Presenter Information

Caroline ChesterFollow

Major

Rhetoric

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jamie Downing

Keywords

rhetoric, canons, criticism, Senate, address

Abstract

Rooted in Greco-Roman traditions of participatory government and public address, the study of rhetoric continues to frame understandings of modern political performance. Using theory developed by Aristotle and Cicero, speeches are fundamentally crafted around the principles of invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Political discourse can then be analyzed using these concepts. To that end, I use these principles to conduct a Neo-Aristotelian criticism of Senator Jeff Flake’s speech which calls for the value of humanity over that of guilt.Specifically, I use concepts contained within the area of invention to investigate the significance of presenting the speaker’s ethos (character as ethical and credible), as well as how the effective execution of logos (logic) and pathos (emotion) can contribute to the success of an address. Through the analysis, I demonstrate how Senator Flake draws very heavily on the significance of humanity and that all humans, guilty or not, deserve to be treated with equal respect. Moreover, Flake’s speech shows careful consideration of arrangement through his adherence to expectations of audience, location, and event. I argue that the canons of invention and arrangement, are not only effective in performing a Neo-Aristotelian criticism, but essential to the process of message creation. I conclude that, though developed centuries ago, Classical rhetorical principles remain relevant to the creation and understanding of modern political speech.

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Neo-Aristotelian Criticism: An Analysis of Senator Jeff Flake’s Address to the U.S. Senate

Rooted in Greco-Roman traditions of participatory government and public address, the study of rhetoric continues to frame understandings of modern political performance. Using theory developed by Aristotle and Cicero, speeches are fundamentally crafted around the principles of invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Political discourse can then be analyzed using these concepts. To that end, I use these principles to conduct a Neo-Aristotelian criticism of Senator Jeff Flake’s speech which calls for the value of humanity over that of guilt.Specifically, I use concepts contained within the area of invention to investigate the significance of presenting the speaker’s ethos (character as ethical and credible), as well as how the effective execution of logos (logic) and pathos (emotion) can contribute to the success of an address. Through the analysis, I demonstrate how Senator Flake draws very heavily on the significance of humanity and that all humans, guilty or not, deserve to be treated with equal respect. Moreover, Flake’s speech shows careful consideration of arrangement through his adherence to expectations of audience, location, and event. I argue that the canons of invention and arrangement, are not only effective in performing a Neo-Aristotelian criticism, but essential to the process of message creation. I conclude that, though developed centuries ago, Classical rhetorical principles remain relevant to the creation and understanding of modern political speech.