Rhetorical theory is fundamentally concerned with composition, forms, functions, means, venues, producers, audiences, effects, and criticism of discourse. Rhetorical theories differ from one another depending upon the definition of “rhetoric” that serves as their starting point. In the early 21st century, three definitions of rhetoric dominate rhetorical theory. According to these definitions, rhetoric may be identified as (1) precepts for discourse making, (2) discourse, or (3) criticism of discourse. Rhetorical theory is subject to advancement through empirical investigation of discourses and their sequels. However, research in rhetorical theory is typically conducted through methodical recourse to investigative heuristics. Included among such heuristics are (a) relation or comparison of rhetoric to other disciplines, (b) criticism of discourse, (c) replication or revision of historical rhetoric, (d) ...
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