Rhetoric criticism refers to ways through which individuals analyze other people’s symbolic artifacts to find out how might affect the audience. Under rhetoric criticism, critics aim at improving the writers’ capability to persuade or motivate specific audiences. In essence, a critic draws attention to a particular phenomenon. However, the society may not necessarily agree with the critic’s perception. The primary function’s of rhetoric criticism is to draw attention or point out a specific symbolic inspiration that can offer novel and thrilling ways for people to scrutinize the world. The five functions of rhetoric criticism are social criticism, purpose, contexts, theory building and pedagogical criticism (Brock, Scott & Chesebro, 1989).
Social-rhetorical criticism is a textually based rhetorical criticism method that employs pragmatic strategies to invite social, cultural, psychological and historical information to create a diminutive artistic action. In essence, social criticism varies from other types of rhetoric criticism. It tends to revalue and reinvent rhetoric rather that put in practice other forms of reserved rhetoric. In addition, social criticism puts into practice interdisciplinary aspects that change the former analysis steps. Such form of criticism tends to bring back the traditional interpretation margins. Under rhetorical criticism, social critics focus their attention on the nature of the texts as historical, social and ideological revelations. Furthermore, modern-day literary critics differ from formalists since they explore the rhetorical nature of the revelation. They do so traditionally and conventionally. However, social critics call for a detailed assessment when establishing boundaries for interpretation. The function suggests that critics need to observe carefully outside the existing boundaries before making any rhetoric criticism. Critics who operate within a sociological framework view communication between people as a force that generates and reflects on society. Therefore, such critics assess communication in terms of traditions, structures, norms and conventions. A good illustration is seen through print media like Teen Vogue as it advocates for the idea of beauty.

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On the other hand, contexts break down texts into social, historical and cultural contexts (Frey, L. R., Botan, Friedman & Kreps, 2000). They help readers to understand how persuasive texts affect historical, cultural and social contexts. For instance, Walter Rodney, in his book entitled “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, has used a historical context by giving examples as well as facts. He does so to persuade the reader that indeed Europe bears the responsibility of holding back Africa’s economy. Contexts emphasize on the power of disclosure that forces people to engage in confessions with others. When the confessions arise, people share their culture since they come from diverse cultures. Through the contexts, both parties learn from one another, and the trend defines how each ought to respond to the other.

Another function of rhetorical criticism is the purpose. Since the olden days to date, one persistence function of rhetoric criticism has been to increase social efficacy, to enhance cooperation and the general goodness of any given society (Hauser, 2002). The purpose of rhetoric criticism was to ensure responsibility for writing and giving speeches. The society examines fictional exposé from varied perspectives such as the expose’s effect on the community and whether it upholds or rejects the society’s beliefs. Another function of purpose in rhetoric criticism is that it paves a way for communities to prosper. Whether a critic rejects or permits a certain disclosure, the community will have received a warning in advance regarding what would be good and what would turn out to be destructive. An excellent example of the function is that of advertising, such as an advertisement for a political campaign or a certain product.

To contribute to rhetorical theory, rhetorical critics also use theory building to understand rhetoric by studying an artifact. Indeed, a majority of people use theory to understand what happens in the world. In theoretical criticism, explanations, on happenings and observations and even conclusions about what happens daily in the world are based on theory and not facts. For example, if someone wants to know about a certain restaurant or a certain CD of a particular music, they will only enquire about how popular it is even without visiting the said restaurant or listening to the particular music.

Through theory building in the use of symbols and artifacts, it is possible to give the audience an answer to the questions they ponder about regarding a product, activity or happenings in the world. Rhetoric critics will use what they see and communicate to consumers how a phenomenon works by theoretical facts.

Therefore, rhetoric critic deals with communication as a tool to make a conclusion based on theory. Theoretic critics also use avenues like the social media to determine of whether people like or dislike a commodity (Aristotle, 1984). The mere theory about the rhetoric occurrence and how an artifact operates a critic can give a simple answer to a question. However, the answer critics give is always simple and only identifies the essential theory in a rhetorical occurrence and how the phenomenon works. In fact, rhetoric critics build the theory from bare minimum evidence or even a single artifact ignoring all other details. Surprisingly also, rhetoric critics make their theoretical conclusion based on the study of how a particular artifact operates while ignoring facts and or importance. Admittedly then, it is important to communicate enthusiastically as that is what will determine results and not the main activity. Evidently, rhetoric critics use theory to persuade consumers to use a certain product through communication and advertising on the social media, and this works very well.

Pedagogically, the practice of rhetorical criticism helps in improving research and developing communication abilities. Indeed, theory building makes people better and cultured communicators. Also, use of theories in rhetoric criticism gives strategies and principles to anyone who wants to be an effective communicator. By practicing rhetorical criticism, it means the use of symbols is effective, and people communicate more and easily. In fact, this is a way of persuading consumers with a message, and customers do not need proof rather, they just buy. For example when menthol chewing gum emphasizes most secretaries insist on using it daily to impress their customers. Those who wish to do better in their careers and families can now use messages to achieve their goals as whatever they do is questionable. More so, Rhetoric criticism enables people to be more civilized as they communicate with families, friends. In addition, the study on rhetoric criticism has made people strive to improve in a home and office décor, etiquette and dressing as they try to send the right message (Kirkwood, William, 1992). Further, the awareness of rhetoric criticism has helped a majority of people more sophisticated in viewing and understanding messages sent to the public. Additionally, people now know the important of passing the right message for productive results either in the act or production of an item in the market. It is now easy to ignore the usual rhetoric activities and to view the messages we get every day without criticism. By understanding the pedagogical of rhetoric criticism and differentiating methodology and theory, it is now possible to be active in forming the world an improved place for people to live.

  • Aristotle (1984).Rhetoric. J Barnes (ed). The Complete Works of Aristotle, Vol. Two>Princeton: Princeton UP.
  • Brock, B. L., Scott, R. L., & Chesebro, J. W. (1989). Methods of rhetorical criticism: A twentieth-century perspective. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
  • Frey, L. R., Botan, C. H., Friedman, P. G., & Kreps, G. L. (2000). Investigating communication: An introduction to research methods. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Hauser, Gerald A. (2002). Introduction to Rhetorical Theory. Long Grove, Ilinois: Waveland Press Inc.
  • Kirkwood, William G. (1992). “Narative and the Rhetoric of Possibility.” Communication Monographs 59, 30-47.