Rooted in the assumption that certain types of situations provoke similar needs and expectations
in audiences, and call for particular kinds of rhetoric. Certain situations occur often, perform
similar acts on similar audiences and call for a specific kind of rhetoric.
Seeks to discover commonalities in rhetorical patterns across recurring situations.
Purpose is to understand rhetorical practices in different time periods and places by discerning
similarities in rhetorical situations and the rhetoric constructed in response to them: how people
create individual instances of meaning and value in structured discursive fields
Genre: refers to a distinct group, type, class or category of artefacts that share important
characteristics that differentiate it from other groups.
A rhetorical genre is a fusion of three different kinds of elements so that a unique kind of artefact
o Situational requirements, perception of conditions in a situation that call forth particular
kinds of rhetorical responses
o Substantive and stylistic characteristics of the rhetoric - features chosen by the rhetor to
respond to the perceived requirements of particular situations. Substantive characteristics
are those that constitute the content of the rhetoric; stylistic characteristics constitute the
form. Content = substantive; form = stylistic.
o Third element is the organising principle: notion that serves as an umbrella label for the
various characteristic features of the rhetoric. Is the label for internal dynamic of the
constellation that is formed by the substantive, stylistic and situational features of the
o Deliberative/political rhetoric, aimed to persuade audience
o Forensic speaking, issues of justice, methods for defending and accusing
o Epideictic, ceremonial discourse. Praise or blame to others
o Edwin Black: suggested generic criticism as an alternative to Neo Aristotelian. Limited
number of situations that needed a rhetor, limited number of responses a rhetor could
possibly make, and the recurrence of a situational type provides a critic with information on
the rhetorical responses available in the situation.
o Lloyd Bitzer: focused on recurring situations
A 1976 conference focused on form over situation; presenters at the conference spoke
about how repeated use of images, metaphors, arguments, structural arrangements, and
configurations of languages could be thought of as comprising a genre.
Significant form in Rhetorical Criticism
o Significant form was recurring patterns in discourses of actions. Patterns include repeated
use of images, metaphors, arguments, structural arrangements,
Anthony Pare and Graham Smart
Define genre as distinctive profile of regularities across four dimensions: textual features
(styles of text, modes of argument); regularities in composing process (gathering and
analysing of information); regularities in reading practices (where, when and why a
document is read); social roles performed by writers and readers o Paré and Smart focused on how rhetorical genre operates in an organizational setting (a
business, or office). They focused on textual features (styles of text and modes of
arguments), regularities in when and where the document was read, regularities in
composing the document, and the social role played by the people using and creating the
o Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian scholar working mainly in the early half of the twentieth century,
argued that our everyday conversations and speeches could be considered genres—even
spontaneous conversations had generic
Selecting an Artefact
Depends on the kind of analysis: generic description, generic participation, and generic
o Generic description: artefact should be variety of texts that share some rhetorical
similarities. Can come from different time periods, have different forms. Anything that
seems similar in nature and function
o Generic participation: something that looks like it should belong to or has been assigned to a
particular genre but doesn't fit.
o Generic application: artefact to assess how well it conforms to the genre of which it is a part.
Should lead you to question how it functions in the context of its genre.
Analysing the Artefact
Three options that lead to different contributions to understanding genre. Generic description,
participation and application.
o Examines various artefact to see if a genre exists; process is inductive
o Purpose is to define a genre and formulate theoret