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draft help for Three

I have 3 analysis short essays to be completed: Fantasy Theme analysis, Generic analysis, and ideological analysis, i attached the textbook and also all the instruction for each analysis essays that is 1.5 pages length each. 

Fantasy Theme analysis

In chapter 5, Foss explains that rhetorical visions are comprised of a collection of fantasy-themes organized into an over-arching narrative.  


For this assignment, select and read ONE of the following sample essays:  
Mendoza’s “Coping with Loss: U2’s ‘One Tree Hill’ (p. 132) 
Wells’s “Fantasy Theme Analysis of Nixon’s ‘Checkers’ Speech” located here:  


Select one rhetorical vision discussed in the essay  and then write a 1.5 – 2 page essay in which you:

[1] identify the main fantasy-themes associated with the vision (noting whether the themes are setting themes, character themes, or action themes) and 
[2] tell the story of the rhetorical vision (for example you might begin with, “One bright day we will…” or “Once long ago…”).  Briefly narrate the story in your own words.

Generic analysis 

In chapter 7, Foss writes that rhetorical genres are identified by three different types of features: situational features, substantive features, and stylistic features. 

For this assignment, select and read ONE of the following sample essays: 
Joshua Carlisle Harzman’s “Banksy at Disneyland: Generic Participation in Culture Jamming” (p. 229) 

“Family Photos: A Genre Description” located here

Ideological analysis

In chapter 8,  Foss notes that rhetorical discourse typically includes ideological content regardless of the presumed subject matter of the discourse. 

For this assignment, select and read ONE of the following essays: 
Dickinson, Ott, and Aoki’s “Memory and Myth at the Buffalo Bill Museum” (p. 253) or
Ndiaye’s “Cyber Ideology” (p. 273)

draft help for Three

Fifth Edition


Exploration and Practice

Sonja K. Foss
University of Colorado at Denver


Long Grove, Illinois

Foss-RC 5E.book Page i Monday, June 19, 2017 2:08 PM

For information about this book, contact:
Waveland Press, Inc.
4180 IL Route 83, Suite 101
Long Grove, IL 60047-9580
(847) 634-0081

Copyright © 2018 by Waveland Press, Inc.

10-digit ISBN 1-4786-3489-8
13-digit ISBN 978-1-4786-3489-8

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval sys-
tem, or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from
the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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Preface ix


1 The Nature of Rhetorical Criticism 3
Rhetoric 3

Humans as the Creators of Rhetoric 4
Symbols as the Medium for Rhetoric 4
Communication as the Purpose of Rhetoric 5

Rhetorical Criticism 6
Systematic Analysis as the Act of Criticism 6
Acts and Artifacts as the Objects of Criticism 6
Understanding Rhetorical Processes as the Purpose of Criticism 7

2 Doing Rhetorical Criticism 9
Selecting an Artifact 9
Analyzing the Artifact 10
Formulating a Research Question 11
Reviewing Relevant Literature 13

Identifying the Literature to Review 13
Coding the Literature 15
Creating a Conceptual Schema 16
Writing the Literature Review 17

Writing the Essay 18
Introduction 18
Description of the Artifact 19
Description of the Method 20
Report of the Findings of the Analysis 20
Contribution to Rhetorical Theory 21


iv Contents

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Applying the Analysis in Activism 22
Assessing the Essay 24

Justification 25
Reasonable Inference 25
Coherence 26

What Comes Next 26

3 Neo-Aristotelian Criticism: Genesis of Rhetorical Criticism 29
Procedures 32

Selecting an Artifact 32
Analyzing the Artifact 32
Formulating a Research Question 36
Writing the Essay 36

Sample Essays 36
Conventional Wisdom—Traditional Form—

The President’s Message of November 3, 1969 38
Forbes Hill

Laying the Foundations of Power: A Neo-Aristotelian Analysis
of Jiang Zemin’s Address at the Handover of Hong Kong 50

Andrew Gilmore

Critical Approaches

4 Cluster Criticism 61
Procedures 63

Selecting an Artifact 64
Analyzing the Artifact 64
Formulating a Research Question 68
Writing the Essay 68

Sample Essays 68
Crisis Leadership and Hurricane Katrina: The Portrayal of Authority

by the Media in Natural Disasters 70
Robert S. Littlefield and Andrea M. Quenette

An Invitation to Reopen Debate: Jimmy Carter’s Speech
at Brandeis University 89

Mary E. Domenico

Artifact: Speech by Jimmy Carter 95

A Rhetoric of Reassurance: A Cluster Analysis of Jiang Zemin’s
Address at the Handover of Hong Kong 99

Andrew Gilmore

Contents v

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5 Fantasy-Theme Criticism 105
Procedures 109

Selecting an Artifact 109
Analyzing the Artifact 110
Formulating a Research Question 115
Writing the Essay 115

Sample Essays 115
Rhetorical Visions of Health: A Fantasy-Theme Analysis

of Celebrity Articles 117
Amanda Hinnant and Elizabeth Hendrickson

Coping with Loss: U2’s “One Tree Hill” 132
Kelly Mendoza

Reassurance Through Normalization:
A Fantasy-Theme Analysis of Jiang Zemin’s Address
at the Handover of Hong Kong 135

Andrew Gilmore

6 Feminist Criticism 141
Procedures 146

Selecting an Artifact 146
Analyzing the Artifact 147
Formulating a Research Question 154
Writing the Essay 154

Sample Essays 155
“The Man for His Time”: The Big Lebowski as

Carnivalesque Social Critique 158
Paul “Pablo” Martin and Valerie Renegar

Americanizing Gay Parents:
A Feminist Analysis of Daddy’s Roommate 170

Dara R. Krause, See Vang, and Shonagh L. Brent

The Enactment of Advanced Style:
Strategies Fashioned to Disrupt the Ideology of Aging 174

Karen A. Foss, Sonja K. Foss, and Yufang Zhang

7 Generic Criticism 179
Procedures 183

Selecting an Artifact 183
Analyzing the Artifact 184
Formulating a Research Question 190
Writing the Essay 190

Sample Essays 190
Dismantling the Guitar Hero?

A Case of Prodused Parody and Disarmed Subversion 194
Jörgen Skågeby

The Transference of Power: A Generic Description
of Handover Rhetoric 207

Andrew Gilmore

vi Contents

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Artifact: Speech by Jiang Zemin 215

Artifact: Speech by Barack Obama 216

Artifact: Speech by Pope Francis 219

Beauty in Conflict: Discussion on Art 222
Danielle Montoya

Artifact: Photograph by Ansel Adams 222

Banksy at Disneyland: Generic Participation in Culture Jamming 229
Joshua Carlisle Harzman

8 Ideological Criticism 237
Procedures 242

Selecting an Artifact 242
Analyzing the Artifact 243
Formulating a Research Question 248
Writing the Critical Essay 248

Sample Essays 248
Memory and Myth at the Buffalo Bill Museum 253
Greg Dickinson, Brian L. Ott, and Eric Aoki

Artifacts: Photographs of Buffalo Bill Museum

Cyber Ideology: An Ideological Criticism of the
UNICEF, UNAIDS, and UNFPA Websites 273

Khadidiatou Ndiaye

Legitimation of an Unwanted Transition: Jiang Zemin’s
Ideology to Legitimize the Handover of Hong Kong 280

Andrew Gilmore

9 Metaphoric Criticism 285
Procedures 289

Selecting an Artifact 289
Analyzing the Artifact 290
Formulating a Research Question 294
Writing the Essay 294

Sample Essays 294
Hugo Chávez and the Building of

His Self-Image Through Metaphor 297
Isabel Negro Alousque

Architectural Metaphor as Subversion: The Portland Building 310
Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson

Artifact: Building by Michael Graves 311

Contents vii

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Reframing an Unwanted Transition:
A Metaphoric Analysis of Jiang Zemin’s
Address at the Handover of Hong Kong 314

Andrew Gilmore

10 Narrative Criticism 319
Procedures 323

Selecting an Artifact 323
Analyzing the Artifact 325
Formulating a Research Question 337
Writing the Essay 338

Sample Essays 338
“You Don’t Play, You Volunteer”: Narrative Public

Memory Construction in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun 342
Aaron Hess

Facilitating Openness to Difference: A Narrative Analysis of
Leslie Marmon Silko’s Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit 357

Laura S. More, Randi Boyd, Julie Bradley, and Erin Harris

To Ensure a Smooth and Successful Transition:
A Narrative Analysis of Jiang Zemin’s
Address at the Handover of Hong Kong 361

Andrew Gilmore

11 Pentadic Criticism 367
Procedures 369

Selecting an Artifact 369
Analyzing the Artifact 369
Formulating a Research Question 379
Writing the Essay 380

Sample Essays 380
Fahrenheit 9/11’s Purpose-Driven Agents:

A Multipentadic Approach to Political Entertainment 382
Samantha Senda-Cook

The Construction of Agency as a Cause for Recall:
A Pentadic Analysis of Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker’s Victory Speech 403

Rachael Shaff

Artifact: Speech by Scott Walker 405

Circumvention of Power: A Pentadic Analysis of
Jiang Zemin’s Address at the Handover of Hong Kong 407

Andrew Gilmore

viii Contents

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12 Generative Criticism 411
Encountering a Curious Artifact 411
Coding the Artifact 413
Searching for an Explanation 420
Creating an Explanatory Schema 422

Talking with Someone 424
Introducing Random Stimulation 425
Shifting Focus 426
Reversing 427
Questioning 427
Applying Aristotle’s Topics 428
Applying Metaphors 428

Assessing the Explanatory Schema 430
Formulating a Research Question 431
Coding the Artifact in Detail 432
Searching the Literature 433
Writing the Essay 433
Sample Essays 435

Toward a Theory of Agentic Orientation:
Rhetoric and Agency in Run Lola Run 438

Sonja K. Foss, William J. C. Waters, and Bernard J. Armada

Coding for Coping with Fatal Illness 459

Coping with Fatal Illness: Avery’s Bucket List as Reality Television 467
Rachael L. Thompson Kuroiwa

Romancing the Chinese Identity:
Rhetorical Strategies Used to Facilitate
Identification in the Handover of Hong Kong 476

Andrew Gilmore

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Rhetorical criticism is not a process confined to a few assignments in a rhe-
torical or media criticism course. It is an everyday activity we can use to
understand our responses to symbols of all kinds and to create symbols of our
own that generate the kinds of responses we intend. I hope this book not only
provides guidelines for understanding and practicing critical analysis but also
conveys the excitement and fun that characterize the process.

I am grateful to a number of people who assisted me in various ways with
earlier editions of this book: Bernard J. Armada, Ernest G. Bormann, Kim-
berly C. Elliott, Richard Enos, Karen A. Foss, Cindy L. Griffin, Sara E.
Hayden, Richard L. Johannesen, Laura K. Hahn, D. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein,
Kellie Hay, Michelle A. Holling, Gordana Lazić, Xing Lu, Debian L. Marty,
Clarke Rountree, Diana Brown Sheridan, Robert Trapp, and William Waters.
Their gifts of time, energy, and support have contributed immeasurably to
making this book what it is today. This book is also a product of the questions,
insights, and essays of criticism of the students in my rhetorical criticism
courses at the University of Denver, the University of Oregon, Ohio State Uni-
versity, and the University of Colorado Denver.

This edition of the book has benefited from sage advice from four scholars
and colleagues. Karen A. Foss read all of the chapters and provided her usual
valuable substantive and stylistic advice. Two of my colleagues at the Univer-
sity of Colorado Denver, Lisa Keränen, and Amy A. Hasinoff, read the chapter
on narrative criticism and helped me move into the digital world of storytell-
ing. Barry Brummett helped me sort through the method of homology, which
is part of the discussion in the chapter on generic criticism.

I also appreciate the scholars whose essays I have included as samples of
the methods for their willingness to share their critical essays; their excellent
models of criticism both enrich and clarify the approaches they illustrate.
Andrew Gilmore deserves a special note of thanks for his contributions to this
edition of the book. He is the author of nine sample essays in the book, in
which he applied different methods to the same artifact to help demonstrate
what each method reveals and conceals. Little did he know, when he wrote his


x Preface

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first essay of criticism in my rhetorical criticism class in 2014, that he would
be recruited to be involved in this project. He tackled each essay with enthusi-
asm, sophisticated critical skills, and unwavering dedication. Neil Rowe and
Carol Rowe, my amazing publishers, provided their usual enthusiastic sup-
port, freedom, and just the right amount of prodding to produce this revision.
My husband, Anthony J. Radich, himself a superb rhetorical critic, contrib-
uted to this project constant good humor, support, and love.


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The Nature of Rhetorical Criticism

We live our lives enveloped in symbols. How we perceive, what we know,
what we experience, and how we act are the result of the symbols we create
and the symbols we encounter in the world. We watch movies, television
series, and YouTube videos; listen to speeches by political candidates; notice
ads on billboards and buses; choose furniture and works of art for our apart-
ments and houses; and talk with friends and family. As we do, we engage in a
process of thinking about symbols, discovering how they work, and trying to
figure out why they affect us. We choose to communicate in particular ways
based on what we have discovered. This process is called rhetorical criticism,
and this book provides an opportunity for you to develop skills in the process
and to explore the theory behind it.

A useful place to start in the study of rhetorical criticism is with an under-

standing of what rhetoric is. Many of the common uses of the word rhetoric
have negative connotations. The term often is used to mean empty, bombastic
language that has no substance. Political candidates and governmental offi-
cials often call for “action not rhetoric” from their opponents or from the
leaders of other nations. The term is also used to mean “spin” or deception of
the kind we associate with the selling of used cars. In other instances, rhetoric
is used to mean flowery, ornamental speech laden with metaphors and other
figures of speech. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream” might
be considered to be an example of this kind of rhetoric. None of these concep-
tions is how the term rhetoric is used in rhetorical criticism, and none of these
definitions is how the term has been defined throughout its long history as a
discipline dating back to the fifth century BC. In these contexts, rhetoric is
defined as the human use of symbols to communicate. This definition
includes three primary dimensions: (1) humans as the creators of rhetoric; (2)
symbols as the medium for rhetoric; and (3) communication as the purpose
for rhetoric.


4 Chapter One

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Humans as the Creators of Rhetoric
Rhetoric involves symbols created and used by humans. Some people

debate whether or not symbol use is a characteristic that distinguishes
humans from all other species of animals, pointing to research with chimpan-
zees and gorillas in which these animals have been taught to communicate
using signs. As far as we know, humans are the only animals who create a sub-
stantial part of their reality through the use of symbols. Every symbolic choice
we make results in seeing the world one way rather than another. When we
change the symbols we use to frame an event, our experience of the event is
altered. Thus, rhetoric is traditionally limited to the human rhetor as the orig-
inator or creator of messages. Rhetor is a term you will be encountering fre-
quently in this book. A rhetor is the creator of a message—the speaker,
musician, painter, website designer, blogger, filmmaker, or writer, for exam-
ple—who generates symbols for audiences.

Symbols as the Medium for Rhetoric
A second primary concept in the definition of rhetoric is that rhetoric

involves symbols rather than signs. A symbol is something that stands for or
represents something else by virtue of relationship, association, or conven-
tion. Symbols are distinguished from signs by the degree of direct connection
to the object represented. Smoke is a sign that fire is present, which means
that there is a direct relationship between the fire and the smoke. Similarly,
the changing color of the leaves in autumn is a sign that winter is coming; the
color is a direct indicator of a drop in temperature. A symbol, by contrast, is a
human construction connected only indirectly to its referent. The word cup,
for example, has no natural relationship to an open container for beverages. It
is a symbol invented by someone who wanted to refer to this kind of object; it
could have been called a fish, for example. The selection of the word cup to
refer to a particular kind of container is arbitrary.

The following example illustrates the distinction between a symbol and a
sign. Imagine someone who does not exercise regularly agreeing to play ten-
nis for the first time in many years. Following the match, he tells his partner
that he is out of shape and doesn’t have much stamina. The man is using sym-
bols to explain to his partner how he is feeling, to suggest the source of his dis-
comfort, and perhaps to rationalize his poor performance. The man also
experiences an increased heart rate, a red face, and shortness of breath, but
these changes in his bodily condition are not conscious choices. They commu-
nicate to his partner, just as his words do, but they are signs directly con-
nected to his physical condition. Thus, they are not rhetorical. Only his
conscious use of symbols to communicate a particular condition is rhetorical.

The intertwining of signs and symbols is typical of human communication.
For instance, a tree standing in a forest is not a symbol. It does not stand for
something else; it simply is a tree. The tree could become a symbol, however, if
someone chooses it to communicate an idea. It could be used in environmen-
tal advocacy efforts as a symbol of the destruction of redwood forests, for
example, or as a symbol of Jesus’s birth when it is used as a Christmas tree.

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Humans use all sorts of nonrhetorical objects in rhetorical ways, turning them
into symbols in the process.

Although rhetoric often involves the deliberate and conscious choice of
symbols to communicate with others, actions not deliberately constructed by
rhetors also can be interpreted symbolically. Humans often choose to interpret
something rhetorically that the rhetor did not intend to be symbolic. Someone
can choose to give an action or an object symbolic value, even though it was
not intended as part of the message. In such cases, the meaning received is
often quite different from what the creator of the message intends. When the
United States deliberately deploys an aircraft carrier off the coast of North
Korea, it has performed a rhetorical action to warn Pyongyang not to continue
with its testing of nuclear weapons. Both sides read the message symbolically,
and there is no doubt about the meaning. If a U.S. reconnaissance plane acci-
dentally strays over North Korea without the purpose of communicating any-
thing to North Korea, however, the pilot is not engaged in rhetorical action. In
this case, however, the North Koreans can choose to interpret the event sym-
bolically and take retaliatory action against the United States. Any action,
whether intended to communicate or not, can be interpreted rhetorically by
those who experience or encounter it.

The variety of forms that symbols can assume is broad. Rhetoric is not
limited to written and spoken discourse; in fact, speaking and writing make
up only a small part of our rhetorical environment. Rhetoric, then, includes
nondiscursive or nonverbal symbols as well as discursive or verbal ones.
Speeches, essays, conversations, poetry, novels, stories, comic books, graphic
novels, websites, blogs, fanzines, television programs, films and videos, video
games, art, architecture, plays, music, dance, advertisements, furniture, auto-
mobiles, and dress are all forms of rhetoric.

Communication as the Purpose of Rhetoric
A third component of the definition of rhetoric is that its purpose is com-

munication. Symbols are used for communicating with others or oneself. For
many people, the term rhetoric is synonymous with communication. The
choice of whether to use the term rhetoric or the term communication to
describe the process of exchanging meaning is largely a personal one, often
stemming from the tradition of inquiry in which a scholar is grounded. Indi-
viduals trained in social scientific perspectives on symbol use often prefer the
term communication, while those who study symbol use from more humanis-
tic perspectives tend to use the term rhetoric.

Rhetoric functions in a variety of ways to allow humans to communicate
with one another. In some cases, we use rhetoric in an effort to persuade oth-
ers—to encourage others to change in some way. In other instances, rhetoric
is an invitation to understanding—we offer our perspectives and invite others
to enter our worlds so they can understand us and our perspectives better.1

Sometimes, we use rhetoric simply as a means of self-discovery or to come to
self-knowledge. We may articulate thoughts or feelings out loud to ourselves
or in a journal and, in doing so, come to know ourselves better and perhaps
make different choices in our lives.

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Another communicative function that rhetoric performs is that it con-
structs reality. Reality is not fixed but changes according to the symbols we
use to talk about it. What we count as real or as knowledge about the world
depends on how we choose to label and talk about things. This does not mean
that things do not really exist—that this book, for example, is simply a figment
of your imagination. Rather, the symbols through which our realities are fil-
tered affect our view of the book and how we are motivated to act toward it.
The frameworks and labels we choose to apply to what we encounter influ-
ence our perceptions and interpretations of what we experience and thus the
kinds of worlds in which we live. Is someone an alcoholic or morally
depraved? Is a child misbehaved or suffering from ADD? Is an unexpected situ-
ation a struggle or an adventure? Is a coworker’s behavior irritating or eccen-
tric? The choices we make in terms of how to approach these situations are
critical in determining the nature and outcome of the experiences we have
regarding them.

Rhetorical Criticism
The process you will be using for engaging in the study of rhetoric is rhe-

torical criticism. It is a qualitative research method that is designed for the
systematic investigation and explanation of symbolic acts and artifacts for the
purpose of understanding rhetorical processes. This definition includes three
primary dimensions: (1) systematic analysis as the act of criticism; (2) acts
and artifacts as the objects of analysis in criticism; and (3) understanding rhe-
torical processes as the purpose of criticism.

Systematic Analysis as the Act of Criticism
We are responding to symbols continually, and as we encounter symbols,

we try to figure out how they are working and why they affect us as they do.
We tend to respond to these symbols—like movies or songs—by saying “I like
it” or “I don’t like it.” The process of rhetorical criticism involves engaging in
this natural process in a more conscious, systematic, and focused way.
Through the study and practice of rhetorical criticism, we can understand and
explain why we like or don’t like something by investigating the symbols them-
selves—we can begin to make statements about messages rather than state-
ments about our feelings. We engage in more disciplined and mindful
interpretations of the symbols around us. Rhetorical criticism, then, enables
us to become more sophisticated and discriminating in explaining, investigat-
ing, and understanding symbols and our responses to them.

Acts and Artifacts as the Objects of Criticism
The objects of study in rhetorical criticism are symbolic acts and artifacts.

An act is executed in the presence of a rhetor’s intended audience—a speech
or a musical performance presented to a live audience, for example. Because
an act tends to be fleeting and ephemeral, analysis of it is difficult, so many
rhetorical critics prefer to study the artifact of an act—the text, trace, or tangi-
ble evidence of the act. When a rhetorical act is transcribed and printed,

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posted on a website, recorded on video, or preserved on canvas, it becomes a
rhetorical artifact that is accessible to a wider audience than the one that wit-
nessed the rhetorical act. Both acts and artifacts are objects of rhetorical criti-
cism. But because most critics use the tangible product as the basis for
criticism—a speech text, a building, a Facebook page, a blog, a sculpture, or a
recorded song, for example—the term artifact will be used in this book to refer
to the object of study. The use of the term is not meant to exclude acts from
your investigation but to provide a consistent and convenient way to talk
about the object of criticism.2

Understanding Rhetorical Processes as the Purpose of Criticism
The process of rhetorical criticism often begins with an interest in under-

standing particular symbols and how they operate. A critic may be interested
in a particular kind of symbol use or a particular rhetorical artifact—the
Holocaust Museum in Washington DC or Adele’s music, for example—and
engages in criticism to deepen appreciation and understanding of that arti-
fact. Critics of popular culture such as restaurant, television, theatre, film, and
music critics are these kinds of critics—they tend to be most interested in
understanding the particular experience of the restaurant or film they are
reviewing. But criticism undertaken primarily to comment on a particular
artifact tends not to be “enduring; its importance and its functions are imme-
diate and ephemeral.”3 Once the historical situation has been forgotten or the
rhetor or artifact is no longer the center of the public’s attention, such criti-
cism no longer serves a useful purpose if it has been devoted exclusively to an
understanding of a particular artifact.

In contrast to critics of popular culture, rhetorical critics do not study an
artifact for its qualities and features alone. Rhetorical critics are interested in
discovering what an artifact teaches about the nature of rhetoric—in other
words, critics engage in rhetorical criticism to make a contribution to rhetori-
cal theory.4 Theory is a tentative answer to a question we pose as we seek to
understand the world. It is a set of general clues, generalizations, or principles
that explains a process or phenomenon and thus helps to answer the question
we asked. We are all theorists in our everyday lives, developing explanations
for what is happening in our worlds based on our experiences and observa-
tions. If a friend never returns your calls, emails, or texts, for example, you
might come to the conclusion—or develop the theory—that the friendship is
over. You have asked yourself a question about the state of the friendship, col-
lected some evidence (made calls and sent emails and texts and observed that
they were not returned), and reached a tentative conclusion or claim (that the
other person no longer wishes to be your friend).

In rhetorical criticism, the theorizing that critics do deals with explana-
tions about how rhetoric works. A critic asks a question about a rhetorical
process or phenomenon and how it works and provides a tentative answer to
the question. This answer does not have to be fancy, formal, or complicated. It
simply involves identifying some of the basic concepts involved in a rhetorical
phenomenon or process and explaining how they work. Admittedly, the theory
that results is based on limited evidence—in many cases, one artifact. But

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even the study of one artifact allows you to step back from the details of a par-
ticular artifact to take a broader view of it and to draw some conclusions
about what it suggests concerning some process of rhetoric.

The process of rhetorical criticism does not end with a contribution to the-
ory. Theories about rhetorical criticism enable us to develop a cumulative
body of research and thus to improve our practice of communication. The
final outcome of rhetorical criticism is an improvement of our abilities as
communicators. As a rhetorical critic, you implicitly suggest how more effec-
tive symbol use may be accomplished. In suggesting some theoretical princi-
ples about how rhetoric operates, you provide principles or guidelines for
those of us who want to communicate in more self-reflective ways and to con-
struct messages that best accomplish our goals.5 As a result of our study of
these principles, we should be more skilled, discriminating, and sophisticated
in our efforts to communicate in our talk with our friends and families, in the
decoration of our homes and offices, in our online behavior, in the choices we
make about the clothing we wear, and in our efforts to present our ideas at
school or at work.

Knowing how rhetoric operates also can help make us more sophisticated
audience members for messages. When we understand the various options
available to rhetors in the construction of messages and how they create the
effects they do, we are able to question the choices others make in their use of
symbols. We are less inclined to accept existing rhetorical practices and to
respond uncritically to the messages we encounter. As a result, we become
more engaged and active participants in shaping the nature of the worlds in
which we live.

1 This function for rhetoric was suggested by Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin in their theory of

invitational rhetoric: Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin, “Beyond Persuasion: A Proposal for an
Invitational Rhetoric,” Communication Monographs 62 (March 1995): 2–18. Also see Sonja K.
Foss and Karen A. Foss, Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World,
3rd ed. (Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2012).

2 This distinction is suggested by Kathleen G. Campbell, “Enactment as a Rhetorical Strategy/
Form in Rhetorical Acts and Artifacts,” Diss. University of Denver 1988, 25–29.

3 Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, “Criticism: Ephemeral and Enduring,” Speech Teacher 23 (January
1974): 11.

4 More elaborate discussions of rhetorical criticism as theory building can be found in: Roderick
P. Hart, “Forum: Theory-Building and Rhetorical Criticism: An Informal Statement of Opin-
ion,” Central States Speech Journal 27 (Spring 1976): 70–77; Richard B. Gregg, “The Criticism
of Symbolic Inducement: A Critical-Theoretical Connection,” in Speech Communication in the
20th Century, ed. Thomas W. Benson (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985),
42–43; and Campbell, “Criticism,” 11–14.

5 Discussions of rhetorical criticism to increase the effectiveness of communication can be found
in: Robert Cathcart, Post Communication: Criticism and Evaluation (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Mer-
rill, 1966), 3, 6–7, 12; and Edwin Black, Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method (Madison: Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 9.

Foss-RC 5E.book Page 9 Monday, June 19, 2017 2:08 PM


Doing Rhetorical Criticism

The definitions of the terms rhetoric and rhetorical criticism in chapter 1 have
provided a starting place for understanding rhetorical criticism. Knowledge
about what rhetorical criticism is does not automatically translate into the
ability to do criticism, however. This chapter is designed to provide you with
an overview of the actual process of producing an essay of criticism.

Because this textbook is a first experience with rhetorical criticism for
many of you, you probably will feel mor