Rhetorical Analysis project

When I was in grade school, many years ago, students were taught the importance of “who, what, where, when, how and why” in writing. When my older children went to grade school I found that this wasn’t taught anymore. Let’s not even discuss the fact that my youngest children aren’t being taught how to write in cursive now either. They all know how to take a standardized test though, but I digress. This postings intent is to set the ground work for my project that is due on November 9th, not whine about a broken education system – sorry!

I have been charged to select a website, apply Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical pentad to the site and see how well the form and content stand up.


Subject site: The Gwinnett County Public Library  www.gwinnettpl.org

Criteria as to how it should be evaluated: Burke’s dramatism pentad.

According to Kenneth Burke (well know philosopher, author and literary critic; 1897-1993) to understand why people do things you have to understand what motivates them. Burke believed that applying the critical technique dramatism to life, people could decipher the motivations.

Burke’s dramatism pentad:

Act: What happened? What is the action? What is going on? What action; what thoughts?

Scene: Where is the act happening? What is the background situation?

Agent: Who is involved in the action? What are their roles?

Agency: How do the agents act? By what means do they act?

Purpose: Why do the agents act? What do they want?


Basically this is the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of my youth – hence my soapbox moment above. Maybe if schools taught this basic concept in school again people would realize there is more going on in life then what they can see on their computer screens.


tl;dr Project – Considering the Rhetoric of Facebook

Toaster1)Facebook has only recently been the most popular social networking website.  This is due to differences in design and management. One of the most common reasons for Facebook was the promise of “security”. However, though Facebook thrives due to its reputation for privacy and security, its ultimate aim is to blur the definition of “friend” and “distant acquaintance.” In doing so it negates the effect of its security regulations and instead coaxes its users into a mode of public “self-broadcasting”. Second paragraph, page 2 – 160/80

2)Uniting users with an identical page layouts, Facebook doesn’t allow  the orientation of page information to be altered. These “uniforms” eliminates the need to judge the book by its cover. Users on Facebook focus on the  information presented by the thousands of  people hoping to be  potential friends. Second paragraph, page 3 – 103/48 

3) “Facebook stalking” a term created specifically for the extensive online “people watching” that has magnified this behavior past anything seen in the real world. A “Facebook stalker” will read the profile information and view the photos of someone who doesn’t have to be their “friend” on Facebook. This new extension of people-watching has. Second paragraph, page 4. 83/53

4) Facebook is not actually invasive, it does not actually breach the social standards of privacy. Facebook is a magnified and unconstrained form of people watching. Facebook will ultimately have no life altering effects. Facebook is mostly a recasting of basic social networking, for Facebook is not a forum in which people create friends. It is not “friend-building”, but rather “people-monitoring.” Its root is common in all of mankind. People are interested in people, that is one thing that I am sure will never change. Second paragraph, page 5. 169/84