Contemporary critical difference essay in reading rhetoric

What is a rhetorical essay?
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  1. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples
  2. Social Navigation
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  4. Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice
  5. Rhetorical analysis essay examples: What you need to know to write an A+

Readers do not just passively receive information; rather, they interact with the text.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

By contributing their own thoughts and experiences, readers work with authors to create a unique reading experience. In the case studies of this chapter, Warnick looks at user-to-user interaction and the opportunities for coproduction of knowledge via websites that facilitate online discussions; contributions of text, image, and video; and organizing tools for face-to-face meetings the sites in question are moveon. This approach is deeply problematic for digital rhetoric, as it essentially argues that the interactive functions of digital systems are a priori arhetorical; this is a limiting move that is similar to characterizing design decisions as outside of the scope of rhetorical analysis neither of which is a move I can support.

In the final section of Rhetoric Online , Warnick considers the role of intertextuality in online environments, primarily using political parody and parody advertisements as examples.

// one // Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric

Warnick starts with an overview of intertextuality as developed by Kristeva and informed by Bakhtin, which she extends to multimedia compositions precisely as previous scholars applied the term to hypertext in the late s and s. In Persuasive Games , Bogost first calls out a gap in digital rhetoric, arguing that simply applying traditional rhetorical methods are not sufficient for the analysis of new media forms such as computer games and simulations :. Email, websites, message boards, blogs, and wikis are examples of these targets. To be sure, all of these digital forms can function rhetorically, and they are worthy of study; like visual rhetoricians, digital rhetoricians hope to revise and reinvent rhetorical theory for a new medium.

Bogost further argues that a whole new branch of rhetoric should be established—one that, like visual rhetoric, takes on analytic methods that are specific to the media and forms that are being critiqued. Procedurality refers to a way of creating, explaining, or understanding processes. And processes define the way things work: the methods, techniques, and logics that drive the operation of systems, from mechanical systems like engines to organizational systems like high schools to conceptual systems like religious faith.


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  4. // one // Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric.
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However, Bogost makes a compelling case for applying rhetorical principles to a range of digital texts although the primary—and most compelling—examples are games. He starts by making distinctions among forms of rhetoric based on their application:. Just as verbal rhetoric is useful for both the orator and the audience, and just as written rhetoric is useful for both the writer and the reader, so procedural rhetoric is useful for both the programmer and the user, the game designer and the player.

Procedural rhetoric is a technique for making arguments with computational systems and for unpacking computational arguments others have created. By showing this disconnect between theory and current practice, Bogost reinforces an argument that I will be making in the following sections of this book—namely that digital texts require not just an updating of traditional theory but the development of new rhetorical theories and methods designed to specifically account for the features of digital texts, precisely as Bogost has done here.

The majority of Persuasive Games makes the case for procedural rhetoric through examples that show how it can be used as a method of analysis and, as a game designer himself, Bogost also shows how it informs rhetorical production. One of the key values in this approach is the possibility of revealing the underlying structures and ideologies of certain digital texts—a move that is a central practice of contemporary rhetorical criticism. Losh presents the most detailed and comprehensive definition of digital rhetoric within current literature, and her study should be considered a foundational text for the field.

There are, however, some elements with which I disagree, in particular the attempt to connect rhetoric and mathematically based theories from information science which have proved problematic in the past as well, when similar moves have been made for traditional approaches to oral and print communication. This portion of her chapter is similar to the approach taken by Warnick in the sense that the focus is upon the uses of rhetoric in the public sphere.

For each of these fields, Losh points out the ways in which digital rhetoric is being employed and how digital affordances and constraints affect rhetorical moves made by governments and large organizations when communicating with a range of audiences. While it is instructive to see where digital rhetoric practices are taking place, I do not see this as part of a definition of digital rhetoric so much as it is an example of an analysis of rhetoric as it plays out in specific digital contexts.

The third definition focuses on digital rhetoric as a field of study, the consideration of which is one of the purposes of this project. This history is situated, in part, as an extension of media studies which connects back to McLuhan , but more so to literary studies. In formulating a disciplinary realm for digital rhetoric, Lanham appeases the traditionalists by attempting to integrate new media studies into a longer rhetorical history. Yet, at the same time, he is alerting his colleagues that a fundamental paradigm shift is taking place in the present moment.

The first of these critiques is answered by her own work in Virtualpolitik. I find the second critique somewhat more problematic. While it is likely that network theory is certainly useful and, indeed, many more recent works in digital rhetoric and related fields have appropriated theories and methods from network theory, e. They showed that strategies of formal logic and quantification clearly did not belong within the realm of rhetoric at all when it came to the actual practice of rhetorical argumentation. Slack, Miller, and Doak forcefully argued against the model of technical communicator-as-transmitter, instead positing that rhetoricians in the field of technical communication should be seen as both translators of information and as articulators in the Stuart Hall sense within the communication network.

Slack, Miller, and Doak described the communication theory based on the Shannon-Weaver model as the transmission view of communication because it was developed as a technological schema for transmitting a message from one point to another using telecommunication devices.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples

In this transmission view, there is no need for rhetoric, as persuasion is not part of the model. In fact, meaning is not a part of the model either, as the focus is the transmission of a message as information regardless of content. Gilbert Simondon , who calls this a technical theory of communication, makes the fairly obvious critique that a model that sees only a single channel of transmission between only two points must necessarily eliminate most of the complexity of actual human communication. While many of the later chapters in this text do provide useful approaches to developing new theories for digital rhetoric, the first chapter wherein she introduces the Shannon-Weaver model and argues that it can be read in ways that provide a new way of considering digital communication ultimately leads to a rephrasing of rhetoric, but in technical terms.

When Terranova states that. On the one hand, it is about a resistance to informational forms of power as they involve techniques of manipulation and containment of the virtuality of the social; and on the other hand, it implies a collective engagement with the potential of such informational flows as they displace culture ad help us to see it as the site of a reinvention of life 37 ,.

I would suggest that this description could just as easily refer to rhetoric itself and digital rhetoric in particular, as it is applied to information flows. Electronic technologies have led to electronic consciousness, an awareness. The main drawback to this approach, and to the current call for its uptake in the humanities and in computers and writing in particular, is its reliance on formal argumentation schema—this is rhetoric-as-argument only, which is as reductive as rhetoric-as-ornamentation, but in the opposite direction.

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Computational rhetoric as a model for integrating methods from computer science, linguistics, and rhetoric does have much to offer as a facet of digital rhetoric and I would suggest that some of the issues that arise within computational rhetoric, such as the consideration of whether nonhuman agents can engage in rhetorical communication [13] is an important question for digital rhetoric as well.

The term technorhetoric or techno-rhetoric and the related scholarly identity of technorhetorician gained popularity in the computers and writing field in the late s, promoted as a term that evoked both an interest in rhetorics of technology and rhetoric as technology in the sense that it is rooted in techne. In the end, I return to the definition with which I started, but now carrying a richer understanding of the key terms—rhetoric, digital, and text—that feature in that definition:. I would add, following Zappen , that the primary activities within the field of digital rhetoric include.

In addition to explicating a definition of digital rhetoric by examining the terms that make up the definition, the way that digital rhetoric functions via theory, method, and practice, the ways in which it constructs itself as a field of inquiry, and the history of the theories, fields, methods, and approaches that have led to our current understanding of the term, it is important also to situate the field within the network of related fields and activities.

I have selected a number of fields that are closely connected to or inform digital rhetoric there are others, and a more comprehensive network map of these fields and their interrelationships is the aim of a future project, but the ones I have selected play key roles in my understanding of how digital rhetoric functions as an emerging field in its own right. The fields that I address here are:. I will complete my inventory with an overview of the relationship of digital rhetoric to two broad interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities and social sciences respectively : digital humanities and Internet studies.

Digital literacy is a requirement of digital rhetoric—that is, just as print literacy is necessary for a writer to deploy traditional rhetorical moves, the same is true of digital writing practices. Digital literacy is more complex in some ways because it requires the user to be able to read and write with a number of sign systems e. The question for digital rhetoric, however, is one of relationships: how do we define digital literacy in both functional and critical terms and how does it impact the field of digital rhetoric?

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Kress very specifically differentiates literacy as oriented to writing, although he acknowledges that computer technologies problematize this artificial distinction between modes. It appears that Kress seeks to make a distinction between resource knowing how to write and use:. Literacy remains the term which refers to the knowledge of the use of the resource of writing. The combination of knowledge of the resource with knowledge of production and perhaps with that of dissemination would have a different name. That separates, what to me is essential, the sense of what the resource is and what its potentials are, from associated questions such as those of its uses , and the issue of whatever skills are involved in using a resource in wider communicational frames.

Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice

If we agree that literacy is rooted in sociohistorical contexts Street, , it must encompass more than the particular sign system of writing with letters. And although literacy itself is multimodal, it is useful to differentiate the particular modes or uses of literacy when seeking to observe the effects of literacy practices; thus, rather than seeking a different name for meaning production that includes more than just writing, I would prefer to couple the concept of literacy as sociohistorically situated practice with a modifier that allows us to make a distinction between those practices that are culturally located within print media and those located within digital media.

In an interview with Talan Memmott , Ulmer explains that. It also is generative in that, knowing by analogy with literacy that digital technological shift is just one part of an apparatus, we may notice that the other parts of the apparatus shift are also well under way—for example that a new institution has emerged within which is being invented the set of practices that will be to electracy what schooling and all that goes with it are to literacy.

While electracy is a useful concept for digital rhetoric, its function as an apparatus as Ulmer sees it sets it apart from an understanding of literacy as defined within literacy studies and as I use it here. Unlike digital literacy, electracy is more of a method than a condition, and as such is not a requirement for digital rhetoric so much as it is a potential tool. However, digital literacy also goes beyond the textual and includes the effective use of symbolic systems, visual representations of language, and digital object manipulation.


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  • Meaning-making from the multiple linguistic, audio, and symbolic visual graphics of hypertext means that the cyberspace navigator must draw on a range of knowledges about traditional and newly blended genres or representational conventions, cultural and symbolic codes, as well as linguistically coded and software-driven meanings.

    I would suggest, however, that computer literacy is a necessary and embedded component of digital literacy and would be an appropriate name for the functional digital literacy necessary for the development of critical digital literacy and for the use of digital rhetoric. Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups.

    Rhetorical analysis essay examples: What you need to know to write an A+

    As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.