Understanding the Traditional Canons of
Rhetoric: Invention & Memory
A piece of writing always exists in context.
Situation prompts the writer to write about a certain subject, members of an
audience read the piece, and a purpose determines how the writer approaches both the situation and the audience.
A piece of writing works in three closely related ways (Appeals): 1) To convey its information and points to readers
2) To influence their thinking.
3) To change their actions
Writing appeals to readers by:
1) making a clear, coherent statement of ideas and a central argument, which known as Logos (embodied thought).
2) offering evidence that the rhetor is credible and well educated, which know as ethos (good-willed credibility).
3) relating to the audience’s emotions and interests, which known as pathos (feeling, sympathy, empathy)
The Five Canons of Rhetoric:
1) Canons that Guide the Generation of Material:
is the art of finding the appropriate arguments in any rhetorical situation.
I. Journalist’s Questions:
Who was involved? What took place? When did it happen?
Where did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen?
These questions not only can generate material for any
composition, but also can be used to help comprehend what
II. Kenneth Burke’s Pentad (dramatistic pentad):
The pentad is a good device for analyzing a text you read and for taking
an inventory of what you might write.
Act: What happened?
Scene: When and where did it happen?
Agent: Who did it?
Agency: How was it done?
Purpose: Why was it done?
The five points of the pentad are the things a person could say not only about a written text but also, more broadly, about any purposeful or intentional act that communicates meaning.
III. The Enthymeme:
a syllogism or other argument in which a premise or the conclusion is unexpressed. IV. The Topics:
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