Class Notes page 1: Rhetoric Class

These are just my class notes from my Rhetoric Class. You are more than welcome to read them, but know that they’re simply notes, rather than a creative thoughtful insightful writing. Notes that I’m adding to my compost heap.

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline”

Martian Luther King Jr


The Thesis: Putting Your Idea Into Words

The most important part of your argument is its substance—that is, the idea you are trying to communicate or the point you are trying to prove.

Once you can state your idea in its simplest terms, you are ready to build an argument around it.

The Modes of Appeal

1- The first such appeal is logos, which is the “appeal to reason”; it uses logical reasoning to convince an audience. 

deductive reasoning – is a logical process in which a conclusion is based on the concordance of multiple premises that are generally assumed to be true. Deductive reasoning is sometimes referred to as top-down logic. Its counterpart, inductive reasoning, is sometimes referred to as bottom-up logic.

syllogism – an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals; all animals have four legs; therefore all dogs have four legs ).

inductive reasoning – is a method of reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying some evidence for the truth of the conclusion; this is in contrast to deductive reasoning. 

2- The second artistic mode of appeal is ethos, the “ethical appeal,” which is based on establishing the credibility of the speaker or writer (to include both, we may speak of the “rhetor”).

3- The third mode of appeal is pathos, the appeal to the audience’s emotions. These can be positive emotions, like pride or hope, or negative ones, like fear or hatred.


Classical rhetoric divided a composition into five parts: (1) exordium, the introduction; (2) narratio, the statement of the context or situation; (3) confirmatio, the presentation of arguments and facts; (4) refutatio, the presentation and refuting of counterarguments; and (5) peroratio, the conclusion.


diction – the choice and use of words

syntax – the arrangement of words

schemes – deviations from the ordinary arrangements of words. Two common schemes are repetition and omission

tropes – turns/twists/play on meanings, a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression. simile, metaphor, You may also have heard the word “trope” used to mean a comparison, situation, or concept that is overused, or a cliché