A (200-250 words)
research about the film and about rhetoric to (a) describe the main argument
you will make in your presentation and (b) describe plans you and your team
have for using rhetorical strategies to present an interesting and persuasive
B (200-250 words)
research about culture and communication, intercultural rhetoric or inclusive
style to describe (a) the expectations your audience might have for your
presentation, and (b) strategies you and your team will use to ensure your
presentation will appeal to an audience made up of people from diverse cultural
both entries you will be rewarded for discussing what this task reveals about
Our group will discuss
rhetoric and sophistry in Thank You for Smoking (Rietman 2006). When
discussing Naylor’s, Finistirre’s, and Holloway’s speeches, it became clear we
need a definition of sophistry and rhetoric. As the academic, I will define the
terms based on MiecznikowskiSheard’s article “The Public Value of Epideictic
Rhetoric” in College English (1996).
that many critics misunderstand epideictic speech as a form of sophistry, which
is “burdened … by suspicions of the speaker’s self-indulgence and opportunism
[…] and his distance from the interests of the community” (768). Accordingly,
sophistry is communication in the speaker’s own interest without concern for
community wellbeing. But, for MiecznikowskiSheard, epideictic speech is
actually a form of rhetoric by speakers who are “ethical individuals,
responsible citizens, and conscientious members of their many communities”
(766). Rhetoric is ethical speech that forms and maintains strong communities.
Read alongside Bert Olivier’s claim that the film “turn[s] against itself” (45)
to promote an appreciation of ethical rhetoric, my definitions support the
argument that the individual characters are sophists, but the film is
Our group will recreate the
style of communication from the film and the host will reveal our ploy. For
example, I will introduce my definitions with the sentence: “In my esteemed
academic career, I have developed the most important theory on sophistry to
date, a theory so brilliant that we barely need to hear from the other speakers
on the panel”. This will show that my “character” is selfish and individually
focused. Even if I’m convincing, the host will explain that I’m unethical and,
thereby, promote rhetoric.
Diverse communities in the
classroom probably value democratic forms of communication. In an issue of Rhetoric
and Public Affairs (11.3, 2008) focused on democratic style, or how to
communicate in inclusive ways, Darrel Enck-Wanzer advocates for “intersectional
I define intersectional rhetoric as a rhetoric that places multiple
discursive forms—speech, embodiment, and/or image—on relatively equal footing,
is not leader-centered, draws from a number of diverse discursive political and
rhetorical conventions, and is constitutive rather than instrumental. (461)
Such a form of
communication uses a range of communication types (audio, visual, gesture,
written) to engage with the preferred styles of communication of diverse
communities. Further, the goal isn’t to convince people of something
(leader-focused) but to help people to develop their own ideas. We expect
students who value learning want to think of their own ideas rather than be
told what to think.
Our presentation will use
strategies to ensure inclusive, democratic participation. The host is preparing
a powerpoint slideshow to engage visual learners and to state in simple, clear
language our argument. An argument written onscreen throughout most of the
presentation will help students who do not speak English as a first language
follow the debate. Further, the host is planning to summarise each speaker’s
overall main point in clear language. So, while we will embody our roles,
presenting in character with language and gesture to match our personas (a
strategy that will engage people who enjoy performance as a communication
technique), students who are not able to follow the complex language of, for
example, the academic presenter, or who are not familiar with performance
techniques such as parody, will have the arguments and overall position of the
group explained clearly.
Enck-Wanzer, Darrel. “A Radical Democratic Style?” Rhetoric and
Public Affairs 11.3 (2008), 459-465. Print.
MiecznikowskiSheard, Cynthia. “The Public Value of Epideictic Rhetoric.”
College English 58.7 (1996), 765-794. Print.
Olivier, Bert. “Pseudo-communication and the Return of the Sophist: Thank
You for Smoking, at First Sight.” Communicatio 33.2 (2007), 45-62.
Rietman, Jason (dir.). Thank You for Smoking. Twentieth Century
Fox, 2006. Film.