“Rhetoric” is colloquially defined as the process of writing effectively. Elements that make up a text’s persuasiveness, such as appeals to logic or emotion outlined by Aristotle, or respecting one’s opposition in ways defined by Rogers, are usually considered, therefore, to be “rhetorical strategies.” The employment of these rhetorical strategies, theoretically, enhance the likelihood that you’d convince someone of the point you’re making (at least within the goals designated by the argumentation model).Our goals is to be able to recognize in-text, contextual examples of these rhetorical strategies and respond to the author’s effective (or ineffective) use of them. As such, using the lessons of Aristotle and Rogers, you are tasked to rigorously evaluate the persuasiveness of a text based on its adherence to these aforementioned rhetorical strategies (or its lack thereof).To best facilitate a quality paper, this text, similar to previously completed assignments, will not be assigned to you, and will instead be chosen by you. It can be whatever you like, though I think a blog post or an op-ed newspaper article make the best texts for this assignment. As such, the only real parameters I place on your text selection are that (1) it contains some type of argument that you can actually develop an evaluation toward and that (2) it contains an argument that is complex enough to where an analysis of its qualities would fill a paper of this length. You are not allowed to pick the same text you chose for the Critical Summary or Argument Analysis assignments.Though the direction of your rhetorical analysis will blossom out according to the material you choose, especially whether it’s more Aristotelian or Rogerian in nature, I will provide some general guidelines/suggestions below to assist you in the analytic process and to help you ensure you’re fulfilling the needs of this assignment:Compose a short but thorough introduction that (1) outlines the publication information of the text including the author’s name, where it was published, and its title; (2) provides a brief 1-2 sentence summary giving a brief overview of the text’s main details; (3) contains a descriptive thesis that identifies what you find persuasive or not persuasive about it.Cite whether the argument is more Rogerian or Aristotelian in nature. Identify what exactly that means to you, and cite a few surface elements of the text to support that point.Examine what kinds of evidence the author uses to support their argument. Does the text use a lot of logical appeals? Statistics, facts, and figures? Or does the text use mostly emotional appeals, such as the use of humor, threats, and/or flattery? How balanced does the text feel with regard to logos and pathos, and how does that affect the text’s persuasiveness in your view?Review the use of ethos. Does the text cite outside sources to support its argument? Are these sources considered an authority in their subject area? Is that subject area relevant to the topic at hand? How does this affect the author’s trustworthiness?Review the tone of the text and the author’s persona. Are they using language appropriate to the conversation? Are they very specific in their language, using direct phrasing and modal qualifiers? Or do they make a lot of vague, non-specific statements that seem to trail off nowhere? Do any of your answers to the questions to #3 and #4 help them appear more informed, educated, and/or persuasive?Make a suggestion or two about how the argument could be improved, citing examples from the passage to support your point.Complete your essay with a summative conclusion, illustrating most major points of your essay.Whatever form your rhetorical analysis takes, I will assess your essay based on the depth of your analysis, the organization of your paper, and college-level expectations for grammar, editing, and style. Your essay should be at least 1000 words in length, written in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, adhering to all MLA documentation formatting rules. Your essay must include a works cited page with an entry indicating where you found the text. When uploading a copy of your essay, be sure it is in a Word-compatible format: DOCX or PDF work the best. Any student that uploads an unreadable format or an unreadable essay will be notified and must reupload the assignment within 24 hours. Failure to do so will incur a late penalty on your submission when I do receive the correct, readable format. Students that neglect to upload the appropriate copy beyond 10 days after my notification will receive no potential credit on this essay and will have it marked down as a zero on their gradebook.
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13 September 2016
Audience Awareness in The Flight from Conversation
On April 12, 2012, the New York Times published the article The Flight from
Conversation by Sherry Turkle. In it, Turkle claims that we have lost our ability to converse
with one another. Face-to-face conversations, according to Turkle, are much rarer forms of
interaction. We have instead chosen to connect with one another in short, digitized bursts. This
has resulted in significant damage in human relationships in the twenty-first century, and has
provided the grounds for serious cause of concern. Turkles argument is both persuasive and
deeply disturbing; using emotionally engaging examples, she proves to me that the flight from
conversation is a real problem we have on our hands.
According to Aristotle, the most convincing arguments seek to convince utterly through
overwhelming evidence, emotional connections with ones audience, and exuding
trustworthiness and believability. Turkles argument is very thorough and straight-forward, citing
a specific problem she believes to be important and needs changing. She is not in any way
seeking compromise or entertaining alternate perspectives on the discussion; as such, her
argument is very clearly Aristotelian in nature.
Sherry Turkles argument centers directly around the usage of smart phones and the
proliferation of the internet. She writes: Ive studied technologies of mobile connection and
talked to hundreds of people of all ages and circumstances about their plugged-in lives. Ive
learned that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only
what we do, but also who we are. According to Turkle, we have mastered the ability of being
alone together, an instance in which individuals converse with one another, face-to-face, while
paying sole attention to our smart phones. She says that being alone together enables the
ability to develop a new skill: [to be able to] maintain eye contact with someone while you text
someone else. She argues that its difficult to do, but entirely possibleand acceptablein the
She argues that this pervasive trend of becoming alone together isnt limited to specific
demographics or social groups, either. She cites businessmen, high school students, families at
home, law interns, and even the elderly as examples of this phenomenon. One of the most
striking examples is a 16-year-old boy who tells Turkle, someday Id like to learn how to have a
conversation. Its particularly telling and an effective example to her greater point: weve lost
the ability to openly communicate with one another.
These examples, beyond just solidifying the integrity of her claim, are carefully chosen to
provide the maximum effect. Turkle chooses these examples not just because theyre persuasive,
but because they can effectively connect with anyone reading the text; by citing both the elderly
and the young, by citing interactions both professional and familial, she establishes just how
pervasive this trend of becoming alone together truly is. Its an astute merit to the awareness of
her audience, and its the breadth of her evidence that makes Turkles The Flight from
Conversation such a compelling argument.
Turkle, however, does make some explicit assumptions about her audience, and it is
something about her article that could bear some improvement. In a section of her argument
defining conversation versus connection, she exclaims that social media lacks the ability to
replace face-to-face conversation: its hard to do anything with 3,000 Facebook friends except
connect. But what if I dont have 3,000 Facebook friends? What if I only have 300? Or 30?
Turkle in such moments can lose her audience by painting her readership in such broad strokes.
Social media, as a medium, is incredibly personalized by design. One would think that Turkles
experiences with social media may not necessarily stand in or represent an average users
Turkle additionally argues that communication of the internet does not amount to or
substitute the depth of a true conversation. She says, when using e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook:
we are tempted to think that our little sips of online connection add up to a big gulp of real
conversation. But they dont. And perhaps they dont. Perhaps a text message doesnt replace
the personality or sensitivity of a face-to-face conversation. But what about online forums and
message boards? There are spaces on the internet where communication transcends face-to-face
interaction, and does so with grace and candor only available in a literal, written sense. Many
people are better writers than they are speakers, and in such spaces they can express themselves
and their ideas better than they could in a face-to-face environment where they might feel
The undercurrent running throughout her essay is the idea that conversation is being
replaced by connection, and this is an unusual phenomenon we should try to stop. Human
relationships are rich; theyre messy and demanding, Turkle says. We learned the habit of
cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this.
But its a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop
caring, we forget that there is a difference. I agree with Turkle that there is certainly a
difference between conversation and connection, but it goes beyond the grounds of her
argument. On the internet I can interact with individuals from around the globe. I can converse
with long-lost friends living in other areas of the country, and can re-connect with them in ways
that print media and the telephone originally didnt offer. So, while I wholeheartedly identify
with Turkles greater argument, and while I do think the replacement of conversation with
connection is a serious topicespecially relating to familial and professional relationshipsI
think the widespread assumption shes making about communication on the internet is an unfair
Turkle makes a convincing case for being alone together becoming a serious
phenomenon and cause for concern. She establishes the pervasiveness of this trend by selecting
individuals from all age groups, cherry-picking examples of professional, academic, and familial
relationships breaking down. She does, however, make a number of assumptions about the
internet and her readership that make certain areas of her argument fall on deaf ears, and since
this essays publication in 2012, much of what she argues ended up not panning out by 2016.
Ultimately, Turkles essay is still an interesting, informative, and persuasive read, and it certainly
gives me pause to consider to what extent the internet might be re-shaping my interactions with
those around me.
Turkle, Sherry. The Flight from Conversation. The New York Times, 12 April 2012,
Accessed 10 November 2016.
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