Austin Schlocker
ComS 168 – Dr. Stoner
Fisher Article Responses
1) Fisher shifts the burden from the author to the audience’s response to the work.
Fisher does shifts focus away from how a critic makes an argument to how an audience interprets or accepts the argument. “The critical essay tends to engage its audience…through the auditor’s recognition of the validity of the judgment being expressed.” (Fisher) Fisher then goes on to further differentiate scientific studies from that of rhetorical analysis by calling the “result of the scientific repot is a set of descriptive conclusions” but called a rhetorical essay a “set of normative conclusions.” (Fisher)

2) Rejecting trivial social science studies.
I agree with Dr. Stoner’s comments that we need to be careful with accepting the criteria from Fisher regarding the triviality of the selection and/or the methodology in which a social science study is conducted. This is because of the arbitrary arguments that one could make as to the validity or critical appeal of different studies. For instance, if certain Think Tanks were used as evidence in a critical argument or study—these same organizations may be discounted by certain readers due to the perception or ulterior motive of that specific Think Tank.

3) (A) What are the unique characteristics of criticism as a scholarly process; what are techniques characteristics of the knowledge it produces?
Three unique implications of criticism according to Fisher are; (1) Criticism is always related to theory, (2) Criticism is not science and cannot become it (normative view), (3) Rhetorical criticism is an art, in nature, form and function.

(B) Do our present theories of rhetoric point us to anything significant about human behavior; in particular, about human symbolic interaction?
In regards to Fisher’s theories about rhetoric; yes I think that they capture certain aspects of human behavior. One characteristic of Fisher’s theory is that the critic’s expertise actually lends itself to whether a published work is rhetorical criticism or not. If accomplished rhetoricians don’t consider certain publications to be rhetorical criticism solely based on the experience of the author then this changes my view of human interaction. This is similar to ancient times when men who owned a lot of property were the only citizens who had power. Essentially, Fisher is saying that if you are not accomplished then your criticism is possibly just an opinion.

(C) Is there a “third way” by which to evaluate criticism? Must it be either science or art?
I’m sure that there is a third way to evaluate criticism and I hope to find that information by taking this college course. However, after reading Fisher I am not sure what that third evaluation would be. It is possible that this “third way” would have nothing to do with science or art.

Was the text you examined, in fact, rhetoric? Justify your answer using what we've read so far.
According to Fisher, “Rhetorical criticism may be defined as an artistic expression composed of statements comparing an instance of symbol inducement with an implicit or explicit model of excellence.” Using this definition, yes I believe the speech that I analyzed by President Barack Obama was in fact rhetoric. I believe this because Obama uses examples and promotes evidence to support his reasoning and ideals. In this way he uses other’s models and research to support a conclusion and opinion which he supports. This in my mind is rhetoric because the way he constructed and delivered his speech depends on the “buy-in” factor of his audience which Fisher also supported and acknowledged as one of the leading characteristics of 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.)

I do not believe my paper fully analyzed or explained why the message I analyzed was rhetoric. The goal of my paper was to compare and contrast Obama’s speech with Dr. Ronald Reid’s Pro-War Topoi. I accomplished an analysis using this model, however, according to Fisher’s definition; this is not exactly explaining rhetoric. Furthermore, I do not think I accomplished the artful versus scientific perspective in my analysis. I think that I fully utilized Reid’s model and explained how it related to Obama’s speech but not how his speech was rhetoric.

What seem to be the assumptions you were making about the critical process and critical product? (This asks you to do some analysis of your analysis--"going meta")

The assumptions that I have made previous to reading Fisher’s article are that rhetoric is more scientific and just based on evidence versus artistic and heavily reliant on it’s audience. Never have I ever considered that there was a difference between artistic and inartistic criticism. I also never considered that “The principal difference between ordinary criticizer and the critic is knowledge.” (Fisher) I always thought that accreditation or knowledge simply propelled criticism to a wider or more educated audience.