Recycling Rhetoric

Throughout the article by Ridolfo and DeVoss, the concept of reusing specific rhetorical information is discussed a lot in terms of taking information and rhetoric used in original documents and reforming them for other uses. The concepts of rhetorical velocity and amplification are two particularly interesting ideas that Devoss and Ridolfo discuss in their article that relate closely to the main concerns that I have with my campaign right now.

Rhetorical amplification is basically the use of an original piece of content¬– a text, image, or video– and “reframing” that content to reinforce an idea. In the text they discuss that the main concern of amplification is that the creator of the original content– in their example they use attack videos in Iraq– may not know who the re-creator is or how they will use the content. In terms of my own project, I think that this is a concern that I want to focus more on. Rhetorically speaking, it is incredibly important that your language and tone is clear and consistent. While our focus is on lowering the student debt by lowering Pitt’s tuition, I think that some of the statistics and information that we are using could be taken out of context to possibly undermine our focus. On the other hand, I think we need to think about the ways in which I could use rhetorical amplification to make my arguments stronger. I think that choosing certain phrases and statistics, and the ways in which I relay that information in my campaign pieces needs to be more of a concern. Rhetorical amplification is a really powerful rhetorical tool that could definitely bolster the message and idea that I want to come across in my campaign.

Rhetorical Velocity was also discussed in this article and– much like amplification– I think it could really help my campaign. Rhetorical velocity focuses on “why” someone may recompose information for other uses. I think that most of our focus of the campaign so far focused on why people would want to read and understand our information, but not why someone might recompose that information. The purpose of this campaign is for our message to reach as many people as possible and convince them of our position. In order to reach as many people as possible, we would need more people to write about our topic and idea in order to reach larger audiences. In terms of my campaign, I think the rhetoric I need to utilize should focus more on the statistics and facts that strengthen our message, and make more of a conscious effort to connect our message with our statistics. If someone were to recompose our information, they may use it to promote a different message than we might. While that isn’t the worst thing, I think the power of rhetorical velocity is the promotional value of it. If people want to recompose your information or pieces, you would want them to do it in a way that would support your position rather than creating a completely new context for the information.

Overall, I think that the ideas of rhetorical amplification and velocity are often overlooked, especially for me. Whenever I am writing something, I rarely think of the ways in which that text could be reused as a source or supporting evidence for another text. In terms of my campaign, I want to think about how someone might take my information and reuse it to reinforce my position of the campaign.

6 thoughts on “Recycling Rhetoric

  1. It totally can be an afterthought sometimes! But in public writing, it can be important. We want our message out there (usually) as much as we can. This means we could rely on others to share our message. But how do we write in such a way that encourages this spread and, just as important, the kind of spread that we want?

    When you write: “If people want to recompose your information or pieces, you would want them to do it in a way that would support your position rather than creating a completely new context for the information.” So how might you do that in your campaign? How does the possibility of recomposition of information from a flyer or a petition in subsequent speech acts, social media posts, and other forms of rhetoric influence how you might revise the flyer, petition, or other items?

  2. Working with the opioid crisis on my campaign, I’ve wondered how I’ll create a brochure for my second piece that people will actually pick up and read through. Though the epidemic is only recently starting to become known across the nation, I still wonder if, for my own, an infographic would be more beneficial, one that could be both circulated on the web and posted on campuses, in residence halls…
    The time difference between this piece (written in 2009) and where we currently are in social media, where things can go viral and be seen by millions in a matter of hours, makes me wonder what DeVoss and Ridolfo would say about rhetorical velocity in our digital age. Now, “distance, travel, speed, and time” mean almost nothing in our technologically advanced state. BUT I do think that when it comes to rhetorical velocity, the “magnitude” still plays a huge role in whether or not the piece would be reproduced, linking to your point about focusing on statistics people will remember and resonate with, and hopefully share.

  3. I also agree with you ending statement that rhetorical velocity and amplification are often overlooked. To take that a step further, I think they are not even considered in the first place. Personally, I have never considered or been concerned with what happens to my writing once I am finished with it. Do you find amplification or velocity more important? Or do you consider them equally important? Originally, I thought that amplification seemed more important. Like you mentioned, you do not want your words to be taken out of context and used in a way that does not support your argument. However, you made a great point when discussing rhetorical velocity. You argue that your goal is for your campaign to reach as many people as possible and having your pieces reused would help achieve that goal. I completely agree with this point.
    You mention a few times that you think using more statistics will help with both amplification and velocity, but you do not mention why. Is it because they are difficult to change or take out of context? I agree that facts and statistics are powerful forms of rhetoric, however I would not let statistics overcome your campaign. For me, I think numbers help to strengthen an argument and make it more credible, but the use of language and visuals are equally important. Overuse of statistics also gets a little boring! Overall, I agree with your post and think it was a great understanding of the article!

  4. I agree that rhetorical amplification and velocity are often overlooked. When writing, it’s easy to only focus on the task at hand of convincing people of your opinion or argument, and forget about how it will circulate further. Especially when reaching a large audience, which you are aiming to do, that’s something important to keep in mind. There are things including file format, image resolution, television airing schedules, and newspaper publication cycles, that I would never have thought of paying attention to.

    You mention that relying on statistics and facts would be the best way to optimize your rhetorical velocity, which makes sense because they are not easily changed and are concrete and irrefutable. However, is it possible that only relying on or mostly relying on those might cause your writing to be somewhat dry? Could it limit the genres and mediums your works can be reproduced into? I think adding something like a story of someone who has a personal stake in the matter, such as Pitt students struggling to afford tuition, may cause you to reach a larger audience (just a suggestion!). It’s very difficult to strike a good balance between your aims of both convincing the public, as well as maximizing the amplification and lifespan of your message.

  5. When I read your blog post and the reading for this week I also realized that I have been focusing on reading and understanding and haven’t been thinking about how someone might recompose.

    When thinking about recomposition I had many of the same concerns as you–in both recomposing other people’s works and them mine–about the meaning of what’s being recomposed. When you create something I feel that you are cognizant about word choice, tone, colors, context, etc. When something is recomposed I worry that changing those will alter the meaning, either in losing meaning or in gaining new meaning from being in a new context. On the other hand, I feel that people who will recompose will also have a purpose, and therefore care about word choice, tone, context etc. In that way they will either maintain the original intent, or they might purposely alter it for their cause. The question becomes then, is that necessarily bad?

    I like what you said about focusing on choosing certain phrases and statistics because that way you are providing your own context so if it were to be recomposed the focus of your document would be clear and the person recomposing can take into account your intent in their “reframing.”

  6. I totally agree. I think the concepts of rhetorical velocity and amplification are often overlooked. When I think of amplification however I do feel like you can’t just think all about the message of your piece and use statistics and facts. Honestly I think sometimes rhetorical velocity is more important because it’s so critical to think about how you strategize your writing.

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