Category Archives: Rhetorical theory

The modes of appeal

We ended Thursday’s class by talking about Aristotle’s 3 Modes of Appeal and how they would apply to an advertisement.  For review, check out this video that further discusses how persuasive techniques work in advertising.

Additional links to help better understand Aristotle’s theories:

  • and finally, here’s a site that includes more explanation and examples to describe ethos, pathos, and logos

and for fun, since it was mentioned in our class discussion on Thursday, here’s the Old Spice guy:

After watching the ad, answer the big question: Who is saying what, to whom, and for what purpose?

How are the modes of appeal being used here?


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Pedant at work

Thinking back to Wayne Booth’s essay, ‘The Rhetorical Stance,’ here’s a great example of the pedant corruption:

Note: this video is meant to be full of unintelligible jargon! For the history of the Turboencabulator, check out its Wikipedia entry and also the “It’s all Geek to Me” blog entry by Eric Albertson at Duarte.Com.

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‘What is unsaid can be as important as what is said.’

Remember the Nine Axioms of Communication we covered last week?  One of the Axioms is “Communication is frequently ambiguous: what is unsaid can be as important as what is said” (MacLennan 2009).

Communication theorist Nick Morgan has a post on his blog today that describes why it is so important to pay attention to the non-verbal messages we send. From his post:

Our unconscious minds are very good at reading the intent of the people who come within our sphere of awareness.  And when they’re talking at us, we unconsciously compare words and body language.  When they’re aligned, we get the communication.  When they’re not aligned, we believe the body language.

Check out his blog entry for an example of a British politician who had his ‘unsaid’ message be heard more loudly than the words of his speech.

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Who is saying what, to whom, and why?

Here’s something you’ll all recognize:

How do the modes of appeal work in this ad?  Is there any accidental/expressive/rhetorical communication taking place?

Look around you, rhetoric is all around us!


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The Modes of Appeal

Aristotle’s three modes of appeal will be the foundational rhetorical theory of RCM 300:


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