TOPIC: Rhetorical Presidency- Spreading the Message of Democracy in Ghana.
Analyze President Clinton’s speech in Ghana 1996 and President Obama’s speech in Ghana 2009 with the Apostle Paul’s speech in Act 17 on the Rhetoric of Democracy.
- What calls fourth the Rhetoric of a Democratic Faith?
- Spreading the Gospel of Freedom
- What Claims and Warrants falls within the form of content of rhetorical situation? (speaker, audience, exigency, constraints)
Rhetorical criticism is the art of interpreting persuasive texts from the past, in order to inform critical judgments in the present. In its most common form, rhetorical criticism analyzes how speakers employ the available means of persuasion in a specific case to move an audience to action, as one might think of the kind of analysis that follows a Presidential address (i.e., the President used this or that metaphor, emphasized this or that principle, developed this or that narrative). Here, the goal is to help make clear the goals of the speech and the strategies used to achieve them, with the expressed purpose of the criticism being to assist the audience in making a judgment concerning which arguments they wish to accept and which they wish to reject. To be a rhetorical critic in this sense is to be a kind of pundit, a person who comments on all the various rhetorical speeches and campaigns of the immediate present on cable news, newspapers, and blogs.
However, rhetorical criticism also serves a broader purpose in exploring how speech acts from the past reflect something of the personality of the speaker, the culture in which that speaker was immersed, and the type of problem they were addressing. In this case, rhetorical criticism uses particular speech texts as reflections of more universal forms—of types of character, of recurring social problems, of generic persuasive strategies, of common human attitudes and motivations—in order to better understand the human condition and the nature of rhetoric itself. To explore past rhetorical acts thus gives us an opportunity to gain perspective on our own lives and times by comparing and contrasting them with the past. For instance, a rhetorical critic versed in the rhetoric of World War II might provide a broader context with which to understand post 9/11 rhetoric by comparing it with the rhetoric which followed Pearl Harbor. Rhetorical criticism thus helps us make judgments in the present by showing how these crises and judgments are similar and different from their predecessors. To be a rhetorical critic in this sense is to be a historical scholar, a person who doesn’t try to keep up with every news event of the day and instead tries to slow things down, to see thing in a broader light, to give us a sense of temporal perspective. Both of these forms of rhetorical criticism are valuable and this class will try to achieve a balance between them through discussion and writing.