Rhetorical approaches to Civil War blogging?

Posted on July 31, 2012 by


Are they obvious… or subtle?

I don’t think everyone has a point to make… unless, of course, you also want to consider straight-out information distribution as a way to convince others that the Civil War and/or particular aspects of it ARE important. In that case, yes… there is rhetoric involved, to some degree.

But, how much time do Civil War bloggers think about their “pitch”? Is it geared toward content… audience… that desire to achieve numbers in visitors… fulfilling something, a need perhaps (a need for expression, enabled through a blog?), within self? What? A little bit of all of the above and more, perhaps?

When I started blogging I thought about all of these things because… I had to.

This blog was rooted in a course in hypertext theory (great stuff… loved it…), but obviously, it went a lot further than one semester. A lot of what I wrote back in the first two years was a mixture of content, but with the intent of seeing how different approaches worked. Sometimes I’d get lost in the heated interaction/exchanges that resulted. That wasn’t good… but it wasn’t altogether bad either. It was an opportunity to learn about human-to-human interaction on the Web, which, I guarantee you, is not always the same as human-to-human interaction in person. There’s something about being behind a keyboard and a screen that turns many folks into different creatures. Perhaps it’s because of the absence of a few human factors that we normally have when we are in face-to-face environments. I could go down a different path here, but I’m going to keep myself in check…

I think we each have a “pitch”… sometimes the same, sometimes different.

Mine has changed from my first years as a blogger. I’ve moved more to a subtle approach, and that might be at the expense of numbers on the clicker… but that’s ok, really.

My rhetoric is the history itself, though I certainly have fun with it as a story-weaver… just never at the expense of the history.

If you haven’t figured out my “pitch” or “angle”, look at the subheader.

As a Southerner and native of the Shenandoah Valley, I offer reflections on the Civil War-era South… and sometimes a little more. But… expect the unexpected

Maybe that’s too vague.

For many years I consumed the standard fare that is so typical and common of the story of the South in the Civil War. When I learned there were actually other elements of that story, it changed my approach to the war. It also helped to know that some of my people were part of that other story.

In essence, I write, I suppose… in a counter-culture fashion, and against the traditional. Some might view that as “radical” in a bad way, but I disagree. My pitch is to challenge readers to read outside the box; to look at the story of the South and its people in the war in a different light. It might reach some, but not others… but that’s ok, too.

So, is it a mind-game… this rhetorical approach to information distribution?

In a way, yes, but understand… if a reader is convinced or not… is it that which really matters?

We can’t always gauge the impact of our writing, but, can it be enough to know that, even if only for a little while, you made someone think in a broader sense?

Did your writing, if just for a little while, share your vision without some confrontational clash with the other person’s perspective? We don’t always know, but I think that is the more effective rhetorical approach.

When it comes to “pitch”… to each his/her own, but what yields the most sustainable results? What rhetorical approach survives long-term? Which approach works in the vacuum of time that exists in a blog? Is it better to seek to change one’s mind through a more direct, confrontational approach, or is it better to be more subtle by offering a non-confrontational opportunity to see things through the writer’s eyes… if only for a little while?

Is history really controversial or is it merely an individual’s approach to history, through rhetorical pitch, that can make it controversial?

What is the longevity of your approach to history, and is it more reflective of you than the history?