Aristotle`s Five Traditional Canons of Rhetoric

Primer on Rhetoric
David A. Jolliffe, the chief reader for the AP Language exam and co-author of the textbook Everyday
Use, has said that students who read broadly about current issues will be far more prepared to do well
on the AP Language exam. The intent of the A.P. course is to prepare students to be active
participants in “civic discourse” and a democratic society. In terms of the five canons of classical
rhetoric, this will improve their “memory,” which in a modern context we understand to mean access to
information and collective knowledge about the current culture in the United States and the world. We
refer to this as “mature academic perspective.” In essence, it means you know what is going on in the
world around you and are able to interact intelligently about the issues.
Invention—Ability to discover and generate ideas; “having something to say vs. having to say
Arrangement—Finding and developing materials; selection of detail.
Style—Distinctives; Rhetorical analysis/the focus of literary analysis.
Memory—Memorizing in Aristotle’s day; cultural literacy today. “Participating in the cultural
conversation” (E.E. Ericson, Jr.);“People on whom nothing is lost” (Kenneth Burke); Parlour
metaphor; C. S. Lewis’s conversation analogy
Delivery—Gestures, enunciation per Aristotle. Layout and design…textual graphics…handwriting.
*Rhetorical appeals are Ethos, Pathos, Logos.
(By what means does the writer seek to convince readers of the truth of her central idea and what
indicates this?)
Purpose-Speaker-Audience Triangle:
How to Have an Out-of-Body Experience Cheaply and Safely
The Concept …
Every communication act involves a purpose, a speaker, and an audience.
To practice this concept, imagine you have been abducted to Mars and are required by
your captors to write a letter to someone on Earth. This will be your only opportunity to
communicate with Earth. Decide to whom you would write (audience) and what you
want your audience to understand (purpose).
The last part of the triangle is where it gets even more interesting. The writer or speaker
is also something you can choose. The writer or speaker (you) may "become" anything
from a zebra to an amoeba. Yes, the creature does have the ability to communicate, due
to the different atmosphere on Mars.
In preparing to write, you may want to make some notes on the legs of the triangle above.
Have fun!