Professor Belli | Fall 2022 | City Tech

What is Rhetoric?

In this workshop, we’re going to dive a bit deeper into rhetoric, which at its core is all about how we communicate. Mike Bunn, in “How to Read Like a Writer,” introduces some of this material (including aspects of the rhetorical situation, starting on p. 76), and reminds us that “all writing consists of a series of choices” (72). He also stresses of making “appropriate” and “effective” choices in our writing.

*READ + ANNOTATE the following short texts about rhetoric (don’t forget to click all links and review all resources in each text):

*PARTICIPATE + COMMENT: Add your voice to the mix by commenting below! Comments can take many forms, so there is no one right approach. The goal is simply to engage with the readings about rhetoric and our discussion here about it.

Some suggestions for getting started:

  • reflect on your use of rhetoric in your life
  • reflect on your use of rhetoric in your Education Narrative
  • offer an example of one of the rhetorical appeals (logos, pathos, ethos, kairos)
  • offer an analysis of rhetoric in the news or popular media
  • ask a clarifying question about rhetoric (the rhetorical situation, the rhetorical context, rhetorical appeals, rhetorical strategies, etc.).

In all cases, the goal is to be as specific as possible. If you’re referring to another text, don’t forget to cite by introducing the (example) text you’re referring to and providing a link to it (if possible).


  1. Brandon Rivera

    Before reading the articles provided, I never really paid close attention to my use of rhetoric in my everyday life. After reading the articles and thinking about my conversations with my friends, I noticed that I use logos, pathos, and ethos daily. When we talk about shows and movies are use a lot of pathos and we also think about the use of logos during the writing of our favorite shows we watch. In my education narrative, I have noticed the use of Logos, Ethos, and a bit of Pathos. I mostly notice the use of Logos and Ethos. Logos is used right from the beginning since I talk about a medical illness with facts and logic. Ethos is also used throughout the whole educational narrative because I am the credibility source since it’s something that happened to me. Pathos I would say I use very little of the only time I use it is in order to specifically mention that if whoever is reading my narrative is squeamish to not read further. Kairos appears in most moments in which I had to make a decision in my narrative which was about 8-10 times where I had to make a decision for myself. 


    Rhetoric in the news or popular media and culture uses very little Logos. They focus on Pathos, Ethos, and Kairos. Pathos is used for example with clickbait. They perhaps twist the real thing that happened with something else and play with the emotions of the reader in order to click and read for themselves. Ethos is mixed because the credibility of these news or media platforms alternates with facts and is not true to what happens. Kairos happens all the time, it’s always a fight over who can get the news or information out to the public as fast as possible. A question I would say I have comes from the article “WHAT IS RHETORIC?” by the University of Illinois( During everyday writing or speaking should one be focused on when or how to use Pathos, Ethos, Logos, Kairos? Or should we mostly focus on it for analyzing texts and articles? 

  2. jamani anderson

    The way I use rhetoric in my life is by analyzing my main focus towards my open narrative using cohesive ideas to help me form a strong narrative and also structure my ideas to help my ideas make sense in a way that the reader understands more clearer. As I was reading the articles I found out that I used logos in part of my essay because i focused on the message about a genre and how it impacted myself in my educational experience. I showed ethos as well to not only speak on one side of education and how it affected me but I spoke on both aspects of education including english and us history because those two subjects involves a lot of writing and understanding cohesive ideas. I also used pathos explaining of values and beliefs beyond both subjects and how it made me successful in life. I used Kairos a few times to impulse my ideas on how I wanted to write my essay in a way to develop a clearer meaning and interesting informative essay.

    Rhetoric in the new and culture era acknowledges a purpose in life it gives you framework to think critically about your writing and reading choices. Rhetoric also shows how to use the tools that can improve your communication and can help more people to agree with your perspective. However theirs minimum of logos in the news and culture era for example pathos is being used with false information. Ethos is a mixture of both because media and the news rely on accusations of claims that are not as accurate .

    Kairos is repetitive in ways that issues between the media and the news happens over and over again which means that they both debate on who can get information out faster in a way to reach as much audience as possible. A questions I have when it comes to the article is “WHAT IS RHETORIC ?” by the University of Illinois( when your writing or speaking do we intend to use pathos, logos, ethos, kairos, as much in our everyday lives or do we focus on how to identify impulsive meaning behind the texts and articles to achieve a better understanding?

  3. Holaly Dzakpa

    What is rhetoric? The first time I heard rhetoric is in English class when my ELA teacher told the class that the kind of rhetoric used is important to your targeted audience. The way you speak to your friends is much different from the way you speak to you parents and elders. Thanks to writing classes and assignments my professional rhetoric was able to be matured. Thinking back, I believe my rhetoric improvement is thanks to books, not only has it widened my vocabulary but it has provided me with a more in depth way of thinking in certain situations. In my education narrative, I wanted my style of speech to seem professional although some part were rushed through.

    I have heard experimented with Ethos, Pathos and Logos but I have never been introduced to Kairos. Logos in writing is the action of appealing to logic. Logos is usually used in non-fiction biographies which is written by someone else discussing the impactful life of a deceased celebrity. Pathos appeals to emotion. Feelings like anger, sadness and happiness are what author use in the detail of their books. For example a fiction book can have a sad background for a character that can also contribute to the character behavior and mystery books use suspense to keep readers intrigued. My understanding of Ethos is appealing a specific belief for a targeted audience. Authors use this when they are imputing a real aspect of human culture into a fictional character.

  4. Khandoker

    I believe the use of rhetoric is something everyone does consciously or subconsciously. Perhaps more people try to consciously avoid being rhetoric than the other way around. The University of Illinois Springfield’s “What is Rhetoric?” explains this well, “Rhetoric is the way in which you communicate in everyday life.” Rhetoric is influenced by many things and the understanding of rhetoric between two people probably won’t be the same. The pressbooks article explains this concept in much more detail, in which it states “…All human activities are rhetorical, whether or not we are conscious of it.” When speaking to anybody and everybody we are always at least subconsciously aware of the rhetoric. A good example would be Ren as he had said in his comment, before studying about rhetoric he was not consciously aware or did not think much about his use of rhetoric in his daily life despite doing it all the time.

    News and media is arguably of the biggest users of rhetoric as they always have to be aware of how their expressions of their thoughts can affect their audience. The presenting of news and media content should always be neutral and adhere to all kinds of audiences regardless of race, gender, background, beliefs, culture etc. However, in modern times many news and media outlets can be seen using rhetoric to spread their own ideas and messages, often times warping the meaning or twisting the narrative of a news to better suit their ideals. Further discussion on this may be warranted but I am not trying to make a political statement or anything like that.

    Through study of rhetoric we have separated the various aspects of it into different categories which are ethos, pathos, logos and kairos. Ethos is the is the ethical or moral approach appealing through one’s values and beliefs. Pathos is more emphatic and focuses more on the audience values and beliefs than the authour’s. Logos is the logical or argumentative approach, appealing through facts and logical arguments more than anything else. Kairos might be the most complicated one as it refers to the timeliness of presenting something, much like the punchline of joke being delivered at the right moment. Despite the broad definitions and understanding we have collected about rhetoric it is still a topic whose exact meaning is still debated to this day among philosophers, researchers and professors alike.

  5. Neal Ross

    Although overlooked and not acknowledged by most, rhetorics is a part of every persons everyday life. Involved in how one consumes information, how we interact with the world and how we communicate to others. Talking to friends, posting on social media, even consuming entertainment involves rhetorics, a message is being passes, how, when and to who that message is being passed on to and given from involves a thought process and it comes back to rhetorics. The first step to the rhetorical process is the analysis. Rhetorical analysis is responsible for deciding how a message is going to be passed along. “activity of considering what you want to say, your purpose, and then adjusting what you want to say based on your evaluation of your audience “(Writing Commons). Carefully evaluating how you are going to say something based on who you are addressing, what you are addressing, and when you are addressing is all accounted for during the rhetorical analysis.

    During the process of crafting any type of communication Logos, Ethos, Pathos, and Kairos are taken into account, wether they are optimally used or not thy are apart of the communication. Ethos takes into consideration how one might relate to the subject at hand. Ethos accounts for the credibility and why a consumer might view the information as something they can trust such as casting a specific person to advertise a product. Logos is seen as logical reasoning, requiring evidence to support a claim and how reasonable such claims may be. logos is going to depend on the audience and their willingness to accept what is provided to them. Pathos deals in emotions, using fear tactics, being able to bring up emotions already had or eliciting newfound emotions within the audience. Kairos may be the most important of all dealing strictly on situational circumstances , finding the right time and format depending on the audience. What is the best opportunity to maximize the results sought after.

    I had not given rhetorics a single thought earn crafting my narrative but subconsciously it was always involved. Narratives deal heavily in pathos. As it is ones personal story a narrative pulls at the heartstrings of the reader. The writer can use this to their advantage to create a deeper form of empathy in order to push their message across. Could I have made better use of rhetorics if I were paying attention to it, definitely. Moving forward in my writing processes I will be taking rhetorics into consideration in order to optimize the readers understanding, interest, and takeaway.

  6. Henry Ren

    The use of rhetoric has always been overlooked, even when used every day by almost everyone. I learned about it once during my sophomore year of English, and how I learned about the use and teaching of rhetoric a few hundred years ago. I’ve always heard of rhetorical devices, rhetorical questions, etc., but I have never really thought of elements such as pathos, logos, and ethos as the same category as rhetorical devices. I’ve definitely used rhetorical devices in my day-to-day life such as “why are we here” or “it’s okay, you tried.” The use of rhetoric can generate tone through the use of words without even hearing it. In my essay, I used ethos through the use of information and how I felt so that the reader can understand how I came to that point. Pathos, ethos, and logos, are some of the most rhetorical appeals. It’s used in almost everything. For example, when using ethos, one may use the emotions of others or themselves as an element in their writing. When someone is writing about their loved one who may have recently passed away, they may indicate how close they were and how they felt afterward, allowing the reader to feel how the writer felt. An example of Pathos could be someone asking their parents for a new phone and they’ll try harder in school. In this case, persuasion is used. Lastly, logos is the use of logic. A meteorologist may use logos to provide reasons for the weather. The use of rhetoric in news and social media has been present for a really long time, even if we don’t realize it. It’s what sets them apart and makes them draw more followers and likes. One big example are influencers such as those on Twitter. They can post comments or posts that do not specifically state anything positive or negative, but with the use of rhetoric, it could be interpreted in a different way and influence those who read it without specifically stating their specific intent to the audience. Another example is news outlets. For example, when you read the title, “Hundreds Exposed to Lead in Drinking Fountain,” you may think “wow that’s terrible,” but what if it turned out nobody was affected? What if the title was “Drinking Fountain Tests for Lead.” The use of words here is what makes different news outlets more successful than others. Many would click the first one due to the seriousness it sounds compared to the second option. After reading “What Is Rhetoric?”, it states that “Unfortunately, in the 21st century, rhetoric tends to be positioned as something separate from everyday communication.” Which to me and probably a lot of people, seems like something we use every day, consciously or subconsciously. Why did people stop teaching about it? It clearly has a lot of different points that can be taught and has a lot of complex meaning, even if we do it unknowingly.

  7. Zavier Santillana

    After reading the articles and learning about Rhetoric I can start to see the different ways I use it in my life. From the articles I learned about the different ways to use rhetoric like logos, pathos,ethos and kairos. I tend to use pathos and logos the most pathos being appealing to their emotions which I use day to day when speaking to people I would say curtain things or with hold curtain things to make them feel positive when speaking to them but also knowing which words can negatively affect them. I also use logos which is appealing to them logically which I also do day to day when I have discussions with my friend about curtain things and I would say curtain things to appeal to their logical side not the emotional side. An example of how use them in day to day life is if I stay up all night working on my business for a few hours and school for a few hours but spend the majority of the time watching a show when I wake up late and my mom ask why I would mention the work and school but not the show to appeal to the more positive emotions. In todays news and popular media rhetoric is you often even more on social media with post and tweets being used to grab customer and push curtain ideas for example if you were to talk about wanting to get a dog then go on social media you might see a post with cute dogs on them or post about the sale of dogs which is social media using pathos to appeal to your emotions to get you to buy a dog. Lets say you want a new house but aren’t sure if you should do it going onto social media or websites you might see ads about real estate or videos popping up about how the best time to buy a house in todays market is right now that is logos which is appealing to your logic.

  8. Tahani Rabah

    I first had no idea what rhetoric was, until I looked it up and learned that it is “the art of speaking or writing effectively”. I could be wrong but, i would compare this to imagery because after looking at some examples, they use very in depth words and they use emotions to show the reader what is really going on. After learning the definition of rhetoric, I’ve learned I’ve used this in my writing multiple times and even the way I speak to someone. We also see them in our everyday lives, with billboards you see on the highways, to logos from different brands.which contain information about pathos, etc.

  9. DavidP

    Rhetoric is a confusing topic to talk about as we use it subconsciously as we write and talk. The way I understand it is that rhetoric is the use of words to convey something to another person in a certain way. This is done through appealing to certain aspects of the human mind. These aspects are the character (Ethos), emotion (Pathos), logic (Logos). However, these aspects must be used at the opportune time based on the situation (Kairos). If used correctly, it is easy to convey an idea to someone and maybe influence their thinking. I use this when I am debating with my friends to try to convince them that I’m right just as they use it to do the same to me. In this case, we would be using Logos to convince each other as we want one another to understand our logic. It is also used in the educative narrative in order to convey how I feel about school and how the experience changed me. In this case, Ethos and pathos is used as I am talking about character and the emotions that formed it. In political ads, Kairos and ethos is used as the ad is trying to capitalize on the emotions of someone in order to get them to dislike the opposing side. Occasionally logos is used but many times the ad tries to manipulate someone’s emotions. A question that I personally have is what would be the perfect balance between the three rhetorical appeals

  10. Logan Aloise

    Rhetoric is used everyday throughout our daily lives. We see it mainly on Billboards, ads, televisions, commercials, newspapers, political speeches, and stories. If you truly take a second to think about it rhetoric actually shapes our lives on a day to day basis. In our education rhetoric is used to help students learn how to speak and write with fluently and professionally. Ethos is the character and ethics of ones self. Pathos is an appeals to empathy and compassion. Logos is the logical, substantive prose, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Kairos means something that happened at the right place and the right time. Media rhetoric is a persuasive verbal and visual mechanisms that are visibly seen through the media. A question would be how can you control what you are saying to make sure it proper and have thoughts that an audience can understand to paint a visual picture.

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