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COMS 400?Spring 2018
Rhetorical Theory
Dr. Bryan
First Essay Assignment: Assessing Aristotle?s ON RHETORIC
The First Essay for this course is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding and
comprehension of some specific aspect of Aristotle?s rhetorical theory as presented in his
work, On Rhetoric. You should carefully select one or two concepts from On Rhetoric
(perhaps 2-3; but not more than 5), summarize these concepts, and then explain how or
why you think these ideas are still central and relevant to oral communication practices
Possible concepts/ideas from Aristotle?s On Rhetoric:
What ?lessons? about human nature and the practice of oral communication still seem
relevant from this ?classic? work? Do human beings still have enough things in
?common? so that concepts like the enthymeme can still work?
Is Aristotle?s definition of rhetoric is still useful today? Why or why not?
Why did Aristotle believe that ethics were important to the rhetorical process? Are his
ethical perspectives still relevant and useful?
What did Aristotle believe about the ?soundness? of an argument? What is the difference
between a ?good? and ?bad? argument from his perspective?
How did Aristotle believe that persuaders and audiences should evaluate emotional
appeals in oral communication settings? Is one type of persuasive proof still more
powerful than the other two?
Has the concept of ?style? in rhetoric changed since Aristotle? Why?
What concepts from Aristotle seem most (or least) valuable to contemporary
communication students? Why or why not?
Suggested content of the essay?3-5 pages; double-spaced with appropriate quotations from
On Rhetoric or specific page number references?you do not need to use complete APA or
MLA citation formats.
Explain the concept(s) from Aristotle?s On Rhetoric or The History and Theory of
Rhetoric and why these ideas are so essential and still useful to our understanding of
Aristotelian rhetorical theory. Please quote directly from your copy of Aristotle and
footnote or reference, as needed?one to one and a half page.
Demonstrate your understanding of the concept(s) from Aristotle?s On Rhetoric by
referring to contemporary communication events, processes, or artifacts. Describe how
viewing the event, process, or artifact through Aristotle?s concept(s) still adds insight and
understanding. Support your interpretation of Aristotelian theory by referring specifically
to the content of these brief examples or illustrations?one to one and a half pages.
Summary of requirements for the First Essay Assignment:
The essay should be carefully typed or word-processed; pages numbered?approximately
3-5 pages in length?please do not go over 6 pages.
The essay should be simple stapled together (no need for clips, binders, folders, etc) with
a clear Title Page that includes your name, paper title, and course number.
No ?outside? researches is required for this essay, but if you do make specific reference to
public speeches, advertisements, films, etc, please provide accurate and complete
Please ask questions!!

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