Media Theory Week 4

This week my Media Theory class is studying Rhetoric. We covered Aristotle’s philosophy of rhetoric 3 branches, which are ethos, logos, and pathos. Students will be analyzing rhetoric used in political advertisements. We discussed the art of persuasion found in capitalism. Here are Chapter 4 focus questions:

How does Aristotle define rhetoric? What are its 3 branches?

Rhetoric is the means of persuasion useful in all fields. The 3 branches are: Ethos – the personal character of the speaker – credibility (ethics). Pathos – Speaker stirring emotions in listeners (emotions). Logos – Logical arguments in speech (logic). See 2 videos of Aristotle’s Philosophy and How to get what you want using Rhetoric.

  • Tone. The connection is established between the voice and the audience.
  • Attitude. The orientation of the voice toward the message it wants to convey.
  • Reception. The manner in which the audience receives the message conveyed

Each of these appeals relies on a certain type of evidence: ethical, emotional, or logical. Based on your audience and purpose, you have to decide what combination of techniques will work best as you present your case.

How is rhetoric useful in analyzing the mass media?

Rhetoric appeals are often used to influence an audience to purchase goods or services in media.

  1. Intentional persuasion.
  2. Social values and effects of symbolic forms found in texts whether intentionally placed or not.
  3. Techniques by which the arts communicate to audiences.
  4. Persuasion techniques are used by characters in dramatic or narrative works.
  5. Study of genres or types of texts.
  6. Implicit theories about human symbolic interaction are implied by authors of symbolic works.
  7. An ideal for the conduct of communication among humans.
  8. Study of what makes form in texts effective known as pragmatics.

What’s the difference between the Jakobson and Lasswell models of the media?

Jakobsen states that verbal communication has 6 functions:

1. Referential Function – involving the Context to describe a situation, object, or mental state. 2. Emotive Function – involving the Emotions expressed by Senders. 3. Poetic Function – involving the use of literary devices such as metaphor and metonymy by senders. 4. Conative Function: – involving engaging the Addressee (Receiver) directly. 5. Phatic Function – involving the channel being used. 6. Metalingual Function – involving the use of codes to discuss or describe itself.

Background: What is the communication theory? Communication theory provides a way of talking about and analyzing key events, processes, and commitments that together form communication. What are the 3 models of communication? The three models for communication are Linear, Interactional, and Transactional. See 3 Models of Communication Video. What is the difference between Lasswell and Shannon and Weaver model? The Lasswell communication model is another linear, or one-way, model that Harold D. Lasswell created not too long after the Shannon Weaver model was made. The big difference between the two is that Lasswell’s model studies mass communication, as opposed to a simple two-person conversation.

In Lasswell’s model of communication, the communication process is divided into five parts including communicator, information, media, audience, and effect, such five research fields provide a very good point of view to study the new media communication

Lasswell's communication model-AnyExamAnyTime

Problem is in communication at all levels arise from things such as the differences between the way senders encode their message and the way receivers decode their message.

Aberrant Decoding – as audiences decode messages that is interpret dialogue and events in television programs for instance differently from the way the writer expects them to. The same thing happens in personal communication as well. A person can take what we say the wrong way. They interpret our message the way we meant it. Sometimes audiences decode mass media messages “aberrantly” (the wrong way) on purpose to suit their purpose or needs. See Aberrant Decoding Definition Video.

Both models of communication are missing feedback, which can help us to determine if the sender’s message was understood the right way by the receiver.

How does Robert L. Root apply rhetorical concepts?

Root states we should aim – the purpose of the discourse and mode – the medium used. He stated that Rhetoric Critics should have these concerns, no matter the type of communication being researched.

What does Certeau say about the “subversions” of texts by readers and viewers?

Certeau states we should pay more attention to the uses people make of media, to the way members of the audiences of the media, put their own interpretation on what they see and hear, and to the fact that their responses are not always the ones, senders of messages expect. Sometimes elites will subvert or undermine the message by pushing it onto others. We cannot assume everyone will be affected the same way by the message that they are exposed to in the media. People tend to reinterpret the texts in ways that suit them best.

Mini Glossary:

Allegory – is a narrative that is abstract ethical or philosophical beliefs built-in characters.

Broadcast – reruns are shown.

Alliteration – is when the same letter or vowel is used.

Allusions – an indirect reference to people, places, ideas, and events of social, political or cultural significance.

Ambiguity – statements whose meaning can be several different things.

Antithesis – using oppositions or conjoining contrasting ideas.

Comparison – used by speakers to reinforce arguments they are making.

Book Review – one who writes a review of a book, which can be + or -.

Definition – lexical definition is the dictionary definition, the stipulative definition is the definition given for the purpose of argument, and operational definition is which does not rely on words but a list of operations to perform to better understand the definition.

Encomium – praises a thing or a persona by dealing with inherent qualities. Often used in advertising.

Exemplification – used to support our position in some argument, but be careful not to allow selective perception on all of the public. Not everyone fits in the same category.

Irony – is used to convey the opposite of what they literally mean.

Metaphor – uses an analogy to generate meaning.

Metonymy – uses the association to generate meaning.

Paradox – means to contrary to expectations, beliefs, or opinions.

Rhyme – the repetitive use of words with similar terminal sounds is a commonly used device to attract people’s attention and help them remember things.

Rhythm – refers to the patterned and recurring alternations at various intervals, of sound or speech elements.

Simile – is a weaker form of metaphor, using like or as.

Synecdoche – is a weaker form of metonymy in which part is used to stand for the whole or vise versa.

Understatement – involves suggesting something is less important than it really is.

What was said about using rhetoric to analyze visual images and images in narratives?

Visual Images:

  • They are composed of visual signs.
  • They represent something real or imagined.
  • They contain objects and people in various places and sometimes also words.
  • They generate meaning in those who see them.
  • They have denotational and connotational significance.
  • They often generate emotional responses.

Images are often used in Narratives: In narratives like films and television commercials, an analysis of an image or shot from the commercial or film, has to also consider the images that went before it. The Literal level – a blonde woman with a sledgehammer runs into a large auditorium. The textual level – the image is part of the commercial and the meaning of the image is part of “1984” connected to the events in the commercial. The intertextual level – the commercial calls to mind. ie. George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”. The mythic level – The story of David and Goliath in the Bible.

What argument does Barry Brummett make about gangsta rap and racism? Gangsta rap – is a subgenre of hip hop music with a lyrical focus on the illegal activities of street gangs or thugs or gangsta lifestyle. Brummett states that African Americans are judged racially wrong because of gangsta rap. African American culture is not all violent, overly sexual, or materialistic. Some African American gangsters have a violent past. It is a myth that has stigmatized African Americans as morally loose and suspect by racist people. Brummett states that Gangsta rap confirms racist attitudes in whites and if not others. Unfortunately, today’s youth are being influenced by gangsta rap music, which increases the climate of disrespect.

What rhetorical concepts were used in the analysis of the La Mer Advertisement? Use them to analyze an advertisement that has cultural and social resonance.

  1. Sea to Skin
  2. A daily transformation
  3. Creme da le Mer
  4. La Mer jar
  5. Moisturizing Cream on jar’s label
  6. Creme regeneration intense on jar’s label
  7. Born from the healing process of the sea, Creme de la Mer is infused with potent
  8. Cell-renewing Miracle Broth
  9. Carefully crafted from nutrient-rich sea kelp, it immerses the skin in moisture and energy.
  10. Radiance is restored, fine-lines fade, skin looks softer, firmer, virtually ageless
  11. Even the driest complexions are healed
  13. Bloomingdales’ & Nordstrom.

Week #4 Resources:

Aristotle Philosophy Video

How to use Rhetoric to get what you want? Ethos Pathos Logos Video

3 Models of Communication Video

Aberrant Decoding Definition Video

What Makes A Hero? Video

Types of Rhetorical Modes – “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance” Video

Satire used in a Congressional Hearing Video


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