1. Rhetoric deals with the probable, the contingent, the possible, the arguable. It addresses social truths but not Truth.
2. Rhetorical messages are contextual and social. They are created in and exist in particular social contexts of human interaction. Rhetorical messages are located in time, place, culture, and situation and the significance of a rhetorical message comes in part by way of this context.
3. Rhetorical messages are more or less purposeful, more or less directed responses to a particular situation that can be changed by means of rhetoric.
4. Rhetorical messages are designed to shape the way people think, act, feel, believe. They are not confined to rationale or logic alone, nor to emotion alone. And they are not always overtly persuasive. Rhetorical messages can shape actions and beliefs subtly, without overt announcement or acknowledgement of intent.
That is: Rhetoric deals with messages that rely on verbal and nonverbal symbols that more or less intentionally influence social attitudes, values, beliefs, and actions." (Stoner and Perkins, 6)
5. Rhetorical messages are material. Rhetors use physical materials of various kinds - spoken, written, printed, projected, manifest n screen, gesture, sound, rhythm, image, movement, landscape, architectural, design materials ... to create and deploy signs. Materials offer affordances and constraints that influence and shape what can be done rhetorically. Buildings make arguments, attempt to persuade, because the architects are drawing on symbolic resources of materials and design. By the same token, rhetors use digital resources to more or less intentionally influence social attitudes, values, beliefs, and actions.
- description: neutral, close, methodical, and describes discourse and contexts
- analysis: builds on the stuff generated by description by bringing a conceptual framework (search pattern or rhetorical theory) into play; looking for patterns; focuses on how the message works
- interpretation: draws on analysis to explain or illustrate the significance of the artifact or message in the context it addresses.
- evaluation: draws on results of analysis and interpretation, and uses an explicit, articulated set of criteria, to argue the quality of the artifact or message.
Consider, for instance, CourseStatement.