Output 2

Theoretical module

Definitions of rhetoric and types of rhetoric

This module introduces basic rhetorical terms and concepts. The theoretical rhetorical heritage i is rich and it is not possible to present it exhaustively. The aim of this module is to focus on some terms that are grouped together. This module is hyperlinked to the glossary. This is an open module and can be added to by anyone teaching rhetoric, according to their requirements, programmes, traditions and individual approach. This section also allows for independent study. The module is oriented towards self-organization of the time and the way of studying rhetoric, discovering in the text itself available resources – mainly these are the definitions in the different parts in the glossary.

The purpose of the module is to introduce traditional and new rhetorical concepts, perspectives and possibility.

  • Definitions of rhetoric and types of rhetoric
  • Basic terms
  • Monological rhetorical genres
  • Dialogic rhetorical genres and formats
  • Arguments and argumentation
  • Rhetorical figures and tropes
  • Bibliography

Definitions of rhetoric and types of rhetoric

Below are several definitions and opinions about rhetoric and its place in the system of science and education.

Hristo Paunov, presenting his position on rhetoric and his thoughts on the contemporary changes in rhetoric, believes, that rhetoric is “an integral theory of the social and technical-logical programme, connected with the realization of man and society” (Paunov 2010: 49). The author reflects on the place, purpose and status of rhetoric; the analysis is on a philosophical plane and is oriented towards the purpose and functions of rhetoric in society in Antiquity.

An unorthodox view on the learned transformations of rhetoric, about its adaptations and about the answer of its identity is presented by Victor Meizersky in the chapter “Semiotic and Rhetorical Theory of the Text” of the monograph “Philosophy and Rhetoric”. He states that as far as French language is concerned, modern rhetoric is to a significant extent transformed into an anti-political discipline (Meizersky 1991). The author retains respect for the contribution and role of rhetoric in scientific knowledge and society.

There are different opinions, evaluations and positions on rhetoric that present its nature, purpose and role on a different plane. Mark Fumaroli, in his article “The History of Rhetoric in Modern Europe”, expresses his opinion on the specificity of rhetorical knowledge and traditions as follows: “Rhetoric has never been a system; it is rather an experience based on a long-existing normativity. By definition it has its own history, I would even say it has its own memories. When it lays out norms, it derives them from examples that leave room for interpretation and invention” (Fumaroli 2010: 26).

There are also not very positive assessments of rhetoric. Among them is that of Michael Charland, who not only makes observations but also gives negative connotations. He writes that ‘rhetoric is not a discipline’, and formulates questions that await answers from rhetoricians: ‘Is rhetoric really an art of discovering the possible meanings of persuasion? Or is it a manifestation of civic behaviour? Or is it a method of discovery?’ (Charland 2003: 119).

Ivanka Mavrodieva believes that rhetoric is not a fundamental knowledge or a metascience. The same author also assumes that rhetoric is not distinguished by monumentality. She expresses the position that rhetoric is not a fragmented knowledge based primarily on descriptiveness and normativity; rhetoric has its object while retaining its pragmatic inclination.

Without presenting all the possibilities and assessments of what rhetoric is and what its purpose and role are in different spheres of society, Figure 1 attempts to highlight some of the main ones:

Figure 1. Rhetoric: science, art, practice

Rhetoric: science, art, practice

An online rhetoric course cannot cover all types of rhetoric.

Starting with Aristotle, we mention that he divides rhetoric into three genres: political/deliberative, ceremonial, and judicial (Aristotle 1986).

By sphere of application, rhetoric can be political, diplomatic, military, business, media, judicial, theological/religious, academic and pedagogical, film, domestic, internet/virtual, etc.

As variants of political rhetoric one can distinguish parliamentary, presidential, party, and pre-election rhetoric. Probably, political rhetoric can also include that of citizens and civil movements during protests and demonstrations. The rhetoric (statements, speeches, declarations, appeals) during protests is, conventionally speaking, civic; rather, it is political speech by citizens and representatives of NGOs.

The Internet and the late 20th and early 21st century rhetoric have intersections, and this creates conditions for a new field of rhetorical research. As scholars attempt to more accurately name the application of oratory over the years, they account for changes in the Internet. One can speak of a terminological diversity – the terms webrhetoric, online rhetoric, virtual rhetoric, digital rhetoric, computer-mediated rhetoric are used, even the term rhetoric numbers (Battersby 2003: 1-13); (rhetorical numbers) (Walfe 2010: 452-475) are now introduced, relations between rhetoric and the Internet of Things are sought, among others.

See definitions in the Glossary section.

There are different schools and trends in rhetoric. A comprehensive presentation of these strands is not the aim of this online course. At the same time, it is necessary to highlight some areas, especially those that are well established. Comprehensive presentation is possible in extensive research in historical and theoretical terms. The task here is to delineate those fields that are known, thus representing diversity. At the same time, it is acknowledged that no particularly dynamic development is possible, but there are reasons to speak of a development of the science of rhetoric.

See the bibliography for some authors and sources in this regard. These serve as a guide and are not annotations nor a bibliographic description.

Figure 2. The science of rhetoric: contemporary manifestations

The science of rhetoric: contemporary manifestations

See the Glossary section for definitions of types of rhetoric using different criteria.

In the bibliography below, sources are grouped separately; see there some authors and sources in this regard. These serve as guidelines and are not annotations or bibliographical descriptions.

Political rhetoric

  • Zaleska, M. (2012). Rhetoric and Politics: Mapping the Interpelations. Chapter one. Rhetoric and Politics. Central/Estern European Perspectives. Edited by M. Zaleska. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publisishng, 2-19.

  • Zaleska, M. (2012). Rhetoric and politics. Central/Estern European Perspectives. Edited by M. Zaleska. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publisishng.

  • Zarefsky, D. (2004) Presidential Rhetoric and the Power of Definition. Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 34, Sept., 2004, 607-619. Retrieved on 10.12.2020.

Political Discourse and Communication

  • Van Dijk, T. (1997). Political Discourse and Racism. Describing Others in Western Parliaments. In S. H. Riggins (Ed.), The Language and Politics of Exclusion. Others in Discourse, Thousand Oaks, CA: -Sage, 31-64.

  • Van Dijk, T. (2000a). Parliamentary Debates. In R. Wodak and T.A. Van Dijk (eds.) Racism at the top. Parliamentary discourses on ethnic isues in six European states, Klagenfurt, Austria: Drava Verlag, 45-78.

  • Van Dijk, T. (2000b). On the Analysis of Parliamentary Debates on Immigration. In M. Reisigl & R. Wodak (Eds.), The Semiotics of Racism. Approaches to Critical Ddiscourse Analysis. Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 85-103.

  • Van Dijk, T. (2001a). Discourse, Ideology and Context. Folia Linguistica, XXX/1-2: 11-40.

  • Van Dijk, T. (2001b) Critical Discourse Analysis. 
    In D. Tannen, D. Schiffrin & H. Hamilton (Eds
    .), Handbook of Discourse Analysis, Oxford, Blackwell, 352-371.

Internet communication and rhetoric

  • Stromme, M. (2009). Rhetoric in the Campaign Website of Barak Obama, accessed 16 June 2009. Retrieved on 12.10.2020.

  • Zappen, J, P. &. Gurak, S. (1997). Doheny-Farina. Rhetoric, Community, and Cyberspace Published in Rhetoric Review 15 (1997): 400-19. Retrieved on 16.07.2010.

  • Zappen, J. P. (2005). Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated – Theory, Technical Communication Quarterly, 14 (3).

  • Zemmels, D. (2010). An Archeology of Rhetorical Criticism and Internet Communication, COMM 7350, 5/3/06,, Retrieved on 21.05.2010.

  • Warnick, B. (2007) Rhetoric Online: Persuasion and Politics on the World Wide Web. New York: Peter Lang. Warnick, B. Rhetoric Online: Persuasion and Politics on the World Wide Web. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. – Review., Retrieved on 23.08.2010.

  • Wilson, M. (2010). Rhetorical Analysis of a Corporate Site, Philip Mоrris, Ethos, and Ethics, Retrieved on 23.08.2010.

  • Wolfe, J. (2010). Rhetorical Numbers: College Composition and Communication, Vol. 61, No. 3 (February 2010), pp. 452-475 (24 pages), Published By: National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved on 10.12.2020.

Visual rhetoric and visual argumentation

  • Battersby, M. (2003). The Rhetoric of Numbers: Statistical Inference as Argumentation. May 14th, 9:00 AM – May 17th, 5:00 PM, OSSA Conference Archive. 5. Retrieved on 10.12.2020.

  • Foss, S. K.  (1982). Rhetoric and the Visual Image:  A Resource Unit. Communication Education, 31, January 1982.

  • Foss, S. K. (2004). Framing the Study of Visual Rhetoric: Toward a Transformation of Rhetorical Theory. Defining Visual Rhetorics. (Eds. Charles A. Hill & Marguerite Helmers). Mahwah, New Jersey:  Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Foss, S. K. (2005). Theory of Visual Rhetoric; In Handbook of Visual Communication: Theory, Methods, and Media.  Ed. Ken Smith, Sandra Moriarty, Gretchen Barbatsis, and Keith Kenney.  Mahwah, New Jersey:  Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Žagar, Igor, Ž. (2020). On inference, understanding and interpretation in visual argumentation: Challenges and problem, Rhetoric and Communications, issue 44: 24-54.,
  • Roque, G. (2008). Political Rhetoric in Visual Images. (W. Edda, ed.). Dialogue and Rhetoric, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 185-193.

  • Ramirez, J., L. (2011). The art of speaking – the art of saying. Scandinavian Studies in Rhetoric. Rhetorica Scandinaviaca 1997-2010, University of Oslo, Retorikfortaget, Sweden, 76-87.

  • Голешевска, Н. (2010). Модели на визуалната реторика в Европа и Северна Америка. Естетика, семиотика или реторика на визуалната култура?), Млада наука за изкуствата. Научна сесия за докторанти. София: М-8-М, 199-212.

Goleszewska, N. (2010). Models of visual rhetoric in Europe and North America. Aesthetics, semiotics or rhetoric of visual culture?), Young Science of Arts. Research session for PhD students. Sofia: M-8-M, 199-212.

  • Голешевска, Н. (2010). Разказаният и показаният свят в социалната семиотика на Гюнтер Крес. Към понятието за мултимодалност в комуникацията. Комуникации във виртуална среда. (съст. И. Мавродиева). София: УИ „Св. Климент Охридски”, 20-31.

Goleszewska, N. (2010). The told and the shown world in the social semiotics of Günter Kress. Towards the notion of multimodality in communication. Communications in virtual environments. (ed. I. Mavrodieva). Sofia. 20-31.

  • Голешевска, Н. (2010). Visual studies. Визуална реторика. Визуална аргументация. Прагматизъм и реторическа критика в изследванията на визуалната култура. Годишник на СУ „Св. Климент Охридски”: Докторантски изследвания по социални и хуманитарни науки, София: УИ „Св. Климент Охридски”, 199-241.

Goleszewska, N. (2010). Visual studies. Visual rhetoric. Visual argumentation. Pragmatism and rhetorical criticism in visual culture studies. Yearbook of St. Doctoral Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities, Sofia. Kliment Ohridski, 199-241.

Intercultural rhetoric

  • Valente, A. C. (2020). Mending the Gap between the ‘Two Cultures’ through Dynamic Intercultural Rhetoric, Rhetoric and Communications, issue 45: 7-23,, последно посещение на 10.12.2020.
  • Connor, U. (2004). Intercultural Rhetoric Research: Beyond Text. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, N 3: 291-304.

  • Connor, U. (2002). New Directions of Contrastive Rhetoric. Tesol Quarterly, Vol. 36, N 4, Winter, 493-510.

Rhetoric of Science

  • Harris, R. A. (1997). Introduction. Landmark Essays on Rhetoric of Science: Case Studies. Ed. Randy Allen Harris. Mahwah: Hermagoras Press.

  • Harris, R. A. (2002). Knowing, Rhetoric, Science. In Visions and Revisions: Continuity and Change in Rhetoric and Composition. Ed. James D. Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP.

  • Gross, A. G. (1996). Rhetoric of Science. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age. New York: Garlnd Publishers.

  • Gross, A. G. (1990). The Rhetoric of Science. Cambridge: Harvard UP.

Contrastive and Comparative Rhetoric

  • Kaplan, R. B. (1988). Contrastive rhetoric and second language learning: Notes towards a theory of contrastive rhetoric. In A. Purves (Ed.). Writing across languages and cultures: Issues in contrastive rhetoric, Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 275-304.

  • Kennedy, G. A. (1998). Comparative rhetoric: An historical and cross-cultural introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Liebman, J. (1988). Contrastive rhetoric: Students as ethnographers. Journal of Basic Writing, 7(2): 6-27.

  • Liebman, J. (1992). Toward a new contrastive rhetoric: Differences between Arabic and Japanese rhetorical instruction. Journal of Second Language Writing, 1(2): 141-165.

  • Leki, I. (1991). Twenty-five Years of Contrastive Rhetoric: Analysis and Writing Pedagogy, Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages, Vol. 25, N 1, 123-143.

Gender rhetoric

  • Aydinoglu. (2014). Gender in English language teaching coursebooks. Procedia – Social and
    Behavioral Sciences, 158, 233-239.

  • Bacang, B. G. et. all. (2019). The Gender Construct in the Use of Rhetorical Appeals, Hedges and Boosters in ESL Writing: A Discourse Analysis. Asian EFL Journal Research Articles. Vol. 25 Issue No. 5.2 October 2019.

  • Gormley, S. (2015). Language and gender. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International Encyclopedia
    of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 256-259). Oxford: Elsevier.

  • Park, G.-P., & French, B. F. (2013). Gender differences in the foreign language classroom
    anxiety scale. System, 41(2), 462-471.

  • Protivínský, T., & Münich, D. (2018). Gender bias in teachers’ grading: What is in the grade.
    Studies in Educational Evaluation, 59, 141-149.

  • Генова, В. (2011). Стереотипи в реториката за „първите дами”: Какъв е смъртният грях на съпругите? Медии и обществени комуникации. Изд. УНСС „Алма комуникация”. №10, 2011. Retrieved on 10.08.2021.

Genova, V. (2011). Stereotypes in the rhetoric of “first ladies”. Media and public communications. Ed. UNWE „Alma komunikacija“. №10, 2011. Retrieved on 10.08.2021.

  • Генова, В. (2012). Джендър парламентарна реторика. Медии и обществени комуникации. Изд. УНСС ”Алма комуникация”. 2012, № 14, последно посещение на 10.08.2021.

Genova, V. (2012). Gendered parliamentary rhetoric. Media and public communications. Ed. UNWE, Alma Commun. 2012, No. 14, Retrieved on 10.08.2021.

  • Петрова, С. (2016). Джендър аспекти в политическите медийни образи. Реторика и комуникации, бр. 25, Retrieved on 11.08.2021.

Petrova, S. (2016). Gender aspects in political media images. Rhetoric and Communications, Issue 25, Retrieved on 11.08.2021.

Rhetoric, public communication and public relations

Contemporary practices show that rhetoric sets the parameters for the formation of skills to write speeches, to prepare public appearances of politicians and managers. At the same time, while maintaining its scientific field and practical applications, it adapts and finds intersections with media knowledge and public relations in theoretical terms, especially in practical-applied terms. This is evident in Kremena Georgieva’s publications, in which she presents opportunities for co-creation between the three fields in practical terms.

  • Ihlen, Øyvind (2011). On Barnyard Scrambles: Toward a Rhetoric of Public Relations Article  in  Management Communication Quarterly · August 2011 DOI: 10.1177/0893318911409533

  • Taylor, Maureen. (2011). Building Social Capital
    Through Rhetoric and
    Public Relations. Management Communication Quarterly 25(3) 436–454 © The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: http://www. DOI: 10.1177/0893318911410286

  • Георгиева, К. (2009). PR. Реторика. Медии. София: Jix.

Georgieva, K. (2009). PR. Rhetoric. Media. Sofia: Jix.

Project RHEFINE – Rhetoric for Innovative Education, Number 2020-1-PL01-KA203-082274, Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 2, Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices – Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education.


University of Warsaw – Poland – coordinator

Institute of Rhetoric and Communication – Bulgaria

University of Zagreb – Croatia