About LAPA

What is LAPA?

LAPA (pronounced: LAP-uh) grew out of a Master’s project in the Communication Studies department of San Jose State University. It is an attempt to help artists think about ways their work can affect community conversations and share some of the theories discussed in rhetorical scholarship.



Public art has immense potential to generate and influence democratic conversations when artists employ techniques that connect with their audiences, offer a perspective, and frame discussions.

Though few seem to consider and discuss “rhetorical criticism” how the scholastic community does, if you think about art the way we do here… congratulations! You are operating in rhetorical criticism.


What is “rhetorical criticism?”

Criticism does not connote negativity, but rather, is a process of investigation via argumentation and reasoning through which people can extrapolate meaning and gain an understanding of the world around them. In other words, “Critical activity seeks to describe or disclose how an object is put together and how it works” (Jasinski).


Can I read more?

Much of LAPA’s approach has been informed by scholars from various fields. Our main concept, creating tension by allowing audiences to consider inconsistent possibilities while failing to unify in a straightforward message, is generally based on Robert E. Terrill’s essay, “Spectacular Repression: Sanitizing the Batman.”

Our general understanding of rhetoric’s functional structure has been informed by James Jasinski in his piece, “Sourcebook on Rhetoric Key Concepts in Contemporary Rhetorical Studies,” and Richard McKeon’s, “The Basic Works of Aristotle.”  Other important works helping to influence our thoughts are listed below.

If you find this subject matter interesting, you might enjoy taking some classes in the Department of Communication Studies at San Jose State University.



Bitzer, Lloyd F. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 1. (1968): 1-14. Web.

Bauman, Richard. “Performance”. In: International Encyclopedia of Communication. New York:

Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 262. Print.

Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952. 43. Print.

Burke, Kenneth. “Literature as Equipment for Living.” The Philosophy of Literary Form:

Studies in Symbolic Action. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1941. 293-304. Print.

Conquergood, Lorne Dwight. Homeboys and Hoods: Gang Communication and Cultural Space. Evanston, IL: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern U, 1993. Print.

Crowley, Sharon. “Of Gorgias and Grammatology.” College Composition and Communication. 30.3 (Oct, 1979): 279-84. Print.

“Faculty” Def. 2. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. Web.

Graffiti Hurts. “Graffiti Prevention: Creating a Community Mural.” Graffiti Hurts.org. Keep America Beautiful, n.d. Web.

Ivie, Robert L. “Productive Criticism Then and Now.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 4.3 (2001): 1-4. Web.

Jasinski, James. Sourcebook on Rhetoric Key Concepts in Contemporary Rhetorical Studies.

Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2001. Print.

Lucaites, John Louis, and Robert Hariman. “Visual Rhetoric, Photojournalism, and Democratic Public Culture.” Rhetoric Review. 20.1/2 (2001): 41. Print

McKeon, Richard. “Rhetorica.” The Basic Works of Aristotle. New York: Random House, 1941. 1329. Print.

“Public Art.” Americans for the Arts. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015.

Romotsky, Jerry, and Sally Romotsky. “Placas and Murals.” Arts in Society. 11.2 (1974): 286-99. Print.

Scott, Robert L. “Diego Rivera At Rockefeller Center: Fresco Painting And Rhetoric.” Western Journal Of Speech Communication: WJSC 41.2 (1977): 70-82. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 7 May 2016.

“Status quo” Def. 1. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. Web.

Spangler, Matthew. “Performing ‘the Troubles’: Murals and the Spectacle of Commemoration at Free Derry Corner.” Crossroads: Performance Studies and Irish Culture. Ed. Sara Brady. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 100-11. Print.

Vatz, Richard E. “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 6.3 (1973): 154-161. Web.


Read the essay that explains LAPA in detail