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weaverrdgquestions - Rhetorical Foundations COMM 3300...

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Rhetorical Foundations COMM 3300 Reading Questions: Richard Weaver, “Ultimate Terms in Contemporary Rhetoric” (1952) Weaver is writing in 1952, and offering an account of the key positive and negative terms circulating in discourse at the time. In addition, he is offering us concepts—god term, devil term, charismatic term—that we can apply to rhetoric in our own day. Read his article as both a historical window into an earlier era, and a theoretical contribution to the study of rhetoric today. 1. What is a “god term”? A god term is “that expression about which all other expressions are ranked as subordinate and serving dominations and powers. Its force imparts to the others their lesser degree of force, and fixes the scale by which degrees of comparison are understood” [p 88]. 2. What is the key god term for his age? Weaver states “progress” as the key god term for his age. He explains importance of the term progress and its label as the key god term for his age in that it is a term that can be linked to many other terms – “if one can ‘make it stick,’ it will validate almost anything” [p 89]. The term is significant seeing as if it is placed by any other word it provides a positive light on the subject – “A politician is urged upon the voters as a ‘progressive leader’; a community is proud to style itself ‘progressive’; technologies and methodologies claim to be ‘progressive’; a peculiar kind of
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2009 for the course COMM 3300 taught by Professor Vogelaar,a during the Summer '08 term at Colorado.

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weaverrdgquestions - Rhetorical Foundations COMM 3300...

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