Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice by Sonja K. Foss
486 pages, $67.95 list
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Rhetorical Criticism
Exploration and Practice
Fifth Edition
Over multiple editions, this transformative text has taught the lively art of rhetorical criticism to thousands of students at more than 300 colleges and universities. Insights from classroom use enrich each new edition.

With an unparalleled talent for distilling sophisticated rhetorical concepts and processes, Sonja Foss highlights ten methods of doing rhetorical criticism—the systematic investigation and explanation of symbolic acts and artifacts. Each chapter focuses on one method, its foundational theories, and the steps necessary to perform an analysis using that method. Foss provides instructions on how to write coherent, well-argued reports of analytical findings, which are then illustrated by sample essays.

A chapter on feminist criticism features the disruption of conventional ideologies and practices. Storytelling in the digital world is a timely addition to the chapter on narrative criticism. Student essays now include analyses of the same artifact using multiple methods. A deep understanding of rhetorical criticism equips readers to become engaged and active participants in shaping the nature of the worlds in which we live.

A list of additional samples of essays in which the method from each chapter has been used can be viewed here.
“Chapters are well organized with updated examples in clear language our foreign students understand. Thank you to Sonja Foss! Another winner.” — Susan Tomasovic, George Mason University

“This is my go-to text when I teach any rhetorical course, particularly for students new to the discipline. The readings are accessible and the foundation the chapters provide, coupled with the student paper examples, allow for a solid footing in rhetorical criticism.” — Tracey Patton, University of Wyoming

“Essential reading alongside traditional rhetorical theory texts.” — Sarah Jedd, University of Wisconsin

“I believe I have used every edition of this excellent work over the years but the Fifth Edition is clearly the best one . . . and that is saying something!” — Richard Leo Enos, Texas Christian University

“I love the new edition for many reasons. This is a text that has stood the test of time. The upgrades and improvements in this edition are impressive: a new emphasis on writing literature reviews, for example, is most welcome; the selection of student-written essays is expanded; feminism is again treated in a chapter-length piece; and the price is economical for students.” — Daniel Brown, Grove City College

“Foss’s text is the gold standard for rhetorical criticism. I have used it through many editions because her basic premise is inquiry and how to assist students in making rhetoric useful beyond the classroom.” — Heather Lettner-Rust, Longwood University
Table of Contents

1. The Nature of Rhetorical Criticism
Rhetoric / Rhetorical Criticism

2. Doing Rhetorical Criticism
Selecting an Artifact / Analyzing the Artifact / Formulating a Research Question / Reviewing Relevant Literature / Writing the Essay / Applying the Analysis in Activism / Assessing the Essay / What Comes Next

3. Neo-Aristotelian Criticism: Genesis of Rhetorical Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Conventional Wisdom—Traditional Form—The President's Message of November 3, 1969 (Forbes Hill); Laying the Foundations of Power: A Neo-Aristotelian Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)


4. Cluster Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Crisis Leadership and Hurricane Katrina: The Portrayal of Authority by the Media in Natural Disasters (Robert S. Littlefield and Andrea M. Quenette); An Invitation to Reopen Debate: Jimmy Carter's Speech at Brandeis University (Mary E. Domenico); A Rhetoric of Reassurance: A Cluster Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

5. Fantasy-Theme Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Rhetorical Visions of Health: A Fantasy-Theme Analysis of Celebrity Articles (Amanda Hinnant and Elizabeth Hendrickson); Coping with Loss: U2's "One Tree Hill" (Kelly Mendoza); Reassurance through Normalization: A Fantasy-Theme Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

6. Feminist Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: "The Man for His Time": The Big Lebowski as Carnivalesque Social Critique (Paul "Pablo" Martin and Valerie Renegar); Americanizing Gay Parents: A Feminist Analysis of Daddy's Roommate (Dara R. Krause, See Vang, and Shonagh L. Brent); The Enactment of Advanced Style: Strategies Fashioned to Disrupt the Ideology of Aging (Karen A. Foss, Sonja K. Foss, and Yufang Zhang)

7. Generic Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Dismantling the Guitar Hero? A Case of Prodused Parody and Disarmed Subversion (Jörgen Skågeby); The Transference of Power: A Generic Description of Handover Rhetoric (Andrew Gilmore); Beauty in Conflict: Discussion on Art (Danielle Montoya); Banksy at Disneyland: Generic Participation in Culture Jamming (Joshua Carlisle Harzman)

8. Ideological Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Memory and Myth at the Buffalo Bill Museum (Greg Dickinson, Brian L. Ott, and Eric Aoki); Cyber Ideology: An Ideological Criticism of the UNICEF, UNAIDS, and UNFPA Websites (Khadidiatou Ndiaye) / Legitimation of an Unwanted Transition: Jiang Zemin's Ideology to Legitimize the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

9. Metaphoric Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Hugo Chávez and the Building of His Self-Image through Metaphor (Isabel Negro Alousque); Architectural Metaphor as Subversion: The Portland Building (Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson) / Reframing an Unwanted Transition: A Metaphoric Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

10. Narrative Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: "You Don't Play, You Volunteer": Narrative Public Memory Construction in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (Aaron Hess); Facilitating Openness to Difference: A Narrative Analysis of Leslie Marmon Silko's Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit (Laura S. More, Randi Boyd, Julie Bradley, and Erin Harris) / To Ensure a Successful Transition: A Narrative Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

11. Pentadic Criticism
Procedures / Sample Essays: Fahrenheit 9/11's Purpose-Driven Agents: A Multipentadic Approach to Political Entertainment (Samantha Senda-Cook); The Construction of Agency as a Cause for Recall: A Pentadic Analysis of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Victory Speech (Rachael Shaff); Circumvention of Power: A Pentadic Analysis of Jiang Zemin's Address at the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)

12. Generative Criticism
Encountering a Curious Artifact / Coding the Artifact / Searching for an Explanation / Creating an Explanatory Schema / Assessing the Explanatory Schema / Formulating a Research Question / Coding the Artifact in Detail / Searching the Literature / Writing the Essay / Sample Essays: Toward a Theory of Agentic Orientation: Rhetoric and Agency in Run Lola Run (Sonja K. Foss, William J. C. Waters, and Bernard J. Armada); Coding for Coping with Fatal Illness; Coping with Fatal Illness: Avery's Bucket List as Reality Television (Rachael L. Thompson Kuroiwa) / Romancing the Chinese Identity: Rhetorical Strategies Used to Facilitate Identification in the Handover of Hong Kong (Andrew Gilmore)