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A Student-Centered Study of Advertising Rhetoric: Theory and Curricula for Composition Classrooms
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Scholars in rhetoric and composition provide useful, broad-ranging explanations of how various forms of media persuade and pedagogy textbooks offer analytical tools that help students interpret their meaning, yet more research can be done in this area to describe how individuals socially construct media rhetoric. In particular, we need to do work in addition to computer literacy and explore the realms of television, film, and advertising to develop a fuller conception of media literacy. Media reception theory informs my qualitative study of first-year students' writing about print advertising persuasion in order to generate new theoretical and practical approaches for studying the rhetoric of this medium. Results from my study indicated that personal identifications with advertisements explain their rhetoric and meaning more than interpretations of classical rhetoric. While pathos, ethos, and audience help interpret the rhetorical intent of advertisements, they do not sufficiently explain persuasion because it's an incremental process that depends on how people use media and relate with advertisements. Through identifications with advertisement content, viewers reinforce product interest and personal attributes, such as values, desires, and interests. Participants indicated that curricula such as focus group research, advertisement compositions, and analytical models helped them learn about advertising rhetoric. This dissertation also suggested that scholars in rhetoric and composition should use new terminology for describing forms of media literacy beyond computer use.