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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.
- 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).
Part I: FUNDAMENTALS OF RHETORICAL ACTION.
1. A Rhetorical Perspective.
2. Reading Rhetorical Acts.
3. Crafting Your Rhetorical Act.
Part II: RESOURCES FOR RHETORICAL ACTION.
4. The Resources of Evidence.
5. The Resources of Argument.
6. The Resources of Organization.
7. The Resources of Language.
Part III: CONTEXTS OF RHETORICAL ACTION.
8. Challenges Arising from the Audience.
9. Challenges Arising from the Subject and Purpose.
10. Opportunities and Challenges Arising from the Rhetor.
Part IV: SPECIAL CONSTRAINTS ON RHETORICAL ACTION.
11. Understanding Evaluation.
12. Understanding Visual Rhetoric.
13. Understanding the Medium of Transmission.
14. Understanding Occasion.
Epilogue: “What Is Rhetoric?”
"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."
Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.
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