Oprah and Barbara.


Last week, Barbara Walters interviewed the queen of daytime talk-Oprah Winfrey. Both women are at the top of the entertainment and news industries. They also both have done hundreds of interviews over the course of their careers, so to watch an interview between the two of them is a great example of beautiful rhetoric. Both women are able to answer any questions with poise and elegance. What is interesting about this interview is the depth of personal information that Barbara is able to reach to with Oprah. Oprah becomes very emotional during the interview when discussing her longtime friend Gayle.  The emotional response from Oprah, I believe, adds to her credibility. By showing her ‘tender side, the audience is able to connect with Oprah because we all have someone we care strongly about as well. In addition, I believe that Oprah’s emotion adds to the ethos of Barbara. By being able to evoke such emotions from Oprah it means that Barbara is able to make her interviewees comfortable. If you have a free hour, I would recommend checking out a little bit of the interview.


“Let’s Shake Hands and Reach Across Those Party Lines…”

Although George W. Bush and Bill Clinton don’t share the same political platform, they successfully created a commercial that would appeal across party differences. Similarly to Mary Fisher’s 1992 Republican National Convention Address calling for action to an HIV/AIDS cure, they established a common goal to raise money for the efforts in Haiti. First, they established ethos by both being Presidents of the United States. Second, they used pathos to tug on our heart strings recalling the disastrous effects of the earthquake in Haiti. Third, they used logic by creating a direct link between you giving money and lives being saved. Bush and Clinton also used a positive, negative, positive or “Oreo” model. They built up the audience by saying how great the U.S. is at providing help to those in need. Followed by the sense of urgency needed for this effort and concluding with donating money could save a great number of lives and thus, success in restoring Haiti. I think this commercial encompasses successful tactics for a good and persuasive advertisement through emotion for helping those in need, providing two important figures, and a common goal to work towards no matter what party affiliation.

Erika Berg

Michelle Obama’s DNC Speech

Speeches are essential in politics, and especially now, with 24/7 news coverage, speeches play a much more important role than ever before because they are free to be analyzed over and over. I think that Michelle Obama’s DNC speech is interesting to analyze because it was the keynote address on the first day of the convention, but she is not a politician herself. She was there to give a more personal view of her husband, and discuss why he should be President. This speech was to a Democratic convention that would make her husband the Presidential nominee, but perhaps more importantly, it was to the United States as a whole, to help convince them that her husband deserved to become President. The audience for this speech was not only supporters, but also critics of her husband, not just Democrats but also Republicans, not just Americans, but the world as well. This makes it a fascinating situation, because while in the room she had support around her, but the speech would be shown to non supporters as well. Thus, her audience was broad and had many different viewpoints, which made it an interesting situation.

I think it is fitting that she begins the speech by talking about her family, and where she came from — it gives her a bond with the audience, and as she is speaking as a family member, not a politician, she needs to show the audience why she is qualified to speak about her husband — and it is because of her knowledge of him on a personal level. Thus, she immediately establishes her ethos. Pathos is also established early on, as by connecting with the audience on a personal level through personal stories, she is generating emotion in them as they are able to see Barack Obama as a person. She brings up her father’s memory frequently, which also stirs emotion. By taking the audience through her journey, she really establishes pathos because they are able to see where she is coming from emotionally. Michelle Obama also establishes logos — she brings up concrete reasons for why her husband should be President — he will bind the country together, he is committed, he has shown in the past that he is qualified, etc. While she is clearly there to focus on the more personal, emotional aspects, by combining concrete reasons as well, she is able to come off as supporting him for reasons beyond him being her husband. She can make an impact by connecting personally, then giving logical reasons, because the audience has begun to trust her. This combination of showing insight into what level she knows him on (ethos), the difficult journey she has been on in her life (creating pathos), and reasons why he should be President (logos) makes her an effective opening speaker, because she is able to bring unique insight into Barack Obama as a person, not just a politician — few people are able to do that better than Michelle Obama.

The speech was also well written and well delivered. At a convention it can be difficult to gain continuity because applause interrupts so often, but she was prepared with the proper places to pause, and how to make it cohesive. This is largely due to the fact that the speech is written so it flows well — she begins on a more personal level, before discussing where the country is at the time, and then moving onto exactly why Obama should be president. She is clearly composed and well rehearsed, and she connected with the audience through eye contact and gestures. On such a big stage, for someone who up until that point had not been a public figure, she is able to really make an impact — probably because she comes off as genuine in a way that politicians who give so many speeches do not. She brings the element of family in, and the story telling of her speech makes you feel like she is really letting you know something about her, and that makes the audience pay attention. Because her audience is so divided on their opinions, by keeping the speech largely to a personal level, she is able to make everyone relate regardless of their political beliefs. I think this ability to connect with everyone is what makes this speech so effective. It is a unique situation to be a speaker at a convention with so many different elements, but I believe the personal aspect of this speech is what makes it stand out — it makes this speech appeal to a broader audience than the more politically centered speeches, and I think it was a very important element of the convention.

What do you think of this speech? Was she able to connect with her broad audience in an effective manner?

-Amanda Daniels

Class Participation? … Rhetoric

As the week of finals loom over our heads, we are all left to think about one thing: our final grades. We go over our past test grades, homework grades, and then we arrive at the one section of grading which is completely at a professors will: participation. Some professors chose not to take it into account, while for others the entire class grade could be dependent on what the professor thinks a student contributes in class.

One rhetorical situations of which we all engage is the classroom. We attend class almost everyday and have done so since we were young. I think it is definitely worth our while to examine the situation through our educated eye. For most classes, exigency is implicit in the situation – we go to class, the teacher speaks and we are encouraged to ‘participate’. There it is, that word, ‘PARTICIPATE’. It is our opportunity to make something happen with rhetoric.  However, for many of us, this can be difficult. Who is our audience? Is it the rest of the class? Or, should we be concentrating on what we think the professor wants to hear? Does the rest of the class even listen to classmates when they raise their hands? Or, could participation just mean listening, being a member of the audience?

Participation is hard to define. The constraints within a classroom are difficult to overcome. Some members of the class have no interest in being there, they are simply fulfilling a General Education requirement. Others are too tired because the class starts at 9:30 am. However, somehow we have to establish ethos, pathos and logos to our professor. Sure, if we can do that, we are ensured a nice participation grade. However, the consequence for not being able to overcome these constraints can lead a not-so-hot GPA.

Carly Huber

MALCOLM X: You’re Afraid To Bleed (Message To The Grass Roots excerpt)

Malcolm X (1925-1965) is one of the greatest orators in the 20th century.  Malcolm X in his speech “Message to the Grassroots” on November 10, 1963 in Detroit Michigan provides a rally cry for oppressed Americans to rise up and fight for what revolutionaries before them have. The speech provides a clear “enemy” and a call to action. Malcolm X uses power question as a rhetorical tool to force the audience to react and participate in his speech, keeping the audience engaged.

In a time when social movements are being intimidated through means of violence Malcolm X emphasizes the right of self defense.   Malcolm X explains how the American Revolution and French revolution establish historical precedent for violent revolution.  Malcolm X values natural rights and personal liberties that are outlined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Malcolm X points out the hypocrisy of America, the land of the free

Thus, Malcolm X, with this speech provides powerful logic and a call for action for change .  America is not the land of the free, freedom and “the American dream” is based on privileges that are attached to a person’s class, race and gender.


Brian Safi “That’s Gay”

Brian Safi’s “That’s Gay” videos and blog are to me, a stroke of genius. His sarcasm on important issues brings a fresh perspective to situations in the LGBT community. Specifically, this video targets the effects that portraying the gay community as evil has on people’s opinions. From a young age we are  filled with stereotypes in Disney movies. For example, stereotypes of the Middle East in Aladdin, Native Americans in Pochantos, and so on. Is it a mistake that the enemy in Disney movies portrays gay tendencies and the hero is strongly heterosexual? I think not. Unknowingly to many, these stereotypes are driven in to our brains and may be difficult to counter as children grow older. Associations are the hardest things to reverse. Brian Safi uses persuasive techniques and humor to convince the audience of his propositions. Do you think he does a good job convincing his audience? How does him being a part of the gay community provide a stronger sense of ethos, although he is not associated with Disney?


Erika Berg

Unpleasant Rhetorical Situations

In this semester’s public address course, we have had to give a speech of awareness/explication, advocacy & boycott, and commemoration. We have been able to employ a variety of the models and techniques learned throughout class such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, establishment of ethos, pathos, and logos, refutation strategies, the reflective thinking method, Monroe’s Motivational Sequence, etc. These have helped us to develop speeches that relay intended messages while appealing to appropriate rhetorical situations. One rhetorical situation that I feel is more difficult to address and where these rhetorical techniques we have learned are harder to employ is for unpleasant rhetorical situations.

I think of these unpleasant rhetorical situations as times when a speech is required but it is on a very sad, upsetting, disappointing, or even embarrassing topic. Some of these situations are concession speeches, public apologies, eulogies, or even an allocution to a judge. These tough situations make it more difficult to follow the models we have discussed thus far. There is still a need to establish ethos, pathos, and logos, but not a specific method of which to do this as there is for a persuasive speech or an informational speech. Therefore, I believe that these speeches would be the most difficult to write.

~ Sarah Theobald

Why are Apple advertisements so convincing?

What’s on my Christmas list this year? An iPad of course! After seeing this commercial I knew it would be an easy task to convince my mom that I NEEDED this to be a successful student and job candidate. Then I started to ponder what makes Apple commercials so convincing? The summer before our freshman year at Denison, Apple released a series of commercials comparing Apple computers to PC’s. Of course the Apple representative was young, hip, and cool while the PC representative was old, bald, and nerdy. Now, Apple commercials continue to appeal to a wide audience. Take this iPad commercial for example, it shows the student, the businessman, the child, the musician, and the gamer that they could all use the iPad and get what they want out of it. Apple uses ethos, pathos, and logos in every advertisement. The ethos in this is that Apple is a good, successful company making a product that promises to deliver in all occasions. The pathos is the nice beat in the music in the background, as well as showing fast and cool flips of what the iPad can do. The logos is the simple words in black and white targeting every audience member. Apple has thrived on the fact that it is the innovative and “cool” company. The iPad is following the footsteps of the iPhone in its success path. This iPad commercial, as well as the others on television, aim to prove to all audience members that they need an iPad to be successful…or else.


Erika Berg

blogging as dangerous form of rhetorical situation

This is not referencing this blog, I am more aiming this discussion at people who blog about sports, especially those who complain excessively. Blogging in itself is definitely a rhetorical situation, people are trying to get a point across and are using the writing for awareness, commemoration or persuasion (the three speeches we gave). There are also many examples of pathos and logos, because emotion and logic are straightforward enough to impant into blogging, a form of written rhetoric.

However, I argue that a problem can occur with ethos, especially with sports blogs as I mentioned. Many bloggers don’t have credibility, but still attempt to place a false credibility on themselves. A blog or comment on a blog or article can be posted by anyone, regardless of their familiarity with the subject, their expertise on the subject, or in the case of sports, their continued or prior involvement in the sport. This ability to sway other people based only on logos (or more likely just pathos) is easy in blogs, because readers aren’t likely to demand to know if someone is credible. Is someone who posts automatically credible when others believe him based on emotion? Or is there more necessary for ethos in the case of posting on blogs or internet articles?

– Cody Smith

Tupac Shakur 1992 Speech

In this speech Tupac Shakur the infamous rapper, poet, and humanitarian is giving a speech in front of a Malcolm X grassroots movement in Atlanta. Mr. Shakur is addressing a specific crowd of present and former Black Panther members and Malcolm X supporters.  Mr. Shakur establishes his credibility as a second generation revolutionary and pays homage to revolutionaries such as Malcolm X and members of the Black Panther.  Further, Shakur explains that there is a revolution that is still going on, that the fight is not over and that there is still oppression facing urban America. Thus, how can you find Mr. Shakur’s language and appearance offensive, without seeing the oppression and acute economic inequalities facing urban America disgusting?  The time is now to speak up and to produce action to create a better distribution of human condition and life.