Conditions of Use
This book generally does well balancing comprehensiveness with a concise, introductory approach. Especially in the introductory chapters, Hallsby explains the most fundamental terms with approachable examples and helpful videos. As the book... read more
This book generally does well balancing comprehensiveness with a concise, introductory approach. Especially in the introductory chapters, Hallsby explains the most fundamental terms with approachable examples and helpful videos. As the book proceeds into Hallsby's particular research interests, the terminology and concepts become much more complicated and potentially too niche at times for an introductory rhetorical theory course, but sections on anamorphosis and surveillance (for example) could very productively enrich a visual rhetoric course.
I did not find any errors or issues of bias in the text, but it is also not clearly written in such a way to avoid political questions altogether, as some textbooks are.
Generally the examples and media used are very topically relevant and approachable for a college-age audience, but some of the content around memes are already starting to show their age—as is the risk of their use. This is unlikely to distract a student too much, and may actually provide some material for discussion, but it is worth noting nonetheless.
This is where the text really shines, as many complicated and dense ideas are introduced very succinctly and with direct ties to relevant and familiar issues and contexts. The chapter on secrecy gets more complicated, but is an interesting read that would probably capture interest more to compensate.
Very consistent throughout. The text builds upon itself, but not so excessively that it would make it difficult for a student to catch up.
The reading is broken up semi-regularly with examples, diagrams, images, and videos, though the PDF version is less visually engaging than the web. Each of the relatively short chapters could be extracted and used on their own for particular sections of a course, especially one not entirely devoted to rhetorical theory but wishing to bring in a rhetorical perspective on texts from another discipline. Some of the later chapters might necessitate an explanation of specific terms in order to be used on their own.
The middle chapters are organized somewhat unconventionally, but they lead into each other well. I would consider bringing the Rhetorical Situation chapter up toward the beginning rather than all the way back at Chapter 10, and perhaps the same with the Digital Rhetorics chapter, as many of my students want to analyze digital artifacts.
The PDF version provides links to video content and some images, which could prevent readers from actually watching them while also making the text less visually interesting. I would recommend using the website versions rather than uploading a PDF copy to the course site. There are also relatively frequent issues of spacing between words in the PDF version, but the text remains legible.
There are typos often enough to bother me, but perhaps not often enough to bother students. Occasional names were misspelled, but generally there were issues of punctuation. None of the errors got in the way of comprehension.
Issues of culture, race, colonialism, and more are mentioned early in the text and treated as central rather than tangential. The canonical theory texts in the field are overwhelmingly white, but it's clear there has been some effort to diversify the citations at points.
The assignments and study guides included are very useful for instructors, though may seem overwhelming for students as their descriptions are lengthy and dense. They may require adaptation to simplify for students.
Dr. Hallsby has developed an extensive, interdisciplinary, and global overview of rhetorical theory that I have ever read in academia! The text carefully weaves a tapestry of rhetoric as an art of speech through rhetoric's powerful voice in... read more
Dr. Hallsby has developed an extensive, interdisciplinary, and global overview of rhetorical theory that I have ever read in academia! The text carefully weaves a tapestry of rhetoric as an art of speech through rhetoric's powerful voice in today's technological space. This text should be required reading for any student of public speaking and/or any introductory coursework in human communication. The text includes audio and/or video recordings with each chapter, with corresponding guidelines for proposed written assignments. Students will gain a thorough understanding of what rhetoric is, its historical practices through the present day, and the significance of the ways wherein rhetoric may be used to support reason, rather than to oppress it.
The text presents an accurate overview and understanding of the ways that influence and power move in the society wherein we reside and the role communication plays in creating common knowledge about such powerful influences. Dr. Hallsby presents an exceptional overview of how speech motivates human action and allows the reader to imagine possible futures.
The sphere of rhetoric shall never become obsolete as it's ideals have been recorded since the times of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, through its present-day record used by rhetorical theorists. Hallsby's assertion that science and rhetoric are parallel systems of epistemology, ensures students of rhetorical theory that rhetoric is art and art is as much a way of knowing as science. Thus, the text will always remain relevant, as long as art and science exist.
Dr. Hallsby's exposition of rhetorical terms and concepts are presented with directness, lucidity, and transparency exposing conceptually why it matters where and when we begin rhetoric's story and why rhetorical criticism will always remain a useful theory of practice. Hallsby's return to ancient Greece to highlight the ways wherein rhetoric signaled an unhealthy state of public and political discourse bears witness to how unjust patterns and practices of those ancient times are still present with us within today's public and political discourse and multifaceted opinions.
The text is consistent from the first page to the last. It expertly constructs the unbroken thread of truth from rhetoric's past to how we understand it today - a collection of humanist, literary, and political theories that explain how speech galvanizes human action and allows the student to imagine possible futures.
The text is well-planned with content easily absorbed as the early chapters provide definitions and context for rhetoric as "speech", the middle chapters describe rhetoric as "representation" (signs, symbols, visual images, argumentation, and narrative), and the concluding chapters elaborate on rhetoric as a technology of "power" (on settler colonialism secrecy, and digital rhetoric). Students using this resource will gain a comprehensive understanding of what rhetoric is, how it has been practiced historically and today and the ways wherein rhetoric casts its influence over contemporary public and political life.
The organization of the text is superb, including audio and/or video recordings with each chapter, as well as guidelines for proposed written assignments. Designed for use across a variety of modalities, including in-person, online (synchronous/asynchronous) and hybridized formats, and additional resources (PowerPoint slides, quiz/exam questions, upon request), ensures an ideal learning-style environment for any student within the higher education framework.
The text is free of any interface issues that may distract or confuse the reader.
There are no grammatical errors in the text.
The text is culturally appropriate and inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Being an African American woman, I was most inspired that Hallsby included rhetorical theorist, Molefi Kete Asante's worldview on "Afrocentricity." Hallsby included Asante's argument that Afrocentricity is essential to understanding rhetoric. I personally identified with this portion of the text, which is rarely witnessed within an academic discourse on rhetoric.
The text resonated with me ontologically. I highly recommend this text for any professor of communication, rhetoric, or public speaking, which are usually required courses within the academic curriculum. I especially delighted in Dr. Hallsby's social inequalities in Ancient Greece which reverberate the inequalities I experienced as a child in the 50's in my hometown, Montgomery, Alabama. And of course, this is the world that those born in the 21st Century, continue to experience, simply because of differences that exist by nature of birth.
I conclude this review in Dr. Hallsby's own words: "Beyond wealth inequalities in ancient Greece, there is evidence that Athenian culture was not an ideal democracy where all people were equal and 'the people' made decisions in common. This is also why Greece holds a mirror up to our own problems: it shows us how problems with our own rhetorical culture may be tied to entrenched social inequalities." Atilla Hallsby (2022), "The 'Origins' of Rhetorical Theory" in https://the-un-textbook.ghost.io/chapter-2-the-origins-of-rhetorical-theory-2/. Accessed (31 December 2022)
Table of Contents
- Main Body
- Chapter 1: What is Rhetorical Theory?
- Chapter 2: The "Origins" of Rhetorical Theory
- Chapter 3: Propaganda and the Common Good
- Chapter 4: The Symbol
- Chapter 5: The Sign
- Chapter 6: Rhetoric and Ideology
- Chapter 7: Rhetoric and Argumentation
- Chapter 8: Rhetoric and Narrative
- Chapter 9: Visual Rhetoric
- Chapter 10: The Rhetorical Situation
- Chapter 11: The Settler Situation
- Chapter 12: The Secrecy Situation
- Chapter 14: The Digital Situation
- Assignments and Study Guides
- Short Paper 1: The Encomium
- Short Paper 2: Annotation Assignment
- Short Paper 3: Rhetorical Analysis
- Exam 1 Study Guide: Chapters 1-5
- Exam 2 Study Guide: Chapters 6-9
- Exam 3 Study Guide: Chapters 10-14
- Appendix: Definitions of Rhetoric
Ancillary MaterialSubmit ancillary resource
About the Book
This is a textbook that was originally designed for a 3000-level large lecture course on “Rhetorical Theory” at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities. An interdisciplinary tradition, rhetorical theory describes how speech, representation, and power are managed by techniques and technologies of communication. The plan of this book moves from rhetoric as an art of speech to rhetoric as a technology of power. The early chapters provide definitions and context for rhetoric as speech, middle chapters (e.g., on signs, symbols, visual images, argumentation, and narrative) describe rhetoric as representation, and the concluding chapters (e.g., on settler colonialism, secrecy, and digital rhetoric) elaborate on rhetoric as a technology of power. Of course, there is considerable overlap across these areas: the chapter on “rhetoric and ideology” sets the stage for later understandings of rhetoric as power; the chapter on “the rhetorical situation” hearkens back to the introductory understanding of rhetoric as speech. The book includes (audio and/or video) recordings with each chapter, as well as guidelines for proposed written assignments. Students using this resource should gain a thorough understanding of what rhetoric is, how it was practiced historically and today, and the ways that rhetoric wields an invisible influence over contemporary public and political life. Additionally, this book is designed for use across a variety of modalities, including in-person, online (synchronous/asynchronous), and hybridized formats. Additional resources (PowerPoint slides, quiz/exam questions) are also available to confirmed instructors upon request.
About the Contributors
Atilla Hallsby, assistant professor in the Communication Studies department in the Rhetorical Studies area at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.