Purposes of rhetorical criticism:

A) "Rhetorical criticism documents social trends" it "reviews the scene of the action, calling concentration to features of persuasion that the listener did not notice";

B) Rhetorical criticism aids in understanding through applying insights gained in investigative a few instance to the general communication procedure; in general, criticism needs selection of a phenomenon for study, a explanation of it, classification of its significant features, interpretation of patterns discovered, and evaluation of the phenomenon according to some of  standard;

C) "Rhetorical criticism generates meta-knowledge (i.e., explicit understanding of implicit realizations)" it goes beyond being capable to recognize knowledge to helping explain "how we know what we know"; such criticism encourages an active participation along with the messages we receive daily;

D) Rhetorical criticism is a "way to get outside of oneself" it suppose that we cannot understand others unless we understand how & why they act as they do and brings us face to face with perceptions  and experiences that are not our own.

Types/Categories of Rhetorical Criticism:

It is not an exhaustive listing of the particular types or genres of rhetorical criticism, but generally these are the ones discussed in the readings:

A. Traditional/Classical/Neo-Aristotelian criticism:

1.  Concentrates on speaker and his/her persuasive response to rhetorical problems.  Usually involves a deductive analysis of speaker, message and situation, which can be current or historical.

2.  General assumptions are following:

  • Society is stable; humans are rational.
  • The rhetorical procedure consists of essential, fixed components which can be discretely analyzed.
  • Rhetorical concepts precisely describe reality.

3.  Neo-Aristotelian approaches involved analysis of the following:

  • Forms of proof ( pathos, logos, ethos)
  • The classical canon ( arrangement, invention ,style, memory, delivery)
  • May also include a discussion of the condition and the temper of the time as well as biographical data of the speaker
  • May include an examination to the audience’s instant reactions, and/or the short and long term effects of the message.

B.  Bitzers rhetorical situation:

1. Rhetoric comes into existence as a response to a condition that has needs (exigencies) or, questions, problems etc. Exigency is described as an imperfection marked by urgency which can be modified only through rhetorical discourse.

2. The rhetorical act must be a fitting response to the exigencies of the situation.

3. Examines people, events, objects, and their relationship, looking for constraints on the situation (beliefs, objects, values, traditions, etc.). Constraints can come from the rhetoric (source), the receivers of the discourse, or the condition itself.

C.  Dramatistic and Narrative Criticism:

1.  Suppose that critics sough to find the relationships between message, speaker and society.

  • "Society is in process, but rather stable relationships govern human interactions"
  • A person's symbol-system impact his/her perception of reality;

2. Discourse required a unified, yet flexible framework for systematic study (a theory to data method).

3. Burkean Dramatism target on the psychological components of rhetoric.  Includes concepts of, form, identification, the pentad, etc. Generally Burke described rhetoric as the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols.

(i). Pendatic analysis--examine how the following are used by the speaker:

  • The act (what was done);
  • The scene (when or where it was done);
  • The agent (who did it);
  • The agency (how was it done);
  • The purpose (why it was done);
  • Find out ratios between these five aspects;
  • Illustrates how the speaker creates audience identification through the use of these aspects.

(ii). Cluster analysis--examine recurring forms (symbols) used by the speaker:

  • Identify key terms (the most significant used in the discourse)   
  • Examine the collapse of recurring symbols into clusters
  • Examine how the patterns recur or change over time;
  • Examine potential oppositions among the forms;
  • Find out representative anecdotes (clues to values of the speaker).

D. Cultural rhetorical criticism:

1. The institutions, structure and processes of society and communicative exchanges are viewed as continuously interacting and mutually defining systems."

  • Societies develop mechanisms to "minimize change and promote firmness and inertia."
  • Communication study occurs in the parameters of consensual societal values.
  • Both our perceptions of reality, and the rhetorical options open to individuals are find out by the symbolic frameworks which regulate and unify society.
  • A broad variety of methods and perspectives can be employed to analysis societal discourse; however, all seek understanding through the examination of society as a whole.

2. Includes ideological criticism, feminist criticism, etc.; it makes use of theories and methods of critical theory, cultural studies, etc.

3. In regards to feminist rhetorical criticism, feminists are diverse, and use various diverse approaches, however tend to share the following assumptions:

  • Women and men’s experiences are different
  • Women (and men) are oppressed by the patriarchal system
  • Women’s perspectives are not incorporated into the culture

 

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