A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Rhetoric

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Visual rhetoric is the study of how document design (including the use of illustrations, charts and graphs, typography and layout) communicate, as opposed to aural or verbal messages. Visual rhetoric examines also the relationship between images and writing.

 

1.
#26692

The Abductive Inference: An Effective Tool for Science Communication

Suggests that the interrelated skills of understanding and representing (re-presenting) the abductive inference (often neglected in technical and professional communication pedagogy) are critical for the scientific communicator vis-a -vis kairos, and that science communication instructors ought to develop a pedagogy that includes the instruction of this skill.

Graham, S. Scott. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>Scientific Communication>Rhetoric

2.
#27779

The Abstract Trap: Why Abstracts Are Bad for Persuasive White Papers

Abstracts, also known as executive summaries, are bad. As a matter of fact, they are really bad, and I stand nearly alone in my opinion. Abstracts are those summaries that typically stand in front of the core content of a white paper. They tend to include the key points about the white paper.

Stelzner, Michael A. WhitePaperSource (2006). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric>White Papers

3.
#22985

An Academic Strikes Back: Transgressing the Genre of Bureaucracy

The rhetorical event described in this article shows that the rhetor can introduce an alien genre into a community of practice and createa kairotic moment.

Tachino, Tosh. Newsletter of the CASLL (2003). Articles>Language>Rhetoric

4.
#31986

Accessible Rhetoric

A website devoted to exploring accessibility at the intersection of technology and rhetoric. The cornerstone of the site is, at least for now, a study of accessible podcasting.

Zdenek, Sean. Accessible Rhetoric. Resources>Accessibility>Rhetoric>Blogs

5.
#34856

The Accomplishment of Authority Through Presentification: How Authority Is Distributed Among and Negotiated by Organizational Members   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The complex distribution and negotiation of authority in real time is a key issue for today's organizations. The authors investigate how the negotiations that sustain authority at work actually unfold by analyzing the ways of talking and acting through which organizational members establish their authority. They argue that authority is achieved through presentification—that is, by making sources of authority present in interaction. On the basis of an empirical analysis of a naturally occurring interaction between a medical coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières and technicians of a hospital supported by her organization, the authors identify key communicative practices involved in achieving authority and discuss their implications for scholars' understanding of what being in authority at work means.

Benoit-Barné, Chantal and François Cooren. Management Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Management>Organizational Communication>Rhetoric

6.
#15074

Activity Theory

Activity theory was developed in the Soviet Union. The philosophical underpinnings of this theory include the ideas of Hegel and Kant, as well as the theory of dialectical materialism developed by Marx and Engels. The theory evolved from the work of Vygotsky as he formulated a new method of studying thought and consciousness. Vygotsky was working on this theory at a time when the prevalent dominant psychological theories were based on reflexology (stimulus-response - which was later developed into behaviorism) and psychoanalysis. Reflexology attempted to ban consciousness by reducing all psychological phenomena to a series of stimulus-response chains.

Mappin, David, Michele Kelly, Bonnie Skaalid and Sharon Bratt. University of Alberta. Academic>Course Materials>Theory>Rhetoric

7.
#31395

Adding an Informal Touch to Organizational Communication

Some say it's a revolution that will change radio broadcasting and people's listening habits forever. Others say it's a fad that's of limited appeal or use to anyone but geeks and enthusiasts. Whatever anyone says, something that has rocketed out of nowhere and gotten big companies and radio stations alike interested (and after only eight months) must be worth investigating. That "something" is called podcasting.

Hobson, Neville. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Workplace

8.
#13977

"Advanced Composition" And Occasion-Sensitivity

As writing teacher but also freelance writer and editor, I rejoice to see current advanced composition textbooks emphasize sensitivity to occasion. For real-world writing profoundly requires audience-awareness. Out there, students will not be writing yet another typical theme for the teacher, concerned mainly with correctness. Nor will they be writing expressively, concerned mainly with self and authenticity. They must be writing for the occasion, to achieve specific purpose with specific readers, and hence must be concerned with effectiveness above all. But what about actual current classroom practice on this point?

Beck, James P. JAC (1981). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric

9.
#19927

Aesthetics Engage Language   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Although the medium of film, by virtue of its photographic process, is image-dominated, some of its finest efforts have been in re-presenting word-centric tales. The text—appealing to the intellect—is refashioned/reinvented into a medium appealing to the senses of sight and hearing, through the personal vision of an auteur/director who adapts material from the language of text to the language of film. Certainly technical considerations come into play, but the auteur’s choices are essentially aesthetic. In rendering words into images, he or she responds to the audiovisual aesthetic of film.

Ades, Sally. Lore (2003). Articles>Rhetoric>Aesthetics

10.
#14054

The Affective Domain and the Writing Process: Working Definitions   (peer-reviewed)

Since the time of classical Greece, we have been accustomed to viewing humans as both thinking and feeling individuals. The dichotomy of cognition and affect is so ingrained in Western thought that it seems a natural one; the two elements have seldom, however, been deemed equally important in the scientific community. During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, psychology gave primacy to affect; humans were thought to be at the mercy of various drives and passions. As behaviorism became more domiúnant in the field, affect was discounted; indeed, there were those who wished to exclude affect from scientific study altogether. More recently, with the ascendancy of cognitive psychology, humans have been viewed as problem-solvers whose thinking processes operate rather like a computer. Often in such a view, affect is seen as “a regrettable flaw in an otherwise perfect cognitive machine” (Scherer 293). But most researchers who study human behavior and human nature agree that the views of both extremes—emphasizing only affect or only cognition—are undesirable.

McLeod, Susan H. JAC (1991). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

11.
#29136

Aligning Theme and Information Structure To Improve The Readability Of Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The readability of technical writing, and technical manuals in particular, especially for second language readers, can be noticeably improved by pairing Theme with Given and Rheme with New. This allows for faster processing of text and easier access to the "method of development" of the text. Typical Theme-Rheme patterns are described, and the notion of the "point of a text" is introduced. These concepts are applied to technical writing and the reader is then invited to evaluate the improvements in readability in a small sample of texts.

Moore, N.A.J. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2006). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Rhetoric

12.
#37035

Analysis of a Diagram

Just because you like something you created, it doesn't mean it's any good or you have a big ego. But it can be useful to stop and ponder something you did that you particularly like--so that you can understand your own design priorities a bit better.

Hughes, Michael A. Humane Experience, The (2010). Articles>User Experience>Technical Illustration>Visual Rhetoric

13.
#32332

An Analysis of Failed Queries for Web Image Retrieval   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines a large number of failed queries submitted to a web image search engine, including real users' search terms and written requests. The results show that failed image queries have a much higher specificity than successful queries because users often employ various refined types to specify their queries. The study explores the refined types further, and finds that failed queries consist of far more conceptual than perceptual refined types. The widely used content-based image retrieval technique, CBIR, can only deal with a small proportion of failed queries; hence, appropriate integration of concept-based techniques is desirable. Based on using the concepts of uniqueness and refinement for categorization, the study also provides a useful discussion on the gaps between image queries and retrieval techniques. The initial results enhance the understanding of failed queries and suggest possible ways to improve image retrieval systems.

Pu, Hsiao-Tieh. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Search

14.
#14826

The Analyzing the Apple: Persuasive Visual Rhetoric in the Campaign Literature of an Apple Party Candidate, St. Petersburg, Russia

In this article, I illustrate the essential role that visual rhetoric plays in a specific example of persuasive documentation. I focus narrowly on one element of persuasive visual rhetoric by examining the credibility of an Apple political candidacy flyer.

Herrington, TyAnna K. Argumentation (2000). Articles>Rhetoric>Policies and Procedures

15.
#31012

Annual Report Graphic Use: A Review of the Literature   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Corporate annual reports typically include a narrative section and a financial section. The narrative section is not scrutinized by auditors as the financial section is, yet many readers rely heavily on its graphs to estimate the firm's financial situation. However, the graphs often misrepresent the financial data. To better understand annual report graphs' important role, this article examines more than 25 years of literature related to these four areas: (a) the ways financial graphs are prepared, used, and misinterpreted; (b) differences by country; (c) regulatory influences for accountants; and (d) the parts formatting and media selection decisions play in communication interpretation and persuasion. Across the literature, the author notes consensus that annual report graphs are widely used in many countries and that there is rampant disregard for the guidelines for their accurate, non-misleading presentation. The article concludes with seven proposed directions for future research.

Penrose, John M. JBC (2008). Design>Document Design>Business Communication>Visual Rhetoric

16.
#37389

Anxiety and Public Speaking: What You Ought to Know

You think that you sound terrible but people who don’t know you don’t know that that’s not your normal voice. People who know you well may be able to perceive a slight difference. This is not to say that an audience doesn’t perceive anxiety at all – just that what they perceive is at a much lesser scale than you. The best way to convince yourself of this is to video yourself and then watch yourself.

Mitchell, Olivia. Speaking About Presenting (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric

17.
#39135

Apparent Feminism as a Methodology for Technical Communication and Rhetoric   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article introduces apparent feminism, which is a new approach urgently required by modern technical rhetorics. Apparent feminism provides a new kind of response that addresses current political trends that render misogyny unapparent, the ubiquity of uncritically negative responses to the term feminism, and a decline in centralized feminist work in technical communication. More specifically, it suggests that the manifestation of these trends in technical spheres requires intervention into notions of objectivity and the regimes of truth they support. Apparent feminism is a methodology that seeks to recognize and make apparent the urgent and sometimes hidden exigencies for feminist critique of contemporary politics and technical rhetorics. It encourages a response to social justice exigencies, invites participation from allies who do not explicitly identify as feminist but do work that complements feminist goals, and makes apparent the ways in which efficient work actually depends on the existence and input of diverse audiences.

Frost, Erin A. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2016). Articles>Rhetoric>TC>Gender

18.
#31979

The Application of Rhetorical Theory in Managerial Research: A Literature Review   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent management research imports rhetorical scholarship into the study of organizations. Although this cross-disciplinarity is heuristically promising, it presents significant challenges. This article interrogates management's use of rhetoric, contrasting it with communication studies. Five themes from management research identify how rhetoric is used as an organizational hermeneutic: The article demonstrates that management research conceptualizes rhetoric as a theory and as an action; as the substance that maintains and/or challenges organizational order; as being constitutive of individual and organizational identity; as a managerial strategy for persuading followers; and as a framework for narrative and rational organizational discourses. The authors argue that organizational researchers who study rhetoric characterize persuasive strategies as managers' most important actions.

Hartelius, E. Johanna and Larry D. Browning. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Research>Rhetoric

19.
#30385

Applying Expectancy-Violations Theory to Online Documentation   (PDF)

A person usually expects another person to behave according to accepted norms, but how does a person respond to a message that violates his/her expectations? One theory dealing with violations of expectations is Burgeon and Hale's (1) nonverbal expectancy-violations theory. This theory posits that, under certain circumstances, violations of social norms and expectations may be an effective strategy for communicators to achieve the intended communication purpose. Although the expectancy-violations theory focuses on expectations for nonverbal behavior, such as gaze and conversational distance (2), I believe that this theory can also apply to expectations for humancomputer interaction.

Chiu, Yu-Kwong. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric>Online

20.
#30386

Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Technical Recommendation Reports   (PDF)

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) can help proposal writers identify effective document design techniques and parts of arguments that are critical to persuasion. In addition, ELM has implications for other types of technical communication, including recommendation or feasibility reports. While one would anticipate that decision-makers would be willing and able to evaluate critically all arguments presented in a recommendation report, ELM explains why this is rarely so. Therefore, technical communicators can profit by understanding and using the two routes to persuasion or attitude shift, the central and peripheral routes, explained by ELM.

Engle, Carol. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Business Communication>Reports>Rhetoric

21.
#38574

Are Automated Genres Still Genres?

Clay Spinuzzi's Genre 2012 presentation on genre development in partially-automated environments.

Spinuzzi, Clay. Slideshare (2012). Presentations>Rhetoric>Genre>Information Design

22.
#19357

Are Shared Discourses Desirable?

Some kind of shared discourse is needed for the shared work of the academic community to continue; and even more so, this paper argues that the nation needs some kind of shared discourse in which to address the pressing problems that confront us all.

Bizzell, Patricia. JAC (1994). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

23.
#35232

Are We The Puppet Masters?

Through the designs we create, we have the ability to directly influence another person’s behavior. The ethical implications of this are important and not easily definable. I was interested in ethics before I ever considered becoming a designer, but the lessons I learned while studying philosophy impacts the way I view my designs. In nature, our goal is a good one. We strive to help others by improving the interactions that define their life. This drives us to create and innovate new ways of interacting with old concepts. The question remains, do we have the right to influence another person? Further, are there guiding principles we can follow that can keep us on the moral path? The answers to these questions rests on the shoulders of the whole community, not a single person or group.

Nunnally, Brad. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design>Rhetoric

24.
#27788

Are You Frodo, Aragorn or Legolas? Writing Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

Are you a 'Frodo,' 'Aragorn' or 'Legolas' writer? Each has a unique style and advantages suited to specific types of writing. Much can be learned from J.R.R. Tolkien's epic The Lord of the Rings characters.

Stelzner, Michael A. WhitePaperSource (2006). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric

25.
#14424

Argument:  An Alternative Model

During the last five decades, rhetoricians have been deeply divided over whether rhetoric can be effectively used in teaching composition. Some have argued that rhetoric involves some or all forms of persuasion. Others believe that it is the arguer's manipulation of the audience. These two views, among others, point to the fact that they are, in principle, incompatible to the extent where rhetoricians will never meet. Because of these different views, rhetoricians are in a state of flux as to what strategies or principles should be used when teaching rhetoric and composition.

Shiyab, Said. Lore (2002). Articles>Rhetoric

 
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