3) Models, Posters, and Literature

Lexi Yost. “Rhetoric in Digital Forms.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
Digital forms are found everywhere in our daily environments, and Ireland was no exception. Billboards, brochures, brand logos, storefront ads, and building plaques just barely brush the surface of instances I saw every day in Dublin and Galway. But while visiting Dublin’s Archaeology Museum, I noticed how 3-D maps, artifact coding, and even the layout of certain objects could also be seen as digital forms. There’s this stigma of assuming that rhetoric involves written and oral words only. But, in this class, we’ve learned that rhetoric is made possible when an individual is able to persuade an audience while adapting to appeal to them and the context of the situation.

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In the picture above, the tour group and myself were gathered in front of one of Loughcrew’s many centuries-old passage tombs. The conservation team that maintained the tombs and the grounds were proud to share the history of the monument. (They were also very happy to answer questions, which I took full advantage of after the tour). Using laminated models of the back of the tomb and the nearby “Hag’s Rock” stone, visual indications, and the Irish wit and humor, the team was able to share the monument’s story in a fun way. Walter J. Ong explains in his article regarding literature and its many diverse audiences,”Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that: “A history of the ways audiences have been called on to fictionalize themselves would be a correlative of the history of literacy genres and literary works, and indeed of culture itself” (Ong, 4). Every place, like the museum, tourist sites, or even the lesser-known tours such as the Loughcrew one, must consider their audiences before writing speeches, indication symbols and references to artifacts, and signs telling about bigger tourist sites.

8) The Coffee Experience

Lexi Yost. “COFFEE.” Ireland, 2016

Anyone who knows me knows I love coffee. And not just love it: LOVE it. It is crucial to every morning for me, and sometimes late afternoons as well. In Ireland, I was more than
excited to try different kinds, and explore different brands and businesses of my most favorite drink. Throughout the four main cities we went to, I sampled countless cups of coffee and numerous coffee shops. To remember my ‘coffee experience’, I took a picture of either the cup or the business, and added it to my photo collection. While thinking of different digital forms, I realized that these coffee brands are a great example of them. The logos and brands not only display unique design-work, but in doing so, add a rhetorical spin onto the business itself. It’s no secret that design work is appealing to the customer, and every logo and visualization is meant to signify the brand/business, and to attract potential buyers. But what I found unique about the Irish coffee cups is that they not only used visual design work, but also used certain fonts and literary sayings to brand their product (a rhetorical strategy). Diana George, the author of “From Analysis to Design”, says: “Throughout the history of writing instruction in this country, there has been some attention to the visual nature of written composition… to emphasize the importance of handwriting or penmanship as a visual representation of the writer’s character” (Miller, 1439). The “writer” can also apply to the coffee shops owner, as they want their design work – the scripts, drawings, and fonts – to successfully reflect the wanted atmosphere and personality of the brand.

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10) When History Comes Alive

Lexi Yost. “Archeologists Make Great Storytellers.” Boyne Valley. Ireland, 2016
We’ve explored how the past is often resurfaced through revisiting texts and other forms of written or showcased representations. But history can also be demonstrated through visual presentation and storytelling. And, if my travels to Ireland taught me one thing, it’s that the Irish have a wonderfully exciting knack for sharing stories. An example of this is when we were traveling across the bogs of Inishbofin, and following a seasoned archeologist with never-ending jokes and a constant twinkle in his eye. The archeologist lead us up a small mountain (knok, as the locals call them), to sites where the remains of Viking walls, a roundhouse, and an ancient stone cross is located. Instead of just pointing out their locations, the archeologist blindly had us stand in different directions and hold our arms out (which we felt ridiculous doing, but complied). But, like the starry constellations, the distance between our outstretched arms marked the beginnings and ends of the walls, as well as the circumference of the ancient Viking roundhouse. This activity not only engaged us as an audience, but put us physically into what we were learning from the archeologist. We felt like explorers, rediscovering history that seemed, in the moment, almost tangible.

These different approaches appeal to different types of people, and one reason they’re so effective to certain individuals is because of discourse and speech communities. The Irish, although they are a culture, can be seen linguistically as a speech community. Their accents can be adapted, almost every man and woman I met had some sense of humor in everyday conversation, and most (like the archaeologist) enjoyed storytelling. From what I’ve seen, regardless of the general stereotypes of Irish culture, John Swales, an author of “The Concept of Discourse Community,” encapsulates its definition well: a speech community is made up of “shared linguistic forms, shared regulative rules, and shared cultural concepts” (Swales, 470). Because of the definition of speech community as being adaptable and not inflexible like a discourse community, the adaptability of the Irish culture points its community more towards a speech community. Also, since rhetoric, according to Aristotle, relies on the consideration of audiences, having an array of persuasive and educational tactics makes teaching people truly effective. This versatility is key in teaching in an ever-adapting environment, and approaching situations in a way that appeals to a certain audience(s) makes rhetoric possible.

Lexi Yost. “Trim Castle.” Boyne Valley. Ireland, 2016
On my final full day in Ireland, was able to take a day trip to visit Trim Castle (one of the locations where Braveheart was filmed). In front of the castle was a “knight”, greeting the tourists. He not only talked like a medieval soldier, but fully adapted the role. This not only added to the experience of the castle, but gave us a glimpse into what it would have been like in its hay day. Even though the knight was but a single actor, he was able to help our imaginations jump right back into the middle ages, and was able to teach us some linguistic/geographic history while he did so.Because we live in modern times, we retain histographic notes, or over-simplified versions of history, since we are looking back to the past, but can’t see it directly. Our modern lenses don’t allow us to fully envision what living back in medieval times would have been like because of modern influences that make up our psyche. And even though img_20160808_192547the knight actor can’t magically get rid of our lenses (because its obvious he’s an actor), he can fade them a bit, especially for children, through his rhetoric to help us understand a glimpse of what time was like before ours. This just comes to show that rhetoric doesn’t have to be just written literature. It can be found in relaying messages, our interpretations of events, constructed models and charts. It can be found in engaging people to participate in activities, and hands-on learning. And, last but not least, it can also be found in taking on a role (however extreme that may be)that you are deeply passionate about.