October 29, 2012

Dynamics of Tropes

Before reading this article I came to understand a trope as a literary figure of speech that deals with a play on the meaning of words. Some of the more known types of tropes include simile, metaphor, and oxymoron. Although the definition of a trope includes many other literary devices, the four main types are those that can identify (metaphor), associate (metonymy, represent (synecdoche), and distance (irony).

I was confused as to whether the author felt like these were the only ones worth being classified as a trope? One of the reasons the author probably feels inclined to speak on the subject of tropes is because its term is so ambiguous and the author also called it inclusive. Therefore since a trope has the ability to persuade I think it makes it a topic with enough flexibility.

In the first couple of paragraphs we seem to get an understanding that tropes in the past can backfire and create a mistrusting between the writer and the audiences based on excessive usage, and a pile up of many. This creates a "fixed" unnatural type of appeal. The author wants to establish his own theory of appeals based on the four main topes highlighted by Burke. He chose metaphor first being that its the root of all tropes and its functions to bring to unlike things together in its identification.

Tropes should be treated as art for the sake of their style however they aren't simply just art because they provide functions necessary for appeals. They're artistic in their form of expression however they have a more tangible function that cannot be looked over. 

The functions of tropes can also relate to terms discussed earlier in the chapter. For example, Killingsworth mentions how metaphor or Identification can provide clues on the aims of text. 
He then proceeds to categorize the remaining three forms under the master metaphor with their functions self explanatory. 

Tropes can also be mediums because they are another way of saying two things. They function as a genre based on the fact each individual tropes has different functions and characteristics yet still have one main classification and function. 

I think the big deal lies in the argument on the uses of tropes and whether they are better expanded or constricted in order to provide a clearer definition. His purpose was to conceptualize the theory of appeals and how each of the four types listed above are patterns of appeals. I think the author did a good job of doing that. 

3 comments:

What is Rhetagaming? said...

I agree with the fact that this article was a new way of looking at tropes. Prior to this, I had only thought of tropes as a series of common occurences that were then labeled. The thing that comes to my mind are tv tropes. We've got femme fatales and MacGuffins, they all follow a certain set of guidelines. This is essentially the same with the application of (typically) literary terms for use as a rhetorical tool. That's what makes them effective tropes.

Zack Morris said...

I like your idea that tropes are mediums because they are a way of saying two things. I never thought about it that way and i dont think that Killingsworth specifically includes that in his essay.

Jessica Weaver said...

The question you posed in the beginning is an interesting one because I had the same thought process. How did the author decided that only those four would be signified as tropes? What defines those as seemingly the most important of every literary device? Or am I misinterpreting the piece? So many questions came to mind while I was reading through the article. The statement, "Tropes should be treated as art for the sake of their style however they aren't simply just art because they provide functions necessary for appeals. They're artistic in their form of expression however they have a more tangible function that cannot be looked over" made your argument powerful especailly since the one of our more recent articles discussed pictures which some people think of as an art. It creates a connection between the two pieces that I had not previously seen before.

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