University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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April 2, 2004

UW-RF Community Lecture Series; Rhetorical Criticism: A Tool for Good Citizenship

James Pratt, a speech professor at UW-River Falls, will present a lecture on rhetorical criticism as a tool for good citizenship at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 6 in the lower level of the River Falls Public Library. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Rhetorical criticism is a practical and useful art that helps in making intelligent decisions, according to Pratt. In classical Greece, rhetoric was universally recognized as the one great art. Moreover, it was an expectation and responsibility of citizenship that people be able to represent themselves in a court of law or to serve as legislators.

Pratt will discuss the values of representative democracy in the United States as they are still based on the assumption of an intelligent and informed citizenry functioning as listeners.

"In order to be informed voters and participants in the political process, we must listen to the speeches made of our leaders, evaluate their persuasive appeals and their evidence to determine whether they are credible sources making reasonable claims we should accept," said Pratt.

Using examples of recent speeches such as from President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pratt will discuss their persuasive effectiveness. He will count the number of sources cited in the speech and describe the attempted emotional appeals in each speech presented.

"I will explain and illustrate several approaches to rhetorical criticism that audience members can use while listening to contemporary political rhetoric," Pratt said.

For more information contact the Outreach and Graduate Studies office at 715/425-3256.


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