Rhetoric Analysis

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Rhetoric is a large component of society today. While rhetoric is often met with a negative response from the public and seen as a way of tricking or manipulating an audience, this is merely a misrepresentation of the capacity and potential of rhetoric. Kenneth Burke, a 20th century rhetorical theorist, suggests a different, more positive definition of rhetoric. He says, “A rhetorician, I take it, is like one voice in a dialogue. Put several such voices together, with each voicing its own special assertion, let them act upon one another in cooperative competition, and you get a dialectic that, properly developed, can lead to the views transcending the limitations of each” (Rhetoric- Old and New). Burke hopes that rhetoric can actually
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Essentially, representative anecdotes can be defined as “short stories or tales that describe unusual, amusing, or otherwise remarkable experiences” (Blakesley 97). Blakesley continues, explaining that representative anecdotes serve to teach lessons, provide evidence, and ultimately “express or reaffirm belief…[and are] acts that have a curative effect and share some functions with propaganda” (97).
In addition to this definition, there are several components critical to understanding Burke’s representative anecdote. To fully understand representative anecdotes, one might ask what particular elements make the anecdote representative. First, as Robert Wess notes, Burke considers the anecdote to be representative when it includes the linguistic prowess found in humans. As Burke explains, we formulate a vocabulary in conformity with the anecdotes we engage, thus language must be central to the anecdote. In this sense, the rhetorical employment of the representative anecdote can be considered as storytelling, and “the well-chosen or truly representative anecdote makes possible a useful terminological analysis—or critique of symbolic action or poetry” (Rose
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Countless articles, studies, and talks by leaders in organizational communication, marketing, and rhetoric focus on the power of storytelling, which lies at the core of the representative anecdote. Simply put, people connect with stories. Humanitarian campaigns in particular provide excellent examples of representative anecdotes for study, as nonprofit organizations rely heavily on short, inspiring testimonials to tell their story, share their mission, and lead people to consider the implications of their