Rhetorical Criticism

Empowering the Exploration of "Texts" (First Edition)
Theodore F. Sheckels
©2019, 262 pages

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Rhetorical Criticism

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    Rhetorical Criticism: Empowering the Exploration of “Texts” encourages students to analyze texts of various sorts—speeches, advertisements, memory sites, and more—to gain a clear understanding of what the text has to say and how it persuades or otherwise affects its audience. The book clearly and succinctly helps students build the skills required to easily and effectively practice rhetorical criticism.

    The book begins with a chapter that defines “rhetoric,” “criticism,” and “text,” demonstrates how theory-based rhetorical criticism can be exciting, and emphasizes that there are many diverse lenses through which to illuminate texts. The proceeding chapters explore various types of rhetorical criticism, including classical, The Chicago School, Burkean, fantasy theme, narrative, genre, mythological, Bahktinian, ideological, feminist, and constitutive. Each chapter begins by explaining the theory in which the critical approach is based. It then explains how a critic utilizing that particular type of rhetorical criticism manages the critical process and offers the reader an extended example of the critical approach in use.

    Conversational in nature and inclusive of a wide range of critical methods, Rhetorical Criticism is ideal for undergraduate courses in rhetoric-oriented courses.

    Theodore F. Sheckels (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) is the Charles J. Potts Professor of Social Science, as well as a professor of English and communication studies, at Randolph-Macon College. Dr. Sheckels has contributed numerous articles and book chapters and has published thirteen books, including Rhetorical Criticism: Empowering the Exploration of “Texts" and The Bully Pulpit: Presidential Rhetoric from Theodore Roosevelt to Donald J. Trump. His research interests include presidential debates, the political dimensions of Margaret Atwood’s fiction, and a wide range of political communicators from the 20th Century including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
    Other Cognella titles by Theodore F. Sheckels:

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    “[This book] will help move the field forward. The others are cookie cutter, dry, do not use examples, and certainly do not make them relevant for the 21st century. A book that does the survey of theory and expands it in the way that is proposed here while examining a wide variety of artifacts is definitely needed.”
    Leila Brammer, Professor of Communications, Gustavus Adolphus College

    “Sheckels empowers readers to see why their preliminary questions about rhetorical action matter, and why thinking about texts in pluralistic, creative, and critical ways is an engaging intellectual exercise. Said more plainly, Sheckels has found a means to make rhetorical criticism more accessible to beginning rhetorical critics. He writes in a style that takes them seriously and recognizes that they may not yet have developed an informed understanding of the history of rhetoric. … The book seems like the sort that undergrads will carry around and use because it is both manageable and takes them seriously as working rhetorical critics.
    Jeffrey B. Kurtz, Associate Professor Communication, Denison University

    “The content was well organized, and I feel like undergrads will have an easy time working through this book. The foundations of rhetoric are well developed, and the text provides clear coverage of the field's current trends with up-to-date examples. Overall, this book is a good overview of the field.”
    Joshua D. Phillips, Assistant Teaching Professor, Penn State-Brandywine
    Theodore Sheckels has received the 2022 Richard E. Vatz Agenda-Spin Persuasion Award from the Eastern Communication Association. The award is granted to a current member of ECA who indicates by their writing and/or media work a dedication to persuasion or political persuasion consistent with the rhetorical perspective argued in Dr. Vatz's “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation” and The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: The Agenda-Spin Model (LAD Custom Publishing, 2021: Buy.ladportal.com/course-pack/view/id/121). Learn more on the ECA Awards webpage.