Rhetoric is the study and practice of persuasive human communication. As an academic field, rhetoric explores the interpretive practice, as well as discourse. And discourse can be defined as the interchange of ideas between people, where thoughts are expressed in a formal and structured manner. Rhetoric is also often referred to as the art of argumentation and persuasion. Let`s find out how to write a rhetorical essay more in our writing guide for students.
Rhetoric and Historical Writing
- First and foremost, decent historical writing must be argumentative. You might even think of history writing as a never-ending argument or debate about the facts of the past. For example, in popular magazines, historical events are often displayed in a simple narrative manner – as a set of facts. Such a narrative is incapable of engaging in debate and discussion. History is an argumentatively produced narrative — it is both a story and an interpretive or realistic argument about the past. Instead, such writing just recounts a given set of facts.
- In addition, historical rhetoric must give way to new ideas. Historians must investigate insufficiently researched topics. Hence, they will contribute to the development of the scientific process. Scientists may come up with new answers to old issues or turn to issues never addressed before.
- Historical writing always has some portion of interpretation. Even if the historian tries to restrict their viewpoint to objective thinking, interpretation is always intertwined with narration in their writing. Historians try to explain why and how different events occurred, as well as why certain aspects of the past are significant. Interpretation of historical facts is what helps initiate the argumentation and further discussion.
- Good history writing is concerned with debates and discourse in the area of study. Historians may directly argue with other historians’ interpretations of the past. Also, the historian may generally refer to other historians` achievements in the field. Either way, it is always good to imply critical thinking and debating in history essay writing.
Strategies for Good History Writing
Writing good history papers requires a basic knowledge of how historians construct their arguments. Many beginners in the areas frequently struggle to figure out the actual purpose of their writing. These situations happen because that they don’t understand what their argument should be aimed at. The solution is quite simple: you should take inspiration and learn from other scholars. When reading other historians` papers, keep asking yourself, “How does this paper contribute to the existing knowledge in this area?” and “How can I achieve the same result?”.
There’re several rhetorical strategies for researching this field that is typical for many historical arguments. All of them raise the question of how your paper will contribute to the existing body of knowledge. By learning and implementing these tactics in your work, you will have a much better idea of how you should write a historical paper. You`ll learn to strategically use historical narrative once you know how to contribute new ideas to the existing research.
- Find a topic never addressed before, start researching, and present the first interpretation of it.
- You could also address an insufficiently researched issue, present your view of the lacking aspects concerning this topic.
- Often historians build their argument over a traditional interpretation of a problem by presenting their new, authentic vision of the well-known topic.
- Or you can even use an existing interpretation of a given issue and make it more accurate by conducting more detailed and complex research.
- When there is a strong debate between two interpretations of a problem, you can support one of the sides in their argument with the other.
- When a basic historical argument or theory on the subject has been proposed, you can apply the “case study” approach in your research. It means that you will research a given topic by analyzing the existing theories of other historians. With the results of your study, you may support the theory, negate it, or even alter it.
- When a complex interpretation of the broad issue has been established, you can apply the “test study” method to your project. You’ll conduct thorough research on one aspect of a larger debate and analyze your findings to see what they mean for the overall interpretation.
Please note that it’s only a basic list of key elements of historical arguments. If you’re interested in knowing more, you can research other rhetorical tactics on your own.