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Exploring the Art of Rhetoric
Date:2013-2-28    Publisher:本站原创


Exploring the Art of Rhetoric


By Brianna Blake
February 03,2013

Photo: AP
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, on June 12, 1987
STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I’m Shirley Griffith. This week on our program, we learn about the art of rhetoric and tell you about a website that brings American rhetoric to life.


STEVE EMBER: We use rhetoric every time we use language, whether giving a speech or talking with a friend. So what is rhetoric? Dictionaries list several meanings for this word. One is the study of using language effectively. Another is the art of using language to persuade, influence or please.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle described rhetoric as "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." But the word can also have a negative meaning, like when a politician gives a speech and critics dismiss it as "rhetoric." What they mean is, it sounded good, but lacked substance.

Michael Eidenmuller knows all about rhetoric, and he says it sometimes gets a bad name.

MICHAEL EIDENMULLER: "Rhetoric is not inherently evil or corrupt, in my view. It’s a neutral tool or technology that has and is and will be used for both evil and ill."
Michael Eidenmuller
Mr. Eidenmuller is a communications professor at the University of Texas at Tyler. About ten years ago, he created a Web page for his students. It included links to famous speeches on other websites. The idea was to create a resource that his students could use in their studies.

The list of speeches grew, and so did the popularity of the page.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Then, in two thousand four, Mr. Eidenmuller posted a link to the speech that Senator Zell Miller gave at the Republican National Convention.

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