What significance does the physical, material body still have in a world of virtual reality and genetic cloning? How do technology and postmodern rhetoric influence our understanding of the body? And how can our discussion of the body affect the way we handle crises in public policy—the politics of race and ethnicity; issues of "family values" that revolve around sexual and gender identities; the choices revolving around reproduction and genome projects, and the spread of disease?
Leading scholars in rhetoric and communication, as well as literary and cultural studies, address some of the most important topics currently being discussed in the human sciences. The essays collected here suggest the wide range of public arenas in which rhetoric is operative—from abortion clinics and the World Wide Web to the media's depiction of illiteracy and the Donner Party. These studies demonstrate how the discourse of AIDS prevention or Demi Moore's "beautiful pregnancy" call to mind the physical nature of being human and the ways in which language and other symbols reflect and create the physical world.