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Exploring Rhetoric

Exploring Rhetoric on its own may seem all too complex. We can start by looking at the term Rhetoric itself. For one single term, Rhetoric can relate to multiple different things. Merriam-Webster gives a perfect example on how Rhetoric is not just one single definition term:

  1.  the art of speaking or writing effectively
  2. the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times
  3. the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
  4. skill in the effective use of speech
  5. a type or mode of language or speech

What’s Rhetoric?

What really is Rhetoric then? if there is such a broad definition to the term, what exactly is it? It is easy to see that Rhetoric can be traced back to the beginning of human civilization referring to; the study and uses of written. spoken and visual language. Not only is Rhetoric a broad term it also contains certain categories that go along with it. Categories such as: methods, function, purpose and even teachers of rhetoric.

However, according to Bizzell and Herzberg, ““Rhetoric is a complex discipline with a long history: It is less helpful to try to define it once and for all than to look at the many definitions it has accumulated over the years and to attempt to understand how each arose and how each still inhabits and shapes the field” This definition is easier to understand- the way Rhetoric has changed over time but also overlaps each form of rhetoric, intertwining all of the definitions into one.

Digital Rhetoric

How does digital Rhetoric distinguishe from “rhetoric” then? This may seem like a challenging question, but everyone uses it every single day in the modern world. According to an article in the Michigan Press: “digital rhetoric as similar to visual rhetoric in the sense that a focus outside of the tradition of written and spoken argument broadens the available opportunities to apply rhetorical theory to new objects of study. ” In more simple terms, digital rhetoric is not all that complicated. Think of digital rhetoric as technology; text, images, computers, videos etc. It is a form of communication that requires our fingers, typing skills etc. Digital Rhetoric is a ” newer” form of rhetoric dating back to the late 80s when digital items were becoming more popular. Today however, most people in the world communicate through digital rhetoric every single day.


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