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Rhetoric and Composition


The Canons of Rhetoric (Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University)
This website has an extensive collection of resources, from definitions of rhetorical terms to examples of rhetorical analyses to timelines of key rhetoricians and their work.

Elements of Rhetorical Situations (Purdue OWL)
An introduction to the five central elements of a rhetorical situation: the text, the author, the audience, the purpose(s) and the setting.

Rhetorical Awareness and User-Centered Design (Purdue OWL)
“This section outlines the concepts of rhetorical awareness and user-centered design, provides examples of these ideas, and it contains a glossary of terms.”

Rhetorical Situations (Purdue OWL)
“Understanding and being able to analyze rhetorical situations can help contribute to strong, audience-focused, and organized writing. The PowerPoint presentation in the Media box above is suitable for any classroom and any writing task. The resource below explains in more detail how to analyze rhetorical situations.”

Scholarly Definitions of Rhetoric (American Rhetoric)
Definitions of “rhetoric” by rhetoricians and writing scholars from various time periods.

What is rhetoric? (Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University)
A brief overview of rhetoric’s definition and origin.


Aristotle’s Rhetorical Situation (Purdue OWL)
“Many people have heard of the rhetorical concepts of logos, ethos, and pathos even if they do not necessarily know what they fully mean. These three terms, along with kairos and telos, were used by Aristotle to help explain how rhetoric functions. In ancient Greece, these terms corresponded with basic components that all rhetorical situations have.” This resource provides definitions of these key terms.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos: The Rhetorical Triangle (Oklahoma City Community College Writing Center) (PDF)
A one-page handout that explains Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle with definitions, key questions, and examples.

Rogerian Argument (Joseph M. Moxley, Writing Commons)
A very extensive guide to the Rogerian Argument that emphasizes its practical uses in resolving disputes.

The Toulmin Method (Writing@CSU)
“When learning written argument, it is always helpful to observe how others argue effectively or ineffectively. The Toulmin method, based on the work of philosopher Stephen Toulmin, is one way of analyzing a text that we read, with an eye toward responding to that particular argument (as in a writing assignment that asks us to respond) and, ultimately, toward analyzing and improving the arguments we ourselves make.” This page provides an in-depth explanation of the Toulmin Method through these subsections:

What is Rogerian Argument? (Writing@CSU)
An introduction to Rogerian Arguments with a simple breakdown of how these arguments are often structured.


Audience Analysis Overview (Purdue OWL)
“In order to compose persuasive, user-centered communication, you should gather as much information as possible about the people reading your document. Your audience may consist of people who may have differing needs and expectations. In other words, you may have a complex audience in all the stages of your document’s lifecycle—the development stage, the reading stage, and the action stage.” Each of these stages is outlined on this page.

Basic Questions for Rhetorical Analysis (Silva Rhetoricae, Brigham Young University)
A list of questions to ask yourself when you’re conducting a rhetorical analysis.

The Canons of Rhetoric (Silva Rhetoricae, Brigham Young University)
If you click on “Canons of Rhetoric” in the left-hand column, you’ll see the five canons—invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery—hyperlinked. Click on these to learn more about them and to read sample rhetorical analyses bearing these canons in mind.

Doing a Rhetorical Analysis of a Text (Kate Kiefer, Writing@CSU)
This site outlines five of Lloyd Bitzer’s rhetorical elements that can assist readers in analyzing an argument essay.

Rhetorical Analysis (Texas A&M University Writing Center)
Includes definitions of rhetoric, artistic/inartistic proofs, and appeals. It also includes tips for prewriting and drafting a rhetorical analysis.

Visual Rhetoric (Purdue OWL)
“This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.”

  • Definition and Goals of Visual/Rhetorical Analysis
    Explains the definition and goals of conducting a rhetorical analysis of a visual text.
  • Elements of Analysis
    A brief guide to analyzing visual texts based upon audience, purpose and context.
  • Organizing Your Analysis
    “There is no one, perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.”


Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation: Quick Guide (Purdue OWL)
“This presentation is designed to quickly introduce you into the world of PowerPoint creation. It covers concepts of visual rhetoric, design, and good presentation skills.”

Organizing Your Argument (Purdue OWL)
This resource presents one way to organize your argument, using the Toulmin Method, with an explanation of the format and an example.

Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion (Purdue OWL)
Definitions and examples of logos, logical fallacies, pathos, and ethos. The logical fallacies section is divided into a number of subsections based on the type of fallacy.

Visual Rhetoric: Overview (Purdue OWL)
“This section of the OWL discusses the use of rhetorical theory and rhetoric as it relates to visuals and design.”

  • Visual Rhetoric: Color This section covers how to choose colors depending on your purpose and content.
  • Visual Rhetoric: Text Elements This section covers how to choose font styles depending on your purpose and content.
  • Visual Rhetoric: Use of Images “The illustrations you use, the charts or graphs that make up a presentation, and even the photographs you place within a design will have significant impact as to whether an audience takes you seriously.” This resource provides a quick guide to using clip art, illustrations, diagrams, graphs, photographs, and manipulated images.

Writing the Critical or Rhetorical Analysis (Bellevue College Academic Success Center) (PDF)
A handout that provides questions to consider when performing a rhetorical analysis, suggestions for writing the paper, and an example of a rhetorical analysis.