Daniel T. Richards

Daniel T. Richards

Digital Strategist & Rhetorician

The Hipster Topics

If you’re a regular reader, you know about the three genres of rhetoric: Judicial (past), Deliberative (future), and Ceremonial (present). And you know about the topics of argument common to all.

But you may not know that each genre of rhetoric has its own special topics. They’re the hipsters of rhetoric, the topics who were around before the other topics came along, and they apply only to their specific genre.

Really they’re not so much special as foundational—almost obvious. The special topics for each genre of rhetoric are:

Judicial

– Justice / Injustice

Deliberative

–  Good / Unworthy
–  Advantageous / Disadvantageous

Ceremonial

– Virtue / Vice

Every special topic is a dichotomy. That is, there are two paths for argumentation: positive and negative. Compromise or even finding a middle road is often a great way to defuse a hostile rhetorical situation. But keep in mind that it usually works best in deliberative rhetoric.

Once you know what genre of rhetoric you’re arguing in (or want to argue in) the central dispute will likely be related to that genre’s special topic(s). They’re at least a good place to start. That’s why special topics are important to know. And special!

Now let’s take a look at how to use them…

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