by Susan Wells
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Cloth: 978-0-226-89336-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-89337-2
Library of Congress Classification PN212.W45 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 808.0014

In Sweet Reason, Susan Wells presents a rhetorical model for understanding the diverse discourses of modernity. Wells describes modernity as a system of texts which we are only now learning to read. In order to comprehend how these texts organize our world, she argues, we must grasp how reason and desire interact to create meaning. To this end, Wells offers a rhetoric based on an understanding of meaning as intersubjectivity created through the work of language. Wells elaborates this "rhetoric of intersubjectivity" by drawing on both Jürgen Habermas's concept of communicative rationality and on Jacques Lacan's theory of desire, affirming the significance of reason and desire for rhetorical studies. From scientific articles to classroom altercations, contemporary government hearings to Mantaigne's Essays, Wells organizes several using rhetoric as an art, and she shows how rhetoric operates in practice.

Susan Wells is associate professor of English at Temple University.

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