The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts

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Can television shows like Desperate Housewives, popular songs like Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me, advertisements for Samuel Adams beer, and films such as Harry Potter help us understand rhetorical theory and criticism? The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture is chock full of familiar examples like these to make rhetorical theory and criticism accessible, relevant, and meaningful to readers. Author Deanna Sellnow offers a step-by-step introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism by focusing on the powerful roles TV programs, advertisements, music, comics, and movies play in persuading us on what to believe and how to behave.

Key Features

  • Clarifies theoretical concepts using a broad range of familiar examples from TV, film, music, advertisements, and comics
  • Proposes a consistent step-by-step approach to conducting a rhetorical analysis of popular culture texts focused on describing, interpreting, and evaluating
  • Engages readers in the hands-on process of popular cultural criticism with end-of-chapter sample essays and challenge exercises
  • Fosters critical thinking and retention of key concepts by encouraging readers to actively apply concepts through “Applying What You’ve Learned” boxes embedded in each chapter

Intended Audience
This pragmatic book makes an excellent text for courses exploring the intersections of popular culture, communication, sociology, and identity. It is a must-have for anyone interested in examining the powerfully persuasive rhetorical messages that pervade our daily lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Paul A. Soukup
"Best considered a classroom text, it takes students through the steps necessary to write analyses of various forms of popular culture, ranging from stage musicals to film and television to popular music to advertising to visual images and beyond."
Web Review - Dr George F Simons
'Given the variety of analytic perspectives discussed in this book, each with its own definitions and vocabulary, it is helpful that key terms are both highlighted in colour in the text and then summarily defined in the glossary.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412915410
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 3/25/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,246,665
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Deanna Sellnow currently serves as the Gifford Blyton Endowed Professor of Communication and Director of the Division of Instructional Communication and Research in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include popular culture rhetoric and instructional communication. She has presented her work at state, regional, national, and international conferences and has published in a variety of journals. She also conducts faculty development workshops across the country. She and her husband, Tim, have two children: Debbie and Rick.

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Table of Contents

1. What Is Popular Culture and Why Study It?
What Is Popular Culture?
What Are Popular Culture Texts?
Why Study Popular Culture?
Conducting a Rhetorical Analysis of Popular Culture Texts
Sample Student Essay
2. Expanding the Rhetorical Tradition
The Nature of Rhetoric and Rhetorical Criticism
Evolution of the Rhetorical Tradition
Rhetoric in the Communication Discipline
The Neo-Aristotelian Approach to Rhetorical Criticism
Contemporary Rhetorical Approaches
Sample Published Essay
3. A Narrative Perspective
Narrative Rationality
Conducting a Narrative Analysis
Sample Analyses
Sample Published Essay
4. A Dramatistic Perspective
The Pentad
Absolution of Guilt
Conducting a Dramatistic Analysis
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
5. A Marxist Perspective
Ideology and Hegemony
Materialism and Economic Metaphors
Sites of Struggle
Conducting a Marxist Analysis
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
6. Feminist Perspectives
Hegemony, Patriarchy, and Masculine Hegemony
Sites of Struggle
Waves of Feminism
Feminist Perspectives for Studying Popular Culture Texts
Conducting a Feminist Analysis
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
7. A Music Perspective: The Illusion of Life Theory
Music as Communication
The Illusion of Life
Conducting an Illusion of Life Analysis
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
8. A Visual Perspective: Visual Pleasure Theory
Visual Pleasure Theory
Conducting a Visual Pleasure Analysis
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
9. Media-Centered Perspectives
Media Logic
Social Learning Theory
Parasocial Relationship Theory
Cultivation Theory
Conducting an Analysis Using a Media-Centered Perspective
Sample Published Essay
Sample Student Essay
Appendix: Writing a Popular Culture Rhetorical Essay
Collecting Research and Examining Your Text
Writing Your Essay
Presenting Your Essay

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