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AP Language & Composition: Rhetorical Analysis
Transcript of AP Language & Composition: Rhetorical Analysis
AP Language & Composition: Rhetorical Analysis
A Little Background...
Aristotle, On Rhetoric
1st to create a comprehensive Western philosophy
Developed the basics of the rhetoric system we still use today
The writer can be the medium.
Ethos is related to the English word ethics and refers to the trustworthiness of the
speaker/writer. Ethos is an effective persuasive strategy because when we believe that the speaker does not intend to do us harm, we are more willing to listen to what s/he has to say. For example, when a trusted doctor gives you advice, you may not understand all of the medical reasoning behind the advice, but you nonetheless follow the directions because you believe that the doctor knows what s/he is talking about. Likewise, when a judge comments on legal precedent audiences tend to listen because it is the job of a judge to know the nature of past legal cases.
Pathos is related to the words pathetic, sympathy and empathy. Whenever you accept and claim based on how it makes you feel without fully analyzing the rationale behind the claim, you are acting on pathos. They may be any emotions: love, fear, patriotism, guilt, hate or joy. A majority of arguments in the popular press are heavily dependent on pathetic appeals. The more people react without full consideration for the WHY, the more effective an argument can be. Although the pathetic appeal can be manipulative, it is the cornerstone of moving people to action. Many arguments are able to persuade people logically, but the apathetic audience may not follow through on the call to action. Appeals to pathos touch a nerve and compel people to not only listen, but to also take the next step and act in the world. Appeals to pathos (emotion) will often use vivid and concrete language, with evocative descriptions, narratives of emotional events, and figurative language.
The Greek word logos is the basis for the English word logic. Logos is a broader idea than formal logic--the highly symbolic and mathematical logic that you might study in a philosophy course. Logos refers to any attempt to appeal to the intellect, the general meaning of "logical argument." Everyday arguments rely heavily on ethos and pathos, but academic arguments rely more on logos. Yes, these arguments will call upon the writers' credibility and try to touch the audience's emotions, but there will more often than not be logical chains of reasoning supporting all claims. Appeals to logos (logic) will often be phrased in theoretical, abstract language. They often use historical analogies, factual data and statistics, and citations from authorities and experts.
The Rhetorical Triangle
With a group of 4, read through the information given regarding ethos, pathos, OR logos. Record key information about your mode of persuasion on the chart paper provided. Then look at the corresponding excerpt of text. Annotate it, focusing on the use of your mode. Glue this to the bottom of your poster as a reference. These posters will be hung in the classroom as a resource (you will present them tomorrow).
Whether you're analyzing a text or writing your own, consider how the essay and its individual paragraphs or sections are arranged. Is the text organized in the best possible way in order to achieve its purpose? An essay always has a beginning, middle, and end: an introduction, developmental paragraphs, and conclusion. But how a writer structures the argument within that framework depends upon his or her intended purpose and effect. Let's look at the classical model of arrangement.
The Classical Model of Arrangement
(cc) image by nuonsolarteam on Flickr
What's the metaphor here?
When we look at a text, we must consider the writer/narrator as a
Consider: academic persona vs. social persona
A persona is a mask that has been carefully designed.
It's all a mental construct based on what you find in the text.
Here's where you get to take some notes!
We know ethos as an ethical appeal: it's about what's fair, just, right, wrong, moral, and immoral...but there's more to it than that.
Socrates argued that we should consider ethos as a matter of virtue and vice.
Plato, Aristotle, and Kant argued that it's subjective.
Who defines what is "good"?
The speaker's knowledge of the audience is constructed, just like the audience's knowledge of the speaker is constructed. The speaker must always make assumptions about our values.
The Greeks: You possess within you EVERY argument.
When we look at ethos, imagine the author saying, "I appeal to your sense of ___________________." This will help us reach a more sophisticated understanding of ethos.
Examples of what to put in those blanks:
Ethical Egoism=that which serves our selves best
Look at it objectively: ultimately, it's in our best interest.
Ethical appeal is the underpinning of everything!
Audience is always an "us" or a "we."
A text should create in us a sense of connection.
Questions to ask yourself:
How does this text help the audience develop self-recognition?
What is the rhetorical purpose of this emotional appeal?
What vocabulary can I use to appropriately describe emotions [that a group can feel]?
NOT bad, sad, glad
Our sense of....compassion, anger, etc.
Look for nuances & synonyms to increase sophistication.
Logos may use induction or deduction.
Induction: specific to general
Deduction: general to specific
If you argue from an example, it's INDUCTIVE.
If you argue from a premise or principle, it's DEDUCTIVE.
Which type of reasoning is this, and why?
The detectives are using deduction. They are basing their search on a general argument: M is missing and it looks like this. The detectives are taking this general/universal rule, and they they are trying to show how specific examples (the suspects) fit into that larger category. The trick here is that they are struggling to distinguish between validity and truth.
You can also classify premises into the following categories.
1. Are the arguments based on definition? In other words, does the arguer make claims about the nature of things, about what terms mean, what features things have?
2. Does the arguer make analogies or comparisons? Does he or she cite parallel cases?
3. Are there appeals to cause and consequences? Arguing from consequence is especially common when policy issues are debated.
4. Does the arguer rely on testimony or authority by citing the received opinions of experts? Or does the author create some kind of authoritative reference group, citing public opinion on what most people think as support for his or her position?
Finally, we come to the “argument” itself, the explicit reasons the arguer provides to support a position. There are many ways to describe the support provided in an argument, but a simple way to begin is to consider all the premises the author seems to supply. These can be scattered throughout the argument and expressed indirectly, so identifying premises is a judgment call in itself.
Next ask which of the premises are presented as objects of agreement that the arguer considers as given, elements of the argument taken for granted. Objects of agreement are basically either facts or values. Of course, the facts may not be facts and readers may not agree with the values assumed. Some of the premises will be supported further, but basically every argument has got to come down to certain objects of agreement that it presents as shared between arguer and audience.
Logos special topics-
The following sentences will be spoken by several students, each projecting a different tone with the same sentence. The class will try to identify the various tones. Vocal emphasis, facial expression, and body language will help convey the tones to the other students.
Tone Exercise #1: Recognizing Oral Tone
LG: Students will be able to identify various tones in speaking and text. They will understand how tone is developed and how it impacts the reader’s understanding of a text.
SC: Students will use their voices, facial expressions, and body language to convey oral tone; they will try to identify which tone is intended and reflect on their effectiveness.
Tone Exercise #1: LG, SC
Which tones were the easiest to identify? Why?
Which tones were difficult to identify? Why?
Tone Exercise #1: Follow-Up
A Few Useful Terms
the means, the techniques, the literary, grammatical, stylistic, poetic and organizational devices that function in such a way as to make clear the writer or speaker’s purpose and intended meaning to his or her audience
the use of language to create a literary effect for a specific purpose and audience (ex: repetition, apostrophe, allegory, metaphor, oxymoron, rhetorical question, etc.)
Writer (Ethos): This is the ethical part of the triangle—the part that appeals to your sense of morality and good character.
Audience (Pathos): This is the emotional part of the triangle (think sympathy, pathological, etc.). It deals with moods and feelings.
Message/Subject (Logos): This is the logical part of the triangle, dealing with reason and fact.
Overview of the Triangle