"Both from the Right and from the Left, we are stymied in talking well with one another about race and racism, by intransigent beliefs in our own goodness as well as by our conviction that such talk is useless. . . . White antiracist epistemology needs to begin not with our beliefs, but with our individual and collective awakening to that which we do not know."
Drawing on scholarship across disciplines ranging from writing and rhetoric studies to critical race theory to philosophy, I Hope I Join the Band examines the limits and the possibilities for performative engagement in antiracist activism. Focusing particularly on the challenges posed by raced-white identity to performativity, and moving between narrative and theoretical engagement, thebook names and argues for critical shifts in the understandings and rhetorical practices that attend antiracist activism.
The Idea of a Writing Laboratory is a book about possibilities, about teaching and learning to write in ways that can transform both teachers and students.
Author Neal Lerner explores higher education’s rich history of writing instruction in classrooms, writing centers and science laboratories. By tracing the roots of writing and science educators’ recognition that the method of the lab––hands-on student activity—is essential to learning, Lerner offers the hope that the idea of a writing laboratory will be fully realized more than a century after both fields began the experiment.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, writing instructors and science teachers recognized that mass instruction was inadequate for a burgeoning, “non-traditional” student population, and that experimental or laboratory methods could prove to be more effective. Lerner traces the history of writing instruction via laboratory methods and examines its successes and failures through case studies of individual programs and larger reform initatives. Contrasting the University of Minnesota General College Writing Laboratory with the Dartmouth College Writing Clinic, for example, Lerner offers a cautionary tale of the fine line between experimenting with teaching students to write and “curing” the students of the disease of bad writing.
The history of writing within science education also wends its way through Lerner’s engaging work, presenting the pedagogical origins of laboratory methods to offer educators in science in addition to those in writing studies possibilities for long-sought after reform. The Idea of a Writing Laboratory compels readers and writers to “don those white coats and safety glasses and discover what works” and asserts that “teaching writing as an experiment in what is possible, as a way of offering meaning-making opportunities for students no matter the subject matter, is an endeavor worth the struggle.”
How do "no-fault," "gender-neutral" divorce reforms actually harm the lives of women and children they are designed to protect? Focusing on the language and symbols of reform, Martha Fineman argues that by advocating measures based on equality of treatment rather than of outcome, liberal feminists disregarded the socioeconomic factors that simultaneously place women at a disadvantage in the market and favor their taking on primary domestic responsibilities. She traces in persuasive detail the detrimental effects of equality rhetoric in shaping divorce law — such as the legal separation of parents' and children's interests; equality replacing need as the prime criterion for settlements; and the increase of state intervention into family life. More than a critique, this book is an incisive argument for adopting outcome-oriented measures and a valuable overview of the pitfalls of uncritically implementing any rhetoric as social policy.
Standing as the world’s two largest economies, marshaling the most imposing armies on earth, holding enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons, consuming a majority share of the planet’s natural resources, and serving as the media generators and health care providers for billions of consumers around the globe, the United States and China are positioned to influence notions of democracy, nationalism, citizenship, human rights, environmental priorities, and public health for the foreseeable future. These broad issues are addressed as questions about communication—about how our two nations envision each other and how our interlinked imaginaries create both opportunities and obstacles for greater understanding and strengthened relations. Accordingly, this book provides in-depth communication-based analyses of how U.S. and Chinese officials, scholars, and activists configure each other, portray the relations between the two nations, and depict their shared and competing interests. As a first step toward building a new understanding between one another, Imagining China tackles the complicated question of how Americans, Chinese, and their respective allies imagine themselves enmeshed in nations, old rivalries, and emerging partnerships, while simultaneously meditating on the powers and limits of nationalism in our age of globalization.
Imagining Rhetoric examines how women’s writing developed in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War, and how women imagined using their education to further the civic aims of an idealistic new nation.
In the late eighteenth century, proponents of female education in the United States appropriated the language of the Revolution to advance the cause of women’s literacy. Schooling for women—along with abolition, suffrage, and temperance—became one of the four primary arenas of nineteenth-century women’s activism. Following the Revolution, textbooks and fictions about schooling materialized that revealed ideal curricula for women covering subjects from botany and chemistry to rhetoric and composition. A few short decades later, such curricula and hopes for female civic rhetoric changed under the pressure of threatened disunion.
Using a variety of texts, including novels, textbooks, letters, diaries, and memoirs, Janet Carey Eldred and Peter Mortensen chart the shifting ideas about how women should learn and use writing, from the early days of the republic through the antebellum years. They also reveal how these models shaped women’s awareness of female civic rhetoric—both its possibilities and limitations.
In 2011, in one sign of a burgeoning interest in the morality of human interactions with nonhuman animals, the American Association for the Advancement of Science declared that dolphins and orcas should be legally regarded as persons. Multiple law schools now offer classes in animal law and have animal law clinics, placing their students with a growing range of animal rights and animal welfare advocacy organizations. But is legal personhood the best means to achieving total interspecies liberation? To answer that question, Impersonating Animals evaluates the rhetoric of animal rights activists Steven Wise and Gary Francione, as well as the Earth jurisprudence paradigm. Deploying a critical ecofeminist stance sensitive to the interweaving of ideas about race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, and species, author S. Marek Muller places animal rights rhetoric in the context of discourses in which some humans have been deemed more animal than others and some animals have been deemed more human than others. In bringing rhetoric and animal studies together, she shows that how we communicate about nonhuman beings necessarily affects relationships across species boundaries and among people. This book also highlights how animal studies scholars and activists can and should use ideological rhetorical criticism to investigate the implications of their tactics and strategies, emphasizing a critical vegan rhetoric as the best means of achieving liberation for human and nonhuman animals alike.
In the Archives of Composition offers new and revisionary narratives of composition and rhetoric’s history. It examines composition instruction and practice at secondary schools and normal colleges, the two institutions that trained the majority of U.S. composition teachers and students during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing from a broad array of archival and documentary sources, the contributors provide accounts of writing instruction within contexts often overlooked by current historical scholarship. Topics range from the efforts of young women to attain rhetorical skills in an antebellum academy, to the self-reflections of Harvard University students on their writing skills in the 1890s, to a close reading of a high school girl’s diary in the 1960s that offers a new perspective on curriculum debates of this period. Taken together, the chapters begin to recover how high school students, composition teachers, and English education programs responded to institutional and local influences, political movements, and pedagogical innovations over a one-hundred-and-thirty-year span.
How acts of violence are rhetorically "managed" by social movements: In the Wake of Violence explores the immediate and longer term aftermath of violence committed by independent radicals involved in single-issue movements. Cheryl R. Jorgensen-Earp explores several specific incidents in recent history—the arson of a Vail ski resort by environmentalists, the murder of Dr. John Britton by an antiabortion activist, and the torching of a University of California research laboratory by animal rights activists among them—to discover how the perpetrators of the violence and the majority of reformers involved in their movements rhetorically framed the violent act for a potentially outraged public. In the Wake of Violence, claims Jorgensen-Earp, the perpetrators are often forthcoming with both explanations for and a defense of their actions, casting themselves as righteous actors or martyrs for a cause. However, ardent reformers within the same cause might look with genuine revulsion at the actions of their own radical wing. This study claims that the nonviolent majority in single-issue reform movements employs a predictable constellation of rhetorical strategies to manage the impact of radical fringe violence. The primary goal of this rhetoric is to avoid a backlash against the larger movement by a public alienated by violent acts.
In examining specific rhetorical responses by the nonviolent majority in antiabortion, animal welfare, environmental reform, abolition, and women’s suffrage movements, Jorgensen-Earp considers a wide range of discourse types—from newspaper articles, interviews, and editorials to private letters; from editorial cartoons to the homemade signs of movement activists; and from speeches to modern Internet sites. She discovers that the image restoration techniques brought to bear for a reform cause are similar to those employed by a corporation accused of wrongdoing. Ultimately, she finds that the majority of proponents of the causes she examines believe that the violence can or will be condoned and that it must be rhetorically mitigated.
Inconvenient Strangers: Transnational Subjects and the Politics of Citizenship draws attention to how intersecting networks of power—particularly race and ethnicity, gender, and social class—marginalize transnational subjects who find themselves outside a dominant citizenship that privileges familiarity and socioeconomic and racial superiority. In this study of how neoliberal ideas limit citizenship for marginalized populations in Hong Kong, Shui-yin Sharon Yam examines how three transnational groups—mainland Chinese maternal tourists, Southeast Asian migrant domestic workers, and South Asian permanent residents—engage with the existing citizenry and gain recognition through circulating personal narratives.
Coupling transnational feminist studies with research on emotions, Yam analyzes court cases, interviews, social media discourse, and the personal narratives of Hong Kong’s marginalized groups to develop the concept of deliberative empathy—critical empathy that prompts an audience to consider the structural sources of another’s suffering while deliberating one’s own complicity in it. Yam argues that storytelling and familial narratives can promote deliberative empathy among the audience as both a political and ethical response—carrying the affective power to jolt the dominant citizenry out of their usual xenophobic attitudes and ultimately prompt them to critically consider the human conditions they share with the marginalized and move them toward more ethical coalitions.
In Inessential Solidarity, Diane Davis examines critical intersections of rhetoric and sociality in order to revise some of rhetorical theory’s basic presumptions. Rather than focus on the arguments and symbolic exchanges through which social relations are defined, Davis exposes an underivable rhetorical imperative, an obligation to respond that is as undeniable as the obligation to age. Situating this response-ability as the condition for, rather than the effect of, symbolic interaction, Davis both dissolves contemporary concerns about linguistic overdetermination and calls into question long-held presumptions about rhetoric’s relationship with identification, figuration, hermeneutics, agency, and judgment.
Spotlighting a rhetorical “situation” irreducible to symbolic relations, Davis proposes quite provocatively that rhetoric—rather than ontology (Aristotle/Heidegger), epistemology (Descartes), or ethics (Levinas)—is “first philosophy.” The subject or “symbol-using animal” comes into being, Davis argues both with and against Emmanuel Levinas, only inasmuch as it responds to the other; the priority of the other is not a matter of the subject's choice, then, but of its inescapable predicament. Directing the reader’s attention to this inessential solidarity without which no meaning-making or determinate social relation would be possible, Davis aims to nudge rhetorical studies beyond the epistemological concerns that typically circumscribe theories of persuasion toward the examination of a more fundamental affectability, persuadability, responsivity.
Advocates of higher education have long contended that universities should operate above the crude material negotiations of economics and politics. Such arguments, ignore the historical reality that the American university system emerged through, and in service to, a capitalist political economy that unevenly combines corporate, state, and civil interests.
As the corporatization of U.S. universities becomes nearly impossible to deny, the common response from many academics has been a superior stand against the contamination of the professional ideal by tainted corporate interests. Inside the Teaching Machine proposes a correction to this view through the lens of historical materialism.
Chaput argues that the U.S. public research university has always been a vital component of the capitalist political economy. While conventional narratives of public higher education emphasize civic preparation and upward mobility, Chaput demonstrates that supposedly egalitarian policies like the Morrill Land-Grant Act and the G.I. Bill served the changing interests of capitalism much as education, creating a professional class that supports the capitalist political economy. Chaput also focuses on the relationship between American universities and globalization, showing how the trend toward professionalization contributes to the production of surplus value, and the ways that the American university model circulates outside the United States. Chaput concludes by advocating rhetorical strategies for the professional who opposes the capitalist logic of the global university system, proposing concrete options for engaging and redirecting globalization within the university system.
A form of critical ethnography introduced to the social sciences in the late 1990s, institutional ethnography uncovers how things happen within institutional sites, providing a new and flexible tool for the study of how “work” is co-constituted within sites of writing and writing instruction. The study of work and work processes reveals how institutional discourse, social relations, and norms of professional practice coordinate what people do across time and sites of writing. Adoption of IE offers finely grained understandings of how our participation in the work of writing, writing instruction, and sites of writing gives material face to the institutions that govern the social world.
In this book, Michelle LaFrance introduces the theories, rhetorical frames, and methods that ground and animate institutional ethnography. Three case studies illustrate key aspects of the methodology in action, tracing the work of writing assignment design in a linked gateway course, the ways annual reviews coordinate the work of faculty and writing center administrators and staff, and how the key term “information literacy” socially organizes teaching in a first-year English program. Through these explorations of the practice of ethnography within sites of writing and writing instruction, LaFrance shows that IE is a methodology keenly attuned to the material relations and conditions of work in twenty-first-century writing studies contexts, ideal for both practiced and novice ethnographers who seek to understand the actualities of social organization and lived experience in the sites they study.
Institutional Ethnography expands the field’s repertoire of research methodologies and offers the grounding necessary for work with the IE framework. It will be invaluable to writing researchers and students and scholars of writing studies across the spectrum—composition and rhetoric, literacy studies, and education—as well as those working in fields such as sociology and cultural studies.
In response to denunciations of populism as undemocratic and anti-intellectual, Intellectual Populism argues that populism has contributed to a distinct and democratic intellectual tradition in which ordinary people assume leading roles in the pursuit of knowledge. Focusing on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the decades that saw the birth of populism in the United States, this book uses case studies of certain intellectual figures to trace the key rhetorical appeals that proved capable of resisting the status quo and building alternative communities of inquiry. As this book shows, Robert Ingersoll (1833–1899), Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), Thomas Davidson (1840–1900), Booker T. Washington (1856–1915), and Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938) deployed populist rhetoric to rally ordinary people as thinkers in new intellectual efforts. Through these case studies, Intellectual Populism demonstrates how orators and advocates can channel the frustrations and energies of the American people toward productive, democratic, intellectual ends.
Since its early history in Greek culture, traditional rhetorical study has focused primarily on persuasive language used in the public sphere. There has been little study, however, of what Jean Nienkamp calls internal rhetoric, which “occurs between one aspect of the self and another” inside one’s mind. Nienkamp opens the study of internal rhetoric by discussing how the concept developed alongside traditional classical and modern rhetorical theory.
Nienkamp shows how we talk to ourselves, or more specifically, how we talk ourselves into things: justifications, actions, opinions, theories. She explains that just because we see ourselves as divided, as torn in different directions by conflicting desires, duties, and social mores, it does not mean that we are fragmented, nor does it mean that we are split into discrete identities that neither interrelate nor interact.
In this groundbreaking study, Nienkamp identifies two major aspects of internal rhetoric: “the conscious ‘art’ of cultivated internal rhetoric” and “the unconscious ‘nature’ of primary internal rhetoric.” Selecting a small number of figures from the history of rhetoric—including Isocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Lord Shaftesbury, Richard Whately, Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, George Herbert Mead, and Lev Vygotsky—Nienkamp argues for a “version of the rhetorical self that takes into account both the ways we are formed by and formulate internal and external rhetorics and the ways our physical bodies act as a contributing scene—an agora—for internal rhetoric.”
The book explores the journey of 10 international students to better understand their experiences at a U.S. educational institution and how they constructed and revealed these experiences in this particular socio-academic space. The study features a series of three interviews during the semester that the participants were enrolled in a mainstream first-year writing course; their stories not only capture their experiences but reveal inspiring stories that “give voice” to students outside the dominant cultural and linguistic community.
This study raises questions about how to support international students:
In what ways can it inform our practices and policies relative to the internationalization of education and the development of global perspectives and competencies?
What does it reveal that could impact daily instruction of L2 writing, particularly when it comes to international students’ need to meet the expectations of “university-level writing” in U.S. institutions of higher education?
On an individual level, what can we learn from these students and about ourselves as a result of our interactions?
The Internationalization of US Writing Programs illuminates the role writing programs and WPAs play in defining goals, curriculum, placement, assessment, faculty development, and instruction for international student populations. The volume offers multiple theoretical approaches to the work of writing programs and illustrates a wide range of well-planned writing program–based empirical research projects.
As of 2016, over 425,000 international students were enrolled as undergraduates in US colleges and universities, part of a decade-long trend of increasing numbers of international students coming to the United States for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Writing program administrators and writing teachers across the country are beginning to recognize this changing demographic as a useful catalyst for change in writing programs, which are tasked with preparing all students, regardless of initial level of English proficiency, for academic and professional writing.
The Internationalization of US Writing Programs is the first collection to focus specifically on this crucial aspect of the roles and responsibilities of WPAs, who are leading efforts to provide all students on their campuses, regardless of nationality or first language, with competencies in writing that will serve them in the academy and beyond.
Contributors: Jonathan Benda, Michael Dedek, Christiane Donahue, Chris W. Gallagher, Kristi Girdharry, Tarez Samra Graban, Jennifer E. Haan, Paula Harrington, Yu-Kyung Kang, Neal Lerner, David S. Martins, Paul Kei Matsuda, Heidi A. McKee, Libby Miles, Susan Miller-Cochran, Matt Noonan, Katherine Daily O’Meara, Carolina Pelaez-Morales, Stacey Sheriff, Gail Shuck, Christine M. Tardy, Stanley Van Horn, Daniel Wilber, Margaret Willard-Traub
Interpreting Sacred Ground is a rhetorical analysis of Civil War battlefields and parks, and the ways various commemorative traditions—and their ideologies of race, reconciliation, emancipation, and masculinity—compete for dominance.
The National Park Service (NPS) is known for its role in the preservation of public sites deemed to have historic, cultural, and natural significance. In Interpreting Sacred Ground, J. Christian Spielvogel studies the NPS’s secondary role as an interpreter or creator of meaning at such sites, specifically Gettysburg National Military Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and Cold Harbor Visitor Center.
Spielvogel studies in detail the museums, films, publications, tours, signage, and other media at these sites, and he studies and analyzes how they shape the meanings that visitors are invited to construct. Though the NPS began developing interpretive exhibits in the 1990s that highlighted slavery and emancipation as central facets to understanding the war, Spielvogel argues that the NPS in some instances preserves outmoded narratives of white reconciliation and heroic masculinity, obscuring the race-related causes and consequences of the war as well as the war’s savagery.
The challenges the NPS faces in addressing these issues are many, from avoiding unbalanced criticism of either the Union or the Confederacy, to foregrounding race and violence as central issues, preserving clear and accurate renderingsof battlefield movements and strategies, and contending with the various public constituencies with their own interpretive stakes in the battle for public memory.
Spielvogel concludes by arguing for the National Park Service’s crucial role as a critical voice in shaping twentieth-first-century Civil War public memory and highlights the issues the agency faces as it strives to maintain historical integrity while contending with antiquated renderings of the past.
Interrogating Gendered Pathologies points out and critiques unjust patterns of pathology. Erin A. Frost and Michelle F. Eble assemble a transdisciplinary approach from/to technologies, rhetorics, philosophies, epistemologies, and biomedical data to consider the effects of biomedicine’s gendered norms on people’s lives. Using a range of complementary and intersectional theoretical approaches, contributors ask questions about rhetoric’s role in healthcare and how it differs depending on patient embodiment and the ways nonnormative bodies are pathologized.
These chapters engage common narratives about the ways in which gender in healthcare is secondary and highlights the stories of people who have battled to prioritize their own bodies through extraordinary difficulties. Employing a multiplicity of voices, the book represents a number of different perspectives on what it might look like to return health and medical data to embodied experience, to consider the effects of gendered and intersectional biomedical norms on lived realities, and to subvert the power of institutions in ways that move us toward biomedical justice.
This collection contributes to the burgeoning field of health and medical rhetorics by rhetorically and theoretically intervening in what are often seen as objective and neutral decisions related to the body and to scientific and medical data about bodies. Interrogating Gendered Pathologies will be of interest to feminist scholars in the field of rhetoric and writing studies, specifically those in the rhetorics of health and medicine, as well as scholars of technical communication, feminist studies, gender studies, technoscience studies, and bioethics.
Contributors: Leslie Anglesey, Mary Assad, Beth Boser, Lillian Campbell, Marleah Dean, Lori Beth De Hertogh, Leandra Hernandez, Elizabeth Horn-Walker, Caitlin Leach, Jordan Liz, Miriam Mara, Cathryn Molloy, Kerri Morris, Maria Novotny, Sage Perdue, Colleen Reilly
On a cold Wednesday morning in February 2003 Colin Powell argued before the United Nations Security Council that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction. Before the speech, nearly 90 percent of Americans reported that Powell’s speech would help them determine their view about invading Iraq. In the days after the speech, a strong majority of Americans reported that they found Powell’s evidence convincing enough to justify war. But most American adults did not watch Powell’s speech. Instead, they learned about it from journalists—and to a large extent formed their opinions about war with Iraq based on news coverage of his address. In Intertextuality and the 24-Hour News Cycle John Oddo investigates the “rhetorical life” of Colin Powell’s address as it was extended across several media reports. Focusing on one day of pre- and postspeech news coverage, Oddo examines how journalists influenced Powell’s presentation— precontextualizing and recontextualizing his speech, and prepositioning and repositioning audiences to respond to it. The book surveys a variety of news media (television, newspaper, and Internet) and systematically integrates several methodological approaches (critical, rhetorical, discourse-analytic, and multimodal). This revealing text shows the decisive role that journalists played in shaping American attitudes about Powell, his presentation, and the desirability of war in Iraq.
This book contains interviews with psychologist Mary Field Belenky, linguist and philosopher of language Noam Chomsky, French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, international literacy scholar Paulo Freire, distinguished anthropologist Clifford Geertz, philosopher Richard Rorty, and cultural critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (all of whose work has influenced the discipline of rhetoric and composition) followed by essay responses from notable scholars in rhetoric and composition.
James Slevin traces how composition emerged for him not as a vehicle for improving student writing, but rather as a way of working collaboratively with students to interpret educational practices and work for educational reform.
Bringing together methods and scholars from rhetoric and related disciplines, essays in Inventing Place: Writing Lone Star Rhetorics blend personal and scholarly accounts of Texas sites, examining place as an embodied poiesis, an understanding and composition formed through the collaboration of a body with a particular space.
Divided into five sections corresponding to Texas regions, essays consider aesthetics, buildings, environment, food and alcohol, private and public memory, and race and class. Among the topics covered by contributors are the Imagine Austin urban planning initiative; the terroir of Texas barbecue; the racist past of Grand Saline, Texas; Denton, Texas, and authenticity as rhetorical; negative views of Texas and how the state (or any place) is subject to reinvention; social, historical, and economic networks of place and their relationship to the food we eat; and Texas gun culture and working-class character.
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.
This is the first empirical, mixed-methods study of copyright issues that speaks to writing specialists and legal scholars about the complicated intersections of rhetoric, technology, copyright law, and writing for the Internet. Martine Courant Rife opens up new conversations about how invention and copyright work together in the composing process for digital writers and how this relationship is central to contemporary issues in composition pedagogy and curriculum.
In this era of digital writing and publishing, composition and legal scholars have identified various problems with writers’ processes and the law’s construction of textual ownership, such as issues of appropriation, infringement, and fair use within academic and online contexts. Invention, Copyright, and Digital Writing unpacks digital writers’ complex perceptions of copyright, revealing how it influences what they choose to write and how it complicates their work. Rife uses quantitative and qualitative approaches and focuses on writing as a tool and a technology-mediated activity, arguing the copyright problem is about not law but invention and the attendant issues of authorship.
Looking at copyright and writing through a rhetorical lens, Rife leverages the tools and history of rhetoric to offer insights into how some of our most ancient concepts inform our understanding of the problems copyright law creates for writers. In this innovative study that will be of interest to professional and technical writers, scholars and students of writing and rhetoric, and legal professionals, Rife offers possibilities for future research, teaching, curriculum design, and public advocacy in regard to composition and changing copyright laws.
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 Invoking the Invisible Hand Robert Asen scrutinizes contemporary debates over proposals to privatize Social Security. Asen argues that a rights-based rhetoric employed by Social Security's original supporters enabled advocates of privatization to align their proposals with the widely held belief that Social Security functions simply as a return on a worker's contributions and that it is not, in fact, a social insurance program.
By analyzing major debates over a preeminent American institution, Asen reveals the ways in which language is deployed to identify problems for public policy, craft policy solutions, and promote policies to the populace. He shows how debate participants seek to create favorable contexts for their preferred policies and how they connect these policies to idealized images of the nation.
In this ethnographic study of the teaching of writing, Karen Surman Paley reveals the social significance of first-person writing and the limitations of a popular taxonomy of composition studies. Paley looks critically at the way social constructionists have created an “Other” in the field of composition studies and named it “expressivist.”
Paley demonstrates the complexity of approaches to teaching writing through an ethnographic study of two composition faculty at Boston College, a programthat some would say is “expressivist.” She prompts her colleagues to consider how family experiences shape the way students feel about and treat people of races, religions, genders, and sexual preferences other than their own. Finally, she suggests to the field of composition that practitioners spend less time shoring up taxonomies of the field and more time sharing pedagogies.