trailer_8_mileDefinition of Rhetoric:

The deliberate exploitation of eloquence for the most persuasive effect in public speaking or in writing. It was cultivated as an important art and science in antiquity, and was an essential element of medieval university education, involving the elaborate categorizing of figures of speech together with the arts of memory, arrangement, and oratorical delivery. One that practices rhetoric is called a “rhetorician.” (Baldick, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, Oxford UP (1990): 188-189)

Rhetoric works best when you have all of the three components working together: ethos (authority), pathos (an emotional connection with the audience), and logos (an argument with credibility). You can picture them all connected as axis of a triangle, as you can see here.

Ethos: Authority, credibility, correctness, appearance, articulateness and eloquence, fluency.

Pathos: Audience, emotional connection, values, knowledge, experience

Logos: Content or message, information, argument, reasoning and logic, data, evidence, structure, analysis.

Practice: We are going to use the final rap battle from the movie 8 Mile to practice thinking about ethos, pathos, and logos as well as medium and the topics of race and class.

Now that we understand the fundamentals of rhetoric, and we have practiced rhetorical analysis on B Rabbit’s rap as a class, we will apply what we know about rhetoric to thinking about how it works differently, and effectively, across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, especially related to activism and organizing. This is a pressing question raised even in a news story (“The Alt-Majority: How Social Networks Empowered Mass Protests Against Trump”) this morning on the front page of the NYTimes technology section. Specifically, we will try to understand how social media has been such an effective tool of late for groups to organize various protests. Why does it work so well? Which social medium do you think is the most effective for organizing? We will decide as a class!

Each group will be responsible for a specific medium: Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. With your team, you will search for 3 different examples of activist organizing happening in your medium. The examples are up to you, but this exercise will work best if you select very popular examples. These will be three separate tweets, three instagram posts, 3 Facebook pages or groups. Then, in your group, rhetorically analyze those examples (in separate analyses for each tweet, post, or page/group). Identify and deeply analyze the ethos (authority), pathos (appeal to audience), and logos (logic and content) in each of those tweets, posts, or pages. You will paste your examples into our class Google Slides so that we can discuss all of our examples together in one place and dig into our rhetorical analyses of these media together. Here is our link: Class Google Slides.

A gentle reminder: we respect all political opinions in our class. We need to express ourselves in a way that is true to our beliefs while also being sensitive to the fact that our classmates may not agree with us. Thank you! 🙂


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