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Related: discourse - persuasion

Key texts (theory): The Rhetoric of Fiction (1983) - Wayne Booth


Rhetoric (from Greek rhêtôr, "orator") is the art or technique of persuasion, usually through the use of language. Rhetoric is one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (the other members are dialectic and grammar) in Western culture. In ancient and medieval times, grammar concerned itself with correct language use through the study and criticism of literary models, dialectic concerned itself with the testing and invention of new knowledge through a process of question and answer, and rhetoric concerned itself with persuasion in public and political settings such as assemblies and courts of law. As such, rhetoric is said to flourish in open and democratic societies with rights of free speech, free assembly, and political enfranchisement for some portion of the population.

The concept of rhetoric has shifted widely during its 2500-year history. Today rhetoric is described more broadly as the art or practice of persuasion through any symbolic system, but especially language. Or, rhetoric can be described as the persuasive or "suasory" function of all human action, including symbolic action like language use. Both the terms "rhetoric" and "sophistry" are also used today in a pejorative or dismissive sense, when someone wants to distinguish between "empty" words and action, or between true or accurate information and misinformation, propaganda, or "spin," or to denigrate certain forms of verbal reasoning as spurious. Nonetheless, rhetoric, as the art of persuasion, continues to play an important function in contemporary public life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetoric [Mar 2006]

Genre and the New Rhetoric (1995) - Aviva Freedman

Genre and the New Rhetoric (1995) - Aviva Freedman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Since the mid-1980s the notion of "genre" has been dramatically redefined. This redefinition has prompted theorists and scholars alike to analyze the shaping power of language and culture, and the interplay between the individual and the social. Recent work in genre studies has drawn upon ideas and developments from a wide range of intellectual disciplines including 20th-century rhetoric, literary theory, sociology and philosophy of science, critical discourse analysis, education and cultural studies. In this text, leading theorists reflect and capitalize on the growing interest in genre studies across these allied fields, and examine the powerful implications this reconception of genre has on both research and teaching. --from the publisher

... my essay ‘Genre as Social Action', I claimed that a genre is a ‘cultural artefact' (Miller 1984: 164) ...--page 67, Caroly R. Miller

In the book ‘Genre and the New Rhetoric’ (1994) Freedman & Medway (1994, pp. 8-10) identify two major schools of thought within genre studies: The North American School and The Sydney School. The former derives its concept of genre from a rhetorical tradition. It is inspired by Carolyn R. Miller’s seminal essay ‘Genre as Social Action’ (Miller, 1984) in which genre is conceptualized as ‘typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations’. This leads the North American School of genre into a socio-historical concept basing their genre typification on how texts function within a social and interactional context. The Sydney School of genre is based in Michael A. K. Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics. It primarily puts emphasis on formal textual features and thus expresses a more linguistically oriented concept of genre. Common to both schools, however, is the attention paid to the role of the social in conceptualizing and understanding genres and the role of context (Freedman & Medway, 1994, p. 9). http://www.db.dk/jni/lifeboat/Concepts/Genre.htm [Jun 2006]

Related redefinitions of genre focus more broadly on the relationship between the makers and audiences of texts (a rhetorical dimension). To varying extents, the formal features of genres establish the relationship between producers and interpreters. Indeed, in relation to mass media texts Andrew Tolson redefines genre as 'a category which mediates between industry and audience' (Tolson 1996, 92). Note that such approaches undermine the definition of genres as purely textual types, which excludes any reference even to intended audiences. A basic model underlying contemporary media theory is a triangular relationship between the text, its producers and its interpreters. From the perspective of many recent commentators, genres first and foremost provide frameworks within which texts are produced and interpreted. Semiotically, a genre can be seen as a shared code between the producers and interpreters of texts included within it. Alastair Fowler goes so far as to suggest that 'communication is impossible without the agreed codes of genre' (Fowler 1989, 216). --Daniel Chandler via http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/intgenre/intgenre1.htmlSee also: rethoric - genre - genre theory

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