Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
"Despite their considerable efforts the Republicans were not able to buy or steal the election after all. Their defeat was of almost Biblical nature. The people, Democratic supporters of the president, whose votes they had plotted, schemed, and maneuvered—unto nearly the very last minute—to deny rose up and said they wouldn’t have it. If they had to stand in line well into the night to cast their vote they did it. The lines were the symbol of the 2012 election—at once awe-inspiring and enraging. . . ."
A Victory Over Suppression? by Elizabeth Drew | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
This election season the Obama campaign won a reputation for drawing on the tools of social science. The book “The Victory Lab,” by Sasha Issenberg, and news reports have portrayed an operation that ran its own experiment and, among other efforts, consulted with the Analyst Institute, a Washington voter research group established in 2007 by union officials and their allies to help Democratic candidates.Less well known is that the Obama campaign also had a panel of unpaid academic advisers. The group — which calls itself the “consortium of behavioral scientists,” or COBS — provided ideas on how to counter false rumors, like one that President Obama is a Muslim. It suggested how to characterize the Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in advertisements. It also delivered research-based advice on how to mobilize voters. . . .
Benedict Carey, "Academic 'Dream Team' Helped Obama's Efforts," New York Times, 12 November 2012.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Gerard A. Hauser, Prisoners of Conscience: Moral Vernaculars of Political Agency. (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2012).
from the publisher:
Prisoners of Conscience continues the work begun by Gerard A. Hauser in Vernacular Voices: The Rhetoric of Publics and Public Spheres, winner of the National Communication Association's Hochmuth Nichols Award. In his new book, Hauser examines the discourse of political prisoners, specifically the discourse of prisoners of conscience, as a form of rhetoric in which the vernacular is the main source of available appeals and the foundation for political agency.
Hauser explores how modes of resistance employed by these prisoners constitute what he deems a "thick moral vernacular" rhetoric of human rights. Hauser's work considers in part how these prisoners convert universal commitments to human dignity, agency, and voice into the moral vernacular of the society and culture to which their rhetoric is addressed.
Hauser grounds his study through a series of case studies, each centered on a different rhetorical mechanism brought to bear in the act of resistance.Through a transnational rhetorical analysis of resistance within political prisons, Hauser brings to bear his skills as a rhetorical theorist and critic to illuminate the rhetorical power of resistance as tied to core questions in contemporary humanistic scholarship and public concern.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies Samuel L. "Sam" Becker died on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at the age of 89. Professor Becker, a UI alumnus, was a beloved figure for the University of Iowa, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Department of Communication Studies, and the countless students, faculty colleagues, staff members, and community members who were touched by his more than 70 years of scholarship, mentorship, and friendship at the UI. Our College extends its deepest condolences to Sam's family. . . .
photo--from the University of Iowa, Department of Communication web site.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I found myself saying, "I understand the Court has ruled that you can ask, but has also ruled that I don't need to show it." "Well, that is correct," she said. "But you will have to next time." "Unless the Court rules against the Voter ID bill again," I found myself saying. All this was very polite, but I'll admit I felt a certain chill from the ladies behind the table--ladies I'd seen and thanked every election for the past 40 or so years at our local polling place. So, I was asked to spell my name, and then asked, as were all the others, to sign my name on the page next to where my name appears in the registry of voters. And then I voted.
Elizabeth Drew, "Voting Wrongs," New York Review of Books, NYR Blogs, 21 September 2012.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Much of what lures speechwriters is the prospect of reaching so many people about ideas we think so important — as Peggy Noonan did for Mr. Bush in 1989 (“thousand points of light”) ; Bob Shrum did for Edward M. Kennedy in 1980 (“the dream shall never die”); and Matt Scully did for Sarah Palin in 2008 (“If character is the measure in this election …”).
I have passed no bill, stopped no war, created no policy that would bring health insurance to a single person. But if we expect to see such results solely from our work, that dooms many to disappointment. There’s plenty to celebrate about being part of the team. . . .
Robert Lehrman, "The Political Speechwriter's Life," New York Times, 5 November 2012.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Welcome to the African Yearbook of Rhetoric
The African Yearbook of Rhetoric (ISSN: 2220-2188) is a multi-lingual, peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to the development of rhetoric studies on, and in Africa. Some special issues are released under the imprint of The Elephant and the Obelisk.
From October 2012 the Yearbook is freely accessible on this site.
The copyright to all materials is held by AfricaRhetoric Publishing and downloads made for public usage must be acknowledged.
All correspondence to: email@example.com
South African painter Toni Bico (www.tonibico.com) is contributing original cover illustrations. (Book Covers)
List of Volumes
Vol. 1, Gender Rhetoric: North-South, September 2010.
Vol. 2, 1, Rhetorics of justice in post-societies, July 2011.
Vol. 2, 2 Under the Baobab. To Honour Stuart Saunders on his Eightieth Birthday, under the imprint of The Elephant and the Obelisk, August 2011.
Vol. 2, 3, The Great Liberation Speeches of Africa, December 2011.
Vol. 3, 1, Surveillance/Rhetorics, March 2012.
Vol. 3, 2, New Beginnings: Argentina and South Africa, June 2012.
Vol. 3, 3, Diplomatic Rhetoric in the South, November 2012.
Vol. 4, 1, Rhetoric of Statecraft in Africa, March 2013.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
What a disappointing debate, and I'm still trying to sort it out. By now, almost 24 hours after the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012, the press has told us all that Mitt Romney was dominant, energetic, upbeat, prepared, aggressive.
Looking at this as a rhetorical critic, I can see the way the Romney-wins! scenario comes together for the press and for many viewers. Looking at it as a citizen (of course with political perspectives of my own) I see the story very differently.
I didn't see it that way, though I found the event as a whole depressing. President Obama and Jim Lehrer both, for seemingly different reasons, deferred to a Mitt Romney who interrupted, who filibustered, and who would not be either responsive to or guided by the moderator.
Jim Lehrer -- it seems to me that as theater the obvious reading was that Jim Lehrer was too diffident, too deferential to Mitt Romney, and perhaps too old to exert the force necessary to reign in the candidate. My own reading is different, but I don't think it will be the dominant reading -- I think Jim Lehrer, one of the great TV journalists, was genuinely hoping to get the candidates talking and to stay out of their way.
Barack Obama -- again, from the point of view of theater, especially in the morning after, the interpretation is that President Obama lacked energy (must have wished he weren't there), and seemed unprepared. I think otherwise, but again I recognize that my understanding is shaped by my preferences and hopes. I thought President Obama was stunned to find Mitt Romney simply lying, taking positions very different from those he has been advocating for the past year, and that he chose not to call him on it directly. After all, if the president calls someone a liar, especially in the middle of a debate, that's an even bigger decorum violation than Mitt Romney's lies and aggressiveness.
Mitt Romney -- the press seems to agree that he had the fighting spirit, and that's been ruled the winning combination the morning after. But I saw Romney as refusing to stick to agreed upon time limits, and simply filibustering. At one crucial point, as I saw it, Romney in effect challenged the president to call him a liar, when he said that he would cut taxes and do so in a way that would not decrease revenue. But that's either a lie (when compared to his earlier campaign numbers, such as they are) or it is magical thinking -- that is, that if we drastically lower taxes, the economy will boom and revenues will go up on their own even with lower rates. We've heard that one before. Here it comes again. Romney also presented a new persona at the debate; gone (for the moment) was the "severely conservative" Romney of the primary debates; last night we saw a man imitating a center-right-wing pragmatist with a whole new set of talking points. As a citizen, this, for me, reinforces the sense that though Romney argues as if from deep inner conviction, he does not seem to carry his principles from one tactical situation to another. As a rhetorical maneuver last night, I can see how it worked its appeal.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Robert M. Lichtman. The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era Repression: One Hundred Decisions (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2012).
from the publisher:
In this volume, attorney Robert M. Lichtman provides a comprehensive history of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in "Communist" cases during the McCarthy era. Lichtman shows the Court's vulnerability to public criticism and attacks by the elected branches during periods of political repression. The book describes every Communist-related decision of the era (none is omitted), placing them in the context of political events and revealing the range and intrusiveness of McCarthy-era repression.In Fred Vinson's term as chief justice (1946–53), the Court largely rubber-stamped government action against accused Communists and "subversives." After Earl Warren replaced Vinson as chief justice in 1953, however, the Court began to rule against the government in "Communist" cases, choosing the narrowest of grounds but nonetheless outraging public opinion and provoking fierce attacks from the press and Congress. Legislation to curb the Court flooded Congress and seemed certain to be enacted. The Court's situation was aggravated by its 1954 school-desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education, which led to an anti-Court alliance between southern Democrats and anti-Communists in both parties. Although Lyndon Johnson's remarkable talents as Senate majority leader saved the Court from highly punitive legislation, the attacks caused the Court to retreat, with Felix Frankfurter leading a five-justice majority that decided major constitutional issues for the government and effectively nullified earlier decisions. Only after August 1962, when Frankfurter retired and was replaced by Arthur Goldberg, did the Court again begin to vindicate individual rights in "Communist" cases--its McCarthy era was over.
Demonstrating keen insight into the Supreme Court's inner workings and making extensive use of the justices' papers, Lichtman examines the dynamics of the Court's changes in direction and the relationships and rivalries among its justices, including such towering figures as Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Earl Warren, William O. Douglas, and William J. Brennan, Jr. The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era Repression: One Hundred Decisions tells the entire story of the Supreme Court during this unfortunate period of twentieth-century American history.
Jenny Rice. Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.
from the publisher:
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tricia Jenkins, The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012).
from the publisher:
"What’s your impression of the CIA? A bumbling agency that can’t protect its own spies? A rogue organization prone to covert operations and assassinations? Or a dedicated public service that advances the interests of the United States? Astute TV and movie viewers may have noticed that the CIA’s image in popular media has spanned this entire range, with a decided shift to more positive portrayals in recent years. But what very few people know is that the Central Intelligence Agency has been actively engaged in shaping the content of film and television, especially since it established an entertainment industry liaison program in the mid-1990s.
"The CIA in Hollywood offers the first full-scale investigation of the relationship between the Agency and the film and television industries. Tricia Jenkins draws on numerous interviews with the CIA’s public affairs staff, operations officers, and historians, as well as with Hollywood technical consultants, producers, and screenwriters who have worked with the Agency, to uncover the nature of the CIA’s role in Hollywood. In particular, she delves into the Agency’s and its officers’ involvement in the production of The Agency, In the Company of Spies, Alias, The Recruit, The Sum of All Fears, Enemy of the State, Syriana, The Good Shepherd, and more. Her research reveals the significant influence that the CIA now wields in Hollywood and raises important and troubling questions about the ethics and legality of a government agency using popular media to manipulate its public image."
Oliver Boyd-Barrett, David Herrera, and James A. Baumann, Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense, and Subversion (New York: Routledge, 2011).
David L. Robb, Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors Movies (Prometheus Books, 2004).
. . . there is a fairly extensive scholarly literature on the more general subject of film and government.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Brian Massumi, Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
"It is, he argues, a question of abstraction, not as the opposite of the concrete but as a dimension of it: "lived abstraction." A semblance is a lived abstraction. Massumi uses the category of the semblance toinvestigate practices of art that are relational and event-oriented--variously known as interactive art, ephemeral art, performance art, art intervention--which he refers to collectively as the "occurrent arts." Massumi argues that traditional art practices, including perspective painting, conventionally considered to be object-oriented freeze frames, also organize events of perception, and must be considered occurrent arts in their own way. Each art practice invents its own kinds of relational events of lived abstraction, to produce a signature species of semblance.
"The artwork's relational engagement, Massumi continues, gives it a political valence just as necessary and immediate as the aesthetic dimension. Massumi investigates occurrent art practices in order to examine, on the broadest level, how the aesthetic and the political are always intertwined in any creative activity."
Brian Cogan, ed., Deconstructing South Park: Critical Examinations of Animated Transgression (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).
from the publisher:
***"Deconstructing South Park: Critical Examinations of Animated Transgression is an edited collection by Brian Cogan that looks at the long and controversial run of one of the most subversive programs on television. South Park, while denounced by many as simply scatological, is actually one of the most nuanced and thoughtful programs on television. The contributors to South Park reveal that, through the lens of four foul-mouthed nine year olds, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have created one of the most astute forms of social and political commentary in television history.
"Deconstructing South Park, itself the most ambitious deconstruction of popular culture to date, analyzes how South Park is not only entertainment, but a commentary on American culture that tackles controversial issues far beyond the depth of most television. Specifically, the medium of animated sitcom allows the show's creators to contribute to cultural conversations regarding disability studies, religion, sexuality, celebrity, and more. If South Park deconstructs American culture, then Cogan and his contributors deconstruct the deconstructionists and reveal South Park in all its hilarious and often contradictory complexity."
The Political Poster collection that I donated to Penn State is now available on Flickr -- which permits comments. I am hoping that this will elicit some participants, and perhaps some of the artists, to recall the era. The collection is here.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
. . . Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise. . . .
Monday, February 27, 2012
John T. Gage, editor, The Promise of Reason: Studies in The New Rhetoric (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
"No single work is more responsible for the heightened interest in argumentation and informal reasoning—and their relation to ethics and jurisprudence in the late twentieth century—than Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca’s monumental study of argumentation, La Nouvelle Rhétorique: Traité de l'Argumentation. Published in 1958 and translated into English as The New Rhetoric in 1969, this influential volume returned the study of reason to classical concepts of rhetoric. In The Promise of Reason: Studies in The New Rhetoric, leading scholars of rhetoric Barbara Warnick, Jeanne Fahnestock, Alan G. Gross, Ray D. Dearin, and James Crosswhite are joined by prominent and emerging European and American scholars from different disciplines to demonstrate the broad scope and continued relevance of The New Rhetoric more than fifty years after its initial publication.
"Divided into four sections—Conceptual Understandings of The New Rhetoric, Extensions of The New Rhetoric, The Ethical Turn in Perelman and The New Rhetoric, and Uses of The New Rhetoric—this insightful volume covers a wide variety of topics. It includes general assessments of The New Rhetoric and its central concepts, as well as applications of those concepts to innovative areas in which argumentation is being studied, such as scientific reasoning, visual media, and literary texts. Additional essays compare Perelman’s ideas with those of other significant thinkers like Kenneth Burke and Richard McKeon, explore his career as a philosopher and activist, and shed new light on Perelman and Olbrechts- Tyteca’s collaboration. Two contributions present new scholarship based on recent access to letters, interviews, and archival materials housed in the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Among the volume’s unique gifts is a personal memoir from Perelman’s daughter, Noémi Perelman Mattis, published here for the first time."
from the publisher -- table of contents --
Introduction: Globalization and the Digital Divide: Understanding the Connections between Technology and Communication in a Global Context (Kirk St. Amant)
Chapter 1: The Spread of Culture under the Umbrella of Globalization (Tugba Kalafatoglu)
Chapter 2: Traditional Cultures and their Effects on Globalization: An African Perspective (Kehbuma Langmia)
Chapter 3: The Role of Appropriate ICT in Bridging the Digital Divide: Theoretical Considerations and Illustrating Cases (Victor van Reijswoud and Arjan de Jager)
Chapter 4: Wireless Networking Bridges the Digital Divide in Africa (Anas Tawileh)
Chapter 5: The Container Project in Rural Jamaica: Socializing Technology and Unleashing Creativity along the Digital Divide (Francesca da Rimini)
Chapter 6: The Web Presence of European and Middle Eastern Countries: A Digital Divide (Alireza Noruzi)
Chapter 7: The Digital Divide in China: Socioeconomic and Cultural Dimensions (Yun Xia)
Chapter 8: Globalization, Epidemics, and Politics: Communicating Risk in the Digital Age (Yasmin Ibrahim)
Chapter 9: The Commercialization of Higher Education and Knowledge as a Global Trend: Implications for the Digital Divide in Developing Countries (Tatjana Takševa)
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Robert Mann, Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
"The grainy black-and-white television ad shows a young girl in a flower-filled meadow, holding a daisy and plucking its petals, which she counts one by one. As the camera slowly zooms in on her eye, a man’s solemn countdown replaces hers. At zero the little girl’s eye is engulfed by an atomic mushroom cloud. As the inferno roils in the background, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s voice intones, “These are the stakes—to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”
In this thought-provoking and highly readable book, Robert Mann provides a concise, engaging study of the “Daisy Girl” ad, widely acknowledged as the most important and memorable political ad in American history. Commissioned by Johnson’s campaign and aired only once during Johnson’s 1964 presidential contest against Barry Goldwater, it remains an iconic piece of electoral propaganda, intertwining cold war fears of nuclear annihilation with the increasingly savvy world of media and advertising. Mann presents a nuanced view of how Johnson’s campaign successfully cast Barry Goldwater as a radical too dangerous to control the nation’s nuclear arsenal, a depiction that sparked immediate controversy across the United States.
Repeatedly analyzed in countless books and articles, the spot purportedly destroyed Goldwater’s presidential campaign. Although that degree of impact on the Goldwater campaign is debatable, what is certain is that the ad ushered in a new era of political advertising using emotional appeals as a routine aspect of campaign strategy."
Friday, February 24, 2012
Claire Molloy, Popular Media and Animals (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
from the publisher:
"How do mainstream films, television, advertising, videogames and newspapers engage with key animal issues such as vivisection, hunting, animal performance, farming, meat eating and animal control?
Claire Molloy argues that animal narratives and imagery are economically significant for popular media industries which, in turn, play an important role in shaping the limits and norms of public discourses on animals and animal issues. Through analysis of various popular examples this book grapples with some of the industrial, social, cultural and ethical aspects of media discourses on animals. By examining how popular media forms constitute key sources of information, definitions and images, the author explores some of the myriad ways in which media discourses sustain a range of constructions of animals that are connected, appropriated or co-opted by other systems of production and so play a role in the normalisation of particular practices."
Janice Neri, The Insect and the Image: Visualizing Nature in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
"The Insect and the Image explores the ways in which visual images defined the insect as a proper subject of study for Europeans of the early modern period. Revealing how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists and image makers shaped ideas of the natural world, Janice Neri enhances our knowledge of the convergence of art, science, and commerce today."
The New Faculty Majority (NFM) summit Reclaiming Academic Democracy: Facing the Consequences of Contingent Employment in Higher Education, held on Saturday, 28 January, at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC, was full of bitter ironies. The gathering was convened in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). But when Carol Geary Schneider, president of the AAC&U, asked in the opening plenary session who had availed themselves of the “crosswalk” she had established between the AAC&U and the NFM, it became distressingly clear that for most AAC&U members “in conjunction with” apparently meant little more than “in the same hotel as.” At one end of the long hallway, NFM members talked about the challenges of keeping body and soul intact while teaching 4-4 jobs to which they had been required to reapply every year for twenty years; at the other end, university administrators browsed a book exhibit whose keywords seemed to be finance, management, outcomes, and assessment. At one point in the NFM proceedings, a faculty member from Oakland Community College held up a handbook for deans she’d purchased at the other end of the hallway and noted that adjunct faculty merited only one mention, under the heading “budgets.” . . . (more)
from the MLA blog, Michael Berube, "Among the Majority," FROM THE PRESIDENT, MLA blog.
"The Adjunct Project is a way for us to compile data on treatment of contingent faculty. Combining our knowledge and resources will help us all to better understand the reality of life as an adjunct professor. The goal of this website is to identify universities that set the standard for best practices with regard to adjuncts. The best schools should be recognized and honored for what they are doing. The project is also designed to promote transparency in higher education employment practices for the sake of teachers, students, and parents."
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Bruce A. Williams and Michael X. Delli Carpini, After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
"The new media environment has challenged the role of professional journalists as the primary source of politically relevant information. After Broadcast News puts this challenge into historical context, arguing that it is the latest of several critical moments, driven by economic, political, cultural and technological changes, in which the relationship among citizens, political elites and the media has been contested. Out of these past moments, distinct 'media regimes' eventually emerged, each with its own seemingly natural rules and norms, and each the result of political struggle with clear winners and losers. The media regime in place for the latter half of the twentieth century has been dismantled, but a new regime has yet to emerge. Assuring this regime is a democratic one requires serious consideration of what was most beneficial and most problematic about past regimes and what is potentially most beneficial and most problematic about today's new information environment."
Thomas B. Edsall, "Is This the End of Market Democracy?" New York Times, 20 February 2012.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Jonathan Skinner and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos, Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011)
table of contents, from the publisher:
Chapter 1. Introduction:The Play of Expectation in Tourism
Jonathan Skinner & Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Chapter 2. Success and Access to Knowledge in the Tourist-local Encounter: Confrontations with the Unexpected in a Turkish Community
Chapter 3. Emberá Indigenous Tourism and the World of Expectations
Chapter 4. The Paradox of Gaze and Resistance in Native American Cultural Tourism: An Alaskan Case Study
Alexis Celeste Bunten
Chapter 5. Forward into the past: 'Digging' the Balearic Islands
Chapter 6. On Difference, Desire, and the Aesthetics of the Unexpected: The White Masai in Kenyan Tourism
George Paul Meiu
Chapter 7. Displeasure on ‘Pleasure Island’: tourist expectation and desire on and off the Cuban dance floor
Chapter 8. The Coach Fellas: Tourism performance and expectation in Ireland
Kelli Ann Malone
Chapter 9. Going on Holiday to Imagine War: The Western Front Battlefields as Sites of Commemoration and Contestation
Chapter 10. Touring the Dead: Imagination, Embodiment and Affect in Gunter Von Hagen’s Body Worlds Exhibitions
Chapter 11. Afterword: The Tour as Imagined, Lived, Experienced, and Told
Friday, February 17, 2012
Garry Wills, "Contraception's Con Men," New York Review of Books
Contraception’s Con Men by Garry Wills | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
Samuel McCormick, Letters to Power: Public Advocacy without Public Intellectuals (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011).
from the publisher:
“The category of the public intellectual is fraught with contradictions: politics and culture, theory and practice, philosophy and rhetoric. If only there were a genre to mediate these tensions to good effect. Letters to Power reminds us that there was, and is: the ‘minor rhetoric’ of the public letter. Samuel McCormick’s skillful readings provide numerous insights regarding the predicaments and strategies shaping learned advocacy. By focusing on things small and sly, he shows how public culture can be improved by careful thinkers doing humble work.” —Robert Hariman, Northwestern University, editor of Prudence: Classical Virtue, Postmodern Practice (Penn State, 2003)
Although the scarcity of public intellectuals among today’s academic professionals is certainly a cause for concern, it also serves as a challenge to explore alternative, more subtle forms of political intelligence. Letters to Power accepts this challenge, guiding readers through ancient, medieval, and modern traditions of learned advocacy in search of persuasive techniques, resistant practices, and ethical sensibilities for use in contemporary democratic public culture. At the center of this book are the political epistles of four renowned scholars: the Roman Stoic Seneca the Younger, the late-medieval feminist Christine de Pizan, the key Enlightenment thinker Immanuel Kant, and the Christian anti-philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Anticipating much of today’s online advocacy, their letter-writing helps would-be intellectuals understand the economy of personal and public address at work in contemporary relations of power, suggesting that the art of lettered protest, like letter-writing itself, involves appealing to diverse, and often strictly virtual, audiences. In this sense, Letters to Power is not only a nuanced historical study but also a book in search of a usable past.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Jane Donawerth, Conversational Rhetoric: The Rise and Fall of a Women's Tradition, 1600-1900. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011.
from the publisher:
Much of the scholarly exchange regarding the history of women in rhetoric has emphasized women’s rhetorical practices. In Conversational Rhetoric: The Rise and Fall of a Women’s Tradition, 1600–1900, Jane Donawerth traces the historical development of rhetorical theory by women for women, studying the moments when women produced theory about the arts of communication in alternative genres—humanist treatises and dialogues, defenses of women’s preaching, conduct books, and elocution handbooks. She examines the relationship between communication and gender and between theory and pedagogy and argues that women constructed a theory of rhetoric based on conversation, not public speaking, as a model for all discourse.
Donawerth traces the development of women’s rhetorical theory through the voices of English and American women (and one much-translated French woman) over three centuries. She demonstrates how they cultivated theories of rhetoric centered on conversation that faded once women began writing composition textbooks for mixed-gender audiences in the latter part of the nineteenth century. She recovers and elucidates the importance of the theories in dialogues and defenses of women’s education by Bathsua Makin, Mary Astell, and Madeleine de Scudéry; in conduct books by Hannah More, Lydia Sigourney, and Eliza Farrar; in defenses of women’s preaching by Ellen Stewart, Lucretia Mott, Catherine Booth, and Frances Willard; and in elocution handbooks by Anna Morgan, Hallie Quinn Brown, Genevieve Stebbins, and Emily Bishop. In each genre, Donawerth explores facets of women’s rhetorical theory, such as the recognition of the gendered nature of communication in conduct books, the incorporation of the language of women’s rights in the defenses of women’s preaching, and the adaptation of sentimental culture to the cultivation of women’s bodies as tools of communication in elocution books.
Rather than a linear history, Conversational Rhetoric follows the starts, stops, and starting over in women’s rhetorical theory. It covers a broad range of women’s rhetorical theory in the Anglo-American world and places them in their social, rhetorical, and gendered historical contexts. This study adds women’s rhetorical theory to the rhetorical tradition, advances our understanding of women’s theories and their use of rhetoric, and offers a paradigm for analyzing the differences between men’s and women’s rhetoric from 1600 to 1900.