Argumentation and the
Rhetorical Triangle
EVERYTHING IS AN ARGUMENT
EVERYTHING!!!!!
Letters to the Editor
Personal Narrative
Persuasive Debate
(oral or written)
Job Application /
Resume
Expository Essay
(i.e. for History)
Poetry?????
Yep!
Letters to the Editor
• Example: letter concerning the re-naming
of Highway 290 as “Ronald Reagan
Highway”… You are basically arguing
whether this is a good idea.
Personal Narrative
۞role of childhood friends
۞ most important relative
۞ connection to your name
۞ biggest embarrassment
۞ greatest loss
۞ greatest learning experience
Application
• Jobs- High School through Adulthood
• Honor Society
• College Acceptance
Expository Essay
• Explain the merits (or ills) of Columbus
• Explain the causes of the Civil War
• Explain the efficacy of dropping the bomb
on Hiroshima
• Explain the racial subtexts of The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Rhetorical Triangle
by Aristotle
Speaker
Audience
Subject
What is rhetoric?
• The art or study of using language
effectively and persuasively.
[American Heritage College Dictionary]
• “Rhetoric may be defined as the
faculty of observing in any given case
the available means of persuasion.”
[Aristotle]
Aristotle believed that from the
world around them, speakers
could:
1. observe how communication
happens
2. use that to develop sound and
convincing arguments.
• Aristotle said that when a rhetor
(speaker) begins to consider how to
compose a speech, he/she must take
into account 3 elements: the subject,
the audience, and the speaker.
Speaker
Audience
Subject
Subject
The writer/speaker:
• evaluates what he/she knows already
and needs to know
• investigates perspectives (researches)
• determines kinds of evidence or proofs
seem most useful (supports assertions
with appropriate evidence)
Subject
As the reader, you should:
• Note the claims the author makes
• Note the data the author provides in
support of the claims
• Note the conclusions the author draws
Audience
The writer/speaker:
• speculates about audience
expectations and knowledge of subject
• uses own experience and observation
to help decide on how to communicate
with audience.
Audience
As the reader, you should:
•Note the primary audience for the text
•Note the emotional appeals the author
makes
•Note the author’s expectations of the
audience
Speaker
The writers/speakers use:
1. who they are,
2. what they know and feel, and
3. what they’ve seen and done
to find their attitudes toward a subject
and their understanding of audience.
Speaker
As the reader, you should:
•Note how the author establishes a persona
•Note how the author establishes credibility
•Note any revelation of the author’s
credentials or personal history
Appeals
The writer/speaker uses different
approaches and includes different
details in order to influence the
audience’s attitude toward the
subject. Ultimately, the speaker aims
to:
1. Appeal to Logic
2. Appeal to Credibility/Character
3. Appeal to Emotion
Appealing to Logic
The writer/speaker:
• offers clear, reasonable premises and
proofs,
• develops ideas with appropriate
details, and
• makes sure readers can follow the
progression of ideas.
Appealing to
Credibility/Character
The writer/speaker:
• demonstrates that he is credible, goodwilled, & knowledgeable
• connects his thinking to the reader’s
own ethical or moral beliefs.
Audiences and speakers should assume
the best intentions and most thoughtful
search for truths.
Appealing to Emotion
The writer/speaker:
• draws on emotions and interests of
readers
• highlights those emotions using
o
o
personal stories and observations
to provoke audience’s sympathetic
reaction
figurative language to heighten
emotional connections
The rhetorical triangle
and Aristotelian appeals
work together.
Speaker
Subject
Appealing to Credibility
Audience
“Ask not what your country can do for
you - ask what you can do for your
country.” John F. Kennedy
• calls attention to ethical qualities of
the speaker and listener (credibility)
• proposes a solution to the country’s
problems by enlisting the citizens’
help (logic)
• calls forth emotional patriotism
(emotion)
Context and Purpose
Context: the situation in which writing
and reading occur
Purpose: the emerging aim that
underlies many of the writer’s
decisions
Rhetorical Triangle Plus
Speaker
Context
Context
Purpose
Audience
Subject
The importance of context (the situation in
which writing and reading occur) is especially
obvious in comedy and political writing. One
reason comedy is difficult sometimes is that the
events alluded to are no longer current for
readers and the humor is missed. Students who
understand context learn how and why they
write differently in history class and English or
biology. Different contexts (such as letters to
the editor or study notes for other students)
highlights how context can alter rhetorical
choices in form and content.
Purpose (or aim) is key to rhetorical
effectiveness. Words and forms carry
writers’ intentions, but those aims can be
miscommunicated. Intention is sometimes
embodied in a thesis statement but is also
carried throughout a piece and often changes.
Visual rhetoric
includes symbolic
gestures, graphic
designs, and action
shots in films.
Short answer
question (spiral):
How does the
speaker appeal to
emotions with
this visual?
• Also in your
spiral:
1.How does this
image contrast
with the last
one?
2.How has the
rhetorical
triangle
changed?
On a piece of paper…
Rhetorical Triangle Practice
• You are rushing home from a party at 1:00
am when you are pulled over for speeding.
Of course you get a ticket for speeding, but
you also get in trouble for breaking the
curfew. Write what you would say to each of
the following audiences to explain the
situation:
• 1. the judge
• 2. your parents
• 3. your best friend
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The Rhetorical Triangle - English with Mrs. Pickrell