Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Rhetorical consideration of Setting (According to John Stewart)

If indeed, rhetoric is anything like "finding the available means of persuasion in a given situation," (and let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it is something like that,) then some things are both obvious and important:
  • know who you are talking to (audience)
  • know the situation and setting of your communication (kairos)
  • know the network of cultural & communicative exchange of your audience (language)
It is sometimes easier to see how important these considerations are when they are done wrong, than it is to see when they are done right. For example, suppose you were to speak to a group of 11-year-old school kids - would you communicate the same as if you were speaking to a group of university faculty? No? I didn't think so.

You'd think this would be obvious. You'd be wrong.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Speaks to a Sixth-Grade Classroom
Daily Show
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Political HumorVancouverage 2010

You know how much 6th graders love to meet bureaucratic heads of various government departments....

A couple of "rules of thumb" for rhetorically sound communication:
1) Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
2)Don't bring teleprompters to a middle school classroom.