Generic Constraints and the Rhetorical Situation- Response

            This article defines what a genre is, how it is formed, how it affects rhetor and critics as and what is a “function of generic criticism” (Jamieson, 1973, p. 162).  One of the most predominate points was that “genres are shaped in response to a rhetor’s perception” (Jamieson, 1973, p. 163). Also, the author emphasizes, “perception of the proper response to an unprecedented rhetorical situation grows not merely from the situation but also from antecedent rhetorical forms” (Jamieson, 1973, p. 163). The article concludes with saying that genres are necessary for clarification over classification (Jamieson, 1973).

This article was meant to teach that, “a critic armed with an understanding of the nature and function of generic constraints approaches critical objects prepared to explicate them” (Jamieson, 1973, p. 169). This article emphasized the importance of genres and how it is necessary for the critic to tend to in order to be effective in their rhetoric.

I learned the importance of genres in rhetorical criticisms from this article. This article was not a criticism itself, but instead pointed out an important aspect that should be considered when creating rhetorical criticisms. I will now consider genres when creating my own criticisms.

A Time of Shame and Sorrow: Robert F. Kennedy and the American Jeremiad- Response

This article was about Kennedy’s jeremiad that he used to “shape the audience’s response to tragedy of King’s death and the resulting disorders” (Murphy, 1990, p. 402).  Kennedy successfully used American ideology to convince his audience that “sins were responsible for the national malaise” (Murphy, 1990, p. 407). This article argued that the rhetoric used by Kennedy shaped “a plausible view of the situation”, meaning King’s death, “explained the crises, [and’ assured the eventual triumph of the American system” (Murphy, 1990, p.410).

This article showed how the use of modern jeremiad works as a “means to restore social harmony in a time of crisis” by examining Senator Kennedy’s speech (Murphy, 1990, p. 402).  Murphy describes Kennedy’s rhetoric strategies as acts to gain social control (Murphy, 1990).  Which ultimately demonstrated how “epideictic speakers [overcome] crisis and [restore] social harmony (Murphy, 1990, p. 402).

I liked that this article took a look at jeremiadic speaking and found a dominate artifact, “ethos”, that seemed to be left out of prior critiques.  I learned that a critiqued could be done by examining prior research and filling in past gaps.

Jeremiad at Harvard: Solzhenitsyn and The World Split Apart- Response

The authors look at Solzhenitsyn’s speech at Harvard to suggest why his audience responded negatively to it.  They find that Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation of American’s was incorrect because he did not interact with the American people.  This unfamiliarity “lead to Solzhenitsyn’s ‘mistake’ of condemning [America’s] strengths as weaknesses” (Stoda & Dionisopoulos, 2000, p.46). Therefore suggesting the explanation that an audience willing to accept a speaker’s claim may have limits when the speech has a threatening message concerning the audience’s self-image (Stoda & Dionisopoulos, 2000, p. 47).  

            This article suggested “even though [a] speech conforms to the touchstones of [a] genre, it may have been addressed to an audience unprepared to receive [a certain] type of message from [a] particular messenger” by looking at Solzhenitsyn ‘s 1978 address “A World Split Apart” (Stoda & Dionisopoulos, 2000, p. 28).  The speech received criticism because of Solzhenitsyn’s criticisms of American from an outside perspective. America did not expect a foreigner to his negative opinion of America therefore the reactions were negative. 

            This article looked at an address that was received mainly negatively and suggests the reasons why this may be. The authors took a topic that was mostly looked at concerning how the address was negative and attempted to explain why it became viewed that way. I could use the method of taking a controversial topic and suggesting ways as to why it became controversial in my own writing.

George W. Bush’s Post-September 11 Rhetoric of Covenant Renewal: Upholding the Faith of the Greatest Generation- Response

This article was about George W. Bush’s rhetoric that was used after the September 11th tragedy.  The author suggests that Bush used past Puritan rhetoric of covenant renewal to place “blame for nation’s problems on external sources” (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 294). The author concluded that Bush and past Puritan leaders faced similar problems such as “how to convince the younger generations, awed and intimidated by the accomplishments of their elders, to renew the community covenant”, which lead to their use of similar rhetoric (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 312).  Finally Bush inaugurated himself with his covenant renewal messages by fulfilling  “the functions of epideictic rhetoric by explaining the events of September 11, reconstitution the American community” and “demonstrating his leadership” (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 312).

This article discussed “the evolution and characteristics of covenant renewal rhetoric” with regards to the September 11th tragedy (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 294). The authors demonstrate that Bush’s post 9-11 speech used “rhetoric of covenant renewal [to] depict evil as a cause rather than an effect” (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 294).  Bush’s speech used “inclusive language of religiosity” to urge citizens to make positive cultural changes by carrying “out their daily routines with faith and do good works through community service” (Bostdorff, 2003, p. 294).

I learned that a criticism could be constructed by comparing types of rhetoric used by different speakers whom seem to have nothing in common. It is not necessary to compare one president to another when looking at the types of rhetoric they used in their speeches. I would have never thought Bush would have a commonality in his rhetoric with Puritan leaders, but sure enough this article suggested that and did it very well.