Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” – 09/30

s.chowdhury on Sep 29th 2014

In “The Rhetorical Situation,” Bitzer emphasizes the importance of the contextual situation that surrounds rhetoric. He really hounds at the idea that the situation is what brings the rhetoric into being. He uses the example of the fisherman (4) to show how on the most basic level, the situation drives the speech. Rhetoric is just empty words otherwise, the situation is what gives the speech impact. Further when analyzing rhetoric, identifying the exigence, audience, and constraints helps to establish the situation, and then conclude if the rhetoric is appropriate to the situation, and thus successful.

I think to some level or another we all know that the situation is important, but I don’t think we realize that the famous rhetorical speeches that we now study and discuss (i.e. Gettysburg Address, JFK’s Inaugural Address, etc.) would not exist without the respective conditions surrounding them. The situation controls the response; the significance is given by the situation. Bitzer does a good job in bringing this to the forefront, and really highlighting why the situation is so essential to understand and analyze when looking at rhetoric. I think often times we look at rhetorical writing without taking in in the context as well and we lose the full meaning.

At one point Bitzer says that rhetoric is created to have positive outcomes, however, there is a lot of rhetoric that calls for negative actions – how does Bitzer define positive?

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Emma Watson’s Speech at the UN

The exigence for Emma Watson’s speech is the low rate of women that define themselves as feminists as well as the the lack of men who identify themselves as advocates for equal right. There’s a certain negative connotation that has formed around the term “feminism” that has really been around since the origins of the movement several years ago but more prevalent now. Emma addresses the real meaning of being a feminist and why it is important for both men and women to stand up for it. Her primary audience was the United Nations but her secondary audience was everyone else who saw the speech and are now advocating HeforShe (celebrities, average people). The constraints would be antifeminist who are going to see everything wrong in her speech and tear it apart, and also just her ethos. As far as I know, (I don’t really follow her closely) she does have a good reputation but she is still known as the “Harry Potter girl.” This is something she even addressed in her speech, that she herself doesn’t know if she is qualified to speak and I think her addressing it actually made her speech stronger. However, the constraint still exists.

Filed in Reading Responses | 2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” – 09/30”

  1. m.giasuddinon 30 Sep 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Summarizes the passage well, and uses examples from the text. Good job!

  2. s.patelon 30 Sep 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I agree with you when you say that we fail to understand the piece when we only look at the rhetorical writing and not look at the context. We are required to read the words and also read between the lines. The reader should be able to understand the deeper meaning behind the author’s argument and main point.