Hello readers! Welcome to our blog! Here, we intend to define and analyze the rhetorical appeals used within the 1960’s and present day media. Specifically, we decided to engage in a open discussion about how rhetoric brought attention to cult life and serial killings. Perceptions of cult sects, whether it be good or bad, can be credited to the types of media portrayed to certain target audiences. It is interesting to see the connections between rhetoric and engagement within these religious communes, and how the time period tied these two together.
We are four undergraduate students at the University of Maryland, College Park. We are members of the College Park Scholars and studying rhetorical analysis in our Scholars English program. We intentionally chose our blog to be written about cults and serial killers because we find the genre to be incredibly interesting and is something that we are passionate to learn about. After researching, we intentionally chose our texts because we felt that they were an accurate representation of the rhetoric we originally found so interesting.
We have carefully laid out our blog in a way that will promote each reader’s personal understanding of the different topics we have chosen to discuss. Beginning with posts about audience, we hope to clarify and elaborate on the background on each of our texts and their respective movements. Then, we move onto posts about appeals to ethos, pathos and logos - three chief rhetorical appeals. Finally, we discuss both the stasis and kairotic appeals of both Elmer Gantry and The Sacrament as we wrap up our blog. We intentionally chose this layout because we felt that each blog post builds upon each other. Overall, our layout facilitates learning and reader understanding.
Readers should feel an emotional connection to this work because the rhetoric touched upon is present in today’s society. With the recent political events, many individuals are left fearing the direction the country is going in, willing to do anything to find a solution. Whether the solution be radical or mundane, people are in search of solace however they can embrace it. This is prime time for cult leaders to harness this desperation and lure in followers. Scientology, a modern day cult on the rise, is a current example that utilizes the rhetoric analyzed within this blog. This work is relative to what is going on in the world today, making this project extremely informative.
The texts used depicted the actions and controversies regarding religious movements of the 20th Century. Many of these movements were founded because the angst people felt during the travesties of the century, for example the two World Wars that took place. Years later, filmmakers found these conflicts relevant enough to satirize these events, and thus lead to the creation of our chosen media: Elmer Gantry and The Sacrament. This can also allow readers to understand the intersectionality of religion and political climate, as politics were a leading factor in the advent of many religious uprisings.
As a pair, our texts claim a call for action. In Elmer Gantry, the cult leader asks the followers what they’re going to do: leave the church or give them money. In The Sacrament, the journalists who have come to visit Eden Parish must choose whether or not to take the action of helping these people or saving themselves. Within our blog, we discuss the difficult actions that cult followers, cult leaders, and outsiders within our texts must make in order to live. While many of us think it simple, there’s more to it than meets the eye and that is what our blog touches upon.