Author Archives: KaseyLee

There is a reason why the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body; just ask Bill Clinton: The Power of Rhetoric in Message and Medium

By: Kasey Lynn

Aristotle claims, “the law is reason free from passion.” However, passion is not as far removed from the law as Aristotle might have believed. In the instance of rhetoric, passion is closely tied to the concept, and rhetoric is of course a large factor of the law. When and if passion meets the law, one could say that a great deal can be done. Rhetoric can also greatly influence the appearance of reality. Everything is not always as it seems. The written rhetoric vs. the oral rhetoric is a concept that needs exploration, especially in our media-crazed society. By looking at Bill Clinton, President Obama, and Governor Romney one can learn the power and truth about rhetoric. Will what meets the eye match what’s written in black and white?

Rhetoric is defined as “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques” (Oxford Dictionaries). This standard definition fits both classical rhetoric and the rhetoric of today. Classical rhetoric still forms the base of rhetoric however, today’s society has caused rhetoric to morph into something quite different from what the original philosophers thought it should be. There is a need to understand rhetoric and its uses because rhetoric is not always used simply to communicate, it can be used to manipulate but without double checking one cannot know which fiction is and which is fact. People must care about what they do, what they hear, what they read, and what they are told.

There has been a much disputed debate about whether or not rhetoric is used by people who have “something to hide” or whether it’s used for “statesmanship” (Nichols). However, now in today’s society there is another dimension to rhetoric that needs to be explored now more than ever; written rhetoric and oral rhetoric, so that one can understand the difference in appearance and reality. The realm of rhetoric is large and very powerful to those who can tap into it. The discussion of rhetoric and how it can affect reality is not new, classical rhetoric discussed the same concept, and it is time for those discussions to surface once again in our society. By looking at Bill Clinton’s 2012 DNC Speech and the first presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney one can see how classical and present day rhetoric play roles in the society of today. The problem is that voters pay more attention to the oral rhetoric and appearance instead of hearing the message and content of the speech. By exploring this, one can begin to see that there is a need to have the message, the written rhetoric, the oral rhetoric, and the appearance in order to be an effective orator and a master of rhetoric. Politicians must do their best to incorporate all of the above in order to achieve their goals and present the truth to the public, and the viewers must pay attention to the message of speeches and debates and not be distracted by the performance that is in front of them.

In a society where appearance is of the utmost importance it is easy for politicians and any speech makers to blind the audience to what they are truly saying.  The idea of appearance vs. reality has been around for years but it is possible that now as a society we are enabling our appearances to differ from our realities. There is the freedom to make one’s own decision, the decision to question what he/she is told or shown, the decision to believe what he/she wants. But maybe people have become lazy with this freedom; no longer holding accountability for his/her own rationale as well as for others. People need to choose to find the truth in all the obstruction of appearance and believe in that truth instead of believing anything they are shown or told. When images lie, words can tell the truth.


Work Cited:

Nicols, Mary P. “Aristotle’s Defense of Rhetoric.” The Journal of Politics, 49.3 (1987): 657-677. web.

Oxford Dictionaries. 2013. web. 22 February 2013.

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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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Dehumanization? It’s not as far-fetched as you think…

By: Kasey Lynn

Mark Slouka’s article “Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school” discusses the fact our society is becoming dehumanized. To an extent he tends to come at society with his guns cocked and fully loaded ready to shoot at anyone that even attempts to disagree with him (it’s a bit much). But his main points really are not far off from what our society really is doing.

We live in a society that continues to push aside the importance of humanities. We have senators that want to pass legislation that rewards and helps students choose “job ready majors” because they are more responsible than the students that choose non-job ready majors. And how convenient that the humanities fall in the category of non-job ready majors?

The humanities is not a popular field. At least not in today’s society.

As Slouka says, “what is taught, at any given time, in any culture, is an expression of what that culture considers important.” In today’s society fixing the economy is a top priority, which causes many people to throw the humanities out the window. Because of this Slouka claims that our society is focused more on the math and sciences, that our society cares more about “producing employees, not citizens.” With that focus, we are at the risk of turning our humans into machines, living life by rote and completing the same tasks over and over again, if this occurs, than we are dehumanizing our society, and we would be doing it willingly.

I think that Slouka may be pushing it a bit far because he goes to extreme to basically claim that no one at all cares about the humanities. I do not feel that our society is that bad, but I do agree that it seems our society is more focused on producing employees rather than citizens. The lack of consideration and understanding of what the humanities can do for people hurts our society.

The humanities teach people have to think. It teaches people how to have open minds and how to interact with others. It teaches us how to grow as individuals and how to grow as a community. A society needs people that have these abilities and this knowledge. A society needs a balance of math, science, and the humanities, an overdose of just math and science will not produce a productive and effective society.

The humanities are important. They are necessary. They create people with thoughts and ideas and opinions. If ideas don’t change or aren’t created then nothing will change. Progress comes from inspiration and inspiration comes from dreams and ideas. But if our society continues to choose math and science over the humanities, then how can these ideas and dreams continue to exist?

Literature creates a dream world and so does philosophy, talking about literature and philosophy creates ideas. These are two main areas of the humanities that are vital to creating people not machines. We live in a world where people hide behind machines, we live a world where the internet and online social networks control the interaction of people, if we continue to allow the humanities to slip away, and soon there will be no reason to connect with others because no one will have their own personalities or thoughts.

Slouka is a bit drastic in his thinking and I may have let myself go off on a tangent. The issue is not a life or death situation. But it certainly is a problem. And who knows, if the problem is not fixed soon then there is a possibility that years down the road it could be life or death because eventually generations will not have new ideas and will not know how to coexist and then more issues will arise.

The bottom line, we cannot live in a world without the humanities because we cannot live in a world without people. We are humans, we cannot, or at least we should dehumanize ourselves.

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Our Rhetorical Need

The Rhetoric Review is a journal that focuses on rhetoric and the way it has changed, as well as how different groups of people use it. It discusses the problems that rhetoric faces or has faced. It looks at current rhetoric and how it has changed due to our culture and due to different societal groups. Through the issues of the journal different trends have appeared. The following trends have been found in the Rhetoric Review from Volume 29 Issue 4 2010 to Volume 30 Issue 3 2011, discussion of cultural and societal issues of rhetoric, the growth of technology and its effect on rhetoric, learning and adapting rhetoric which can be done by looking at its history.

            The focus on cultural and societal issues is the trend that appeared in Volume 29 Issue 4. Two articles that stuck out were “Reading, Writing, and Redemption: Literary Sponsorship and the Mexican-American” and “Riding Out of Bounds: Women Bicyclists’ Embodied Medical Authority. It’s something to note that two groups that have struggled to be heard and have rights in America are now focusing on the use of rhetoric. I find it interesting that these groups have turned to the power of words to find their voices and be heard. Volume 30 Issue 3 also contained some articles that pertained to current cultural or societal issues that rhetoric now faces. Titles like “The God Strategy: How Religion became a Political Weapon in America” and “Identity Strategy Rhetorical Selves in Conversation” also display social issues; the issues of religion and finding ones identity. And in today’s society the issue of debate is always a heated one, claiming who is right or wrong is always how those debates end. The issue of identity is one that the media of our society has created, what is out or in, and who or what you should be is always changing, as is language and rhetoric. An interesting idea would be to look at rhetoric could be used to combat this.

            The next trend was that of technology. Technology has greatly influenced our society and in turn has influenced rhetoric. Volume 30 Issue 1 heavily focuses on technology. Articles like “Rhetoric and Technologies: New Directions in Writing and Communication” and “Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers” show the influence of technology in the rhetoric of today.  

            The final trend is that of learning from rhetoric and adapting it. Some articles pointed towards history to teach about rhetoric. Rhetoric has changed over time and articles from Volume 30 Issues 2 and 3,  in this journal such as; “A Return to being Reasonable”, “Why History?”, “The Female Monarchy: A Rhetorical Strategy of Early Modern Rule” display and discuss this. Rhetoric has evolved with time and experience and people need to understand the changes and learn how to adapt with them and use them. It’s also beneficial to look at history to gain insight on other ways to use rhetoric and to compare the issues the rhetoric faced then and now and how each time rhetoric was able to adapt and be carried on.

            These trends matter. Even to the people that do not study rhetoric or have no direct interest in it. The trends matter because rhetoric is part of our daily life.

Rhetoric is communication.

Communication is how we interact. Rhetoric incorporating social and cultural issues is beneficial because it shows that it is all inclusive and that the use of rhetoric can help solve issues. The acknowledgement of technology is also extremely important because technology has grown vastly in the last 10 years and its continuing to expand, tying technology and rhetoric together shows that rhetoric is not stuck in time, it can adapt as things change and shift. This too ties into the need to learn from rhetoric, where it has been, where it is at, and where it is going because rhetoric is how we speak, it’s how we persuade, it’s how we connect, and it’s how we are able to articulate our own thoughts, opinions, and ideas.

Rhetoric is language and without language what would our society really be?


Stop the Abuse

By: Kasey Lynn

The English major has been under fire for years. If it’s not one thing it’s another. People are always pointing fingers at someone and unfortunately English majors face that finger a lot. We take a lot of abuse. Many people tell me “Oh, so you’re going to try to teach?” or “So, you plan on working at McDonalds for the rest of your life?” once I tell them that I am English major (side note: I’ve never worked at McDonalds). But we can take the abuse because we have a better understanding of a lot more things than the average college major.

By doing the readings in The Use and Abuse of Literature by Marjorie Garber and by class discussions it certainly has become apparent to me of just how ambiguous the English major is. Now don’t get me wrong I was never one that would give a short and sweet definition for being an English major but the genuine vastness of the discipline is amazing. I love it!

I get bored easily. It’s easy for me to slip off into a daydream in a matter of seconds if what is being talked about or discussed doesn’t catch my attention. But in English it’s a bit harder to do that. (Not all of the discipline is that interesting but it’s a lot better than most).

The ambiguity of the English major is what makes it great! What other field can say that it encompasses small parts of almost all other disciplines. (Pretty much none.)  I believe this is the kind of the point that Garber is trying to make. There is a lot that goes into English there are different parts of English to look at and when just looking at literature alone there are many avenues one can take when analyzing it and talking about it. Garber talked about allusions for a whole section of a chapter and I am sure there is a lot more that can be said on allusions than what she said in a little over 8 pages. English is too large to be accurately defined and to some people that may be scary.

Maybe English majors learn too much and it causes others to fear our knowledge. Who knows? What I do know is that I love this discipline. Personally, I will be continuing on to Government and Politics, but even so, I would not change my major from English ever. It’s an enjoyable discipline that allows you to think and to build on what other great writers and critics have written and said. It teaches you how to think critically and analytically. It teaches you how to think on your own independent of other opinions especially those of society (English majors are not exempt from societal standards or morality we just have more freedom to exercise our thoughts). It teaches you what you need to know to catch things that other people overlook. It teaches you the right things.

Back to Garber, she notes that more and more reading groups have been popping up in our society as more and more people find that they miss reading, even those people that avoided reading in school and didn’t like English. These people are reading and many others are too. I think that it is important that she points this out. Currently we are living in a society that thinks English (and other liberal arts majors) are a waste of time, they’re not “job-ready” majors. Yet, at this time more and more people are joining books clubs. English is everywhere. It’s a discipline that can and will welcome anyone. People just have to open their arms and mind to it.

Everyone ends up joining us English nerds and books worms at some point in their life (even those who fight us).

The English discipline IS and forever will be ambiguous. Embrace it. Love it. Learn it. Read.

(Garber, Marjorie. The Use and Abuse of Literature. New York: First Anchor Books, 2011. print.)

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