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The Rhetorical Act: Thinking, Speaking and Writing Critically 5th Edition

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, Susan Schultz Huxman, Thomas A. Burkholder

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2009, 2003, 1996
  • 384 Pages


THE RHETORICAL ACT: THINKING, SPEAKING, AND WRITING CRITICALLY, Fifth Edition, teaches liberal arts students how to craft and critique rhetorical messages that influence, inviting and enabling them to become articulate rhetors and critics of the world around them. The new edition maintains a traditional humanistic approach to rhetoric, while extending the scope and relevance of the text. THE RHETORICAL ACT reaffirms the ancient Aristotelian and Ciceronian relationships between art and practice-one cannot master rhetorical skills without an understanding of the theory on which such skills are based. The text combines thorough coverage of rhetorical criticism, media literacy, and strategic public speaking, providing a solid grounding in essential concepts while helping students hone their skills in each area.

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, University of Minnesota

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (PhD, University of Minnesota) is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of MAN CANNOT SPEAK FOR HER: A CRITICAL STUDY OF EARLY FEMINIST RHETORIC (1989) and co-author of DEEDS DONE IN WORDS: PRESIDENTIAL RHETORIC AND THE GENRES OF GOVERNANCE (1990), PRESIDENTS CREATING THE PRESIDENCY (2008), and THE INTERPLAY OF INFLUENCE: NEWS, ADVERTISING, POLITICS, AND THE MASS MEDIA (6th ed., 2006). She is editor of CRITIQUES OF CONTEMPORARY RHETORIC (1997, 2003), WOMEN PUBLIC SPEAKERS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1800–1925 (1993), and WOMEN PUBLIC SPEAKERS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1925–present (1994). Awards include a fellowship at the Shorenstein Center of the Kennedy School at Harvard, the National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar Award, the Lauren Ecroyd outstanding teacher award, the Woolbert Award for scholarship of exceptional originality and influence, Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, and the University of Minnesota 2002 Distinguished Woman Scholar in the Humanities and Social Sciences. She has taught at Macalester College; The British College at Palermo, Italy; California State University at Los Angeles; SUNY at Brockport and at Binghamton; City University of New York; University of Kansas; and Dokkyo University, Tokyo, Japan.

Susan Schultz Huxman, Elliott School of Communication, The Wichita State University

Susan Schultz Huxman (PhD, University of Kansas) is President and Professor at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. Her first academic appointment as director of the Public Speaking program was with Wake Forest University. She won numerous teaching awards in her twenty-year career at Wichita State University (WSU). Before accepting the presidential post in Canada, she served as Director of the Elliott School of Communication at WSU and regularly taught honors public speaking, rhetorical criticism, research methods, and strategic communication in organizations. In her current post, as time permits, she teaches special courses and workshops in rhetorical theory and criticism and leadership and crisis communication. An active scholar, she has published in the field of rhetorical criticism and U.S. public address. A new book, LANDMARK SPEECHES IN U.S. PACIFISM, is in press with Texas A & M University Press. She engages in a range of professional speaking and consulting opportunities each year to advance the discipline, develop support for the college, and showcase scholarship in action.

Thomas A. Burkholder, Southwest Texas State University

Thomas R. Burkholder (PhD, University of Kansas) is Associate Professor and former Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. He is co-author, with Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, of the second edition of CRITIQUES OF CONTEMPORARY RHETORIC (1997) and co-editor, with Martha S. Watson, of PERFECTING AMERICAN SOCIETY: THE RHETORIC OF NINETEENTH CENTURY REFORM (2007). His work has also appeared in the Western Journal of Communication, Southern Communication Journal, Communication Studies, and various book chapters. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetorical theory, rhetorical criticism, and U.S. public address
  • New material for analysis throughout the book-including both familiar “classics” from U.S. rhetorical history and compelling current examples from popular culture-allows students to practice applying critical concepts. In selected cases, the authors include Internet addresses for other recommended materials that bring to life the rhetorical theories and principles that are explained in the book.
  • The new edition features major revisions to key chapters, including additional content; reference to current research and theory; new strategic speaking assignments; examples of complete student speeches; and updated coverage of media, including the latest technology.
  • Chapter 5, “The Resources of Argument,” includes new material drawn from the research of classical scholars that enlarges our understanding of the enthymeme. The material is illustrated by reference to the speech of Robert Kennedy referred to in the Prologue, President John Kennedy's speech in Berlin, and President Obama's speech after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona.
  • Chapter 12, “Understanding Visual Rhetoric,” incorporates analysis of the changes in technology that have made all of us visual rhetors.
  • Chapter 13, “Understanding the Medium of Transmission,” details the fundamentals of media literacy with examples and illustrates the media's high ethos appeal. It explores the implications of mediated exchanges in which who speaks is unknown, and notes the different form of “reading” that occurs on social media and the communicative paradoxes social media create. Finally, it explores the relationship between mass media and social reform and asks whether social movements can emerge out of socially mediated communication.
  • The authors treat rhetorical action as a joint effort of rhetor and audience, emphasizing the audience's active, collaborative role, including the creation of enthymemes as “the substance of persuasion.” They also treat all forms of rhetoric as points on a single continuum of influence, rather than offering separate treatment of speaking or writing to inform, entertain or persuade.
  • The text concentrates on the descriptive, analytical, and evaluative tools that compose the critical process rather than emphasizing “schools of criticism.” It introduces students to a comprehensive critical “grammar” and “vocabulary”, and provides a critical model to help them discern the meaning of messages.
  • The prologue and epilogue address why studying rhetoric is important and what the discipline of rhetoric entails, both within the liberal arts and a general education curriculum. The preface is written for beginning students, while the epilogue is written for advanced students and instructor audiences.
  • The exercise section of each chapter reflects the book's focus on three areas of rhetoric: critical thinking, analytical writing, and strategic public speaking.
  • The text's content and exercises reflect the ancient idea of the relationship between art and practice-you cannot improve a skill without understanding the theory, concepts, and ideas on which it is based, and you cannot truly understand the theory unless you use and test it in practice.
  • The text approaches rhetoric in all its varieties as a “strategy to encompass a situation” (Kenneth Burke) and as “that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end” (George Campbell).
Prologue: “Why Study Rhetoric?”
1. A Rhetorical Perspective.
2. Reading Rhetorical Acts.
3. Crafting Your Rhetorical Act.
4. The Resources of Evidence.
5. The Resources of Argument.
6. The Resources of Organization.
7. The Resources of Language.
8. Challenges Arising from the Audience.
9. Challenges Arising from the Subject and Purpose.
10. Opportunities and Challenges Arising from the Rhetor.
11. Understanding Evaluation.
12. Understanding Visual Rhetoric.
13. Understanding the Medium of Transmission.
14. Understanding Occasion.
Epilogue: “What Is Rhetoric?”

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  • ISBN-10: 1305218655
  • ISBN-13: 9781305218659
  • STARTING AT $22.99

  • STARTING AT $31.49

  • ISBN-10: 1133313795
  • ISBN-13: 9781133313793
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $150.00
  • RETAIL $199.95

"We like THE RHETORICAL ACT because it gets students to think in new ways. The authors break down the critical thinking process so that it is manageable. The materials for analysis help the students to apply the concepts to the real world, and the skills aspects are worked into the rhetorical base so that students learn both."

"THE RHETORICAL ACT has three great strengths: 1) The range of examples, which include a diverse array of speakers and speeches; 2) The theoretical perspective, including a feminist perspective; 3) The scholarly reputation of the author."

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