Weekly Roundup: Week 11- Invitational Rhetoric

Weekly Roundup: Week 11- Invitational Rhetoric

In chapter 8 of Rhetorical Theory Timothy Borchers defines INVITATIONAL RHETORIC as:

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“A way of using rhetoric that invites understanding by creating a relationship with the audience based on equality, value, and self-determination” (Borchers 225)

Two primary objectives of the Invitational Rhetor:

  1. To bring for perspective (212)
  2. To create “external conditions that allow others to present their perspectives in an atmosphere of respect and equality” (212)

Essential to the role of the Invitational Rhetor is the questioning of his or her own perspectives (212).  The Invitational Rhetor uses storytelling and illustrations to present a perspective in a way that open conversation and reflection, but they do not depend on the audience agreeing (212).

Success is found when each audience member is allowed to “feel like they are a unique individual” (212)

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Invitational rhetoric is not persuasive based- it is  audience and conversation based.

In reading about invitational rhetoric I immediately thought about Wayne Fenske’s Philosophy (Foundations in Ethics) class I am taking this semester.

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The class is centred around thoughts of cultural philosophy and the movement from a “me vs. them” attitude towards a “us vs. them” attitude of thinking.  Within this class we discuss topics of Moral Philosophy.

Wayne’s approach to the class is a prime example of invitational rhetoric.  His goal is not to persuade; he seeks to invite conversation.  The class is student centred and celebrates diversity of thought.  Students are expected to critically engage with theories and are encouraged to come to genuine conclusions and opinions.  Wayne makes his position clear, illustrates his reasoning and explores other ideas of thought.  However, within his clear presentation of his thought he makes it clear that he does not want students to merely accept and repeat his thoughts.

The following is a question that was given to the class during an in-class essay:

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Wayne’s note after the question is key to his invitational approach to teaching.  He presents the author’s view and juxtaposes it against his own view.  He asks the student to consider both sides to the argument and formulate individual thought.


Borchers, Timothy A. Rhetorical Theory: An Introduction. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011. Print.




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