April 15, 2014
Basic Essay Questions


April 14, 2014
Glossary, 45 terms, 100 point


Week One:

1. Was the text you examined, in fact, rhetoric? Justify your answer using what we've read so far.

The speech I analyzed and subsequent paper that perhaps best exemplifies my (limited) understanding of rhetoric was offered in response to a eulogy that Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton delivered, titled - "Remarks on the death of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya". This particular speech can be categorized as rhetoric, in that, Bryant similarly offers Pericles' funeral oration as a work of rhetoric as well; though adding that there is a necessary adjustment when categorizing eulogies into one of the three-fold tripartite classifications, as defined by Aristotle (Bryant, 1953).

I believe this particular speech and all eulogies (e.g. funeral orations) are subject to special consideration because death in and of itself is not a disputable subject. Thus, solidifying eulogies as a miscellaneous category from the truer definition of rhetoric is necessary, and Bryant offers this when he posited that while rhetoric normally deals with matters of uncertainty and opinion rather than knowledge, Aristotle opens up a loop hole for eulogies as special rhetorical works which are more informative, instructional and sometimes exhibitionist and demonstrative in nature (Bryant, 1953).

I can not think of, however, a more impressionable audience than that of a collective group mourning the death of one of their own. Clinton's speech as a definitive work of rhetoric re-established a political identity (colored largely by patriotic fervor) while respectfully lamenting those lives lost; offering a re-commitment to preexisting political methods, and ultimately reaffirming the values of the polity (Stow, 2007). What probably best defines Clinton's remarks as characteristically rhetorical is that Clinton deals with the justice/injustice of the acts committed against U.S. citizens, what Bryant also posits as a characteristic concern of rhetoric (Bryant, 1953).

2. 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.)

I think in the more general sense, the study I conducted compared Clinton's remarks with the traditional framework and formula of a eulogy. My study fell into the trap of what Wrage suggests is all too common when studying rhetorical works nowadays in an academic setting; wherein, I merely went down and completed an inventory and checklist of those rhetorical devices which defined her work as a eulogy, and then consequently as an already pre-determined category of rhetoric. I did not effectively portray how the message worked as rhetoric.

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Bryant, D.C. (December, 1953). Rhetoric: Its functions and its scope. The Quarterly Journal of Speech, XXXIX(4), 401-424.

Stow, S. (May, 2007). Pericles at Gettysburg and ground zero: Tragedy, patriotism and public mourning. The American Political Science Review, 101(2), 195-208.

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