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Rhetorical StyleThe Uses of Language in Persuasion$
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Jeanne Fahnestock

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199764129

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199764129.001.0001

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Passage Patterns

Passage Patterns

(p.372) 17 Passage Patterns
Rhetorical Style

Jeanne Fahnestock

Oxford University Press

A coherent string of clauses, using the connections described in the previous chapter, still has to build in the reader's mind into a hierarchically organized passage. Rhetorical manuals since antiquity have provided advice on building passages as compositional units serving arguments. This chapter reviews prescribed multisentence units, beginning with the enthymeme and syllogism and their expansion through embedded restatements, examples, and comparisons. The resulting structures are combined into full arguments, and they have been rediscovered in critical thinking textbooks. But teachers of rhetoric went further in prescribing the subunits of larger arguments through the series of exercises known as the progymnasmata. How subunits can work at different “grain sizes” is illustrated in the case of comparisons. The rhetoricians’ insights into modular text structure and the basic sequential patterns of parataxis (coordinated sequences) and hypotaxis (subordinated sequences) were lost in the early-twentieth-century decline of rhetoric. Composition teachers in the second half of the twentieth century rebuilt much of this advice in their attention to paragraph structure, and they rediscovered the figures of discourse management now collectively known as metadiscourse. Rhetorical insights into passage patterns bring analysts to the end of “bottom up” constructions and to the point where top-down advice about argument strategies and genre patterns take over.

Keywords:   passage, composition, enthymeme, syllogism, critical thinking, parataxis, hypotaxis, progymnasmata, comparison, paragraph, metadiscourse

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