Sunday, September 14, 2008

Persuasion, Propaganda, and Subtlety of Speech

As a University instructor of Accelerated Composition, I help students engage "texts" of all kinds: poems, editorials, cartoons, video, comics, ads, news photos, essays, sitcoms, etc.

I encourage them to "read critically," that is, to identify the context of the "text," and the rhetorical approach. As we engage such multi-modal "texts," we discuss logos, ethos, pathos, arrangement, invention, publication context, occasion, etc. We look for subtleties, and shadings, and angles, and nuances as we analyze each piece.

I'm not sure if the rhetoric of the following pieces wouldn't fry our "critical reading grids."

Maybe there's too much info for a critical reader (accustomed to handling more subtle material) to easily digest. Maybe I should add another element to the grid: YELLING!!! (The old saw goes, "If you can't raise your argument, then raise your voice.") I would posit that something approaching consensus might be reached on the question, "As a reader/audience, do you find this rhetorical approach persuasive?"

Then, again, it's very possible that persuasion is not the point of such rhetoric.

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