Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?

Is there a crisis in political rhetoric? The more you think about this question the more you realise just how gargantuan the can of worms you just opened is. Simply knowing how to strategically approach this questions is a mission within itself, and that was the focus of the recent workshop hosted by the Network of Oratory and Politics which took place at Queen Mary University in London on Wednesday 13th September.  Continue reading “Is There a Crisis in Political Rhetoric?”

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A Rhetorical Review of PMQs

Summer recess is over so parliament is back and with it comes Prime Minister’s Questions! To many people, PMQs seems like one of the crazy side effects of democracy. Politicians jeering, waving papers and making snide comments whilst devolving into a tribal state of savagery. This anthropological debacle is chaired by the speaker, who like a toothless beast has to control the chamber with nothing but howls. It is worthy enough to be a David Attenborough documentary. Continue reading “A Rhetorical Review of PMQs”

Is this quite possibly the best worst speech on the internet?

Some speeches are so bad that they’re good. This is quite possibly one of the best worst speeches the internet has ever seen. Phil Davison was seeking the Republican Party’s nomination to stand as Candidate for the Stark County Treasurer election in 2010 and gave this majestic performance. Receiving hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube the speech has been watched by people all over the world and Phil Davidson became a bit of a celebrity even getting himself an interview on Fox News. Continue reading “Is this quite possibly the best worst speech on the internet?”

Game of Rhetoric: A rhetorical commentary on Cersei Lannister’s speech

This rhetorical commentary of Cersei Lannister’s speech is written purely as an exercise for identifying uses of classical rhetoric in modern popular culture. Rhetoric is used in discourse all the time; it is used in speeches, movies, books, articles and even TV shows about dragons!

If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, it will still make sense as I have quoted the script and you don’t need much context. If you are currently watching Game of Thrones and haven’t watched up to Season 7 Episode 2 then I suggest you stop reading now (spoiler alert)!

This speech is an example of a philippic which is an aggressive attack on someone’s ethos (this is also known as ad hominem).

Continue reading “Game of Rhetoric: A rhetorical commentary on Cersei Lannister’s speech”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos

Out of all the rhetorical tropes stocked in our arsenal of persuasion, pathos is certainly the most powerful. Logos is like a castle, well-founded, sturdy and strong, however pathos is the wave of water which sinks it with overwhelming force.

Pathos is an appeal to the emotions. Whether that is sadness, pity, happiness or anger; whenever someone is trying to inspire any sort of emotion from the audience they are using pathos. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Poisonous Pathos”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Lying Logos

The term Logos refers to logic which can be seen as the pursuit of proof. There are two different types of logic, formal logic (also known as mathematical logic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the sort we use in speeches and it is what this blogpost will focus on. If you want to know more about formal logic, we have a blogpost about that too!

Logos is the term used when you try to persuade someone with evidence or a logical argument. A logical argument can be anything that is loosely based on logical principles. You can think of a logical argument like a wall. You get some walls that are impressively tall, however in reality, it doesn’t take much to knock them over. You get some made out of sticks and mud whilst others are made out of solid rock. You even get some badly built walls that have gaping holes letting in the foul winds of manipulation and deceit. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Lying Logos”

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos

Ethos, logos and pathos are often celebrated as the Three Musketeers of Rhetoric. However, they can be much more menacing than people realise. They distort logic, they cloud reason and they manipulate judgment.

Ethos is probably one of the most commonly used and least commonly detected forms of rhetoric. Ethos is when a speaker attempts to invoke authority or credibility (either over themselves or someone else) to persuade an audience. Continue reading “Defence Against the Dark Arts: Elusive Ethos”