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The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication by Wayne C. Booth

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Wayne C. Booth’s The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004) was published in a series called “Blackwell Manifestos.” Booth’s passion is equal to the series’ task, whether he is preaching the gospel of “listening-rhetoric” (really getting at underlying truths in conversation versus “bargain-rhetoric” where your goal is to mediate a truce or “win-rhetoric” where your goal is to engage in monologue and so browbeat the conversation partner into submission) or ranting about the rhetorical missteps of the George W. Bush government, there is no lack of passion.

But perhaps the clearest message and the one I take with me is the notion that every piece of communication carries (furthers?) some rhetorical purpose. Every communication has a purpose. And to sit passively receiving without considering what the author/rhetor hopes to accomplish is to allow myself to be taken advantage of. Whether I’m watching a commercial on TV (even a good one), listening to a sonata, hearing a preacher or even reading the prophet Amos or some other ancient text, I’m at my best when I consider—and possibly reject or even accept—the message coded into the communication.

A text wants a response.


Written by kirkistan

March 10, 2010 at 7:34 am

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