Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Figures of thought are "the most rhetorical of the ornaments of style" (Crowley and Hawhee 348). Basically, this means that figures of thought can function as proofs (called sententia) and that they can establish ethos or pathos. For the purposes of Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students, they focused entirely on the sententia element.
As I was most interested in the applicability of various figures of thought, I would like to focus my own analysis on three of these components:
1. Figures of Thought That Enhance Ethos
Figures of thought that enhance ethos are a particular group of figures that allow rhetoricians to draw attention to a manipulation in the flow of dialogue. Hesitations, interruptions, attack from opponents, and apologetic comments are all styles of figures that enhance ethos. In drawing attention to these, rhetors help to relate to their audience; natural human behaviors make an audience feel more comfortable with the lecturer.
The rhetorical question is, in fact, part of this group. Rhetorical questions are incredibly dominant on today's rhetorical platform. Asking a question to get an answer is not a figure; instead, the rhetor wants the audience to internalize the question. Rhetors like to ask these questions as they inspire unconscious audience participation. Rhetorical questions are only valid if the answer is blatant to everyone in the audience; otherwise, a certain degree of uncomfortableness may occur as people do not want to feel out of the loop. "The only effective rhetorical question, after all, is one to which the answer is so obvious that everyone, including the audience, can supply its answer. This figure depends for its effect on an audience's feeling that it is participating in the construction of the argument" (Crowley and Hawhee 349).
2. Figures of Thought That Involve Audience
Figures of thought that involve audience participation include suspension, paradox, oxymoron, and litotes or understatements. Suspension is when the rhetor raises expectations that something bad will be discussed, then mentions something entirely worse. In this way, the argument is sensationalized and thereby easily remembered. Paradox, the opposite of suspension, is when the rhetor raises expectations and then trivializes it. The next figure in this group is oxymoron, a common theme in everyday conversations. An oxymoron is the use of contradictory terms, usually an adjective and noun. Finally, litotes are figures in which the rhetor diminishes some feature of the situation that is quite obvious to the audience. Essentially, neglecting an important component.
3. Figures of Thought That Arouse Emotion
Figures of thought that arouse emotion require the most innovation on behalf of the rhetor. "This group of figures requires more inventiveness from a rhetor than any other, since their persuasive quality depends upon skill in creating convincing fictions" (Crowley and Hawhee 352). Figures of thought that arouse emotion include personification, irony, and ethopoeia. Many of these terms seem more remnant of a creative writing class than rhetoric, though they are, in fact, story-like figures. Just as sensationalizing or neglectfulness can ignite audience interest, so can vivid, imaginative stories. Rhetors use these figures to draw attention to their arguments through sensory descriptions; they want to audience to feel as if they are part of the story.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Development of the Printing Press:
Societal Impacts and Evolution of Rhetoric
Rhetoric always seems to be in a constant state of change, albeit a very gradual evolution over time. For example, rhetoric began as an oral tradition, transitioned to handwritten texts, moved to wood block printing, eventually utilized Gutenberg’s printing press, and is now adopting digitalization. Of all stages of development, however, the printing press is likely the most significant factor to consider when analyzing the evolution of rhetoric. Prior to the printing press, document creation consisted of almost entirely handwritten manuscripts. “Written by hand, the production of even a single page was an arduous and time consuming task. Books were expensive and only very popular texts of universal appeal were likely to be printed” (“End of Europe’s”). Essentially, rhetoric was inaccessible to the general public. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the mid-fifteenth century provided moveable-type that eliminated a great degree of labor and allowed for documents to be printed on a mass scale in far less time. Therein, written rhetoric became available to nearly everyone. The fields of education, science, and publishing were fundamentally and forever changed by Gutenberg’s innovation. The printing press revolutionized rhetoric by standardizing education, enabling scientific achievements, and developing a formal system of authorship.
Arguably, the most substantial societal result of the printing press was an increase in overall literacy and educational opportunities. With the development of the printing press, there was a complete shift in the way that information was distributed. Society evolved from that with an oral tradition to a more literary-focused culture. In essence, there was a complete transformation in accessibility to rhetoric. Rhetoric was previously a community experience; however, individuals engaged more commonly in silent and personal readings after printing developed. Education was forced to change with the introduction of the printing press as well. More students could be provided the opportunity for formal education as printed books cost far less than illuminated manuscripts. Schooling became more of an expectation post-printing press. Information became available to the masses like never before and resulted in literacy becoming much more of a necessity. Additionally, the printing press helped to foster reliability in academics. By standardizing knowledge, education in general was thereby standardized. “Printing drove the simplification of written language. Increasing literacy and the globalization of reading led to standardization in spelling and punctuation…” (Arcas and Fairhall 997). More or less, the development of the printing press enabled more individuals to read as well as gain formal educations. Through this innovation, rhetoric began to demand reliability and consistency like never before.
In terms of a strictly European analysis, the printing press worked to fundamentally change society’s style of argumentation. Emphasis shifted from emotional to empirical and quantifiable arguments. This is highly emphasized within the education system. For the most part, all students were provided the same texts with which to work, thus enabling progress to be achieved. Knowledge moved at a more rapid rate as individuals and professors could dependably build upon the works of their predecessors with less fear of inaccuracy. The printing press helped to eliminate confusion and inconsistencies that had previously existed. Education through provable scientific observation, experimentation, and written documentation took precedence through printing. In many ways, this is consistent with modern academics as well.
The printing press also directly helped to fuel the development of the scientific revolution. While early handwritten documents focused on imagery and aesthetic quality, printed texts were far more “wordy.” The significance of the text was its content, not appearance. This signaled a transition from an imaginative, artistic culture to an analytical one. Audience became less engaged with the metaphor and flowery language of the past; instead, they sought provable and scientific evidence. Oral tradition was dependent on captivating the audience with eloquent words and stylized delivery, whereas published texts did not have to rely on similar “smoke and mirrors” tactics. Facts could be more easily and effectively distributed through text. Rhetoric, therefore, had to adapt to these new societal needs. The logos of previous centuries evolved from law- and religious-mindedness to scientific approaches.
In conjunction with society’s desire for logical proofs, scientists began to take full advantage of the printing press. While many scientists had previously been left isolated, printing allowed their discoveries to be accessed by the masses. “It is difficult to imagine the Enlightenment and the scientific revolutions of the next centuries without this [printing press] technology, which allowed ideas to be disseminated quickly, broadly and reliably” (Arcas and Fairhall 997). One might argue that an increase in education also enabled this societal transition; perhaps a simultaneous or codependent relationship existed between the two. Regardless, the printing press provided science an opportunity to flourish. It effectively changed the style of rhetoric to be one of evidentiary support and analytics. In large part, modern rhetoric focuses on similar approaches as well.
One of the most significant impacts of the printing press was the concept of authorship. Whereas traditional, pre-printing documents focused more on the content of the document, the development of printing allowed for author and timeliness to become important. With the consistency of print, there was less risk in attaching an author’s name and date of publication to a text. For example, pre-printing press documents were recorded by hand from oral presentations or lectures. A great deal of inconsistency arose from this style of document creation; therefore, the true author was seemingly irrelevant. Often times, the recorder did not even list the original author. Until the printing press provided for identical replication of texts over time, there was little importance in authorship. “Prior to the invention of the printing press, authors necessarily relied upon manual copyists to reproduce their works, and this technological limitation had [substantial] consequences” (Cotter 325). In essence, the innovation of printing press worked to establish present-day, formal expectations of the rhetorical devices ethos and kairos.
Ethos describes the necessity of an author to be credible and knowledgeable in the subject matter, while kairos is indicative that an argument is only significant if approached during an appropriate and relevant time. Before the development of printing press, one had to rely on a personal experience at a lecture to assume ethos or kairos because early texts provided no such documentation. Modern rhetoric has evolved to become increasingly dependent on citation. Not only must the author be credible, but the sources that he or she has used must be as well. Without the printing press, such a clear consequence might never have been possible. Consistency in documentation was absolutely needed for the establishment of ethos and kairos; it provided the foundation for modern rhetoric that relies on fact-based, dependable logic.
In order to fully understand the consequences of Gutenberg’s printing press, one must also explore texts from that era. Two Medieval documents that seem to especially represent the effects of printing are Christine de Pizan’s “The Book of the City of Ladies” and Boethius’s “An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric.” De Pizan’s piece is particularly reflective of changing societal moods in regards to education; it also deals with expectations of womanhood, though these elements are less applicable to effects of printing press. Her argument is that women are as equally entitled to formal education as men. Prior to increased literacy rates and dramatic growth in school admittance, de Pizan’s claims would be considered outlandish. She says, “[I] realize that women have accomplished many good things and that even if evil women have done evil…the benefits accrued and still accruing because of good women – particularly the wise and literary ones and those educated in the natural sciences – outweigh the evil” (544). De Pizan argues that men are not thinking reasonably when prohibiting female family members from receiving education. She relies a great deal on logos, or logical proofs, to persuade her audience; this is a rhetorical element perfected because of printing.
In the essay “An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric,” Boethius metaphorically compares rhetoric to the scientific method. Being that post-print society was highly concerned with science and fact-based logic, this comparison fit quite well with society’s focus. Boethius describes how rhetoric is like a hypothesis, and involves five necessary components. Just as with the steps of the scientific method, a missing element of rhetoric prevents the whole process from working. Boethius explains this, “Rhetoric has five parts: invention, disposition, style, memory, and delivery. They are referred to as parts because if an orator lacks any one of them, then his use of [rhetoric] is imperfect” (489). Boethius’s entire argument is laid out logically, with each component of rhetoric building from the last. This organization is highly demonstrative of the printing press’s effect on society, as it resulted in a far more analytical culture.
Development of the printing press was likely the most substantial cause of revolutionizing rhetoric to date. Gutenberg’s printing press resulted in skyrocketed literacy rates, new education policies, significant scientific advancement, and importance of authorship. In many ways, it fundamentally changed the lives of everyone. Society had to approach the world in dramatic new ways. “When the itinerant thinker Johannes Gensfleich Gutenberg introduced his moveable-type printing press to Germany sometime in the mid-fifteenth century, he had little reason to foresee the remote consequences of his invention…” (Cotter 324). As contemporary society moves into an age of digitalization, it begs the question of whether or not computerized technology will be the next big development. Perhaps we are too connected to the revolution, just as Gutenberg was, that we are unable to see the true significance of digitalization. Interestingly enough, communication patterns and rhetoric styles are already showing signs of moderate change due to modern technology. Being that the results of the printing press can still be felt today, almost six centuries later, one can only wonder if our innovations will be nearly as significant.
Arcas, Blaise Aguera and Adrienne Fairhall. “Archaeology of Type.” Nature 411.6841 (2001): 997. EBSCO. Web. 23 Oct. 2010.
Boethius. “An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric.” The Rhetorical Tradition. Eds. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 488-491. Print.
Cotter, Thomas. “Gutenberg’s Legacy: Copyright, Censorship, and Religious Pluralism.” California Law Review 91.2 (2003): 323-92. EBSCO. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.
De Pizan, Christine. “The Book of the City of Ladies.” The Rhetorical Tradition. Eds. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 544-551. Print.
“End of Europe’s Middle Ages: The Impact of the Printing Press.” Applied History. University of Calgary, 2000. Web. 23 Oct. 2010.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
According to The Rhetorical Tradition, "Wilson's rhetoric went through eight editions and was the most popular rhetoric in English in sixteenth-century England" (700). Acknowledging his success as a rhetorician, I believe Wilson's style to be a very accurate example of what traditional English composition sounded like. He was also the first Englishman to publish a book on rhetoric that described the creative process. In many ways, this is more of a handbook than anything else as it describes invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery; these are, as I am sure most people know, the five parts of classical rhetoric.
"The Arte of Rhetorique" describes "Five thynges to be considreed in an Oratour," which are the five parts of classical rhetoric. Though we know them as invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, Wilson calls them invencion of matter, disposicion of the same, elocucion, memorie, and utteraunce.
Wilson, in a distinctly sixteenth-century British diction, says of these elements: "Anyone that will largely handle any matter, muste fasten his mynde, first of all upon these five especial poynctes that folowe, and learne theim every one" (707).
In somewhat of a side note, I find it absolutely remarkable that such different spellings can be understandable to the modern reader. For example, "mynde, learne, theim, muste" are present-day "mind, learn, them, must." How fascinating! I am quite curious why word spelling has evolved so much in just a few centuries, considering that sentence structure and word meanings are nearly identical.
Now, back to the book. Wilson does a very interesting job describing what each of the five parts are. Interestingly, I found the definitions near identical to my present understanding.
1. Invention (Invencion)
According to Wilson, invention is searching for truth. He suggests that it is the attempt to prove a cause and seek the truth. Logic, says Wilson, is key to invention.
2. Arrangement (Disposicion)
Wilson believes that arrangement is the settlement or order of things; essentially, organization. He states, "But yet what helpeth it though we can finde good reasons, and knowe howe to place theim..." (708). Wilson declares a problem that every rhetor experiences: how to best organize an essay while also choosing the most meaningful evidence possible.
3. Style (Elocucion)
Style, Wilson says, is using the most apt and eloquent words possible to prove an argument. His definition is concise, yet entirely accurate. An argument is only as good as the words used to describe it.
4. Memory (Memorie)
Memory is a slightly forgotten component of contemporary rhetoric; as discussed in class, we have far less use for it today. In any case, Wilson argues that memory must be cherished. He believes that if rhetoric is not worthy of memorization, then it had no merit in the first place. It is hard to imagine that the qualifier for rhetoric centuries ago was the desirability of memorization.
5. Delivery (Utteraunce)
Wilson says, "Utteraunce therefore is a framyng of the voyce, countenaunce, and gesture, after a comely manner" (708). In essence, Wilson describes how delivery is vital in the final persuasion of an argument. Without all components working together -- which is essentially the basis for delivery -- then no argument can be justified. It takes all parts to complete the rhetorical package, so to speak.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
In this section, authors discuss the necessity of facts to be reputable and from a qualified source. In addition, they ought to be arrived through some standard empirical procedure. Furthermore, the information must be interpreted accurately; unfortunately, this can often be the most difficult component to get right. Finally, they should be consistent across most -- if not all -- reputable sources. Authors use the example of movies to highlight that "true" information can be hard to come by:
"In recent years, it has become fashionable to determine the quality of a film by the level of its box office receipts...The amounts of money made by the movies [are] statements of fact. But such facts are often used to support an inference that is not always warranted: movies that make lots of money must be very good" (Crowley and Hawhee 279).
On the list of top grossing movies is Titanic -- though we now know this to be Avatar. When compared with lists from other sources, Titanic is not even on the list of best movies of all time. One list is from IMDB, a popular movie database, and lists a poll of everyday moviegoers. The second list is from The American Film Institute and claims to have compiled their list from "a blue-ribbon panel of leaders from across the film community."
Interestingly, these two lists are not even close to the same, let alone reflective of box office success. The experts' list only has two movies that were from the 250 top-grossing-film category for the U.S.; essentially, this means none from the list of top ten movies. The experts' list also only duplicates three from the IMDB movie list. The IMDB list includes only one movie from the top-ten-grossing-film category.
"Like all statements of fact, box-office receipts make sense only when they are contextualized within some network of interpretation" (Crowley and Hawhee 281).
In general, this section reminded me to take information at face value; it is not true until I can find enough evidence. I must do a thorough, investigative analysis before taking data as truthful.
Monday, October 11, 2010
(It is seeming somewhat monotonous describing just rhetoric for the past few weeks...)
The Rhetorical Tradition does an outstanding job discussing the life of Ramus; in fact, he was quite an interesting character. Peter Ramus, also known as Pierre de la Ramee, lived from 1515 to 1572. In just 57 years of life, Ramus had an incredible impact on rhetoric that would be felt for centuries to come.
Ramus was born to a poor family and, like many impoverished children, worked his way through school as a servant to wealthier students. At age 8, he went to Paris to study Latin. In 1536, he earned a master's degree in art; it is often wondered how he pulled off the feat, being that his thesis absolutely enraged many of the professors. Ramus had written a thesis on why Aristotle was useless. Upon earning his degree, Ramus became a college professor himself. It is believed that he was a beloved and charismatic teacher, as he soon attracted a vast following. In 1543, Ramus published two works: one controversial piece attacked Aristotle and classic rhetorical stylings, the other called for an entirely new intellectual method.
The books were condemned by many in academia, even involving French king Charles I. Professors of medicine, law, and theology all called for a ban on Ramus's book and Ramus himself. They asked that he be forbidden from teaching, which Charles I gladly obliged. In many cases, Ramus's books were actually burned. It became his lifelong challenge to defend himself. On many cases, his defenses were public orations. Despite a royal ban on his ideas, Ramus continued to publish for many years. His intellectual partner, Omer Talon, collaborated on many of these works.
Ramus got a break in 1547 when Henry II became king and Charles of Lorraine because Cardinal Guise. Lorraine was a former classmate of Ramus's and gladly interceded on his behalf, thereby lifting the restrictions on his teaching. Despite incessant publishing of controversial books as well as continuous spats with other professors, Ramus continued to be promoted. Eventually, he became the dean of one college. It is believed that he published more than 750 works; this is an absolutely staggering and almost unbelievable number.
At the heart of Ramus's ideals was the belief that reason did not need to be taught. He believed that Aristotle's teachings were useless because reason was an innate human ability. "[T]ime spent mastering the classical languages and poring over ancient texts was so much time wasted" (Bizzell and Herzberg 676).
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I actually found this topic of particular interest as I am learning the principles of business letter writing in another English class. I enjoyed the mental comparison between the letter styles described in "The Principles of Letter Writing" and contemporary expectations of a technical document.
One of the most fundamental, albeit obvious, observations is that letters in Medieval Europe were handwritten and therefore required less formatting standards. Modern letters must follow the format requirements subject to digitalization. Present-day letters must have consistent font, size, headings, spacing, and borders. In fact, most business letters even have decorative letterheads that must be consistent across an entire corporation. I wonder what Medieval rhetors might have thought of such finite, relatively obscurely defined, rules.
Another point of interest was the content differences between now and then. Now, we are encouraged to make our letters as quick, yet thorough as possible. In English 402, we are told to refrain from embedded prose and unnecessary details. Essentially, business letters should be highly condensed and concise. There is to be an introduction, short body, and conclusion only. If you write more than is required of the information, then others will not read it. Email has allowed communication to take place in an almost unmanageable degree. There is, quite simply, no way to read everything that is sent to a person in one day. Modern day rhetoric has made skimming acceptable, if not absolutely necessary. Therefore, in order to avoid missed information, people must condense their letters. My English 402 professor often says, "No one wants to read anything that you write." I do not know that it is that they do not want to read it, I just think it is because they logistically cannot read everything you write them. There is too much being sent in one day to capture every finite detail!
This modern level of constant communication is a far cry from handwritten letters of Medieval times. It took such effort to write a letter that the audience would dwell on every word. It was unlikely that an individual would receive more than one lengthy letter in a day; therefore, they had more time to appreciate it. I enjoyed the part in "The Principles of Letter Writing" that described content expectations. "There are, in fact, five parts of a letter: the Salutation, the Securing of Goodwill, the Narration, the Petition, and the Conclusion" ("Principles..." 497). I cannot imagine what it would be like if these expectations existed today; it would take hours just to get through one day's emails, let alone the hours it would take to send your own emails. Yikes, comes to mind. In any case, I really enjoy reading centuries-old letters as they are so beautifully and eloquently written. Letters of Medieval times are certainly less rushed, therefore seem more meaningful, than contemporary letters.
Monday, October 4, 2010
In the essay "An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric," Boethius metaphorically compares rhetoric to the scientific method. Being that post-print society was highly concerned with science and fact-based logic, this comparison fit quite well with society's focus. Boethius describes how rhetoric is like a hypothesis, and involves five necessary components. Just as with the steps of the scientific method, a missing element of rhetoric prevents the whole process from working. Boethius explains this, "Rhetoric has five parts: invention, disposition, style, memory, and delivery. They are referred to as parts because if an orator lacks any one of them, then his use of [rhetoric] is imperfect" (489). Boethius's entire argument is laid out logically, with each component of rhetoric building from the last. This organization is highly demonstrative of the printing press's effect on society, as it resulted in a far more analytical culture.
The printing press directly helped to fuel the development of the scientific revolution. While early handwritten documents focused on imagery and aesthetic quality, printed texts were fare more "wordy." The significance of the text was its content, not appearance. This signaled a transition from an imaginative, artistic culture to an analytical one. Audiences became less engaged with the metaphor and flowery language of the past; instead, they sought provable and scientific evidence. Oral tradition was dependent on captivating the audience with eloquent words and stylized delivery, whereas published texts did not have to rely on similar "smoke and mirrors" tactics. Facts could be more easily and effectively distributed through text. Rhetoric, therefore, had to adapt to these new societal needs. The logos of previous centuries evolved from law- and religious-mindedness to scientific approaches. "An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric" proves an incredible examples of this transition.