Rhetorical criticism is a practice at least as old as Plato. In the Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates examine a speech by Lysias to determine whether or not it is praiseworthy.
Rhetorical criticism analyzes symbolic artifacts (including words, phrases, images, gestures, performances, texts, films, and "discourse" in general) to discover how, and how well, they work: how they instruct, inform, entertain, move, arouse, perform, convince and, in general, persuade their audience, including whether and how they might improve their audience. In short, rhetorical criticism seeks to understand how symbols act on people.
“riticism is an art, not a science. It is not a scientific method; it uses subjective methods of argument; it exists on its own, not in conjunction with other methods of generating knowledge (i.e., social scientific or scientific)." The end goals of such criticism is greater understanding and appreciation: “By improving understanding and appreciation, the critic can offer new and potentially exciting ways for others to see the world. Through understanding we also produce knowledge about human communication; in theory this should help us to better govern our interactions with others.”
Famous quotes containing the words rhetorical and/or criticism:
“Whoever inquires about our childhood wants to know something about our soul. If the question is not just a rhetorical one and the questioner has the patience to listen, he will come to realize that we love with horror and hate with an inexplicable love whatever caused us our greatest pain and difficulty.”
—Erika Burkart (20th century)
“Homoeopathy is insignificant as an art of healing, but of great value as criticism on the hygeia or medical practice of the time.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)