RIP Exercise 2: Rhetoric of Murder

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RIP Exercise 2: Rhetoric of Murder

Choose one of the Bluebeard tales for your model as you follow the steps below.

1) Imagine you are a detective assigned to investigate the death of this Bluebeard character and write a police report that describes the facts of the case and records your “investigation.” Feel free to add or invent any details you like, so long as your police report remains faithful to the original tale you’ve chosen. Decide how you will present the facts of the murder, based on what your detective senses observe at the crime scene and your interviews with witnesses. Choose your details thoughtfully—your report will be used to decide whether to press murder charges and against whom.

2) Imagine you are a journalist covering the local crime beat and write a brief news article informing the public about the recent murder of a local man. Again, feel free to add or invent any details you like, so long as your news article remains faithful to the original tale you’ve chosen. Decide how you will present the facts of the case, based on the contents of the police report, your interviews with witnesses and/or other members of the community, and relevant background information you’ve dug up as a responsible journalist. Choose your details thoughtfully—your news article will be influential in shaping public opinion about the case.

3) Imagine you are a lawyer, either for the prosecution or for the defense of the accused. Write a concluding argument you will deliver to the jury to convince them whether the accused is innocent or guilty. Decide what rhetorical strategies you will use to persuade the jury.

4) Finally, reflect on the different rhetorical choices you made in each step:

  • What kinds of details did you choose to include and omit in each step? Why did you include/omit these details?
  • How did you choose to organize the information? Why did you choose this organization?
  • What tones (attitudes toward the subject) did you adopt in each step and how did you convey these tones to your audience? Again, why?
  • How did your word choices change in each step? Again, why?
  • How did you appeal to logic/reason, emotions/values, and your own authority/credibility in each step? Why should your rhetorical strategies be effective?

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