What I Have Learned About Rhetoric That I Didn’t Know Before

Pattie Crider

WRT 305

Response 1

August 30, 2013

rhetorical thinking

rhetorical thinking

What I Have Learned About Rhetoric That I Didn’t Know Before

I started this class having never given much thought to rhetoric- the definition or the origin of the word. It sounded Greek. I knew that it had to do with language and the manipulation of language, beyond that I was pitifully ignorant. What I learned is, there are endless definitions and examples of what and how rhetoric is used in language, with the intent to persuade a consumer. This did not surprise me, as all written word is bias, and has influence in some fashion to the consumer. The two most interesting things I learned in the reading were how important rhetoric became in spreading the word of Christianity and second, how long it took for women to be accepted as rhetorical thinkers.

Rhetoric has negativity permanently attached to it because of its ability to persuade people. The persuasive orators in history would use fact, logic and emotional appeal to capture and affectively change the thinking, or at minimum, cause a new type of thought, within their audience. The spread of Christianity was done primarily through oral speeches to massive crowds. The speaker, whether a priest, a disciple or Jesus himself, would lecture, and the crowd listen, open to learning about this new religion call Christianity. Not only did Christianity use rhetoric to inform and persuade, it influenced the composition of religious writing. In time, a “handbook” for Christians was created that was stylistic in format and text, using punctuation to make the written word clear to be read, rather than heard. This may very well be the most effective use of rhetoric in history as Christianity has managed to spread worldwide since medieval times.

I knew that it took until the Renaissance period for women’s writing to at least be acknowledged, but it surprised me to read that “almost all women were forbidden to speak in public.” I don’t know exactly what is written by the Apostle Paul that upset Margaret Fell in the late Seventeenth century, but I applaud her for aggressively defending the rights of women to have a voice among the dominating men. It was a start that took two more centuries to finally cause a change. Honestly, that blows my mind. Even in the Twenty-first century, males continue to be the dominant of sexes in positions that use rhetoric. Be it lawyers, priests or writers, women have not reached the same level of acceptance that men have been given since the first orator prepared, memorized and addressed the public with his speech.

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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