Articles on Rhetoric

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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the October 9 presidential town hall debate. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Donald Trump and the dangerous rhetoric of portraying people as objects

An expert in political rhetoric singles out Trump's repeated use of reification – the tendency to treat people as things – and the role it's played in his tortured response to the leaked tape.
From Pericles to Trump, a good speech has been an integral part of the democratic process. William Chew/Flickr

In an age of rhetoric, Australian politics is missing the American flair

Australian politicians – unlike their American counterparts – have largely abandoned the art of stirring speeches. Good rhetoric doesn't equal good policy, but at least it's evidence of imaginative thinking.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures to supporters as he departs a Sept. 13 campaign rally in Clive, Iowa. Mike Segar/Reuters

The rise of a conspiracy candidate

The same forces that drive belief in conspiracy theories are the ones driving the rise of Donald Trump. So it's no wonder that, less than two months until the election, he continues to dabble in and promote them.
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 15, 2016. Jonathan Drake/Reuters

In the wake of tragedy, Trump takes rhetoric of fear to a whole new level

Two experts in political rhetoric explain how one candidate has used rhetorical devices like framing and 'argumentum in terrorem' to stoke fear and attract voters since the Orlando nightclub shooting.
All rhetorical techniques are designed to enhance one of the three pillars of communication: ethos, logos and pathos. Benson Kua

Think you know your rhetorical structures? I can’t even …

We all use rhetorical structures. But, unless we're skilled in their use, as politicians and advertisers clearly are, we don't necessarily grasp their full manipulative power.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the Fox News debate in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Politics of resentment on full display at GOP debate

According to an expert in political rhetoric, we shouldn't underestimate the power of the candidates who can skillfully tap into voter resentments.
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 4 2015. Jonathan Drake/Reuters

The rhetorical brilliance of Trump the demagogue

An expert on American political rhetoric breaks down Donald Trump's rhetorical prowess, pointing to the various techniques the candidate has mastered.
Winston Churchill: a titan of oratory.

How to make a historic speech

Political speeches can teach us a great deal about how to win over an audience – and we can all apply the simple lessons.
When the President of the United States burst into song on the weekend, music amplified the emotional force of his words. EPA/Richard Ellis

Obama’s Amazing Grace shows how music can lift oratory high

Only a hard heart could fail to respond on some emotional level when Barack Obama, eulogising at one of the most emotionally and racially charged funerals in US history, started singing Amazing Grace.
Tony Abbott is offering logical evidence and emotional appeals, but the rhetorical problem is his own loss of credibility and authority. AAP/Mick Tsikas

The prime ministerial promise to change: can it work?

“Is it me?” That was the question John Howard reportedly asked his cabinet colleagues as his government remained stubbornly behind in the polls in 2007. One of those colleagues, Tony Abbott, now confronts…
Noel Pearson’s speech has been hailed as one of the great Australian political speeches. What were its stylistic characteristics? AAP Image/Fairfax Pool, Peter Rae

A closer look at Noel Pearson’s eulogy for Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam was a prime minister unsuccessful in three of his five federal election campaigns, including 1975’s extremely divisive contest. Somehow, though, his death has sparked an outpouring of kind…
When a mosque is spray-painted with the word ‘Evil’ following last week’s raids, it’s a sign the community is getting the wrong message from the anti-terrorism campaign. AAP/Matt Jacob

Responsible rhetoric is a crucial part of the anti-terror armoury

While Australia has rightly joined the international fight to bring down Islamic State (IS) terrorists, at home its anti-terror campaign is fuelling more problems. For example, following high-profile anti-terror…

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