I used this course when I taught an upper level course in Massachusetts one summer and found it to be quite helpful in introducing students to the various critical approaches to communication. The book starts by explaining the purposes of criticism. It is pointed out that rhetoric or communication is "a deliberate attempt to influence the choices an audience makes" (p. 2). From there, six characteristics of rhetorical acts are discussed.
Subsequent chapters cover the various approaches to rhetorical criticism: the traditional approach, the dramatistic approach, the fantasy theme approach, the narrative approach, and the cultural approaches. The remaining chapters look at criticism in specific contexts, i.e., public speaking, film television, song, and humor.
The authors do a good job in exposing readers to a variety of approaches to the subject of rhetorical criticism. Their discussions are easy to follow and provide the essence of each of the approaches included. It was also a wise decision on their part to include the chapters featuring the specific contexts of communication. This helps readers to become aware of the various constraints found in a given means of communication.