Can television shows like Modern Family, popular music by performers like Taylor Swift, advertisements for products like Samuel Adams beer, and films such as The Hunger Games help us understand rhetorical theory and criticism? The Third Edition of The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture offers students a step-by-step introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism by focusing on the powerful role popular culture plays in persuading us as to what to believe and how to behave. In every chapter, students are introduced to rhetorical theories, presented with current examples from popular culture that relate to the theory, and guided through demonstrations about how to describe, interpret, and evaluate popular culture texts through rhetorical analysis. Author Deanna Sellnow also provides sample student essays in every chapter to demonstrate rhetorical criticism in practice. This edition’s easy-to-understand approach and range of popular culture examples help students apply rhetorical theory and criticism to their own lives and assigned work.
Chapter 8: A Music Perspective: The Illusion of Life
The perspectives we’ve discussed so far were each originally created to examine arguments communicated primarily via discursive symbols. Discursive symbols are essentially units (e.g., words and numbers) with fixed associations. For the rhetorical critic, they are words that represent things. For example, d-o-g represents a four-legged mammal domesticated as a household pet in the dominant American culture. Rhetorical critics examine these discursive verbal texts to understand the arguments in them that reinforce or challenge taken-for-granted beliefs or behaviors.
Rhetorical critics may also examine nondiscursive nonverbal texts as rhetoric either in conjunction with verbal symbols or as texts that stand entirely on their own. In fact, many of the perspectives we have already discussed have been used ...