What the “&*%$” is Rhetoric?

What is rhetoric? I asked my friend this while we were at BWW, and her response was priceless. At first all she did was stare at me, then she said, “I don’t know why you’re asking me, you’re the English major, you tell me”. My answer was “rhetoric is life”, but that’s because I couldn't explain it on the spot. There are so many meanings, you’ll probably never know. Is there really an answer, hell no one know. Well, on twitter I defined rhetoric as; the teaching of writing . It helps you understand what to do and what not to do when speaking or writing a paper. Basically it helps with your style of writing, which will make it more effective.


Let me see if I can elaborate this a little more, so don’t chew my head off if you disagree or think I’m wrong. I want to start of by saying, everyone has their own definition of what rhetoric is, when I read Alex’s definition, all I could say was “well damn”. But , it was a good damn! Moving along, the reason I chose the definition, is because in another one of my classes, which is English 457: Form and Style in Writing , we have two books; “Rhetorical Grammar” and “Rhetorical Style”, these books tell us what’s acceptable when writing. The grammatical choices we should make. What does that sound like to you? Oh, just what I said earlier, it tells you how to write, whats acceptable, and whats not. As we discussed already, this would be taught to first year English classes. At that time, first year English students are learning “style” and “form”.


I want to teach English, but I don’t want to teach “rhetoric and composition”, telling someone what’s acceptable is something, I’d rather not do. Rhetoric is needed to write well written papers, speak effectively and deliver your message. It is also said that rhetoric is the language of persuasion, if you know whats acceptable and whats not, then it’ll be easier to persuade someone. A persuasion paper for an example, if you know how to write one the “correct” way, you will effectively get your message across.


Rhetoric can also help you writing appeal to a certain audience. If you’re writing something for a small child, you wouldn't write as though you were writing to your professors. It’s all about style and form as I said before, your style will always depend on your audience. But, that’s just my opinion. If you write something, you want your audience to be engaged and able to understand to their fullest potential, and that’s where rhetoric comes in. You don’t want to lose your reader, because your style isn't where is should be or what it should be. Writing a paper to your professor, you may not want to turn in a paper full of grammatical errors or content that’s meant for another type of audience.

I really tried to deliver a well-developed explanation behind my definition. I hope you all understood my definition, as well as my explanation. Thinking of this on my own, was a tad bit difficult and really made me realize rhetoric is a pain in the you know what, but I guess I need it. I hope you enjoyed and I look forward to reading other people’s definition.

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