Metaphor -

Metaphoric Criticism
From Readings in Rhetorical Criticism by Carl R. Burgchardt
Hallie Morrow, Aunja Norland, Marissa Sturm, Kia Porter, Courtney
Anthony, Marissa Flinders, Brett Hogg & Josh Oberlander.
Metaphor: “A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is
applied to an object or action to which it is not literally
applicable.” – Wikipedia
Criticism: Metaphors are more than superficial ornamentation:
they are means by which arguments are expressed, provide
insight into a speaker’s motives or an audience’s social reality,
affecting audience member’s junctures in speech. (Readings in
Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 347)
What is Metaphoric Criticism?
• “Metaphoric criticism is not a unified method rather, it is a
perspective that places metaphors at the heart of rhetorical
action.” (Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 347)
• “The metaphoric critic focuses on describing, evaluating, and
understanding such metaphors as vital rhetorical phenomena. The
articles in this chapter illustrate some of the diverse approaches a
metaphoric critic must employ.” (Readings in Rhetorical
Criticism, pg. 347)
Osborn’s Archetypal Metaphors
1. Light and dark: “When speakers wish to place figurative
value judgments upon subjects, they will more often prefer a
light or darkness association over an association over an
association Cadillac or Edsel, ivy or poison ivy, touchdown or
fumble, etc.”
2. Cross-culturally: Behavior appears unaffected by cultural
variation. Ex: God-blindly bright, Hades-gloomy darkness.
3. Prominent features of experience: in objects, actions, or
conditions which are inescapably salient in human
4. Contingent upon its embodiment of basic human
motivations; Ex: man’s quest for power, symbolic
5. Double association: Features of experience with basic
human motivations (i.e. certain experiences or emotions you
go through determines the motivation and energy within
6. Prominence in rhetoric: Tendency to occupy important
positions within speeches, and their especial significance
within the most significant speeches of a story.
Archetypal Metaphors:
Light and darkness.
The sun.
Heat and cold.
The cycle of the seasons
Condition for sight
Fear of unknown
With light and sight: Informed
environment, escape dangers, take
advantage of rewards, exert influence
over nature.
Discouraging of sight
Warmth/physical development
Ignorant of environment
Vulnerable/no control
Cold (no development)
The Sun
Symbolizes human character
Suggests qualities of goodness
in man.
More personal than light/
Different moments of the day have different significance
Day cycle = life cycle
Sun light is preferred over mad-made light
Heat & Cold
• Warmth = bodily comfort.
• Growth of the body and its food/preparation of food.
• Motivation.
• Destructive.
• Purifying (construction).
• Birth of an idea and spread of ideas.
• Youth and regeneration.
Cycle of the Seasons
• Variations in light/dark from one season to the next.
• Extreme variations of heat and cold.
• Hope/Despair.
• Fruition/Decay.
• Not as popular in rhetoric.
Questions to ask Metaphoric
• Invention: What characterizes a speaker’s
selection of items for association?
• Organization: How significant is the position of
an image within a speech?
• Ethical Proof: Does the metaphor give the
reader an easy choice between good and evil?
• Motive: What particular motive does a specific
image emphasize?
• Logical Proof: Does an image serve to reinforce
a logical structure?
Identifying Key Metaphors
• Metaphor is the base of Rhetorical Invention
• Elaborating a primary image into a well formed argument
produces a motive or interpretation of reality with the intended
audience who is invited to identify.
• Examples of important uses of metaphor:
Vehicle as a tenor
Importance of metaphors
• Metaphors are routinely elaborated into motivating perspectives
• Value of locating metaphors:
 Speakers lose sight of alternatives when they become
accustomed to routine extensions of images no longer their
original purpose.
Five Basic Steps that Provide
Rudimentary Procedure for
Identifying Key Metaphors
Familiarizing one’s self with the speaker’s text and
context is essential to interpreting any particular
selection of his or her disclosure.
Representative texts are selected for a series of close
readings undertaken to identify and mark vehicles
employed by their speaker.
Arrange the complete set of marked vehicles into
subgroups by clustering those with similar
A separate file of vehicles and their immediate
contexts is compiled for each cluster of terms, i.e.
one file for every metaphorical concept.
The concept files compiled in step four are analyzed
one by one for patterns of usage within and between
clusters, thereby revealing the speakers system of
metaphorical concepts.
Michael Butterworth
Democracy through the Iraqi National Soccer Team
• Sports and Politics
 “Sport is the human activity closest to war that isn’t lethal”
– Ronald Reagan
 Lethal: sufficient to cause death.
 Ron cook states, “Sporting events should be about competition,
not politics”.
 In this section the biggest metaphor is about how the U.S.
connects sports as politics as one against Iraq.
 This section is also a critique toward “the relationship between
Bush’s broader rhetorical efforts and the 2004 Olympics, not only
for what it reveals about politics, but for what I tells us about sport”
(Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 378)
Michael Butterworth
Democracy through the Iraqi National Soccer Team
• Global Game
 “The Olympic Games are the world’s largest and most
recognizable international sporting event. The global nature of the
Olympics, in fact, makes them an ideal vehicle for political
posturing.” (Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 379)
 Within each country sports are a culture. For the U.S. the sport is
football in Latin America, Africa and Middle East the sport is
 “Rowe suggests, because international sport depends on the
production of national cultural differences, it may be
constitutionally unsuited to carriage of the project of globalization
in the fullest sense” (Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 380)
Michael Butterworth
Democracy through the Iraqi National Soccer Team
• Co-Opting the People’s Game
 “If global sport is primarily American in character, then it may
seem surprising that soccer plays an important role in shaping this
image” (Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 382)
 “[American] football is democratic, capitalism, whereas soccer is
a European socialist [sport]” (Readings in Rhetorical Criticism,
 When the Iraqi team won the Olympics in 2004 the Bush
campaign aired a commercial that stated, “Freedom is spreading
through the world like a sunrise.”
 Bush conception of democracy was reflected both at home and
around the world.
Michael Butterworth
Democracy through the Iraqi National Soccer Team
• Politicizing the Pitch
 President Bush made clear that his democratic vision had been
shaped by the terrorist attacks of 2001, and the subsequent “war on
terrorism.” I’m a war president “…This is a world that Bush has
neatly conveniently divided into good and evil.” (Readings in
Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 383)
 The president defined was at the 2002 State of the Union address,
“We’ve come to know truths that we will never question: evil is
real, and it must be opposed…Deep in America character, there is
honor, and it is stronger than cynicism. And many have discovered
again that even in tragedy—especially in tragedy– God is near.”
(Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, pg. 384)

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