1-10 of 50 Results  for:

  • Rhetorical Theory x
Clear all

Article

Argumentation and Rhetoric  

John Kephart III

The study of argumentation is inherently interdisciplinary. Broad in scope, argumentation theory generally refers to descriptive and normative attempts to understand the products and processes of disagreement and the attempts by participants in argumentative discourse to make their standpoint prevail. Rhetoric, informal logic, pragma-dialectics, and other approaches to argumentation theory describe specific theoretical approaches to the study of argument. While there is some difference of opinion as to whether the focus should be on the arguments themselves, the process of their exchange, the procedure for making and evaluating arguments, or some combination of the three, as well as over what constitutes normatively good arguments or even what counts as an argument in the first place, the range of theories that fall under “argumentation” are motivated to understand what happens when differences of opinion come into conflict with one another. Rhetorical approaches initially focused on the role of argument in contingent situations where a rhetor appeals to an audience to change a behavior or belief, adopt a policy, or reason to consensus in a disagreement. Later developments critiqued the idea that all argument assumes an attempt at reasonable resolution obscures the value in dissensus and ignores that some arguments are advanced for the purpose of demonstrating support for a cause or political faction, to undermine an opponent’s position, or to frame the terms of a debate for one’s own advantage. While this may not be ethical or “productive” argumentation, rhetorical scholars consider such tactics important to understanding the rhetorical strategies of a speaker wishing to persuade an audience. Development of rhetorical argumentation saw: criticisms of science and academic inquiry as rhetorical; the importance of controversy in generating dissensus in challenging the norms of public deliberation; approaches to nondiscursive arguments such as visual, sound, spatial, and embodied argument; and the ways that postmodern, critical, feminist, and race-conscious theories’ challenges to epistemology and ontology refigured considerations of arguer/rhetor, text, persuasion, and audience. Four areas of development for the field are: carrying elements of argument into nondiscursive forms such as aesthetics and affect, digital media (including the role of technological infrastructure on argument), argument designed to evade consensus and reasonability, and further developments in cross-cultural perspectives in argument.

Article

The Rhetoric of Sport  

Michael L. Butterworth

The relationship between rhetoric and sport dates back to ancient Greece, but the academic discipline of rhetorical criticism did not take up the study of sport in earnest until the turn of the 21st century. The growth of the field draws from the traditions of antiquity, featuring a shared emphasis on agonistic democracy. Given this interdependent heritage, rhetoric is especially well suited to the study of sport. In particular, rhetorical scholars have focused on four areas of inquiry: (a) apologia and image repair, (b) presentations and representations of identity, (c) constructions of myth and ideology, and (d) athlete activism. Contemporary work looks to these contexts to demonstrate the many ways that sport has reflected, maintained, and constituted public and political culture.

Article

Rhetorical Field Methods/Rhetorical Ethnography  

Roberta Chevrette, Jenna Hanchey, Michael Lechuga, Aaron Hess, and Michael K. Middleton

Rhetorical scholars have recently taken up rhetorical field methods, rhetorical ethnography, and other participatory methods to augment textual approaches. Following critical rhetoric, field researchers engage emplaced and embodied perspectives, thereby gaining an immediate understanding of rhetoric and its effects on audiences. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography challenge key assumptions and ethics about rhetorical research, including conceptions of text, context, the critic, the rhetor, and audiences. Although antecedent work at this intersection exists, only recently have rhetorical scholars given full attention to how fieldwork orientations and participatory approaches challenge the project of rhetoric. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography have been applied in a wide array of topic areas, including social movement research, public memory, environmental/ecological rhetoric, digital rhetoric, international contexts, and audience studies. Tensions that have arisen as a consequence of taking up participatory perspectives include whether such research engages in critical/cultural appropriation or can effectively be conducted within groups that researchers ideologically oppose. Moreover, incorporating participant perspectives, non-textual elements, and affective considerations opens rhetoric to forms of expression that span well beyond traditional, logos-centered criticism. Such a move may dilute rhetorical research by flattening expression, making nearly all elements of human life open for critical consideration. Finally, rhetorical field methods/ethnography have emerged in a larger context of disciplinary reflexivity, with many questioning rhetoric’s racist and colonial histories and legacies. To this end, we offer anti-colonial landmarks, orienting toward multidimensionality, liquidity, queering, and community, while disorienting from citizenship. These landmarks trouble rhetoric’s legacies, and invite scholars to engage more deeply with de/colonial possibilities of rhetorical fieldwork.

Article

Ecological Rhetoric  

Chris Ingraham

As the problems wrought by anthropogenic global warming have become more urgent, scholars of rhetoric have turned more than ever before toward environmental topics and ecological perspectives. These interests have influenced the contemporary study of rhetoric enough that it is now possible to identify some different yet overlapping strains of research at the nexus of ecology and rhetoric. Doing so, however, is not without ongoing contestations, including over the nature of ecological thought, expanding systems of rhetoric, environmentalisms, ecofeminisms, and critical eco-futures. Despite these challenges, rhetoric and ecology may pair so well together because each is a capacious figure of thought, capable of accommodating others. As a way of thinking about interconnectedness in particular, “ecology” has been taken up by many scholars in diverse fields and disciplines. As a result, the ways the concept is mobilized in studies of rhetoric reflect an unruly assortment of approaches to, and understandings of, ecology, the influence of which cannot be traced to any pure or universal version of the term, because, as with “rhetoric,” no such common meaning exists. Grappling with the complex convergence of both terms might help scholars to constellate a semi-stable image of what it can mean and involve to study these topics together.

Article

Animal Rhetorics  

Jeremy Gordon

Before reading the essay in its entirety, readers should note that this entry about animal rhetoric is arranged thematically. More than a chronologically arranged summary, the entry attempts to outline three themes that ground theories and practices of animal rhetoric. The three themes include (a) a synthesis of how animal rhetoric has been featured in the history and myth of rhetorical studies; (b) a synthesis of how animal rhetoric has been theorized as an embodied rhetorical style that foregrounds interconnective, interdependent, and intimate relationships between humans and more-than-humans; and (c) a narrative of how animal rhetoric is inherently rooted in attention to specific ecological contexts, spaces, and places. The three themes emphasize that scholarship featuring animal rhetoric is radically interdisciplinary and maintains an ethical impulse toward more just and vibrant multispecies relations. According to a number of animal rhetoric scholars, rhetoric has always been bestial (Theme 1, point “a”). The mythic roots of rhetoric can be seen and heard in the “classical” narrative of Korax, a raven who pollutes norms of decorum and challenges anthropocentric assumptions of “good” speech. More than mere myth, classical rhetorical practices and habits are furry, feathery, and tentacled. Octopuses and foxes play a part in teaching the cunning intelligence (metis) needed for performing rhetoric. In rhetorical histories, all manner of creaturely figures have been called on to model eloquence—making rhetoric always already a multispecies affair. Whether fabled caricatures of eloquence or Aristotelian models of intelligence, rhetorical scholars have detailed how an array of creatures jump from pages of rhetorical treatises and handbooks to interrupt anthropocentric assumptions about how meaning, identity, power, and place are constituted. Beyond presence in mythic and historical legacies of rhetoric, more-than-human animals have been situated as performing unique yet shared rhetorical styles to animate relations, arrange belonging, shape meaning, and create identity (Theme 2, point “b”). Those styles are corporeal, fleshy, and sensual. Ultimately, theories of animal style center bodily arts of rhetoric that energize, move, and delight. The senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and more) of animal rhetoric expand the manners of rhetoric - or the ways that rhetoric can and might be performed. With feet and beaks, tooth and claw, more-than-human animal forms of rhetoric transgress assumed binaries between human and animal, nature and culture, feral and domestic, speech and noise. Animal styles of eloquence resignify presumptions of what it means to be a political, rhetorical animal. According a number of scholars, fostering intimate, caring relations between humans and animals happens in the process of learning and practicing various forms of internatural communication, such as play, howling, and walking. Finally, as animals walk, glide, slither, scurry, and slide across streets and sidewalks, they cross borders, shuffle categories, and call into question assumptions of anthropocentric perspectives of place (Theme 3, point “c”). The study and practice of animal rhetoric is contextual, intimately grounded, specific places and spaces. The styles and manners of creaturely communication are deeply emplaced and emerge in relation to biocultural surrounds. More than this, the senses and styles of animal rhetorics help constitute biocultural surrounds, raising questions about who takes part in constituting communities and shaping a public. Many of the scholars cited in this entry foreground being attentive to the emplaced contexts of animal rhetoric, as well as the politics of whose voices are deemed worthy of belonging and whose presence is marked as unwelcome, unloved, and beyond the borders of a multispecies place. Most importantly, then, attending to animal rhetoric foregrounds concerns for how to practice manners—the capacity and willingness to be responsive and affected by the calls, caws, claws, and cries that share everyday ecological, political, and economic life. Being responsive to animal rhetoric marks the practice of multispecies manners and invites possibilities for more just multispecies relations and peaceful earthly coexistence that contest settler-colonial logics, the death work of capitalism, and climate derangement.

Article

Propaganda and Rhetoric  

John Oddo

Propaganda was first identified as a public crisis following World War I, as citizens discovered that their own governments had subjected them to deception and emotional manipulation. Today, it seems no less disturbing. Accusations swirl decrying fake news, spin, active measures, and, again, propaganda. But with nearly every accusation there is also a denial and, more important, a counteraccusation: that propaganda is merely a label applied to messages one dislikes, a slippery word that says more about the accuser’s politics than it does about supposed defects in communication. The slipperiness surrounding propaganda has fascinated scholars for over a century, as they have grappled with whether and how it can be distinguished from other kinds of rhetoric. One crucial sticking point concerns propaganda’s means of persuasion. It is commonly supposed that propaganda relies on falsity, emotion, and irrational appeals. However, adjudicating what is true and reasonable is not as clear-cut as it may seem, and much work attempts to differentiate manipulation from legitimate persuasion. Another key concern is the morality of propaganda. Some theorize that it is intrinsically wrong because it seeks its own partisan agenda. But others argue that partisanship is characteristic of all advocacy, and they wonder whether propaganda can and should be employed for worthy democratic purposes. Finally, scholars propose different models for how propaganda works. One model features a propagandist who deliberately targets a passive audience and attempts to move them for selfish ends. But other models see propaganda as a more collective activity, something that audiences pass around to each other, either purposefully or without any design. Difficult as it is to define propaganda, however, scholars do agree on two things: It is enormously powerful, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Article

Psychoanalysis in Rhetorical Theory  

Christian Lundberg

The traditions of rhetoric and psychoanalysis share a common interest in speech as an object and grounds for analysis. The two traditions diverge in their approach to speech: rhetoric understands speech to be primarily concerned with the contextual effects of speech as statement; psychoanalysis with speech as symptom. Understanding the points of mutual overlap, reaffirmation, and critique between the two traditions requires an account of how both traditions mobilize the conception of meaning in interpreting and/or analyzing speech. In clarifying the investments bound up with critical work as interpretation and/or analysis in each of the traditions, it is possible to approach the productive points of tension and affinity between the two traditions anew: in doing so, it may also be easier to understand the roles of audience, affect, and form in detailing the conditions through which speech constitutes subjects and identities, and by which it exerts rhetorical effects.

Article

Sound Studies and Speech Rhetoric  

Justin Eckstein

The communication discipline has a unique take on the intersection of sound and rhetoric that comes from the history of speech. While scholars of composition examined text as a way to understand sound and rhetoric, the legacy of public speaking teachers (who insisted that speech expressed something beyond the text itself) led to a foundational shift. Speech rhetoric gave birth to a new set of objects, research, and instruction around sound. The public conditions and topoi that help determine signal from noise create a robust area of study. While there are different avenues around how sound is known, each gets at this basic intersection of sound and the contingent of a civic movement that makes up the center of the communication discipline’s unique contribution to the interdisciplinary conversation on rhetoric. The unique configuration of sound and rhetoric that makes up speech was born from the history of communication studies. The vocality inherent in a speech of any form is about drawing relations together in time’s presence, something not captured by the metaphor of the text. Speech as metaphor gives rise to three facets of investigation into rhetoric. The first focuses on sound’s pre-symbolic and pre-cognitive influence on the listener. The second examines sound’s unique contributions to speechmaking from both the speaker’s perspective and the listener’s; it asks how sound serves as a resource for invention and what individual opportunities and constraints it produces. Lastly, the examination moves from individual to societal as speech becomes a mode for public advocacy and cultural exchange, adding to the broader conversation on rhetoric across disciplines.

Article

Ancient Rhetoric  

Susan C. Jarratt

In the Greek-speaking cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, effective and artful speech was highly valued: practiced and reflected upon from the time of Homer (ca. 8th-century bce), and conceptualized as “rhetoric” in the 5th and 4th centuries bce. At the moment of its emergence, rhetoric was bifurcated: the new discipline of philosophy denigrated it as a realm of mere opinion and potential deception while teachers and public figures began a process of building from its resources an elaborate edifice of training—a paideia—essential for success in political, legal, and cultural life. Consolidated as the queen of arts in the medieval curriculum, rhetoric was studied by European and Arabic scholars and remained at the center of elite learning for centuries, reaching a high point in the Renaissance, when significant texts of ancient rhetoric were revived. With the study of ancient Greek and Latin languages and literature at its foundation, this model of university education was adopted by colleges in the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. The rise of modern science and the utilitarianism of the Industrial Age eroded this classical foundation in the late 19th century. The rediscovery of ancient rhetoric in 20th-century U.S. university departments of speech communication beginning in the 1920s and 1930s and a decade or so later in the adjacent fields of English and composition studies has brought ancient rhetorical concepts and debates under new scrutiny. A story dominated by readings of Aristotle’s Rhetoric for most of 20th century has been transformed by revisionist reinterpretations from the 1990s onward emphasizing, among other changes, (a) a sophistic line of influence running from classical Athens through the Roman imperial period, (b) a revaluation of epideictic (ceremonial) rhetoric with its wide range of genres, and (c) a shift in periodization to take in late antiquity and the Byzantine era. Twenty-first-century scholars draw on ancient sources to generate new rhetorical conceptions of time, space, energy, and imagination, putting visual and material as well as verbal texts under analysis in this dynamic field of study.

Article

The Invention of Race in Turkey  

Matthew deTar

Racial thinking in the late Ottoman Empire and Turkey emerged out of a vast global network of hegemonic discourses. Modernity, colonialism, nationalism, and racism are mutually constitutive discourses with respect to their historical emergence in Europe, but they are also mutually constitutive as they emerge in other specific locations. Racisms that emerge subsequent and analogous to European racism help indicate the specific necessary connections among these kinds of broad overlapping discourses. The exploration of racism in Turkey holds significant potential for communication scholars as a means of refining theories of racism that do not typically focus on non-Western racism. The historical emergence of racism and racial thinking in Turkey also shaped the structure and content of Turkish nationalist history, making certain chronologies and “history-of-ideas” approaches to Turkish historiography fraught scholarly pursuits. Even explorations of the origins of the term Turk reflect this racial thinking, because the Turk concept only began circulating in the late Ottoman empire and early Turkish Republic alongside race science as the name of an ancient race. Race science is, however, only one domain of knowledge production and human experience, and it is not solely responsible for the invention of Turk as a race. Rather, modernization narratives of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, a catastrophic series of wars in the Balkans, and contact with European nationalisms all uniquely helped establish racial thinking as a hegemonic discourse prior to the foundation of the Turkish Republic. More significantly, the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, the massive Greek population exchange, and policies of forced migration and assimilation toward Kurds during and after World War I materially established the hegemony of Turkish racial discourse and the presumed reality of a Turkish race itself. In the context of these events, Turkish nationalism must be understood not simply through its own idealistic lens as a project of civic republicanism, but instead as a discourse that emerged in connection with colonialist logics, racism, and modernity. Just as scholars have argued that European modernity is constitutively linked to colonialism and racism, Turkish nationalism embarked on a “modernizing” project beholden to colonialism and racism. Communication scholars interested in both the constitutive dimensions of discourse and the knowledge-producing effect of “universalization” as it appears in discourses like modernity, colonialism, racism, and nationalism will find that the Turkish historical encounter with these discourses offers important insight into the operation of universalization itself.