The introductory paragraph now reads:
- "Rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse) describe the variety, conventions, and purposes of the major kinds of writing. Four of the most common rhetorical modes and their purpose are exposition, argumentation, description, and narration."
The remainder of the article deals with these four types in turn, each under its own sub-heading, beginning with the purpose of each mode. So far, so good.
But substantial issues remain unaddressed by the article. For example:
- What is the history of these modes?
- Who first distinguished them, and why?
- How has this classification evolved and adapted?
- What is the purpose or motivation for such a classification?
- How do we know that the present classification satisfies the implicit need for one, or is substantially complete?
- What are the remaining, less common, rhetorical modes; and why are they of less interest or importance than the four "most common" ones?
My criticism here is that of a reader, not a subject-matter expert. Thus I don't believe I can personally add anything to the article that would help address these shortcomings.
I would just add that there should be a "criticism of the modes" section. Such sections are relatively common on other Wikipedia pages. For instance, it is not difficult to find experts, scholars in composition and rhetoric sighing rather heavily over the ongoing persistence of "the Modes" as a principal means of writing instruction in introductory rhetoric and composition writing courses in college. I think the emphasis has changed substantially over the last 20 years to genres of writing and to visual literacy elements. If one reads some of the more seminal pieces in writing studies over the last 20 or 30 years, one will find very little attention paid to the Modes, and much more attention paid to helping students analyze rhetorical situations, to increase their rhetorical awareness and skills at rhetorical analysis. One thinks here of Haas and Flower, Kantz, Grant-Davie, and Bartholomae primarily . What that perspective on rhetoric shows us I think is not that the Modes "are wrong" or in error, but that they are not or should not be the primary pedagogical vehicles for introductory rhetoric and composition courses. In terms of this article, whose purpose is simply to state what they are, I would like to see a brief "caveat" section about the Modes, mentioning something about the history of their virtual abuse in writing education settings over the last forty years and the difficulty of moving writing studies and teaching beyond them, owing to the massive inertia of syllabi, departments, professional development, and especially textbook publishing. There are links of reinforcement among these things that are pernicious and inherently retarding, and that make reappraisals and revisions of the disciplines of rhetoric and writing studies difficult, impeding any but a tiny group of researchers from taking stock of their breadth, especially the rise of Internet genres and the ongoing work of scholars in the field.
Different sets of these are listed, depending on author, as part of the discussion of Narration. It is unclear whether these modes are also rhetorical modes, or some other kind of creature.
Further, the discussion is limited to giving three different lists of these fiction-writing modes, without further explanation.
The article neither defines nor describes these modes; their presence here can only confuse a reader seeking a fuller understanding of the rhetorical modes. Perhaps the sub-section "Fiction-writing modes" should be removed from here? It seems to be covered adequately in its own article. If necessary, a statement could be added to this article to clarify that the "Fiction-writing modes" are not themselves rhetorical modes, but different conventional manners of writing within the narrative mode.