Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical analysis can be defined in various ways due to the fact that the term rhetoric itself does not have a formal definition. Rhetoric can be thought of as deceptive speech, educational language or even just writing in general. This raises the question of what rhetorical analysis is really analyzing.

After reading Jack Seltzer’s article, “Rhetorical Analysis: Understanding How Texts Persuade Readers,” I can attempt to formulate my own definition of what I think rhetorical analysis is and why I believe it is effective to implement in writing analysis.

My understanding of rhetorical analysis is that it is an approach for analyzing documents to better comprehend the persuasive intents of each of them. I am a believer in the saying that everything is an argument, so despite the subject, length, or audience of the writing, there is always underlying support or opposition to a debated topic. Rhetorical analysis dives deeper into the writing to determine the argument at hand through research of the time and place of when the writing occurred. Geographical context of the writing can give light to why the author wrote it the way that they did and what situations influenced them.

Some common practices of authors to place rhetorical aspects in their work is to include the five canons (inventio, dispostio, elocutio, memoria and pronuntiatio). These range from the delivery of the words to the arrangement of ideas. Rhetorical analysis also looks at Aristotelian terms like ethos, pathos and logos that deal with the intellectual reasoning and credibility of the author.

Rhetorical analysis is important for fully understanding and critically reading a piece of writing. It allows you to go further into the purpose of the piece instead of just taking it word for word. It is beneficial to do this because a document can mean more than what it is initially saying.


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