Coney 1 Rhetorical Citizenship

Rhetoric Rhetoric is a way to persuade through words, ideas, and actions. Throughout the semester both rhetoric and civic engagement have been the key topics. When first asked what Rhetoric was, I had in mind something along the lines of a rhetorical question. After studying for a while it becomes clear that rhetoric definitely involves persuasion. Reading Words Like Loaded Pistols by Sam Leith proved me right but helped me build upon my thoughts. In his book Leith incorporated his idea of what rhetoric is, what it does and how it does it. Leith believes, “Rhetoric is language at play-language plus. It is what persuades and conjoles, inspires, and bamboozles, thrills, and misdirects.” (Leith 6). Leith also used a few of Aristotle’s ideas of what Rhetoric meant to him while giving examples. The topic of combining logos and ethos arose and that is where Leith brought up Syllogism. “For Aristotles, logos was a province of something he called an “enthymeme,” which was the equivalent in rhetoric to the syllogism in logic Syllogism and enthymemes can be understood as units of thought- that is, ways of articulating the relationships between ideas.”(Leith 57-58). By saying this I believe Aristotle believes that rhetoric was more than words, it could be ideas and how a person would get those ideas across to an audience.

Citizenship Being that I have never been asked what citizenship is question before, I would say citizenship is exercising one’s rights while abiding by the law and getting involved in the community. Although Wan gave great examples of what to ask when looking for the answer to this question, I found that citizenship has a flexible meaning and can be anything. “While

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citizenship has become a super-term, one that can encompass many definitions, the lack of specificity that often accompanies it allows us to elide critical concerns about the access, impact, and exercise of citizenship.” (Wan 29). Later in the writing, Wan talks about writing and democracy. That is when I believe it all became clear to me. Citizenship encompasses doing the right thing, becoming educated, and being able to help society by sharing the knowledge you have acquired. Citizenship is also about the willingness to help. A person can do something or say something but the message me completely lost because they are not willing to put their all into it. Anyone can be a citizen, but it takes a special person to get involved and fulfil citizen duties and that is when citizenship comes into play.

Rhetorical Citizenship From my personal ideas and the readings we have done as a class, combining rhetoric and citizenship is not difficult. Rhetorical Citizenship is publicly learning, teaching, persuading, and making a difference for the greater good. An example of rhetorical citizenship would be going to Town Hall meetings and informing them of different things you might want to do in the community. Getting others involved and informing them is also rhetorical citizenship. One aspect that is important is communication. To be able to get out, be heard, share ideas, and get people to come together and agree with you involves communication. Hard work will be looked over if a person cannot communicate effectively. Part of communication is knowing and connecting with your audience. It was beneficial to know who you are trying to communicate with. “The symbolism of a ring extends far beyond the typical meaning of an expensive gift of jewelry. People’s symbol use also makes a difference in public communication. The words of public figures and symbols of citizenship possess the power to inspire, calm, reassure, enrage, provoke, challenge, and change the world.” (Fritch 4)


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While applying Rhetorical Citizenship to my experiences, one experience in particular comes to mind. The TrIP project is a perfect example of rhetorical citizenship. Taking the bus and seeing torn down, hidden, and bus stops too close to the road made me want to take action. I believe this is rhetorical citizenship because it involves communication, ethos, pathos, logos, persuasion, and a voice. Getting involved and getting heard would be difficult but being able to get others to come together and voice how they feel would be even harder. Getting the Lynx CEO or City Council to do something about these bus stops would not be easy. Rhetorical Citizenship is not always easy and may include challenges but that is what makes it exciting. For my civic engagement profile, I interviewed Amelia Newmann. She is a junior at UCF and while interviewing her I felt as though we were both engaging in rhetorical citizenship. As I stated before, I believe rhetorical citizenship includes learning and teaching for a greater good. While interviewing her I was being becoming aware of the organization she was a part of and she was talking to me about it. Although there was no persuasion involved, the thought of being able to effectively share ideas is important.

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Work Cite

Wan, Amy. In the Name of Citizenship: The Writing Classroom and the Promise of Citizenship. Bowdon, Melody, Lissa Pompos, and Anna Turner. Writing in Crisis: Rhetorical Considerations in Child Advocate Reports. Leith, Sam, and Sam Leith. Words like loaded pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. New York: Basic Books, 2012. Palczewski, Catherine Helen., Richard Ice, and John Fritch. Rhetoric in civic life. State College, PA: Strata Pub., 2012.

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