Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Joe Moxley, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Joyce Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deborah Noonan, Ph.D.

Keywords

debate, argument, rhetoric, politics, memes

Abstract

In this paper, I wish to demonstrate how enthymemic argument pervades modern discourse. First, I will define the enthymeme in Aristotelian terms and compare its qualities to its sibling, the syllogism. Next, I will attempt to demonstrate how the enthymeme functions, paying close attention to its psychological effects as well as analyzing how the media helps promote enthymemic discourse. Finally, I will propose a way that composition instructors can harness the idea of the enthymeme to facilitate critical thinking in the classroom. The purpose of the paper is to provide evidence that a rebirth of this classical term is in order. Enthymemes are tricky, and they are often there without us ever knowing or suspecting them. By analyzing what an enthymeme does, what it looks like and how to respond to it, we can be better prepared to make the important ethical decisions we are faced with every day.

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