How words and rhetoric combine to inform, please and persuade others


Exigence = Stuff Happens and We Have to Write About It

A jet carrying a KHL hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff on Wednesday in Yaroslavl, Russia. Forty-three people died, including some former NHL hockey players like Pavol Demitra, who was only 36-years-old. The jet crashed in clear, sunny weather.

This is a travesty. Someone must say something about it.

And that is where exigence comes in. Exigence, as defined by Lloyd Bitzer, is “An imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be.” In other words, something goes wrong and we feel compelled to comment on it, to write something in order to correct the wrong.

In the case of the KHL jet crash, much needs to be said. How can a private jet crash on a clear, sunny day? Why did these players have to die? What can we say to console their families, friends, and the larger professional hockey player community?

There undoubtedly will be many newspaper articles, many blog posts, many editorials, and many press statements spawned by this exigence. The whole point of these communications will be to console, to blame, or to press higher safety standards in air travel.

Exigencies exist all around us. It doesn’t take a tragedy to prompt us to write something. Stuff happens all the time. Take a look around at your world. Listen to your friends and family. Eventually, they will say something or do something that prompts you to write.


Welcome to my blog

Have you ever try to convince a friend to watch a particular movie or television show?  Have you ever recommended a song to someone? Have you ever discussed the pros and cons of a particular athlete, politician, musician, actor or potential lover? Congratulations. You have used rhetoric.

Simply put, Rhetoric is the art of persuasion.

My name is Jeff Gard. I teach English 104, Rhetoric and Composition II, at Northern Illinois University. I have created this blog to discuss various rhetorical concepts with my students.  You are welcome to interact with my examples and definitions. Feel free to peruse my student’s contributions as they discuss various topics. I have included links to their blogs under my Blog Roll.

When I am not teaching rhetoric or writing, I am usually at home with my wife and two Boston Terriers. My hobbies include reading, writing, photography, and playing board games. I love watching television shows on DVD because I don’t like waiting a week between episodes. Consequently, I have started watching many shows after the series finale aired.

I am always open for TV show recommendations.