Rhetorical Analysis, Part 4

How are reasons produced and organized? There are two ways: model modality and analog modality.

Model modality occurs when the critic creates a pattern of what would be the ideal speech for the situation. The critic then compares his pattern to the speech actually given to discover what differences existed and to what extent the differences existed. These discoveries allow the critic to determine what the source did well and what weaknesses existed in the message. (Rosenfield 81)

Analog modality occurs when the critic compares Source A (whose discourse is under study) to Source B (a previous source who experienced circumstances similar to source A). The discourse of Source B guides the critic in assessing Source A. The resulting critique contains statements of better-worse, more-less respecting qualities within the discourse. (Rosenfield 81-82)

I think there is yet another way to produce and organize reasons for my evaluation. I call it the model-analog modality. In the sections of John that I study, I will compare Source A (John’s Gospel) to the standards of rhetorical discourse of Source B (my synthesis of the frameworks Lloyd Bitzer and Walter Fisher suggest using in evaluation). These are not my standards of an ideal speech, so my model is not truly model modality because neither Bitzer nor Fisher offer the perfect solution; both authors offer standards by which discourse may be judged rhetorical. Nor is my model completely analog modality because Lloyd Bitzer and Walter Fisher have not experienced circumstances similar to John’s.

In the preceding paragraph, I mentioned a process of rhetorical analysis that is a synthesis of the frameworks of Lloyd Bitzer and Walter Fisher. What are the steps in that process?

The first step explores the stories of the Samaritan woman and the woman caught in adultery from the viewpoint of Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm. I determine whether each story has narrative probability and fidelity based on my own experience.

The next steps explore John’s Gospel and these two stories from Lloyd Bitzer’s framework for determining rhetorical nature. I will look first at the exigences, the imperfections John perceived and responded to through these stories. Because not all exigences are rhetorical, I will determine whether the exigences motivating John to include these stories were rhetorical based on his audience and their possible responses to his discourse. After examining audience, I look at constraints to determine what prevented hearers and readers of John’s Gospel from acting on the exigences in the way John’s discourses suggested.



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