#DefineRhetoric 2013

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We're delighted to share the results of our second annual Twitter challenge to #DefineRhetoric. Once again, friends of Harlot have taken up the challenge of defining the harlot of the arts. As you'll see, her shape-shifting trickster spirit is alive on Twitter. Kudos and thanks to everyone who got involved!

Below you'll find the winners of our highly unscientific voting system, plus some other favorites—definitions that made us pause, made us chuckle, and made us sit back and enjoy the enigma.

The Winners

    First Place — Rhetoric: opening one's ears before opening one's mouth. @cdmandrews

    Second Place —Rhetoric is disagreeing with someone by saying, "I totally agree with you, but...". @kstedman

    Third Place —Rhetorics are machines to culture with. @cgbrooke

Honorable Mentions

It got me into bed. @mgarcia

Rhetoric is interacting with attention. @linzharding

My favorite definition comes from I.A. Richards: the study of miscommunication and its remedies. @johnpwalter

Rhetoric is the subtle yet deliberate shrugging of a hipster's shoulders. @stephenjmcelroy

Rhetoric is book one, page one, paragraph one, sentence one, word one, letter one; it is the beginning of everything. @RhetRock

And the Contenders (in no particular order)

Rhetoric is when you write a complaint email, reread it, and add a clearer, softer paragraph at the very beginning.@kstedman

... what informs our decisions to say what we say, wear what we wear, eat what we eat, say what we eat, & eat what we say. @jsanofranchini

knowing the ish you can't say, understanding why and having the discipline not to say it .@dradambanks

Rhetoric is the *work* of relations: Rhetoric is the work of *relations* .@sophist_monster

Rhetoric is a collection of algorithms for generating and interpreting arguments. @jamesjbrownjr

the ability to be pliant without being compliant. @drbrowne

Rhetoric is ethics. @mattoakes

This. @beccadargatz

Millions of brief, fleeting opportunities to make connections and build communities through our thoughts, deeds, and words. @TylerBranson

Rhetoric is how we get into each other's heads. @dnathk

the process you use to keep you from cussing out the "is it OK if I miss this class?" student. @dradambanks

Speaking a message in such a way that it becomes heard. @OccupyRhetoric

Rhetoric the hypnotist pushing you from thought to action. @TheGunnShow94

Rhetoric is the practice/study of articulating articulants articulately. @easyrhetor

Show, not tell. @Schmeggelz

#definerhetoric is saying "Shut up!" 100,000 ways for 100,000 audiences and purposes. @TheSD

the combination of logic, emotion, persuasion, timing and power in interpersonal relationships. @kaitlynkivi

Rhetoric is a comma splice with purpose. @RhetRock

Rhetoric is simple: choose battles wisely; fight them well; don't make everything a battle @martinm0955

A discipline directed, at times, to speak toward multiple publics/fields/languages when there is little time or space. @OccupyRhetoric

The practice of making meaning to make things mean while knowing that ambiguity is cooperative and inevitable and necessary. @jdanielwariya

Rhetoric is convincing someone else you're right when you aren't too sure yourself. @emilyyrosco

Rhetoric is the apple to my pie, it's the straw to my berry, it's the thing I do every day! @nmuller95

Rhetoric is finding ways to make your life easier through language. @RhetRock

Showing, saying, sounding, cooking, writing something that has an impact on an audience. @joeliosis21

Rhetoric means sometimes having to say "You're sorry." @drewloewe

Rhetoric is the stream of phenomena you're sending and the stream that you're being sent. @kstedman

Rhetoric is like revenge—it cuts both ways. @RhetRock

Rhetoric is learning all available means of persuasion... not just Aristotle's. @gonzlaur

"Burke doesn't think rhetoric makes human-ness. Burke thinks the function of human-ness is to be rhetorical." -Nan Johnson @jenlmichaels

Rhetoric is when you flip a coin and it lands on the edge, not heads or tails, but both. @RhetRock

Rhetoric: the art of #interrupting how we think by default, so that we may invent, think, and act more consciously & justly.@dancingdivala

Rhetoric is seduction. @ncnapoli

"rhetoric is a living and breathing practice that takes place in real social contexts." - DeGenaroa @codemesh

Rhetoric is the disco ball of language. @RhetRock

quite simply, rhetoric is power over the human mind, heart, and will .@dnathk

The space between the talking drum and what it says. @drbrowne

the MCs ability to move the crowd/the DJs gift at creating a crowd that can be moved. @dradambanks

Rhetoric is can we get extra credit for this Professor Parsons? @chelsfink

Rhetoric is the process of turning nouns and adjectives, subjects and objects, into VERBS. @anokaydane

Rhetoric is meaning making and making meaning. @johnpwalter

Saying a thing on multiple levels, to reach multiple audiences, at once. @OccupyRhetoric

Rhetoric is the stick that hits the beehive. @RhetRock

#DefineRhetoric? It's like defining the color or these walls, the sound of my shoes, a squint, a half-word caught in the throat, a lie. @kstedman

Jumping into the @HarlotTweets #DefineRhetoric competition with a video I made in 2011 -

Definition of Rhetoric from Casey on Vimeo. @soulsmiles

Rhetoric is what your cell phone understands you meant to input vs. what you understood that you wanted to input. ass salad? @RhetRock

Rhetoric: Good for those who wish to revise power, ignorance, or history. @cdmandrews

Rhetoric - breaking down the unbreakable to make sense of it, then putting it back together and explaining it to someone else. @RhetRock

Rhetoric is what teachers do before the semester when students enroll and what students do around finals. @Vieregge

Rhetoric is the difference between a twig that snaps because a pursuer steps on it and a branch creaking in the wind. @kstedman

Rhetoric is the magician's hat. @RhetRock

Rhetoric is being too cute by half without anyone else noticing. @Vieregge

Trying to #definerhetoric is like defining all the ambient sounds around me, the shadows I see, the news I read, the feel of my chair. @kstedman


Thanks for playing! Chime in below if you have additions, revisions, objections, etc. We look forward to next year's batch of brilliance!

Image credit: "Twitter" by eldh on Flickr by eldh on Flickr