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Updated by Christopher Gerben on Feb 15, 2018
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Examples of texts related to rhetoric

Class examples of texts, photos, and videos that seem related to our initial understanding of rhetoric

Lights Out in Nigeria
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a renowned Nigerian author, uses her ethos (as an award winning writer), pathos (through the various emotions she explores in her own experience of darkness) , and logos (painting a picture of the reality of the situation and its implications) to creatively explain the unstable power situation that exists in Nigeria. It appealed to me emotionally, for as I write this, there is no light and there has been no light for 4 days. I go between turning on a diesel operated generator and sleeping in darkness. Sighs. Enjoy the read while you imagine the reality, comrades!

"LAGOS, Nigeria - WE call it light; "electricity" is too sterile a word, and "power" too stiff, for this Nigerian phenomenon that can buoy spirits and smother dreams. Whenever I have been away from home for a while, my first question upon returning is always: 'How has light been?'"
People Should Know About This Awful Thing We Do, And Most Of Us Are Simply Unaware

While I was watching this, I really couldn't believe the wave of emotion that came over me. A film this simple, beautiful, and heartbreaking comes along so rarely - and to get its point across, we hardly need to hear a word. Please share this if you think people should know about this.

Op-ed: Marching Backwards from Selma to Hollywood
Enjoying a film, like enjoying any art form, requires that there exist a certain connection, at some point, between the director and the viewer.

*I chose this op-ed because as an avid film viewer and lover of the Oscars, I was shocked to see Selma, thought to be a front-runner, omitted from several high-ranking Oscar categories. The author certainly sways me in his direction, which (as I learned in Principles of Professional Writing, it what it takes for a piece to be successful). He establishes his own expertise through his background (ethos), plays on the emotions of the readers by bringing up Birmingham and discussing the physical experience of watching the film (pathos), and calls for more comprehensive cultural vernacular via improved education (logos). He also utilizes the rhetorical devices of parataxis (comparing the experience of viewing the film from one person to another, and from one film to another) *
Art About Nothing (or An Ode to Small Things) – Ruckus

Strong on pathos (nostalgia is a love affair with the past and nearly always emotive) but oddly lacking in ethos... There is a lack of realness to this blog post that I found pretentious and irritating, yet between the logic of her argument and the emotional attachment it inspired, I'm still inclined to like the subject matter. in spite of sentences like these: "I suffer from a narcissistic obsession with the minutiae of my own life" "Is this the foundational conceit of empathy?"

8 Things The Girls That Get Ignored By Guys Don't Know (That Other Girls Do)

If only all women knew these truths, the world would be a better place. Easier for us men and easier for women as well. 1. All girls look better without makeup. A rule of thumb: every girl who looks hot with makeup, looks even hotter without it.

Old White Guy Drops A Monster Speech On Anti-Gay Football Teams. Seriously Impressive Performance.

I hate to post so many things from Upworthy, but they seem to have cornered the market on persuasive new media.

Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying

New York Times writer Charles J. Sykes uses ethos (as a long-time media professional), logos (outlining the evolving relationship between current media and politics), and pathos (sharing his fears, hopes, and anxieties) to explore the current atmosphere surrounding trust, truth, and credibility in President Trump's America.


The Dylan Farrow story

The Dylan Farrow story

Dylan Farrow's allegations of sexual abuse by adopted father Woody Allen were all over the news last week after she wrote an open letter that was posted on a New York Times blog. In reading Nicholas Kristof's commentary on the letter, in which he mentions his relationship to Farrow, I found his angle to be quite interesting: "The standard to send someone to prison is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but shouldn’t the standard to honor someone be that they are unimpeachably, well, honorable?" Quite the rhetorical question, to which my answer would be: yes.

Looking Back: Those We Lost in 2014
This article really appeals to emotion. I am a very sensitive person and take the topic of death particularly seriously (thanks to a couple of life-changing philosophy classes I took in undergrad). Setting that aside, this article really gets to the emotion associated with death. As a culture we are desensitized to death it seems, but the strong language in this article really makes it feel personal. Although I didn't know any of these people (as most people reading this article didn't) it felt more personal than I thought it would.
Just Because She's a Woman

This article appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos. It's not so much an article of why Hillary should be the next president, but more why we as a society need to reevaluate how we come to the conclusions/judgements that we do. It reflects the Deliberative type of rhetoric, in that is is politically based and deals with the future of our society. but I also think it is Epideictic, in that is revealing the faults in our societal conventions in the present moment, and is calling out for a shift in the way we currently think.

How Trump Can Use the Supreme Court to Get Conservatives in Line

The president moved up his announcement of a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia by two days, just as his immigration order is coming in for criticism from social conservatives.

Are You a Hacker? Am I a Hacker? What the Hell is a Hacker Again?

The media owes it to the public to do better than this.

The History the Slaveholders Wanted Us to Forget

Knowledge of Africa can refute stereotypes about black people and show our shared humanity.

In this New York Times article, Henry Louis Gates Jr. (an African-American) exercises both ethos and pathos while sharing his admirable and deeply personal story about falling in love with his cultural roots in Africa.

The Transition of Bruce Jenner: A Shock to Some, Visible to All
Even though this article appeared in the Sports section of the Times, in some way's it's a feature piece, or even an opinion piece. The first way the author utilizes rhetoric is through pathos. Anyone reading the article who is familiar not only with Jenner, but with his current gender reassignment is almost shamed for the "voyeur of celebrity-watching." Still, the author makes the reader think--largely from an emotional standpoint-- by recounting Jenner's Olympic journey as well as the response he's garnered.
Oh, Commas

As the self-appointed watcher of commas, known to some (OK, known to myself) as The Comma Maven, I naturally was concerned when I saw the provisional title of my friend Craig Pittman’s forthcoming book about the weirdness of Florida. The book grew out of the tweets that Pittman (a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times) has been putting out for some time, like this:

10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will. | MICHAEL MOORE

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River. When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Cure for extreme rhetoric? Let's all use it

"The guy who screwed up my order at McDonald's the other day was a real lunch terrorist. And don't get me started on the barista who used full-fat milk instead of skim milk in my drink - total..."

In an article about the proliferation of extreme rhetoric (specifically in political affairs), the author effectively employs hyperbole, humor, and even makes up terms (is there a word for that?) to a successful rhetorical end. It is like meta-rhetoric. Brilliant.

[The article is from 2014, but so many of the same points about public discourse can be made today.]

Jared Kushner's NYU classmates appeal to his 'deep sense of compassion'

I thought this appeal used rhetoric effectively, particularly in its use of pathos, or emotional appeal. The writers draw on personal, highly emotional points in order to focus the recipient. Their structuring of these arguments, centered around deeply personal connections for the intended reader, make them difficult to disagree with. I would argue that there is use of kairos in this appeal- the writers understand the context and the extended viewers that surround this. They are speaking not only to Mr. Kushner but also the academic, liberal community who supports this appeal. In the developed language and multiple references to the institution that many of this audience has a connection too, the writers are taking their context and presentation into account so that they may secure the larger support of the community outside of the intended recipient himself.

Kid Cudi And The Pursuit Of Happiness

How do we make room for hip-hop stars to bare their demons?

"I have a friend from Cleveland who moved south years ago. She told me once that when winter comes, she can still feel the city’s cold in her bones, like it built itself up over all of those years and never left. I don’t know of the storm that is in Kid Cudi’s heart, but I hope it clears a path to something better soon. "

RHETORIC: appeals to pathos by evoking empathy.

Consider the Lobster

In light of our lesson this week, here is David Foster Wallace making another funny, thoughtful and provoking argument. One of my favorite pieces of his!

The Menace of the Military Mind: Chris Hedges

I first read Chris Hedges' work last semester in Principles of Professional Writing. Though I found myself agreeing with many of his arguments, his writing reeks of manipulative language and unapologetic bias. As a result, I found his work irritating to read (except I keep reading it).

This particular article is an example of Hedges' excellent writing. His language is fierce, bold, and he uses a number of rhetorical devices to make his points. The article managed to elicit a very strong response from me, in part because my husband is in the military.


The Magic of Old Adventure Games

The Magic of Old Adventure Games

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw is a writer for Escapist Magazine and I found out about him after seeing some of his video game criticism videos called Zero Punctuation (which are very funny, I recommend them to all, you can find them easily on Youtube). Here he talks in his column Extra Punctuation about why adventure games today tend to be inferior to the classics that established the genre.

PS: I was sure that I uploaded the link to the article, but it would appear that it did not work and now I am getting a 503 error message every time I try. You can find the article at

One Less Gardasil Commercial

Since it hit the market, Gardasil has been a controversial vaccine. Just today I was reading about continued concern over its safety for young girls and boys. Yet, Gardasil's inaugural commercials still stick out in my mind. Imagine if your daughter could be one less statistic, one less woman with cervical cancer?

Why Many Adults Should Get Their Measles Shots - Again!
This articles plays with Aristotle's three classic appeals. It begins with Pathos because it plays on a recent common fear in America. Everyone is concerned about the measles outbreaks that have stirred the nation. It is a hot topic, where even my hair dresser spoke to me about a possible outbreak in a NYC train. People feel strongly about the issue because it has been presented as a life threatening subject. The Logos of the piece appeals to peoples understanding the the MMR vaccine. It appeals to peoples basic knowledge of the vaccination and the logic of its neccessity. The author encourages anyone born prior to 1957, between 1963 and 1989, be get the modern vaccination that contains the "live" virus. The Ethos appeal is that this writer is the authority on the subject. She did the research, she collected the data and she shared the information.
Published in The Wall Street Journal on February 1, this op-ed uses a variety of rhetorical techniques (logos, pathos, even ethos... the writer is the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center) in an attempt to whitewash climate science. The author cites a wealth of facts to support his notion that climate change is happening, but it is not happening as bad as some are making it out to be. He gets a few pathos punches in to charge the issue a bit, calling some environmentalists alarmists and basically fear mongers, "Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels." And of course, he uses the word rhetoric in a negative sense, even though he is using effective rhetoric techniques to make his argument. Even if you disagree with what he is saying, he does an effective job arguing his points.