Week 6 Discussion Rhetoric and Social Media

Week 6 Discussion Rhetoric and Social Media

[RHETORIC] Rhetoric provides a method for studying the work that language and writing do. 

[CONTEXT] The meanings and the effects of writing are contingent on situation, on readers, and on a text’s purposes/uses.

One of the readings for this week, “What do Donald Trump, Pope Francis, and the Beef that Defied Space and Time All Have to do with How Language Works?”, (Links to an external site.) examines a Twitter exchange between Pope Francis and then U.S presidential candidate Donald Trump. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now act as an acceptable medium for high-profile individuals and organizations to communicate their thoughts to an audience, i.e., their “followers”.

In this assignment, you will identify rhetorical concepts one of the people or organizations listed in the table below adhered to in their social media post to elicit a certain response from their audience. Again, rhetoric is “a method for studying the work that language and writing do,” and this study of how language is used can happen in any genre of writing, including brief texts that you encounter on a daily basis. Completing this assignment may help you think about the choices authors make to generate effective writing, no matter how simple or intricate the writing may be.

For this assignment:

I) Choose one of the posts featured in the table below. They are all public, which means even if you do not subscribe to a particular social media site, you should be able to access any of the posts in the table without an account. While some of the options like The Economist provide links to more information, you will only be analyzing the post itself in this assignment.

Twitter Facebook Instagram 
1.  Chris Evans (Links to an external site.)4. Governor Gary Herbert (Links to an external site.)7. National Geographic (Links to an external site.) 
2. Mark Hamill (Links to an external site.)5. Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (Links to an external site.)8. Utah Jazz (Links to an external site.)
3. Jamie Lee Curtis (Links to an external site.)6. World Health Organization (Links to an external site.)9. Witney Carson (Links to an external site.)

 II) Respond to the following prompts:

  1. Briefly summarize the post you’ve chosen. This will help readers discern how your interpretation of the text is similar or different to theirs. 
  2. What was the author’s purpose in creating and sharing this post? “Language Matters” (Links to an external site.) may help you respond to this question.
  3. What makes the post interesting? Use the Donald Trump/Pope Francis (Links to an external site.) text to think about why certain groups may find the post humorous, inspiring, provocative, disheartening, etc.
  4. What was your initial impression of the post? Do you see yourself as an intended audience? 
  5. Can you identify a comment posted by someone who you believe is or is not the intended audience? Why do you believe this to be so?
  6. Explain how the author uses one or more of the rhetorical appeals. If you’d like, you can also speak to how kairos is being used. Read “Rhetorical Appeals: available Means or Persuasion” to learn more. 
  7. Review the “On Rhetoric.” (Links to an external site.)   Download “On Rhetoric.” (Links to an external site.). How does the post you’ve chosen meet one or more of the characteristics that define rhetoric?
  8. (Optional Question) Can you find and link a public post that you believe shares similar rhetorical features to the post you’ve chosen? What do they both do that is fairly similar?

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