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This is an old revision of PresentationalEnthymemesOnTheBSUHomePage made by MorganAdmin on 2017-10-05 08:33:58.


Presentational Enthymemes and the BSU Homepage

We have a theory of presentational enthymeme to work with. You may not understand the theory completely, but this exercise will give you a opportunity to develop your understanding more closely.

Before you start, get these materials beside you as you work

Part 1

Drawing on our first look at presentational enthymemes, encounter the BSU home page with the intent to confront and analyze the presentational enthymemes you can infer from the page.

How to proceed

0. Start a new page titled PresentationalEnthymemesBSUHomePage - followed by your initials. Use this page for your work on this project.

1. Visit and work through the BSU home page at You're trying to encounter the page as a user would - not a naive new user who has never seen the page before but as a more general user. You want to press buttons and make bells ring, roll over menus and click links... You're systematically exploring the page for presentational enthymemes. See what presentational enthymemes you can infer from your systematic encounter with the page. [As Wayne noticed on Tuesday, some images and links will pop up text (tool tips) when they are hovered over. These are typically used to guide vision impaired users, but they still can function as presentational enthymemes.]

2. When you identify a presentational enthymeme, describe it and explain how it works:

3. As part of your analysis, consider the appeals each presentational enthymeme draws on. This would include the appeal made by the cap: a sudden encounter makes a different appeal than the expected appearance of menu items in a drop down menu.

Don't stop with two or three presentational enthymemes. There are going to be a number of presentational enthymemes active on the page. For this exercise you're looking for a complete catalogue of the page. There are presentational enthymemes possible in every encounter with every interface movement. A drop down menu with text and image might cap an enthymeme. Clicking a link might. Scrolling up to reveal the panel rising on the screen might.

Notes on Good Analyses

Your analysis should use the terms for analyzing presentational enthymemes: cap, claim, data, warrant, ideational quality (underlying logic of the enthymeme), shared presuppositions, inference ...

Keep in mind your position as someone analyzing rhetorical messages. You are not the audience. You are outside the rhetorical interaction, looking in.

A good analysis focuses on how the presentational enthymeme functions, how it works. Set aside how well or poorly it is designed. Hold your criticisms at bay for this exercise.

To consider the enthymeme accurately, consider the presuppositions at work in the rhetorical situation of a university home page in general and BSU's home page specifically: the values, interests, qualities, the expectations that the rhetor presupposes are shared.

Part 2

We'll start part 2 in class on Tue 10 Oct, when we'll address validity.

An example analysis

The chalked sidewalk message outside HS on 27 Sep 2016. The image is on this page.

The chalked message is a cap that initiates the inference of a presentational enthymeme. The sidewalk typically doesn't have a message on it, so the presence of a message starts the inference. Chalked messages aren't unexpected at a university, and are typically used to announce events of interest to the university community: they are typically not personal messages. Being written in chalk, the message is temporary and timely. Chalk messages that are of interest to the university community are presumably sanctioned by the university administration. They are not graffiti. [considering forum and medium]

The materials involved are the sidewalk (public thoroughfare where walkers can be expected), the medium of chalk (temporary, which lets viewers infer an immediacy to the message), and placement to create a designed encounter for students leaving HS from the south-west door. The message is directed at those students, at the moment when they would choose to follow the sidewalk to the left to get to HMU Info Desk. This positioning is a further emphasis on the immediacy of the claim: Buy a season ticket now."

The message is designed to prompt viewers to infer a claim that suits the content of the stated message. The claim, "You should buy a season now." The data is the message itself as a reminder. There are signals in the message that initiate the inference: use of the word "still" in an emphatic position. The callout placement of "Limited Quantity" in a highlighted space separate from the main message (speech bubble). Three !!!

Appeals: The presentational emphasis on immediacy is an appeal to pathos, especially in winding up excitement in buying the in-demand season tickets. This is deliberative prose, placed and phrased for an instant, immediate, and unconsidered choice. It might also operate as a reminder for students who have been considering the tickets, but the emphasis on immediate action ("Limited Quantity!!!", the temporary presence of the the message, the placement of the message at the Y of the sidewalk) emphasizes pathos over consideration of logos ("Are they expensive? Can I afford this?"). Ethos - the character of the message - is carried by pathos: Excitement of owning, excitement of the games. The !!! carries this blend of pathos and ethos. Pathos doesn't persuade but is designed to put the viewer in an emotional state to be persuaded. This presentational enthymeme is almost all pathos.

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