Jean Fahnstock and Marie Secor presented a lot of interesting topics about effective rhetoric in their essay entitled, “The Rhetoric of Literary Criticism.” Through the use of examples, the authors argue the value of special topoi as support for the institutionalized norms in rhetoric of establishing and defending a definition. While the information presented in the essay is very scholarly and useful, I feel like the information is presented to the audience in ineffective manner due to the lack of structure and organization.
Starting in the introduction, the audience overwhelmed by a series of examples and sources prior to any establishment of what the essay is arguing or explaining. Nowhere in the beginning of the paper is there a clear thesis for the audience to grasp going into the substance of the text. While the first page does present lots of crucial information that relates to the topic of the essay, such as the purpose of literary criticism and the institutional norms in which rhetoric is written, the authors draw these ideas from other sources and other minds and do not make an obvious claim to what their exposition is about.
Furthermore, there is no clear structure to the essay. The author covers many topics on the effective rhetorical strategies of literary criticism (stasis, Aristotelian theory of rhetoric, special Topoi, …) They use a wide variety of examples to find support for each of their arguments, and while this does appeal to a broader spectrum of people, the method in which they use their examples can be confusing to certain audiences. Inconsecutive analyses of these examples. The organization in which they use these recurring examples does not facilitate understanding of the principle point of the essay – which is already difficult to decipher.
I think is ironic that the essay includes guidelines to successful rhetorical strategies and manages to improperly do so itself. Clearly in the beginning the essay states that arguments first “arguments first establish the existence of a subject and arguments in the second characterize it.” This essay does not properly establish the subject and attempts to support it with a chaotic use of examples. The dissociated manner in which the examples are presented combined with the frequent drastic changes in topic do not clarify the understanding of the central focus of the paper which is not clearly defined in the beginning. As an audience member I do not feel like presentation of the information argued properly caters to me as an audience member with the interest of learning about rhetorical strategies.