In this book, Steele Nowlin examines the process of poetic invention as it is conceptualized and expressed in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) and John Gower (ca. 1330–1408). Specifically, it examines how these two poets present invention as an affective force, a process characterized by emergence and potentiality, and one that has a corollary in affect—that is, a kind of force or sensation distinct from emotion, characterized as an “intensity” that precedes what is only later cognitively understood and expressed as feeling or emotion, and that is typically described in a critical vocabulary of movement, emergence, and becoming.
Chaucer, Gower, and the Affect of Invention thus formulates a definition of affect that differs from most work in the recent “turn to affect” in medieval studies, focusing not on the representation of emotion or desire, or efforts to engage medieval alterity, but on the movement and emergence that precede emotional experience. It likewise argues for a broader understanding of invention in late medieval literature beyond analyses of rhetorical poetics and authorial politics by recuperating the dynamism and sense of potential that characterize inventional activity. Finally, its close readings of Chaucer’s and Gower’s poetry provide new insights into how these poets represent invention in order to engage the pervasive social and cultural discourses their poetry addresses.
In a focused and compelling discussion, Anis Bawarshi looks to genre theory for what it can contribute to a refined understanding of invention. In describing what he calls "the genre function," he explores what is at stake for the study and teaching of writing to imagine invention as a way that writers locate themselves, via genres, within various positions and activities. He argues, in fact, that invention is a process in which writers are acted upon by genres as much as they act themselves. Such an approach naturally requires the composition scholar to re-place invention from the writer to the sites of action, the genres, in which the writer participates. This move calls for a thoroughly rhetorical view of invention, roughly in the tradition of Richard Young, Janice Lauer, and those who have followed them.
Instead of mastering notions of "good" writing, Bawarshi feels that students gain more from learning how to adapt socially and rhetorically as they move from one "genred" site of action to the next.
From the twelfth century onwards, medieval English writers adapted the conventions of high literary culture to establish themselves as recognized authors and claim a significant place for works of imagination beside those of doctrine and instruction. Their efforts extended over three languages—Latin, French, and English—and across a discontinuous literary history. Their strategy was to approach authorship as a field of rhetorical invention rather than a fixed institution. Consequently, their work is at once revisionary and ambivalent. Writers conspicuously position themselves within tradition, exploit the resources of poetic belatedness, and negotiate complex relations to their audiences and social authority.
Authorial invention in the Middle Ages is the base of a national tradition that English writers in the Renaissance saw as stable and capable of emulating the canons of classical languages and the Italian and French vernaculars. In Invention and Authorship in Medieval England, Robert R. Edwards brings new interpretive perspectives to Walter Map, Marie de France, John Gower, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, and John Lydgate. He offers a critical reading of key moments that define the emergence of medieval English authorship by showing how writers adapt the commonplaces of authorship to define themselves and their works externally and to construct literary meaning internally.
Invention as a Social Act
Karen Burke LevFevre. Foreword by Frank D'Angelo Southern Illinois University Press, 1986 Library of Congress PN221.L44 1987 | Dewey Decimal 808
The act of inventing relates to the process of inquiry, to creativity, to poetic and aesthetic invention.
Building on the work of rhetoricians, philosophers, linguists, and theorists in other disciplines, Karen Burke LeFevre challenges a widely-held view of rhetorical invention as the act of an atomistic individual. She proposes that invention be viewed as a social act, in which individuals interact dialectically with society and culture in distinctive ways.
Even when the primary agent of invention is an individual, invention is pervasively affected by relationships of that individual to others through language and other socially shared symbol systems. LeFevre draws implications of a view of invention as a social act for writers, researchers, and teachers of writing.
Applying interactionist discourse theory to show how we create novel beliefs
Inventive Intercourse: From Rhetorical Conflict to the Ethical Creation of Novel Truth offers a theory of discursive interaction, illustrating how we can understand human communication without resorting to the notion of language. Using the perspective of interactionist discourse theory, author Stephen Yarbrough investigates how we create novel beliefs, beliefs we could not have inferred from our established beliefs.
The volume considers a central dilemma of post-modern thought: If language is a system of conventions and rules that limit what we can say and think, how can we deliberately produce anything truly novel? While postmodernism concludes that linguistic and conceptual change within our incommensurable worlds is driven by contingency and blind mechanical forces, Yarbrough argues that this view is wrong because the notion that language mediates our perception is wrong.
Beginning with philosopher Donald Davidson’s assertion that "there is no such thing as language" in the sense of a system of conventions and rules, Yarbrough develops an interactionist theory of discourse and uses it to revise the major elements of Aristotelian rhetoric to explain how we deliberately invent novel concepts that we come to believe.
Yarbrough suggests that all conceptual change is initiated by a shift in our ethical apperception of elements of a situation and that an ethical change will have emotional consequences. Changes in our emotional responses to things will change the ways we interact with them, he says, and changes in our interaction with things will create new technical relations which we can communicate to others only by altering our habitual shared way of using signs, metaphors, and other tropes.
In this first sustained critique of current-traditional rhetorical theory, Sharon Crowley uses a postmodern, deconstructive reading to reexamine the historical development of current-traditional rhetoric. She identifies it (as well as the British new rhetoric from which it developed) as a philosophy of language use that posits universal principles of mind and discourse. Crowley argues that these philosophies are not appropriate bases for the construction of rhetorical theories, much less guides for the teaching of composition. She explains that current-traditional rhetoric is not a rhetorical theory, and she argues that its use as such has led to a misrepresentation of invention.
Crowley contends that current-traditional rhetoric continues to prosper because a considerable number of college composition teachers—graduate students, part-time instructors, and teachers of literature—are not involved in the development of the curricula they are asked to teach. As a result, their voices, necessary to create any true representation of the composition teaching experience, are denied access to the scholarly conversations evaluating the soundness of the institutionalized teaching methods derived from the current-traditional approach.
In New Deal Modernism Michael Szalay examines the effect that the rise of the welfare state had on American modernism during the 1930s and 1940s, and, conversely, what difference this revised modernism made to the New Deal’s famed invention of “Big Government.” Szalay situates his study within a liberal culture bent on security, a culture galvanized by its imagined need for private and public insurance. Taking up prominent exponents of social and economic security—such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, and John Dewey—Szalay demonstrates how the New Deal’s revision of free-market culture required rethinking the political function of aesthetics. Focusing in particular on the modernist fascination with the relation between form and audience, Szalay offers innovative accounts of Busby Berkeley, Jack London, James M. Cain, Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, Betty Smith, and Gertrude Stein, as well as extended analyses of the works of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright.
Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies collects original scholarship that takes up and extends the practices of inventive theorizing that characterize Sharon Crowley’s body of work. Including sixteen chapters by established and emerging scholars and an interview with Crowley, the book shows that doing theory is a contingent and continual rhetorical process that is indispensable for understanding situations and their potential significance—and for discovering the available means of persuasion.
For Crowley, theory is a basic building block of rhetoric “produced by and within specific times and locations as a means of opening other ways of believing or acting.” Doing theory, in this sense, is the practice of surveying the common sense of the community (doxa) and discovering the available means of persuasion (invention). The ultimate goal of doing theory is not to prescribe certain actions but to ascertain what options exist for rhetors to see the world differently, to discover new possibilities for thought and action, and thereby to effect change in the world.
The scholarship collected in Reinventing (with) Theory in Rhetoric and Writing Studies takes Crowley’s notion of theory as an invitation to develop new avenues for believing and acting. By reinventing the understanding of theory and its role in the field, this collection makes an important contribution to scholarship in rhetorical studies and writing studies. It will be valuable to scholars, teachers, and students interested in diverse theoretical directions in rhetoric and writing studies as well as in race, gender, and disability theories, religious rhetorics, digital rhetoric, and the history of rhetoric.
Publication supported in part by the Texas Tech University Humanities Center.
Contributors: Jason Barrett-Fox, Geoffrey Clegg, Kirsti Cole, Joshua Daniel-Wariya, Diane Davis, Rebecca Disrud, Bre Garrett, Catherine C. Gouge, Debra Hawhee, Matthew Heard, Joshua C. Hilst, David G. Holmes, Bruce Horner, William B. Lalicker, Jennifer Lin LeMesurier, James C. McDonald, Timothy Oleksiak, Dawn Penich-Thacker, J. Blake Scott, Victor J. Vitanza, Susan Wyche
We have only recently started to challenge the notion that "serious" inquiry can be free of rhetoric, that it can rely exclusively on "hard" fact and "cold" logic in support of its claims. Increasingly, scholars are shifting their attention from methods of proof to the heuristic methods of debate and discussion—the art of rhetoric—to examine how scholarly discourse is shaped by tropes and figures, by the naming and framing of issues, and by the need to adapt arguments to ends, audiences, and circumstances. Herbert W. Simons and the contributors to this important collection of essays provide impressive evidence that the new movement referred to as the rhetorical turn offers a rigorous way to look within and across the disciplines.
The Rhetorical Turn moves from biology to politics via excursions into the rhetorics of psychoanalysis, decision science, and conversational analysis. Topics explored include how rhetorical invention guides scientific invention, how rhetoric assists political judgment, and how it integrates varying approaches to meta-theory. Concluding with four philosophical essays, this volume of case studies demonstrates how the inventive and persuasive dimensions of scholarly discourse point the way to forms of argument appropriate to our postmodern age.