Questions What is Rhetoric? What is Language? How do we Communicate? How are we Persuaded? What about Audience? How are we influenced by ideology? What about Power?
Enlightenment General Absolute Truth The world can be controlled and ordered We can picture and represent the world Belief in linear progress Universal Universality means text must be studied in isolation (context, personal ideologies) Human nature is unchanging People's individuality (personality) is transcendent Purpose = humanist enhancement of life
Enlightenment There is a stable, coherent, knowable self. The knowledge produced by science is "truth," and is eternal. All human institutions and practices can be analyzed by science (reason/objectivity) and improved. Reason is the ultimate judge of what is true, and therefore of what is right, and what is good (what is legal and what is ethical). Freedom consists of obedience to the laws that conform to the knowledge discovered by reason.
Enlightenment Science is neutral and objective Language, or the mode of expression used in producing and disseminating knowledge, must be rational also. To be rational, language must be transparent; it must function only to represent the real/perceivable world which the rational mind observes. There must be a firm and objective connection between the objects of perception and the words used to name them (between signifier and signified).
Modernity Characteristics questioning received truths of Christian tradition elevating rationality over other sources of truth seeking solutions to social problems by means of scientific method viewing the universe as governed by inviolable physical laws
Modernity tends to present a fragmented view of human subjectivity and history, presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss. Modernity is fundamentally about order: about rationality and rationalization, creating order out of chaos. modern societies rely on continually establishing a binary opposition between "order" and "disorder," so that they can assert the superiority of "order." The ways that modern societies go about creating categories labeled as “order" or "disorder" have to do with the effort to achieve stability.
Postmodernism questions the representation of history and cultural identities: history as "what 'really' happened" (external to representation or mediation) vs. history as a "narrative of what happened" with a point of view and cultural/ideological interests. Dissolution of the transparency of history and tradition: Can we get to the (unmediated) referents of history? Multiculturalism, competing views of history and tradition. Shift from universal histories. History and identity politics: who can write? for whom? from what standpoint? Postmodernism, in contrast to Modernism, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation or incoherence, but rather celebrates that.
What is Rhetoric? In its broadest sense, rhetoric concerns both the practice and study of effective communication in literature and in social discourse. Until well into the 19th century, rhetoric was a fundamental area of academic study and a direct influence on the compositional styles of poets, playwrights, and novelists. Rhetoric is the art of discovering all the available means of persuasion in any given case (Aristotle) A mode of altering reality, not by the direct application of energy to objects, but by the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action (Bitzer) Rhetoric is communication which helps people think alike so that they may share values, dispositions toward actions, and actions. (Burke and Perelman)
Why is Rhetoric Important? Humans cooperate by the social act of constructing mutually compatible interpretations of reality. Rhetoric is the refinement of the communicative life of the individual for the good of the society. It is essential to democracy It is essential to meaningful communication It serves to help us to figure out what we mean: as a mode of inquiry, a means of discovering knowledge and giving shape to experience; It helps us to protect ourselves from those who use it to their advantage (and others’ disadvantage); To preserve, or even more basically, to define, our humanity; as an alternative to solving conflicts through violence.
Primary Questions Nature of truth Sophistic and postmodern concepts of truth as a construct Platonic and Modernist notion of a Big “T” universal truth. For Plato, it is the rhetor’s job to reveal the truth; for the modernist, this truth is available through science and the self Nature of self Modernist concept of the cartesian stable self Postmodernist concept of the fragmented self Role of community and society
Primary Questions Role of community and society Pre-modern and postmodern focus on community and society versus Modernist focus on the individual
Some Contemporary Rhetorical Perspectives Rhetoric and argumentation (Perelman) Rhetoric and performance (including cultural studies) ( Burke) "Other" Voices and cultural challenges (Feminism, Asian, African, African-American, Native American, South American/Latino) Historical (esp. revisionist) (Jarratt, Berlin) Movement and genre work (Campbell)