As spring session began I found myself in the exact same position I began the fall semester, literally. I was sitting in Dr. Martin’s class feeling grateful for having found an English professor that made the lessons interesting and more understandable. This semester he is teaching Rhetoric and Professional Writing, which I am very excited to take. I feel extremely lucky considering Dr. Martin helped my writing so much in Bible as Literature, I can only imagine how much it will improve after taking a writing class with the same professor. I transformed from a five paragraph style writer to a scholarly writer, so having a Rhetoric class will hopefully take me from being an average scholarly writer to a persuasive scholarly writer.
In the first week of Dr. Martin’s class we’ve covered a wide range of topics about Rhetoric.
Although he was late the first day of class, those thirty minutes confirmed this class was going to be greatly influential on my writing and beneficial to my future career as a writer.
The first topic we covered was the definition of rhetoric – the best means of persuasion in a given situation. The idea of rhetoric came in 5 BCE by Aristotle. It originated for two purposes at the time; individuals that needed to defend themselves from a judicial stance and for individuals involved in what is now considered public speaking.
Next we looked at rhetoric from a current day standpoint; political speeches. Have you ever watched the president give a speech in person or on television? Consider the moments during that speech that made you feel moved or moments when you sincerely agreed with the speaker. Presidential speeches use rhetoric to appeal to the audience. Helen Vendler commented on the topic of presidential speeches by stating in her text What We Have Loved, Others Will Love, “…I have noticed in reading past presidential speeches that presidents are helpless to do other than to express their own hopes, couched in various literary frames of reference, in addresses tending toward the homiletic” (Richter.) These presidential speeches she is referring to offer the audience hope with the use of rhetoric. These speeches persuade citizens that there is hope for a better future for the country by using rhetoric. How do they do this? First the author of the speech considers the audience. They question what the audience knows, what they do not know, and what the speaker hopes for them to know by the end of the speech. This process can also be known as rhetorical analysis. During rhetorical analysis, two things are considered: 1. who is the audience/ speaker? 2. what is the purpose? The speaker should then consider how effective the message is to the audience? For a presidential speaker’s sake, the writer of a speech must consider how effective a speech about hope will appeal to the audience.
While considering the fact that presidential speakers use rhetoric, I realized Dr. Martin’s course will not only help me become a better writer, but a better speaker and listener as well.
It can often be noted that the biggest problem in our society today is that too many people listen to respond rather than listen to understand. We often disregard the three rhetorical proofs from day-to-day. These three proofs are logos, ethos, and pathos. The term logos refers to the logic of the speaker; the audience should question ‘is what the speaker is saying logical?’ Next we have ethos which refers to the credibility of the speaker. Anyone can give a persuasive speech but it is important for the audience to question the credibility of their sources. Lastly we have pathos which appeals to the emotion of the audience. These three rhetorical proofs majorly impact the message an audience receives from a speaker.
During the first week of class, I have learned how to apply what I’ve learned about rhetoric so far to my every day life. I’m very excited to see how my writing improves over the course of Rhetoric and Professional Writing.
Until next time,