It May Take More Than Magic to Move an Audience: A Rhetorical Analysis of J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard University Graduation Address

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Spring 4-14-2021


J.K. Rowling is arguably one of the most famous authors in the world. Through the lens of Aristotle's classical appeals “ethos, pathos, and logos“ I set out to analyze one of her most famous speeches: her address to the Harvard University class of 2008. With quotes like, "It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default, there is no doubt in Rowling's ability to inspire. Does her speech meet other logical and rhetorical standards, though? My study offers a thorough analysis of the rhetorical and logical aspects of this speech from beginning to end. For Rowling, and many other orators, it becomes clear that it may take more than magic (and inspiring words) to move an audience.


ENGL 165

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