Essay About Rhetoric



People told me that AP English in eleventh grade is the most difficult English Course I will ever take and I am scared. English has never been one of my stronger subjects and this years going to be a real challenge for me. Our first writing assignment of the year is a three page synthesis over chapters one and two of The Language of Composition textbook. Chapters one and two are 80 pages of extremely long, boring, confusing, and challenging information to understand. I am already regretting not doing all of the extra summer work provided by Mr. Hankins. I cannot be that far behind or can I?

Chapter 1:  An Introduction to Rhetoric goes into great detail about the different types of rhetoric appeals and situation and how to use them. Chapter 2: Close Reading will explain how to close read and the difference between analysis and close reading. The understanding of these two chapters are extremely important for the rest of the year, because these are the topics we are going to study most of the year and what I will be studying in future AP English courses. 

In Chapter one the author quotes the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle defines rhetoric as “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Shea 1).  Which means rhetoric is the art of persuading an audience in a speech or writing. Rhetoric is always stituational. Rhetoric could have an occasion, the time or place the text was written or spoken. The occasion was created within a specific context, the circumstances and events surrounding the text. Rhetoric will also have a purpose, which is what  the speaker wants to achieve.  Rhetorical situation is about the relationship between the speaker, the audience, and subject. 

The most important part of chapter one is rhetorical appeals. The rhetorical appeals are ethos, logos, and pathos according to Aristotle. In class ethos, logos, and pathos have been in every TED talk we have listened to. Which makes sense because speakers appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos. Speakers use ethos to form trust with their audience. When speaker use ethos they share common values with their audience. Speakers normally have to build ethos by explaining their background and values to their audience.

When they use logos, they have a main idea and use specific details, statistics, and other information to back their idea up. Logos can require a lot of research. Pathos is the appeal to emotions, values, and desires (Shea13). Even though arguments that show emotion are considerate weak, speakers need to have enough emotion in their speeches to evoke their audiences emotions. You can also use pathos by using imagery in your writing. A picture can say a lot more than anything written on paper. Most “good” authors use not just one rhetorical appeal but all three, ethos, logos, and pathos, in their writings. All of three of the rhetorical appeals are bounded together. 

Chapter 2: Close Reading, is about the art and craft of analysis. The chapter starts out by explaining that teachers can read the same book every year because books have different layers to them with different meanings. In order to effectively close read, the reader must read and then reread the text. When close readings you must talk with the text. Talking with the text is asking questions by interrogating the author's choices. Annotating is another close reading technique. I was taught annotating was circling, underlining, and boxing in sentences or phrases I found interesting or stood out. But annotating is circling words you do not know, identifying the author’s thesis, main ideas, and sentences that appeal to you.

 As I read through chapter two the author starts moving her focus from close reading to analysis. I had to read and reread this section multiple times, because I could not wrap my head around the concept of analysis. From what I took away from the textbook analysis and close meaning are extremely similar. In close reading the reader takes away the main idea of the text and can basically summarize the text to anyone. Analysis is rereading the text after close reading it and pulling out information examining it even closer than you did when you closed read. Chapter two ended with explaining how to write a close analysis essay. 

The first step in writing a close analysis essay is developing a thesis statement. This will help with staying focus on the topic being talked about. I can take away many things from chapters one and two but one thing is authors put a lot of thought into what they say in order to get the right reaction from their audience. 

As I read through the first two chapters of The Language of Composition textbook, I attempted to understand rhetoric, rhetoric appeals, close reading, and analysis. I only understood the concept of close reading and annotating. My understanding of rhetoric appeals and reading analysis is still extremely shaking, but I know and understand little amounts of all of them. But with more studying and practice I will get there one day and be able to use and explain rhetoric and rhetorical analysis.   

Moving into the school year, I now have somewhat of an understanding of the information covered in chapter one and two. Now in class when Mr. Hankins starts talking about ethos, logos, and pathos that occur in TED talks I will not be totally loss. I may actually understand what is going on.