What is {Digital} Rhetoric?

How do we define Rhetoric?

  • Aristotle: Rhetoric is ‘the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.”
  • Cicero: “Rhetoric is one great art composed of five lesser arts: inventio, disposition, elocutio, memoria, and pronunciation…speech designed to persuade.”
  • Quintilian: “Rhetoric is the art of speaking well”
  • Francis Bacon “Rhetoric is the application of reason to imagination for the better moving of the will”
  • I.A. Richards: “Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.”
  • Erika Lindemann: “Rhetoric is a form of reasoning about probabilities, based on assumptions people share as members of a community.”
  • Philip Johnson: “Rhetoric is the art of framing an argument so that it can be appreciated by an audience”
  • Andrea Lunsford: “Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication”
  • Sidney Dobrin: “Rhetoric, quite simply, is how we use language to communicate—to persuade, to inform, to narrate, to remember, or to do any number of the things we use language to do”
  • Kenneth Burke: “Rhetoric [is] the manipulation of men’s beliefs for political ends…the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents” (The Digital Writer, p. 9-10)
  • Sean Morey: Uncovering Truth > Our words and discourse shape the world > “any use of rhetoric seeks not to uncover some universal state of being but is rather used toward the particular context and circumstances surrounding the issue, including its application toward concepts of morality and immorality” (The Digital Writer, p. 11)

Questions to ask:

  • Why was something done in a specific way?
  • What is left out?
  • What am I not seeing?
  • What is being hidden?
  • Are there are factors?
  • How was this idea formed?
  • Why is this important?

The Canons of Rhetoric

  • Invention
  • Arrangement
  • Style
  • Memory
  • Delivery

Rhetorical Terms

  • Ethos
  • Pathos
  • Logos
  • Kairos vs Chronos
  • Doxa vs Dogma

What is Digital Rhetoric?

  1. Uses Electronic Technologies
  2. Attends to Human and Nonhuman Audiences
  3. Uses Multiple Codes
  4. Uses Digital Images
  5. Makes Use of Interactivity
  6. Leverages Circulation
  7. Focuses on Kairos
  8. Highlights Design, Medium, and Genre

Different Modes

From Writer/Designer p. 14
  1. Linguistic
  2. Visual
  3. Aural
  4. Gestural
  5. Spatial

Why Technology?

Technology is changing the world and has incorporated itself into every aspect of our lives whether we recognize that or not.

Literacy > Electracy (The Digital Writer, p. 18)

“Texts are never monomodal, never just written, but are always designed with multiple media, modes of communication, and methods of distribution in mind” (Writer/Designer, p. 6)

Fundamental goals of writing and designing are the same:

  • to think critically about the kinds of communication that are needed in any given situation
  • to choose sources and assets that will help create an effective text
  • to work within and fulfill your audience’s needs and goals
  • to improve communication through the finished text
  • to create change or encourage positive action through a text (Writer/Designer, p. 6)

Analyzing texts is important because you can 1) listen to and appreciate the perspective of others and 2) learn how to make your own multimodal arguments for the good of all.

To see the Affordances and limitations.

People who excel at integrating new approaches and tech have the following mindset:

  • An openness to seeking help from a variety of sources
  • A positive attitude toward change
  • Curiosity
  • Vulnerability and a willingness to take risks
  • A commitment to problem-solving
Ask yourself: What does my audience need?
Created By
Christopher Stuart


Created with images by LeeJeongSoo - "cannon canon 40mm lens"

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