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Kelli Gemmer WEPO MW 2-3:15 SSR 2 (Covino & Jolliffe) The subject of this article by Covino and Jolliffe is rhetoric and what rhetoric is. This is the very first thing that is read besides the title and quotes from others on their definition of rhetoric. The authors regard rhetoric as “the manipulation of linguistic features of a text” (4) and the opposite of truth. They also talk about different types of rhetoric. One of those types being philosophical rhetoric, which deals more with exploring ways of knowing and defining a subject (7). One example of this was the “double-entry notebook” where students go back and look at their previous writing and critique it. I find this extremely interesting and helpful to all writers. It allows you to get a fresh look on your writing and see your improvement. Another key point in this article is that rhetoric is not logic, dialect, or poetics. One key theme of the entire article is that rhetoric is the art of knowledge-making. Teachers in antiquity named the purposes of rhetorical communications as to teach, to please, and to move. This and the major elements of rhetorical theory are extremely important to the article and the understanding of rhetoric. Rhetorical situation, the audience, the pisteis (proofs) and the five canons of rhetoric (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery) are the major elements of rhetorical theory and a huge part of the majority of this article. One line that really jumped out to me in the article was on page 4 where it said “rhetor selects and configures language so that certain terms are privileged and endorsed, and others are ignored”. This clears up a lot of confusion that I had about rhetoric. Previously, I thought that rhetoric was simply a tool of persuasion and in a way is but its more complex than that. It is, as the quote says, about highlighting certain words and phrases using language to convince the reader of what the speaker believes to be the truth, not necessarily what the truth is. Basically, the reader is getting fooled. They may be getting all the information but the speaker uses his language to endorse his opinions instead of letting the reader decide his own opinions about the subject. Later in the article, Covino and Jolliffe define rhetorical truth as “something achieved transactionally among the rhetor and the auditors whenever they come to some shared understanding, knowledge, or belief” (7). An interesting section of this piece was when Covino and Jolliffe mentioned Bitzer’s “Rhetorical Situation” article. They continue to explain how some people regard his article as too “passive”. Richard Vatz in counters Bitzer, saying “a situation becomes rhetorical only when a speaker or writer evokes an audience within a text, embodies an exigence within the text, that the evoked audience is led to respond to, handles the constraints in such a way that the audience is convinced that they are true or valid” (12). Through this explanation, Vatz uses the same elements of Bitzer’s piece (like exigence, audience, and constraints), but uses different concepts to describe these elements. Vatz says that these elements are just there, that the writer doesn’t just stumble upon them through writing. The writer chooses to activate them through the knowledge-making of rhetor. Covino and Jolliffe pose a different explanation about rhetoric. Instead of rhetoric being an element that shapes the text, Covino and Jolliffe pose that it is the study of knowledgemaking. In other words, it is how you select to feature the content of the text, making it an important tool for special-interest groups.


Kelli Gemmer WEPO MW 2-3:15 SSR 2 (Covino & Jolliffe)

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