Words, Words, Words: Hello Rhetoric!

By: Kasey Lynn

The Carolina Rhetorical Conference at Clemson University was held in February of 2012. The conference was two days and it incorporated scholars from different areas of rhetoric. The papers and topics discussed move from classical rhetoric, to current rhetoric, to digital and media rhetoric. It’s interesting that all of those topics were covered at one conference. It shows that there are a range of interests in the study and discussion of rhetoric. A few main trends that appeared at the Carolina Rhetorical Conference were the discussion of the use of rhetoric in digital media and talk shows, politics, identity, and the ethos of rhetoric.

Samuel Fuller and Brian Harmon discuss how rhetoric is used in digital media and talk shows; each discusses the different rhetorical tools that each medium uses to draw their audiences in. Curtis Newbold and Caitlin Holmes discuss rhetoric in politics and America. Holmes in particular discusses how political rhetoric can be isolated from other rhetoric. Nathan Street and Andreas Herzog tackled the issue of identity in rhetoric and whether or not identity is lost or enhanced. And finally the last major trend is the ethos of rhetoric which Mark Schaukowitch, Samara Mouvery, and Jared Colton discuss by looking at religious rhetorical use, credibility, and community writing.  There were other areas of rhetoric that were discussed as well including a paper here and there that discussed the rhetoric of Aristotle and the possible rhetoric of the future. The conference seems to have been very well rounded with the types of papers and ideas that were presented.

These trends matter because it shows that rhetoric is not dead. It shows that even though our society has turned more towards images and appearances there are still people that care about the words. It shows that people are still thinking and are still carefully looking at rhetoric and words and how we, as a society use them to communicate, and use them to try to get what we want from our target audiences. Our society really is focused on what looks good, but when one is ready to look deeper than that, it is the words that are what truly are important. Appearances are not always the same as reality, but words are words, they cannot be changed. They may have several different meanings but they can be taken at face value. Words cannot hide behind lights or cameras, or a costume, or makeup or a mask.

When images lie, words tell the truth.

This is why those trends are important. This is why rhetoric should still be a main focus of today’s society. We owe it to ourselves. We should have access to the truth.

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