The integration of rhetoric into existing school subjects

  • Jonas Bakken
Nyckelord: rhetoric, textbooks, Norwegian language arts


During the past two decades, rhetoric has been included in the national curricula in all the Scandinavian countries. However, it is not unproblematic to take an academic discipline out of its historical context and integrate it into another culture, another time period and, not least, another school system. Rhetorical theory itself may be changed and shaped by the school context into which it enters. In this article, the challenges of integrating rhetoric into established school subjects will be explored through an analysis of how rhetoric is presented in four textbooks in Norwegian Language Arts for upper-secondary school. Norwegian Language Arts is a subject regulated by a national curriculum and has a long tradition of teaching writing, reading and oral skills without reference to rhetorical theory. All of this influences how rhetoric is presented to the students in textbooks. Most characteristically, rhetoric is presented as a method of critical textual analysis, mainly of commercial advertisements. The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is, according to the textbook authors, to expose and criticise the usage of emotional appeals and other forms of linguistic influence.