A rhetoric of delivery

Date
1991-08-30
Authors
Cook, Linda Ann McFerrin
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Abstract

This research defines delivery as having several features of oral discourse which extend to written discourse. The study traces the development of delivery and provides a diachronic analysis from the classical period, Middle Ages, and Renaissance to the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. The ancients' concept of delivery includes voice, tone, gesture, and facial expression. Modern parallels to these considerations can be extended to written voice, rhetorical tone, and visual appearance of the written page.

Written voice as a concept of delivery shares traits of the spoken voice since each channel achieves emphasis through eliciting auditory effect and displaying rhythm. Rhythm underscores the words, adding a dimension that contributes to the written voice which readers create audibly in their own minds. Thus, auditory effect and rhythm serve as signs or avenues which readers utilize to interpret discourse. The engagement of the audience with the text determines the interpretation of the signs.

Likewise rhetorical tone pervades all discourse. Present in both oral and written discourse, tone is a quality of sound that people sometimes confine mistakenly to a sound of distinct pitch. Writers can establish rhetorical tone through their utilization of three appeals or artistic proofs, identified by the ancients as ethos, logos, and pathos. Both writers and audiences can clarify and interpret the tone of the voices in the discourse by utilizing the particularly effective means of analyzing the ethos, logos, and pathos which set the tone.

Also, gesture and facial expression form a distinct feature of oral communication; the written corollary implies the visual presentation of typography, margination, and ink. To display the versatility of the concept, this study considers visual signs in serial advertisements intended ultimately to persuade audiences.

By amplifying the writer's and the reader's understanding of classical rhetoric through application to literary works by William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, and Alice Walker as well as through the persuasive discourse of advertisements, this study has expanded classical rhetoric in the modern age. In addition, the study enhances understanding of the relationship of the discipline of rhetoric to English and American literature.

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Keywords
Language, literature, and linguistics, Shakespeare, Swift, Jonathan, Walker, Alice, Written voice
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