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7.5: Rhetorical Criticism Summary

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    By now you have a more complex understanding of the term rhetoric and realize the distinction between the use of the term in the popular press and its meaning within the context of the Communication discipline. At a very basic level, you know that it refers to the process in which humans use symbols to communicate with one another. Moreover, you should know the contributions of classical and well as contemporary theorists to understanding human symbol use. As a way of knowing, rhetorical criticism provides scholars with a unique methodological tool for understanding communication. Through the contributions and paradigm shifts from classical to contemporary scholars, the scope of rhetorical criticism has been widened to include a variety of social events, acts, and artifacts that we encounter in our daily life. This method has a direct impact on our lives by informing us about the communicative options available to us when communicating with others in cultural, professional, personal and political contexts.


    1. What specific contributions did classical theorists make to the study of rhetoric?
    2. How have contemporary rhetorical theorists challenged the canon?
    3. Compare and contrast classical rhetorical theories versus contemporary ones.
    4. What idea has been at the center of most definitions of rhetoric? Do you think rhetoric should refer only to persuasion? What are the limits and advantages to such an approach?
    5. What role do you think the study of rhetoric can play in today’s social world? The political context?
    6. What are some examples of the use of classical rhetorical theory in contemporary rhetorical discourse?
    7. What sort of research question would you, as a scholar interested in the rhetoric of popular culture, ask?
    8. What might some of the limitations of rhetorical criticism as a method?
    9. What are the elements of Burke’s pentad? Give an example of how you would apply it to the study of a particular body of discourse.
    10. What kind of research question would you want to ask using the method of feminist criticism?


    • Afrocentric
    • Aristotle
    • Artifact
    • Aspasia of Miletus
    • Audience analysis
    • Canons
    • Cicero
    • Dialectic
    • Ethos
    • Fantasy Theme Criticism
    • Feminist Criticism
    • Humanism
    • Ideological Criticism
    • Logos
    • Narrative Criticism
    • Neo-Aristotelian Criticism
    • Pan Chao
    • Pathos
    • Pentadic Criticism
    • Persuasion
    • Plato
    • Postmodernism
    • Public Address
    • Quintillian
    • Rationalism
    • Rhetoric
    • Rhetorical Criticism
    • Social Constructionism
    • Socrates
    • Types of speeches

    Contributions and Affiliations

    • Survey of Communication Study. Authored by: Scott T Paynton and Linda K Hahn. Provided by: Humboldt State University. Located at: License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

    This page titled 7.5: Rhetorical Criticism Summary is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Scott T. Paynton & Laura K. Hahn with Humboldt State University Students.