The Future of Rhetoric in Our Digital Age
In Advertising, Politics and Freedom of Speech
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
April 30, 2011
While rhetoric has not seemed to have changed much over the years since the days of Aristotle, the use of this ancient are form appears to be continually transformed as new technologies are discovered and used. The advertising media have discovered new ways to use several figures of rhetoric in their effort to persuade us in buying their product over the competition. Politicians use these same figures in their means of persuasion for election to the office in which they seek. However, direct relationships with mass media outlets have also had an effect on the language and message of a political candidate. Finally, the basis of America’s freedom of speech and of the press, while not directly in question, does present some matters on what, if any, restrictions should be put on the freedom in the coming years as we use the power of new technologies.
The Future of Rhetoric in Our Digital Age
While performing research for this paper, I did what any modern student would do; I went straight to the internet. Of course my particular reasons have more to do with necessity rather than pure laziness in not wanting to walk to the nearest campus library. I found the entire process entertaining, frustrating and eye-opening all at the same time. Because the way our internet service is out here, we receive our feed from a non-US carrier. Because of this, the searches for key words for my research produced some interesting results. The change in rhetoric I found is not confined to the United States. In fact, most of the articles, journals, blogs and news clips I have came across were from various European countries that have their own opinion on the future of rhetoric in and outside their borders. With this, I would like to explore three aspects of how the electronic, or digital age, has changed the way we have used and the way we perceive rhetoric today and what the future may be for this ancient art form. The Evolution of Visual Rhetoric and Figurative Language in Advertizing
It’s difficult to grasp how saturated our everyday lives are in visual rhetoric until you are pulled from the world of mass media and placed into one that is all but media-free. One advantage, or disadvantage depending on your perspective, of this life where there are no televisions and the internet is quite limited, is that I am not bombarded with or influenced by visual rhetoric from media outlets on a daily basis. Whether it’s commercial or political rhetoric or even public service messages, if you are aware of the common figures of visual rhetoric, you will be able to see how frequently these figures of visual rhetoric are part of our everyday lives. The object of any of these figures remains rooted in what Aristotle named the three artistic proofs of ethos, pathos and logos. (Aristotle, trans. 2007) Mass media plays on all three proofs using one or more of these figures to enhance of insight of rhetoric. Metaphors and Similes
“Metaphor is defined as implied comparison between two relatively dissimilar objects. Simile on the other hand, is an explicit comparison between two dissimilar objects” (Chantrill, 2000) Metaphors and similes are the most widely used types of figures in modern advertising. We see this in advertisements so often that most of us have grown somewhat numb to metaphorical advertising, so much as it has lost a great deal of its effectiveness, forcing advertisers to invent more clever ways to present their product. While I do not believe that the use of metaphors and similes will die completely, because of their overuse in modern advertising, the future of metaphors in advertising will require further refinement if they are to remain an effective means of advertising. Metonymy
Metonymies do not compare, either indirectly or directly,...
References: Aristotle. Rhetoric [On rhetoric. A theory of civic discourse] (2007) (G. A. Kennedy Trans.). (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
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