Christina Ashley Ortega
Journal Assignment, Week 3, Journal 1


Journal Assignment, Week 2, Journal 2


Journal Assignment, Week 2, Journal 1


Journal Assignment: Week 1, Journal 2


Journal Assignment: Week 1, Journal 1




  • ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Was the text you examined, in fact, rhetoric? Justify your answer using what we've read so far.
Based on the observations of Ernest J. Wrage, I believe that the text that I examined in my paper was in fact rhetoric. Wrage emphasizes that rhetoric is not merely taking apart texts (public addresses, etc) to pinpoint the context, models and logistics, but rhetoric is rather looking at the text and determining the ideas that are being presented. With these ideas, he suggests, we get a glimpse of the social realm in which these ideas were formulated and the themes that are a result of a greater social construct. The text that I examined was Maya Angelou's inaugural poem, On the Pulse of the Morning during Bill Clinton's inauguration. The ideas and themes Maya Angelou uses in her rhetoric are peace and equality. She references
the “Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew, the African and Native American, the Sioux, the Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek, the Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Shiekh, the Gay the Straight, the Preacher, the privileged, the homeless, the Teacher. They hear. They all hear the speaking of the tree.” She addresses our nation as a whole, promoting the idea of "equality." She also emphasizes the idea of peace by recognizing the adversity faced by the Native American and slaves throughout time. It is with those struggles, that peace was desired and fought for. Maya Angelou's poem resonates with the ideas of peace and equality.

Maurice Natanson defines rhetoric as a"four-fold status," with four contributing factors that define rhetoric. I feel the way in which Maya Angelou uses her poem to promote the ideas of peace and equality touch on these factors and under Natanson's guidelines define her work as rhetoric. Her management of discourse in the way her poem is constructed, her use of rich language and metaphors "the rock, the river and the tree," her use of philosophical study when she describes people of all walks of life, and the way in which her poem makes a social statement of the history of our nation, where we have come and the remaining struggle and fight for peace and equality all contribute to making her poem rhetoric.

  • What does your study teach someone about how the message studied worked as rhetoric? (If it didn't, freely admit that and explain what it did do.)
When I initially picked this piece for analysis, I struggled to find the right model to define Maya Angelou's rhetoric. As I explored the different themes, I came to the conclusion that there was a connection between the ideas and themes she was promoting to those same themes and ideas that have been present in our society for many years. Maya Angelou refers to Dr. Martin Luther King's speech when she says “Give birth again to the dream.” As I analyzed her work, this concept came full circle for me. The social construct the Wrage observes to be at the core of the ideas in rhetoric were present in the ideas that Maya Angelou carried on in her message from leaders who had spoken before. The ideas of peace and equality have been at the core of our society as people have fought for and against both sides of them. I feel that through my analysis, my study brings this concept full circle for the audience.‍‍‍‍‍‍‍



Bryant, D.C. 1953. Rhetoric: Its functions and its scope. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 39, 4. pp. 39.

Wrage, E. J. (1947) Public Address: A study in social and intellectual history. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 33, 4, 451-457