Keith Grant-Davie’s Piece on Rhetoric

If you’ve glanced at all at the other posts about Keith Grant-Davie, you’ll know that not unlike his name, the article is heavy. It felt almost like a tongue twister and a mind melter trying to sift through everything he was trying to say. I think it was mostly confusing because he kept quoting and name dropping while also adding in his own arguments.

Nonetheless, here are the top 3 key points I think are important about his analysis of the rhetor and rhetoric:

1. “Writers who know how to analyze these situations have a better method of examining causality. They have a stronger basis for making composing decisions and are better able, as readers, to understand the decisions other writers have made.”

– Here I think it’s great that he summarizes exactly why you should even care about rhetoric analysis. If you know more about rhetoric, and in turn causality, you will basically be a better writer. He says it in a lot more words, but you should keep reading his article if you want to be a better writer and reader. He also wraps up the conclusion by saying that teaching student readers and writers to analyze rhetorical situations helps them to find their style and their role in the writing world.

2. “the four constituents I see in rhetorical situations: exigence, rhetors, audiences, and constraints”

– Keith Grant-Davie believes there are four rhetorical situations and while he goes deeper into all of them for the rest of the paper, what is key is that these are the ones that exist to him. You should know that these four are what he believes create the situation or add to the situation of a piece of writing. (I’m not sure if it was just me, but I had to Google what exigence meant…) Either way, he makes a pretty compelling argument for why he believes each constituent is important and convinces me at least.

3. “The rhetor’s sense of exigence, when communicated successfully to the audience, can become a positive constraint, a factor that helps move the audience toward the rhetor’s position.”

– This one’s the kicker. He just threw all four constituents into one sentence. It doesn’t get more clear than this. Through all of his jumbled jargon and quotes and analysis, this is the one sentence that combines it all. He wants us to care because the point of (most) writing is to get someone else to care about something you care about or to convey some sort of feeling, message, policy, etc. When it comes to being a convincing writer, he displays, quite literally with this sentence, that all four constituents matter.

—Sorry this was so long.

Grant-Davie’s Position on Rhetoric

Though somewhat dense in content, Grant-Davie’s piece about rhetorical situations and what defines them does leave much to contemplate. At first it seems slightly ironic that in his analysis of rhetoric, Grant-Davie uses large amounts of rhetoric to arrive at his point. Reading his writing is like sifting through a gold mine of idea; the problem being that there’s so much gold that it all blurs together and feels meaningless.

The points that I drew from this heavy piece were first of all his emphasis on the organization of rhetorical analysis. He states that one must first understand what the discourse is about, then why it is needed, and finally what it should accomplish. I feel that this process of definition, cause and effect, and evaluation of values is key to understanding ones own writing and the writing of others. Especially when it is done in this order can it be particularly useful for analysis. Moreso in one’s own writing would this technique be helpful, because if this three-step process is congruent and makes sense, then you know that your writing is going to work well with the audience.

Something that I would say that I disagree with is the idea that one should write for any competent man and not restrict one’s audience to a certain set of people. I think that this restricts the author in their ability to write his or her own subjective views on a topic, which is what writing is about in my opinion. When I write, I have a specific set of people in mind who would enjoy my writing, and certain people whom I know it would enrage, and this is my goal. Making it accessible to as many people as possible would lessen its power in this way.

Finally, the idea of writing constraints is very appealing to me and my own writing. He cites that in a campaign speech one must be aware of the political context and current issues, and these will limit what a politician may speak about. Particularly the idea that “the challenge for the rhetor is to decide which parts of the context bear on the situation enough to be considered constraints” is intriguing to me. Maybe this is something I should consider more in my own writing instead of just looking back upon what has been written in this light.