Morgan's Notes on What Makes This Rhetorical

This first exercise helps you become aware of how you observe and approach a problem, and how you use the Longaker text and other support materials. I'll summarize and point out what I find strong in these notes. On your end, you should take note of what you tend to do to so you can build on it further.

If you have more to add to these notes, you're welcome to edit the page and add. Or post your additions or questions to the comments.

Click around the wiki to see how others approached the problem, and watch for those approaches that yield insight.

Start Seeing Motorcycles

Peter C: WhatMakesThisRhetoricalPTC
These notes are well observed - controlled - with attention to forum and context. They are non-evaluative, and taken from a position standing outside the rhet sit. Pete's final consideration based on the evidence of the observations.

The strength in the notes is that they work with the questions as guides for focus rather than fill in the blank quiz questions.

Art from a rhetorical perspective

We tend to view art objects as aesthetic - things of beauty, or expressions of the artist. What's interesting is that if we see a work of art as art, we are being persuaded it is beautiful or expressive of emotions. If a viewer see it as "expressing" kindness, the artist-rhetor is persuading the viewer that the work is a representation of kindness, that kindness is a virtue, that kindness should be valued. And that idea takes us back to the definition of rhetoric as

The art and science of creating and analyzing "messages that rely on verbal and nonverbal symbols that more or less intentionally influence social attitudes, values, beliefs, and actions." (6)

Vermeer: Girl with Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer, 1660.

Some strong observations. Notice how the observer makes close observation of how the elements operate. These would be stronger if there were specifics: not just colors and hues, but describing the colors, the pose, what the woman is wearing, the specific use of darkness and light ... We're looking at specific works, so focus on those specifics.

Specifics came out in class, when we described the apparent age of the subject, her clothing (seems to be that of a maid or household woman rather than a rich woman) that she's facing the light, that she's looking out of the painting and directly at the viewer, how the earring is made salient by being placed as a bright spot against the dark and almost visual center, the woman's expression. Those were noted as the elements the rhetor uses to persuade viewers to look at this woman as more than a working woman, but as a woman of value. I'm not claiming this is what the portrait means. We're looking at how it means.

To note is how the sense of persuasion became clearer as we described the work in detail. That's the method you want to develop: Start by describing the elements of the artifact and the rhetorical situation and you'll develop a sense of how the work is persuading.

Minimum Wage Machine

Jamie's notes - WhatMakesThisRhetoricalJIP - point out how this artifact works by standing in contrast to other machines in the same genre. The genre is something like vending machines or video game - except this one is unadorned, plywood, is powered by human labor, and is hardly entertaining. Also pointed out: the forum for this artifact is created where ever the object is placed. It could be an art gallery, but the artifact could be placed on a street corner or the student union.

Although just by viewing it, viewers can get a sense of how the artifact might persuade, this one is constructed to demand interaction to persuade. Turning the crank for an hour will earn the viewer an hour's minimum wage in pennies - an hour of the viewer's time. That's a lot to invest to be persuaded, which is part of the persuasion

My notes on your notes

Use questions to guide your attention rather than addressing then as questions on a quiz. Develop your notes in response, using their focus as a starting point.

These are pretty thin - addressing the questions as a quiz. They are solid starting points for more development.

The following notes (on the Rice University home page) use the questions more as guides, and give more developed responses. They get specific, too.

Second Pass

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