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Key Concepts of Rhetorical Analysis

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Jennifer Kates

on 26 October 2015

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Transcript of Key Concepts of Rhetorical Analysis

Key Concepts of Rhetorical Analysis
Key Concept 1: Exigence
AKA Rhetorical Situation
What motivates the rhetor, creates the urgency for expression?
What occasion gives rise to the need or opportunity for persuasion?
What is the historical occasion that would give rise to the composition of this text?

Key Concept 2: Purpose
Key Concept 3: Genre
What type of text is it? essay? letter? cartoon? memo?
What are the conventions of this genre?
How does the genre of the text work for or against the purpose?
Key Concept 4: Critical Analysis
Can you summarize the main idea?
What are the principal lines of reasoning or kinds of arguments used?
What topics of invention are employed?
How does the rhetor employ the rhetorical triangle?
Rhetorical triangle: pathos, ethos, logos

What is Rhetorical Analysis?

Having to do with a text or a type of communication


Breaking something down in order to better understand how it works


appeal to emotions

appeal to rhetor's authority

Key Concept 5: Audience

Whom does the rhetor intend to reach?

Key Concept 6:
Discourse Community

Key Concept 7: Reflection
Key Concept 8: Composing
Key Concept 9: Knowledge


Does the form complement the content?
What effect does the form have?
Does the form aid or hinder the rhetor's intention?

appeal to logic

To what culture does the discourse community belong?
What language do they speak?
What conventions do they observe?
What cultural assumptions may be at work?
Looking backward, using hindsight to understand something

What kinds of knowledge does the rhetor bring to the text?
Time to Practice!
Apply the Key Concepts to these texts: how does the rhetor use the concepts?
Why did the rhetor compose this text?
He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?

And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-­‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-­‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
What Teachers Make ~by~ Taylor Mali

And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?
Mali. Taylor. “What Teachers Make.” What Learning Leaves. Newtown, CT: Hanover Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN: 1-­‐887012-­‐17-­‐6)
dates, places, names, times, quotes

numbers, amounts, measurements, statistics, percentages
been there, done that, got the t-shirt
what has happened in the past, background, how we got here

The Boston Tea Party
"The following acts of Parliament are infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists; and that the repeal of them is essentially necessary in order to restore harmony between Great Britain and the American colonies, viz.: the three acts passed in the last session of Parliament, for stopping the port up the harbor of Boston, for altering the charter and government of the Massachusetts Bay."
To persuade
to entertain
to inform
MLK Letter from Birmingham Jail
to warn
to frighten
Full transcript