P155 Lecture 3 Notes: Audience and Occasion

P155 Lecture #3 Audience Adaptation
Audience centered approach to rhetoric (quotes)
“Rhetoric is the adaptation of people to ideas and ideas to people.”
There is a reciprocity between ideas and people (double motion)
This double motion has 2 profound implications:
Persons: Implications for us (rhetoric changes us)
A discourse community: rhetoric is itself a constitutive of who we are as a
community (it makes us who we are)
The fact that double standard language exists both reveals and
creates cultural expectations and constructs who we are and
how we relate to each other
Anonymous online posting leads us to be meaner and makes us
less civil as a society
This constitutive dynamic is synchronic and diachronic at the same time.
Synchronic: (spatial) all at once- a snapshot of a culture, a rhetorical
moment that is participating in the changing of a culture
Diachronic: (temporal) over time- the phenomenon of rhetorical
constitution in a culture can be seen changing or evolving the culture
over time
Discursive Identity:
The act of communicating identity via discursive
interaction provides the basis for what constitutes
a discursive identity. The term “discursive identity”
reflects an understanding that speakers apply as
they select genres of discourse with the knowledge
(tacit or implicit) that others will interpret their
discourse as an artifact of their cultural
Eventfulness: full of events or incidents
Ultimately, an individual’s opinions and even his or her identity (what
a person believes about him or herself) can be changed.
The world: Implications for the world (rhetoric changes the world)
A discourse community: rhetoric is itself a constitutive of who we are as a
community. Rhetoric and other symbolic, discursive events that interact with the
norms in a society can change the norm.
Another way of saying this is:
Broadly accepted norms in society will change as a result of our dialogue and
interactions with those norms.
Saudi blogger
Was his protest speech too soon?
A good speaker has a sense of kairos (timing) and can sense the right time to
rhetorically challenge the status quo. And it can change. This is because the
constitutiveness of discursive community is diachronic (over time).
Constitution through circulation (social constitution)
Society is made and remade as speech and actions challenge the norm over time
Convention (norms) and Invention (speech and actions that challenge them)
Constant tension and interaction over time (circular communication model)
Rough draft of speech/ read chapter 4 pages 89 through 104
Problems with Audience Adaptation
Next time!
Lecture II: 19:27 pages 146-153 the only good pages in the text book that go along with this
The Big Problems with Adaptation to the Audience: Sophistry
A. Manipulation: adaptation of the audience to the speaker
1. Indoctrination, brainwashing, propaganda
B. Pandering: adaptation of the speaker to the audience
1. Trying to be everything to everybody
C. Sophistry:
1. The problem of vicious relativism: believing that there is no truth
a. Whatever floats your boat
b. That’s just your opinion
c. It’s a free world
d. All perspectives are just as valid as others: but if everybody’s perspective is
valid, how does anybody know what is right?
e. Pragmatic response to relativism
i. Societies have some level of basic common interest, material needs,
and limits to autonomy that have to be negotiated if we are not to
descend into anarchy or risk annihilation—figure out how to get
along or perish
2. Prejudice of the demagogic speaker
a. “the” public believes, etc.
i. There is no ONE public, country, etc. One person cannot speak for
an entire large group.
3. SCOPUS: What’s under the sheet?
a. Looking at different perspectives
i. Two contradicting views
ii. Accept that there are two answers or that the answer is more
complex than it appears to a single side
iii. Seek others to weigh in and respect that they have a vantage point
that the two sides cannot see alone
b. Can apply this to any issue in which there are multiple perspectives/sides
How to address differences/ make an audience more receptive to your view
A. Conditioning your audience (sounds sneaky, but not)
1. Preparing your audience to be open to your arguments, not lying to your audience
B. Composite Audience
1. Audience Analysis from a rhetorical perspective
2. How many audiences do you have? How complex is the audience?
3. In this class, you have two audiences: the students and the teacher: who is the
primary audience? KNOW the goal of the rhetorical event
a. Speak to each audience in turn with a different message
b. Interweave appeals to different audiences
c. Speak to all audiences simultaneously with unifying symbols
C. Productive Ambiguity
1. The ambiguity of the unifying symbol of “you”
2. The ability to speak to individuals at the same time as the group. Make it seem as
though the speaker is speaking to an individual
D. Composite Audience and Stasis
1. Means both movement and rest at the same time
2. the point in an argument where the various perspectives have been sorted, the
strength and weaknesses weighed, balancing points canceled out, and the irrelevant
arguments discarded, so that what remains is the real know of the controversy at
issue, the balancing point upon which the whole debate rests. It is a clarifying
3. Point at which basic values are in conflict
a. Fear of terrorists versus
b. Fear of the abuse of government power
E. #1 Piece of Advice for speakers
Rhetoric is addressed to the audience and the occasion.
Right time to say the right thing to the right people, the right way. An ethical art.