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Professing Rhetoric

Selected Papers From the 2000

Rhetoric Society of America Conference

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Professing Rhetoric
Selected Papers From the 2000
Rhetoric Society of America Conference

Edited by

Frederick J. Antczak
Cinda Coggins
University of Iowa

Geoffrey D. Klinger
University of Utah



Mahwah, New Jersey

Copyright 2002 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by
photostat, microform, retrieval system, or any other means, without prior
written permission of the publisher.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers
10 Industrial Avenue
Mahwah, NJ 07430
Cover design by Kathryn Houghtaling Lacey
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rhetoric Society of America. Conference (9th : 2000 : Washington, D.C.)
Professing rhetoric : selected papers from the 2000 Rhetoric Society of America
conference / edited by Frederick J. Antczak, Cinda Goggins, Geoffrey
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8058-4136-9 (cloth : alk. paper)
ISBN 0-8058-4137-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. English languageRhetoricStudy and teachingUnited StatesCongresses. 2. Report writingStudy and teaching (Higher)United
StatesCongresses. I. Antczak, Frederick J., 1952 . II. Goggins, Cinda.
III. Klinger, Geoffrey. IV. Title.
PE1405.U6 R47 2002
Books published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates are printed on acid-free paper,
and their bindings are chosen for strength and durability.
Printed in the United States of America
1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1




Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation

James Arnt Aune

The Politics of Professing Rhetoric in the History

of Composition and Communication


Nancy McKoski

Sleeping with the Enemy: Recoupling Rhetorical Studies

and Rhetoric and Composition


Janice Norton

Toward Finding Common Critical and Pedagogical



Beth S. Bennett

Republican Rhetoric and Subversity: Speaking for White

Women and American Indians in the 1820s


Deborah Gussman

Rhetorical Education for Political Action: The League

of Women Voters and the Subversion of Political Parties
in the 1920s


Wendy B. Sharer

Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print


Thomas Augst

When the 'Past Is Not Even the Past': The Rhetoric

of a Southern Historical Marker


Derryn E. Moten

Kairos and the Rhetorical Place


Jerry Blitefield



Rhetoric and the Body: A Lesson from Ancient



Annalisa Zanola Macola

Live from the Operating Room: A Generic Visual Rhetoric


R. Michael Jackson

Policing the Architectural Canon: The Gendered

Discourse of Architectural Studies


Elizabeth Birmingham

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Collective Authorship:

Rethinking Ethos and the Politics of Disclosure


Kathryn T. Flannery

Mediated Ethos: Instructor Credibility in a Televised

Writing Course


Joyce Magnotto Neff

The Essay Matters because the Essayist Matters:

Personal Disclosures and the Enactment of Ethos
in Essays by Black Feminist Writers


Juanita Rodgers Comfort

Apologizing for Authority: The Rhetoric of the Prefaces

of Eliza Cook, Isabelle Bird, and Hannah More


Elizabeth Howells

Romantic Heroism and "Public Character": Ethical

Criticism of Performative Traditions in Public Discourse


Stephen A. Klien

Paranarrative and the Performance of Creative Nonfiction 147

Lawrence K. Stanley

Preparing Ethical Citizens for the Twenty-First Century


Jami Carlacio and Alice Gillam

Rhetoric and Ethics: Is "How Should We Proceed?"

the Wrong Question?


Richard Glejzer

Public Schools, Private Ethics: Rhetoric of Service

in Composition
Melody Bowdon




The Rhetoric of Globalization, Graduate Student Labor,

and Practices of Resistance


Catherine Chaput

Rereading the Literacy Crisis of American Colleges

and Universities


Christopher Schroeder

Sophistic Masks and Rhetorical Nomads


Bradford Vivian

Paideia versus Techne: Isocrates's Performative

Conception of Rhetorical Education


Ekaterina V. Haskins

Thoroughly Modern Vico: The New Science

and Counter-Enlightenment Politics


Daniel L. Emery

Rhetoric of Science as Non-Modern Practice


Carl G. Herndl

Ending the War between Science and Religion:

Can Rhetorology Do the Job?


Wayne C. Booth

The Open Question of the Conversation Between

Science and Religion: A Response to Wayne Booth's


James L. Kastely

Author Index


Subject Index


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What is it, at the turn of this century, to profess rhetoric? Scholars in our field
are going in a variety of directionstheoretical, critical, historical, pedagogi
cal. Without trying to impose a coherence greater than the diversity of our en
terprises will bear, are there common premises, purposes, narratives of our
pasts, ambitions for our futures that hold us together and move us forward as a
field of intellectual inquiry? What are the areas within our subject in which re
search is especially needed, and how may that research be stimulated? What are
the conditions of our work as rhetorical teacher/scholarssituated in particular
institutional and organizational structuresthat shape our practice?
In the spring of 2000, over two hundred rhetorical scholars from eight na
tions convened in Washington D.C. to advance the discussion of these questions.
Judging by the range of their interests, rhetoric is perhaps as vital a field of in
quiry as it has ever been. Some scholars are recovering historically silenced or un
recognized rhetorics, including Native American, African American, Latino,
and women's rhetorics. Others are exploring rhetoric's relation to performance,
and to the body, or revising the canons, stases, topoi and pisteis; others are re
working the rhetorical lexicon to comprise contemporary theory. Topics in our
most vital scholarship also include rhetoric as figurality, comparative and
contrastive rhetorics, rhetoric and genre, rhetorics of science and technology;
rhetoric and reconceptions of the public sphere, rhetoric and public memory,
rhetorics of globalization and social change, including issues of race, ethnicity,
and nationalism; rhetoric's institutionalized place in the academy, in relation to
the other humanities and to the interpretive social sciences; and the place of
rhetoric in the formation of departments and the development of pedagogy. All
of these interests were articulated in the 2000 conference of the Rhetoric Society
of America.
This conference marked a kind of turning point. Among diverse interests, rhet
oricians seemed to find common themes, shared intellectual and pedagogical en
terprises that hold us together even as the institutional situations of rhetoricians
still keep us apart. The quality of this scholarship promises much for the next centuryso long as we remain audiences for each other, so long as we sustain a vision
of rhetoric as a common calling, a shared profession in all its diversity.
James Aune's keynote struck that chord explicitly. Aune uses a speech Max
Weber delivered to University of Munich students in 1919, Wissenschaft ah Beruf,


as a background to examining the contemporary university as an economic and

political locus for scholars. In the Weimar Republic, academic life grew ever
more dictated by the "discourse of the market" and a demand for the provision of
technical skills. In our own day, Aune claims these imperatives have been mixed
with a push toward uncritical celebration of an amorphous "Western heritage,"
a push funded and ideologically fueled by foundations and corporations. Aune
uses Weber to reflect on the need to rebuff such assaults on the academic mind,
and suggests that Protagoras and Cicero might give rhetoricians special leverage
to do this, by "promoting the methods and values of controversy." Teaching and
encouraging students to explore multiple sides of a question fosters a rhetoric
that makes it possible to preserve university life as a site of free inquiry and intel
lectual process. Aune warns us thatespecially given the current cultural onslaughtwe must "sustain our sense of rhetoric as a calling."
Three authors remind us of historical dimensions of our common calling.
Nancy McKoski situates Rhetoric's location in the university curriculum as a re
sponse to political conservatism. She provides a sociopolitical examination of the
academic climate in the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s, climates that shifted away
from the more inclusive pedagogy of progressive democratic education toward a
more classical republicanism with a strong, if not always explicit, strain of exclu
sivity. McKoski provides an overview on the turf battles among Communica
tions, Linguistics, and English for composition courses and a narrative of how
Rhetoric emerged as an academic discipline.
Janice Norton studies how the history and politics of disciplinary boundaries
have influenced the efficacy of rhetoric in the contemporary academy. Norton
advocates for what "Rhetoric might yet become" and suggests a list of ways that
Rhetorical Studies and Rhet/Comp programs could teach each other, and by so
doing help identify and serve shared institutional interests.
Beth Bennett advocates for another sort of collaboration, between rhetorical
criticism and composition pedagogy. Traditional rhetoric (insofar as it has come
to favor cultural criticism) and composition pedagogy (insofar as it favors pro
cess over product) have both been eclipsed. Now electronic technology is re
shaping the meaning and process of communication. Fundamentals like agency,
authority, and audience remain important, but their parameters have become
more fluid. Where style once emphasized correctness or clarity as the goal,
Bennett argues for "a critical engagement of the virtue of propriety in rhetorical
practice." Today's teachers of rhetoric must help students learn to recognize
propositions of ethical responsibility in the rhetorical choices they make by in
cluding not only the critical and ethical skills, but also those encompassing cre
ative and expressive competencies; "that is, we need to reconsider the virtues of
adornment, of clarity, and of correctness."
Part of our work is historical, a recovery of various rhetorics in our shared
past. Deborah Gussman examines the rhetorical strategy employed by Lydia
Maria Child in her children's 1828 revisionist history, The First Settlers of New
England. Child's text attempted to present the American Indian as representa



tive of the republican ideal of citizenship, portraying the Puritans in a strikingly

realistic light. Gussman explores the use of the classic American jeremiad and
contrasts advisory rhetoric with adaptory rhetoric, noting that "the task of the
female Jeremiah was complicated by the rhetor's awareness of her social subject
position and the absence of a legitimate female public space." Gussman demon
strates how the vehicle of a conversation in the home between a mother and her
two daughters might benignly teach them social and political activism, and also
impart egalitarian ideals.
Wendy Sharer focuses her study of the League of Women Voters on its contri
butions to educating women. Influenced by the educational philosophy and dem
ocratic ideals of John Dewey, the League created schools of citizenship across the
country, providing classroom and course-based instruction mixed with experien
tial learning. While primary instruction dealt with the elements and machinery of
the individual political parties, secondary instruction taught rhetorical strategies
aimed at developing political influence. Interviewing, public speaking, debate,
and collaborative authoring were taught; fieldwork included visiting government
buildings such as the Court House and State House, familiarizing women with fo
rums for their future advocacy. Sharer extrapolates from the League's practices a
similar pedagogical approach for the academy today.
Thomas Augst studies Frederick Douglass's public lectures to suggest that
the current media culture's commodification of "real" experience emerged in the
rhetorical performers of the nineteenth-century reform movements. While new
oral and print forms of mass media were appearing, "the public lecture acquired
unprecedented popularity and legitimacy as a channel of civic discourse." Not
only did Douglass speak with a neoclassical eloquence garnered from reading
Caleb Bingham's rhetoric manual, The Columbian Orator, he spoke with moral
ethos against slavery. His autobiography, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass,
which recounts his personal experience as a slave, informed his public perfor
mances. Thereby Douglass drew credibility from "the moral witness of ordinary
experience." Douglass saw the lecture hall as a more "efficient medium for moral
suasion" than printed works. He promoted the human voice to an instrument of
humanity, with powers of swaying an audience through sensory immediacy.
Derryn Moten raises the question of just how the text on an historical marker
can spawn a barrage of conflicting interpretations and reactions. In and around
the city of Montgomery, Alabamanexus point for both the Civil War and the
Civil Rights Movementthere are no fewer than eighteen historical markers,
each of which had its version of history and inflection of its meaning, each a site
for the rhetorics of public memory. When, for example, a marker commemorat
ing Union General James Harrison Wilson (who led the capture of Montgom
ery) was stolen, public discussion was divided as to whether that was a loss or a
vindication. Historical markers, Moten shows, serve as rhetorical vehicles for
capturing "intracommunity and intercommunity difference."
A stimulating counterpoint to these historical rhetorics emerges in Jerry
Blitefield's exploration of the historical dimensions of kairos that "situate the



rhetor in time and place at the point of social action." Using Frank Kermode's
idea of the temporal dimension into which a reader of fiction falls, Blitefield
makes an analogy to practical discourse: in either case, for kairos to exist as rhe
torical agency, it must have aplace to come into fulfillment. Place provides the
material room for kairos to be written and endure, and "kairos, as a range, pro
vides the temporal room for rhetorical action." What makes kairos a useful con
cept in this way is that it has a narrative continuum that involves both the
rhetorical moment in time and the displacement of that time in place. Blitefield
shows how the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the Memorial subsequently
created there serve to illustrate how "a single place provides at once the reposi
tory of kairoi past and the medium for kairoi present."
Rhetorics of the body, visual rhetorics, and gendered rhetorics are also active
sites of scholarship in rhetoric; some of these rhetorics are powerfully traditional,
some breathtakingly new. Annalisa Zanola Macola examines how elocution in
public speaking, and voice in particular, were promulgated in sixteenth- to nineteenth-century treatises. Recalling delivery as a canon of classical rhetoric,
Macola advocates for a return of something like the American elocutionary
movement and a refocusing on vocal training in public speaking courses.
Mike Jackson presents a rhetorical commentary on the genres depicted in Max
Aguilera-Hellweg's The Sacred Heart, a collection of medical photographs and nar
ratives. Jackson equates a rhetorical situation with the form of a genre which
"plays a dual role as social frame of a situation and rhetorical action taken within
that situation." When genres co-exist within or on a single rhetorical artifact,
quite novel hybridizing may occur. Jackson examines Aguilera-Hellweg's work as
a form of rhetorical hybrid, crossing genres of documentary photography, science
journalism, medical documentation, pornography, and horror. As a bridge be
tween culture and artifact in a hierarchy of rhetorical action, the genre reveals the
social exigency that precedes the rhetorical action and the action itself.
Elizabeth Birmingham finds in her personal experience "a profound, gender-related crisis" within the disciplinary walls of architecture. Although they
constitute over half the students declaring a first-year interest in majoring in ar
chitecture, women are virtually nonexistent among representations of faculty,
students, practicing architects, and historical representations. Rectifying the si
lence about women in architecture texts, Birmingham attempts to establish a
place in the architectural canon for Marion Lucy Mahoney. Birmingham shows
how Mahoney's architectural achievements were relegated to a status subsidiary
to the more celebrated accomplishments of her husband Walter Burley Griffin,
and of her collaborator for fourteen years, Frank Lloyd Wright. Birmingham dis
solves the gendered perspective that focused on Mahoney as a feminine entity,
rather than on her architectural work.
The relations of ethos, character, and ethics compel the attention of many
rhetorical scholars. Kathryn Flannery challenges Nedra Reynolds's definition of
ethos as one constructed and sanctioned by a group, and questions Adrienne
Rich's idea that authority rests on acts of disclosure of a "particular body, place,



historical and cultural moment." Flannery invokes Lorraine Code's idea of the
fluidity of location, that "rhetorical spaces are not simply literal texts, but the
multiple discursive arenas in and through which we live, in and through which
we write." Responsibility is not predicated on an act of writing in isolation:
"Ethos isn't something simply in the textbut rather a name for the web of in
terconnections between text and world, text and reader ... the dynamic of any
literacy event."
Joyce Magnotto Neff keeps the issue of ethos in the present day, with a look at
the different relationships that develop between teacher and student in a com
position course delivered on interactive television. Neff examines access, con
tent, timing, text ownership, and the issue of who has the floor. Ethos becomes a
collaborative affair that involves technicians and technological interfaces as well
as teacher and students. The distinct possibilities and constraints of an interac
tive television course require pedagogical decisions to be made on the run, inter
rupting class plans. Both the extent and pace of content is continuously being
renegotiated. Neff suggests that interactive television courses offer opportuni
ties for teachers to work on pedagogical ethos, to "become open, unstable, ener
getic, flexible, nonauthoritative, informed subjects."
Juanita Rodgers Comfort invites us to rethink the ethical dimensions of a more
familiar medium, the essay as a form of rhetorical discourse. Comfort examines ex
cerpts from the writing of Audre Lord, Alice Walker, and June Jordan to illustrate
how personal disclosures operate as persuasive elements, fulfilling a sense of ethos
and of personal power in that they establish a sense of self that in turn can "warrant
a given range of ideas and opinions." Comfort discerns that black feminist writers
in particular have "invested heavily in the essay form ... to place items on the pub
lic agenda in ways that meaningfully touch both mind and spirit." Such essayists
function as rhetors in eliciting through their own ethos an openness to the new and
unfamiliar. "Ultimately the essayist as rhetor asks us to understand how we can
connect, and how we can be distinct, at the same time."
. Elizabeth Howells pushes the inquiry into ethos further into its history, trac
ing the genre of the preface and how the dynamics of prefaces differed in purpose
for men and women. Classically, the exordium served to advance the ethos of the
speaker as well as the discussion of the topic. By the nineteenth century, the
writing of a preface became commonplace, situating the author before the audi
ence in a frank confrontation, man to man. Women, of course, were not permit
ted to speak "man to man"; a woman's ideas and public presence were
overwhelmed by the qualities required of ideal womanhood, "sacrifice and self
lessness, community, and lack of desire." Howells finds in the preface writing of
essayist-novelist Hannah More, poet Eliza Cook, and travel writer Isabelle Bird
that the use of a preface became both a form of apology and a reassurance that
what the woman writer had to say was "less an individual and more a communal
project." She shows how these women rhetors knew and used social codes for
rhetorical advantage in order to secure a position in literary dimensions of the
public sphere.



Stephen Klien examines the downside of ethos, showing how romanticizing

political leaders can adversely affect the political agency of the average citizen
and inhibit civil discourse. The creation of a presidential candidate as a cham
pion of good over evil can work to discourage civilized discourse by contraposing
"opponents as mortal enemies to the community." Klien shows how such a rhe
torical strategy can elevate "a combative approach to politics over a discursive
approach of tolerance, negotiation, and compromise."
Lawrence Stanley moves us into the different rhetorical realm of creative non
fiction, where syntax and word choice depend on the exigency of the writer's
perception and experience. An organizational style that might appear arbitrary
or disjunctive nevertheless represents "a definitive act of the mind that seek{s}
morphological structure." Stanley suggests that the interaction of writer, reader,
and text creates a performance of parataxis: the writer is not merely amassing
material, but exploring the "potential of form formulating itself out of the way
one perceives, reflects, reads."
Jami Carlaccio and Alice Gilliam suggest that how preparing ethical citizens
for the new century might involve advanced rhetorical studies. They provide a
prospectus for creating a certificate program in rhetorical studies beyond the
first-year general rhetoric course. Two of their major concerns are how to include
previously "silenced or unacknowledged rhetorical traditions" and how to
"teach virtue." The inclusion of "Diotima and Aspasia, Christine de Pizan, Maria
Stewart, bell hooks, and Henry Louis Gates, for example, would allow students
the chance to critique a democracy of discourses" allowing "for a plurality of
multicultural voices that traverse class, gender, race, and ethnic boundaries."
Carlaccio and Gilliam explore approaches for teaching virtue in terms of Celeste
Michelle Condit's three-fold framework for ethical community action, Krista
Ratcliffe's concept of rhetorical listening, and Anthony Weston's strategy for
identifying, re-defining, and integrating conflicts and connections. "A rhetorical
studies curriculum that dialectically engages multiple rhetorical traditions pro
vides students with a broader and more inclusive concept of rhetoric, and a cur
riculum that acknowledges cross-cultural difference in ethical ideals enables
students to respect and negotiate such differences."
Richard Glejzer questions how utterance, knowledge, and performance col
lude in ethical acts, given encounters with memory where both the history and
the present of sexual identity become differends. Glejzer uses the theories of cau
sality, agency, and sexual identity in the work of Judith Butler and Michel
Foucault to suggest that the construction of a "we" needs to be replaced with
"the particularity of a speaker's position."
Melody Bowdon frames a different ethical question. Using Hillcrest Elemen
tary, a foreign language magnet school in Central Florida where her composition
students engaged in service learning, Bowdon argues that composition and
rhetoric scholars should "refigure their notion of service," noting a trend rising
throughout the 1990s of greater emphasis on involving students in their com
munities by curricula that require engagement in some "service" activities. The



means and goals of the pedagogy of service learning have varied, with ethical di
lemmas sometimes arising from the required nature of the assignments. In these
dilemmas, Bowdon seeks an ethical revision of service so that its "stigma ... can
be converted to a source of power and pride."
Rhetorical concerns can provide powerful criticisms of the contemporary in
stitution of the university. Cathy Chaput uses the effort of English graduate stu
dents to unionize at the University of Arizona as an example of how economic
and corporate globalization has influenced the employment practices of the uni
versity. Insofar as it is a new institutional strategy, downsizing the tenure track
faculty and replacing them with underpaid graduate students in an effort to in
crease budgetary efficiency reflects a "shift in decision-making power from the
state or university to the market or corporate world." Chaput advocates a
Foucauldian analysis of power structure and resistance at the university level,
and urges departments and professionals to examine whether their rhetorical
practices foster complicity with economic abuse.
Christopher Schroeder analyzes the literacy crisis in America from a historical
and vocational perspective. He proposes that the crisis is really one of meaning
and legitimation of a particular white middle-class cultural capital. Surveying
composition textbooks, Schroeder shows that the focus on critical writing, read
ing, and thinking sanctions "fictionalized and essentialized subject positions of
rational minds communicating with other rational minds and objective, tran
scendent versions of the world in which the complete accessibility to reality cor
responds to its complete expressibility in texts." In a world moving toward
collective discursive exchange, Schroeder advocates for context-specific
literacies in the contact zone of the classroom that are "predicated on difference"
and that are legitimated by the provisional authority and dialogue of the teacher
and students together.
But everything old is new again. Rhetoric continues to draw vigor, albeit
in new forms, from its classical roots. Bradford Vivian reevaluates the Soph
ists and the Sophistic tradition in light of the recent attraction in rhetorical
studies to their style and philosophy. The perceived notion of the Sophists
had been contrasted to the more idealized status of Platonic philosophers,
with polarities of perceived differences existing between them. Vivian offers
the rhetorical question whether "the true being of rhetoric resided not in any
one pole of this antithesis but in the very movement between them." Masks
adopted by the Sophists to accommodate regional needs were likely a natural
and positive response to the pan-Hellenism that was emerging in fifth cen
tury BCE Athens. "Like all transitional periods, the age of the Sophists was
thus one of jointure, wherein competing and irreducibly different systems of
thought were at once held together, though in tensionsimultaneously
joined and separated in a doubling movement; the very portrait of a double
truth." Vivian encourages rhetoricians to try to uncover the mutable similar
ities that could co-exist in both the Sophistic and Platonic traditions of
knowledge, discourse, and truth.



Ekaterina Haskins explores the nature of techne, of rhetoric as an art, by con

trasting Isocrates's version with that of Plato and of Aristotle. Offering a histori
cal look at the choices of Greek terms used to define the nature of knowledge
and the role of the rhetor, Haskins gives a glimpse into the rivalry that existed
between their competing ideas and personality. In his notion of discursive educa
tion, logonpaideia, Isocrates includes a "self-reflexive performance" that consid
ers the audience, serves as "training in social action," and thereby fosters civil
and ethical discourse.
The rhetoric of science is another important locus for rhetorical studies.
Daniel Emery looks at the idea of "modernity" in intellectual history by com
paring Mark Lilla's and Isaiah Berlin's analyses of Giambattista Vico's The New
Science. Lilla criticizes the Romantics, Berlin champions them; Berlin attrib
utes pluralism to Vico and Lilla does not. These contrasts allow Emery to ex
plore the tension of their ideas as well as distinguish some similarities. Emery
advocates studying the complexity of historical arguments regarding rational
ity and individuality, in order to better equip and "serve our political present
and future."
Carl Herndl examines the varying interpretations of the incommensurability
thesis in the rhetorics of science. "This thesis holds that differences in theoretical
paradigms or discursive fields make it impossible for scientists to persuade oppo
nents or to resolve what Kuhn famously called paradigm debates." Herndl offers
a different model that "integrates the social and material with the discursive, but
which does not abandon the real." Herndl illustrates the model with Bruno
Latour's actor-network theory with its creation of quasi-objectshybrids,
"mixtures of entirely new types of beings" that go through a second set of prac
tices called purification. Donna Haraway has translated this with her work on
cyborgs, particularly OncoMouse. Herndl's point is that scientific theories are in
this respect discursive and social. Herndl offers an important emendation of cer
tain rhetorics of science: by recognizing that differences evolve out of defining
objects, identifying networks, and translating problems, impassable states of ar
ticulation can be avoided and possibilities for new and extended networks can
open further inquiry.
Wayne C. Booth proposes to "end the war between science and religion" by
making rhetorical observations about how both are communities, brought to
gether by essential and evolving questions, existing on precepts of faith for what
counts as accurate observation, narrative, and proof. Both, for Booth, are com
munities of inquiry and discourse, and neither is likely to find its highest value in
final answers, but in ever-increasing enrichment of its common stock of reasons
and practices of rhetoric.
Jay Kastely puts this argument into the broader context of Booth's decades of
rhetorical scholarship. The issues of doubt, discourse, and persuasion in science
comprise a rich site of inquiry for scholars generally, and a useful ground on
which to work out answers to rhetorical questions that have fascinated Booth



throughout his work, and form an agenda for scholars who wish to extendor
resisthis tradition.
These papers represent only a fraction of the work presented at Washington.
The encompassing range and dazzling vitality of those conversations indicate
that professing rhetoric is, at the turn of the century, an intellectual activity that
engages with, and helps formulate, the most important public and scholarly
questions of our day. It has been a personal privilege to help stage and support
those conversations through the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA), and I thank
its members for a remarkable conference. I wish to thank specifically the local
hosts Jeanne Fahnestock and Robert Gaines for their tireless work; a firefighter's
kid like me can especially appreciate all the fires you put out. RSA's Executive
Board furnished great support as well, and I particularly thank S. Michael
Halloran for his efforts. I also thank Jerry Hauser as he succeeds me in leading
the RSA, an organization uniquely addressing itself to rhetoricians across de
partmental and institutional affiliation. His deep scholarship and broad vision
will help him bear this happy burden triumphantly, and move RSA toward be
coming the indispensable affiliation for every rhetorician.
Colleagues who have assisted me in continuing my rhetorical profession even
while enduring the distractions of deaning include Jim Aune, Sharon Crowley,
Rosa Eberly, Michael Hyde, Mike Leff, Ira Strauber, and my colleagues in the
Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa: Barbara Biesecker, Diane Davis,
Melissa Deem, Daniel Gross, Dennis Moore, Takis Poulakos, Carol Severino,
Mary Trachsel, and Doug Trank. Colleagues in other Iowa departments also have
my thanks, particularly JoAnn Castagna, John Erickson, Richard Fumerton, Jan
Gratama, Miriam Gilbert, and David McGinnis. I thank all my students, who
teach me more than they know. I thank my boss, Dean Linda Maxson, who has
taught me heartening lessons about principles and courage in administration, and
about how to bear the inevitable reactions with good humor.
Thanks to the research assistants who helped me at every stage, Robert
Bionaz and Patricia Coy, and to my ever-optimistic secretary Lisa Pfeiler. Thanks
for production help to Linda Bathgate.
My wife Deborah is the sine qua non of my continued profession of rhetoric, and
I thank her for her grace, humor, and phronesis. Whenever I think of the privilege
of being in this profession, I think of my grandfather Joseph Ryszko, whose nearly
60 years in the gypsum mines near Grand Rapids, Michigan never extinguished
his joy in learning. The pride I feel in my profession began with him.

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Penn State University

Rhetoric as a Vocation:
A Weberian Meditation

When Fred Antczak and I were teaching at the University of Virginia in the
early 1980s, I became convinced that being an academic was a lot like growing
up in a dysfunctional family: you always have to GUESS what constitutes
"normal" behavior.
As part of my guessing, I started a collection of that odd little genre of litera
ture known as the "campus novel." I started with the Amanda Cross mystery
Death in a Tenured Position, moved on to Mary McCarthy's Groves of Academe and
Randall Jarrell's Picturesfrom an Institution, and then discovered perhaps the best
of them all, Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim, which captured my own sense of failed
vocation at the time. I even adopted Jim's little tune about his department head:
"You ignorant clod, you stupid old sod, you havering slavering get...."
As the 1980s wore on, the campus novel and other representations of aca
demic life moved more from the comedy of manners to a full-fledged rhetoric of
crisis. Sometimes it was hard to tell the fiction from the journalism. James Carey
speculated that William Bennett had a set up a 1-900 phone service with record
ings of the latest political correctness outrages to titillate horny right-wingers.
Robert Paul Wolff contended in his review of The Closing of the American Mind
that Saul Bellow's preface to that work was a tip-off that "Allan Bloom" was in
fact Bellow's most audacious fictional creation.1
The crisis rhetoric was a symptomor, in a more paranoid moment, part of a
coordinated justificationof the massive restructuring of university life we are
now living through. The labor aristocracy of Research I university faculty de
pends on the new white-collar proletariat of adjuncts. Our deans and depart
ment heads have adopted the corporate discourse of Total Quality Management.
How many of us in this room ever expected to draft a "strategic plan"? Adminis
trators now demand that we professors, the most risk-averse occupational group
outside the Roman Catholic curia, adopt habits of flexibility and entrepreneur
ship that our educations systematically bred out of us.
In less than a generation, the academy has moved from a feudal mode of pro
duction to what radical economists call a "post-Fordist regime of flexible accu
mulation." Universities face, in the language of The Communist Manifesto,

Professing Rhetoric

Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance

of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation.... All
fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable
prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones be
come antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into
air, all that is holy is profaned, and we are at least compelled to face
with sober senses, our real conditions of life, and our relations with
our kind.2
The purpose of my address today is not to propose some sort of socialist rev
olution within the profession and outside it, although I would certainly love to
be presented with one at my retirement, in lieu of a plaque or a gold watch. My
theme is "Rhetoric as a Vocation," in keeping with the conference theme of
"Professing Rhetoric." Those of you who are sociologically inclined may recog
nize the allusion in my title to Max Weber's remarkable speech, Wissenschaft als
Beruf, delivered in 1919 to a group of students at the University of Munich
contemplating academic careers.3 It is always valuable to see how issues that
perplex us arise in a different historical and cultural context, if only to help us
clear our heads.
So, what I propose to do here is examine what James Boyd White has taught
us to call the "constitutive rhetoric" of Weber's speech: how the notion of the ac
ademic community is constituted and reconstituted in this particular perfor
mance of language, what kind of person does Weber ask his audience to
Weber begins with the question, "What are the conditions of science as a vo
cation in the material sense of the term?" More specifically, "What are the pros
pects of a graduate student who is resolved to dedicate himself professionally to
science in university life?" (129).5
Weber's first move is to identify the blurring of traditional boundaries sepa
rating the university from the external social world. Universities have become
"state capitalist" enterprises directed by captains of industry. Teachers and re
searchers are separated from their means of production in libraries and laborato
ries and forced to produce knowledge useful to the state for economic and
technical reasons, or for legitimating state authority. Professors live under a re
gime of "relentless selection" that encourages careerism and gamesmanship.
They are, as Weber puts it, "Americanized" (131).
New faculty must recognize the spiritual cost of the profession. Academic ca
reers are sorely beset by chance. "Das akademische Leben ist also einer wilder Haz
ard" (530). It is a heavy responsibility we have in advising a young scientist or
scholar. "If he is a Jew, of course one says lasciate ogni speranza." But the others,
too, must be asked with the utmost seriousness: "Do you in all conscience be
lieve that you can stand seeing mediocrity after mediocrity, year after year, climb
beyond you, without becoming embittered and without coming to grief? Natu
rally, one always receives the answer: 'Of course, I live only for my "calling." Yet,

Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation

I have found that only a few men could endure this situation without coming to
grief "(134).
Having thus located his audience within social and psychological space, he
moves on to temporal matters, that is, the great Weberian theme of
Entzauberung, usually translated as "disenchantment," but better read as
"de-magification."6 The nature of science commits the scholar both to special
ization and to obsolescence, social factors that may work against the Platonic
"divine madness" required for devotion to one's vocation. The scholar needs to
convince himself that the fate of his soul depends on whether his particular inter
pretation of a passage in a manuscript is correct.
Central to understanding the "ideal type" of the scholar is to recognize his or
her difference from the artist. The artist works within a different sense of time.
Scientific work postulates the progress of knowledge. In art, there is no progress.
Every scientist knows her work will be outdated in ten, twenty, or fifty years.
"Every scientific 'fulfillment' raises new 'questions'; it asks to be 'surpassed' and
We cannot work without hoping that others will advance further
than we have. In principle, this progress goes on ad infinitum" (138).
Having located the character of the scholar in social space and historical time,
Weber then moves to dissociate sharply the scholar from the artist, the priest,
and the politician. He condemns the cult of "experience" and "personality"
among the young. He asks students to give up their desire that professors be
spiritual mentors and "football coaches" in the art of living. (This passage is par
ticularly chilling when we recall the important role played by the German uni
versity student unions in the rise to power of the Nazi Party.)
Besides Entzaubemng, here we have the other great Weberian theme of
"Wertfreiheit," or "value freedom," so often misused by American social scien
tists. Wertfreiheit entails two kinds of demystification. The first is the recognition
that academic life cannot provide "the way to true being," "the way to true art,"
"the way to true nature," "the way to true God," or the "way to true happiness."
The academic can do only four things: 1) produce technical tools for the execu
tion of projects, 2) supply methods of analysis for people to investigate things for
themselves, 3) to get students to recognize "inconvenient facts" that may under
mine their fiercely held party opinions, and 4) to help them assess the internal
consistency of their objectives (150-152). The academic is neither prophet nor
priest. Kathederprophetie,'prophecy from the lectern,' will not restore the old
communal faiths; at most, it creates ephemeral and fanatical sects.
The second implication of the principle of Wertfreiheit is that the academic is
also not a politician. Academics lack the sort of traits required for charismatic po
litical leadership. They also unfairly exploit their power relationships with their
students if they try to persuade them to hold particular political beliefs. Weber was
speaking against the perception that university professors had been too lukewarm
in promoting patriotism among German youth. Weber's speeches inspired a con
siderable volume of academic pamphlet literature in the 1920s, usefully analyzed
by Fritz Ringer in his book, The Decline of the German Mandarins.7 The most shrill of

Professing Rhetoric

Weber's opponents was the extreme nationalist Ernst Krieck, who insisted that
Weber was responsible for Germany's loss of greatness: "The great traditions had
been forgotten; society was dissolving into its atoms; the nation had lost its soul; a
cultural crisis was at hand.... Only a common national religion could bring about
a sense of moral unity and renewed purpose."8
Instead of religious prophecy or right-wing nationalism, Weber proposed for
his audience a distinctive sense of scholarly vocation. The word Weber used for
vocation was Beruf, which retained his association with Luther's sense of the
"calling" of the Christian. Weber's solution to the cultural and political crisis of
his time was to adopt the vocational sense of the early Protestant reformers with
out a belief in God. Fredric Jameson, for example, has criticized Weber's concept
of Wertfreiheit from a Marxist standpoint:
Weber's attitude toward values preeminently constitutes a value in
its own right, and that it is the difficulty of maintaining such an in
ner contradiction that imposes on him that attitude of paralysis, of
suspended action and judgment, which is so frequently mistaken for
objectivity in the usual academic sense of the term.9
Yet Jameson, it seems to me, misses both Weber's own important political inter
ventions after World War I in attempting to create a liberal constitutional order
for Germany, and also Weber's mastery of a distinctive rhetorical tone of passion
ate moral commitment with an ironic sense of self-limitation. This rhetorical tone
is best captured in the audacious trope that concludes Weber's speech.
Weber contended that if we wish for an ethic of ultimate ends rather than an
ethic of responsibility, we can always make it easy on ourselves by joining one
of the old churches, whose doors are opened "widely and compassionately."
But if we are intellectually honest, we will compare our fate to that of the Jew
ish people.
Weber concludes:
Integrity ... compels us to state that for the many who today tarry for
new prophets and saviors, the situation is the same as resounds in the
beautiful Edomite watchman's song of the period of exile that has
been included among Isaiah's oracles: "He calleth to me out of Seir,
Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning
cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return,
come. The people to whom this was said has enquired and tarried for
more than two millennia, and we are shaken when we realize its fate.
From this we want to draw the lesson that nothing is gained by yearn
ing and tarrying alone, and we shall act differently. We shall set to
work and meet the 'demands of the day,' in human relations as well as
in our vocation. This, however, is plain and simple, if each finds and
obeys the demon {daimon} who holds the fibers of his very life." (156)

Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation

Weber's uncanny identification of the Jewish people with the vocation of the
scholar points ahead as a kind of warning. After Weber, the German students'
search for a charismatic Prophet and the demand that professors take on a na
tionalistic politic role culminated in the lowest academic act of the millennium,
Martin Heidegger's Rektoratsrede of 1933, in which he proclaimed the allegiance
of the university to Der Fuehrer. That, it seems, is what happens when
Wissenschaft abandons its vocationwhen it abandons the search for clarity, its
political neutrality, its relentless telling of inconvenient facts, and it attempts to
re-enchant the world.
My goal in discussing Weber's constitution of the Scholar as ideal type and
the academic community as a form of life is not necessarily to recommend his
particular solutions to the cultural crisis of his time. It is rather to use his themes
as a starting point for some very important conversations at this conference
about "professing rhetoric." As in the Weimar Republic, academic workers face
unbearable pressure from economic and political forces outside the university,
1) An unprecedented invasion of academic life by the discourse of the Market.
2) An accompanying demand that universities limit their social role to the
provision of technical skills and an uncritical celebration of something called the
"Western heritage."
The universal triumph of the market comes down to money, public relations
skills, and the mobilization of the energies of a lunatic fringe of libertarians. Just
when the Left began to abandon class-interest-based forms of political and cul
tural explanation, the Right consolidated its efforts to buy an intellectual elite. It
is hard to escape the ironic conclusion that in the past twenty years, the Right
have been the only people who actually took the work of Antonio Gramsci seri
ously on the need to create "organic" intellectuals.
Thanks to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, we are now
getting a clearer picture of these matters. In July 1997, the Center published a
report by Sally Covington entitled Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic
Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations.10 As a result of an unusually skilled pub
licity effort, the report was widely covered in the mainstream press and eventu
ally became the source for the argument about the "vast right-wing conspiracy"
against President Clinton that emerged after the Monica Lewinsky scandal
broke in January 1998.
The broad outlines of the report had been familiar to activists for some time,
but the sheer enormity of the right-wing ideological assault on the universities,
the mainline churches, and the government became clear for the first time.
Among its many findings was the report's disclosure that twelve foundations, in
cluding the Olin and Scaife foundations, contributed $210 million between 1995
and 1997 to create conservative academic programs at such esteemed institutions
as the University of Chicago, Harvard, George Mason, Yale, and Claremont
McKenna. The foundations contributed a billion dollars in the 1990s as a whole.

Professing Rhetoric

They also paid to support regional and Washington-based think tanks who
coordinate their policy agendas. The webpage of the regional "Heartland Insti
tute" lists nearly 150 of these organizations, all devoted to coordinating an as
sault on public education and public support for the poor, homeless, and
handicapped (see http://www.heartland.org).
The foundations also paid "public intellectuals": Dinesh D'Souza received a
fellowship of $483,023 through the American Enterprise Institute; Robert
Bork $459,777 through the Heritage Foundation. Many influential books,
from Christina Hoff Summers's Who Stole Feminism? (1994) to Richard
Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve (1994), have been funded by
right-wing foundations. Journals such as First Things (devoted to promoting po
litical and theological conservatism) and The New Criterion (devoted to a defense
of high modernism in the arts and an assault on new approaches to arts and hu
manities education) have received hundreds of thousands of dollars of start-up
money and continuing support from the same foundations.
Particularly threatening to academic freedom is the foundations' willingness
to pay students to take classes in law and economics, courses which inevitably
promote a party line on the role of markets in solving all social problems. UCLA
actually canceled such a program because they believed it unfairly exploited the
financial need of students for ideological endsa cancellation that received vir
tually no press coverage.
Here are a few examples from my own institution, examples that are by no
means unique to Aggieland. An example of the sort of research such centers pro
mote can be found in the website for the Private Enterprise Research Center at
Texas A & M University. The Center was founded as part of a mandate from the
Texas Senate in 1978 requiring education in the free enterprise system in the
public schools of Texas. The Center issues working papers and press releases on
such questions as executive compensation, the privatization of public lands,
unionization, and the minimum wage, all from a radical libertarian economic
perspective; it has close ties to the Olin-funded American Enterprise Institute. ll
The draft description of the economic component of the curriculum for the
Masters Degree in Public Administration at the new George Bush School of Gov
ernment and Public Service displayed a similar bias. The course in economic anal
ysis is to be taught as two-thirds microeconomic analysis (itself an ideological
choice) and "it is argued" (the passive voice is such an easy target that I will pass
over it in silence) "that the government has a potential role [in the economy] when
(i) property rights are ill-defined, and (ii) markets are not competitive."
As some of you know, I had my fifteen minutes of fame from my own run-in
with the Bush School. In October 1998, I received a telephone call from apoliti
cal reporter at the Dallas Morning News, who asked me if I would be willing to
comment on the gubernatorial debate between the Democrat Gerry Mauro and
the Republican incumbent George W. Bush. Since I teach courses in argumenta
tion and debate, I believed I was competent to make some observations. I told
the reporter that neither candidate made any glaring mistakes, that Governor

Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation

Bush looked presidential, and that he was an excellent public speaker, unlike his
father, whose rhetorical skills I characterized as "inept."
I found out a month later that my comments had angered someone in the
Bush family. The full story emerged only in July 1999 when an intrepid local re
porter named John Kirsch uncovered a series of Bush School memos through a
Freedom of Information Act request. Dale Laine, a top aide to Governor Bush,
complained directly to the head of the Bush School about my comments. (At
this point in the story, I always have to remind my confused listeners that I was in
trouble for complimenting the Governor.) The director of the school drafted guide
lines prohibiting professors from claiming an affiliation with the Bush School
when offering opinions or "undocumented material" about the Bush family. In a
later interview, Mr. Laine denied he was trying to stifle my academic freedom,
but was merely accusing me of offering only a personal opinion not grounded in
a "scientific" study. The only reason I even made the comment about former
President Bush's rhetorical difficulties was that he had made the point himself in
a public presentation at Texas A & M in Fall 1997.
It turned out that I was not the only faculty member with a Bush School con
nection who had been the victim of attempted intimidation by the Governor's
aides. George Edwards, who holds an endowed chair in political science, also was
criticized for having projected a Republican loss in the 1996 elections. Neither
Edwards nor I really suffered any direct injury, but I experienced a few sleepless
nights wondering if I had injured the reputation of my department. Thus far, ar
ticles about political influence on the Bush School have appeared in local Texas
papers, the AP Wire, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Editor and Publisher, the
Nation, and Lingua Franca.12 Sources at the Bush School who wish to remain
anonymous have confirmed that Governor Bush himself was involved in the ef
forts to regulate professorial speech. The irony is that if I were a conservative ac
ademic who had received similar treatment from a Democratic governor, I
would have become the poster child for "political correctness."
Another disturbing trend is the pervasiveness of direct corporate influence on
universities. Changes in patent law and tax law in the early 1980s permitted
greater corporate contributions to universities in exchange for the ability to buy
the results of university research. Corporations were thus able to shift part of their
research and development costs to universities at a time when the college
work-study program was cut by 26.5% (after adjusting for inflation), tuition rates
at public universities increased 170%, and the funding of meritorious proposals
before the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dropped from 50% to 20%. l3
Professors who largely turned a blind eye to the gutting of U.S. labor law un
der the Reagan-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the un
willingness of President Clinton to address the issue of labor law reform while he
had Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress now find themselves in
the same position that industrial workers found themselves in the early 1980s.
The assault on tenure as well as the pressure to quantify educational outcomes
and increase contact hours are part of the same triumph of the market that, as

Professing Rhetoric

Jrgen Habermas writes, blinds itself to every value that cannot be expressed in
the form of a price.14
A key difference from Weber's rhetorical situation is the way that a distinc
tive, scientistic free market rhetoric, clothed in a faulty sense of Wertfreiheit has
taken over our institutions. Time and again free-marketeers assert as truth
methodological statements and effects of policy that are either plainly wrong or
are more controversial than they claim. Foremost among these assertions are:
Rational choice (i.e., the application of cost-benefit, economic "reasoning") is
the bestpossible mechanism in the human sciencesfor explaining and predicting
human behavior. In fact, rational choice theory lacks empirical verifica
tion; rhetorical and communication theory explains the emergence of
social norms far better than rational choice theory does.15
Government intervention in the marketplace is always bad. The fall of Com
munism has settled once and for all the question of the superiority of the free
market to anyform of government intervention. Market ideology relies on
a radical dissociation between "government" and "people." Market
ization places political decisions about education, welfare, and even
foreign policy beyond the reach of democratic publics.
Labor is a commodity like everything else; pro-union and minimum wage
legislation are unwarranted interferences with the labor market. When did
professions and vocations become "the labor market"?
The Internet will ensure the triumph of thefree market worldwide by reduc
ing the costs of information and transaction costs, thus ensuring "friction-free
capitalism."16 (Which I guess must mean you get screwed withoutfeeling it.)
It also shows how individual initiative and free markets develop unexpected
solutions to old problems. The Internet is the product of perhaps the
greatest single government expenditure outside of Cold War mili
tary spending in general. It is the product of planning, just as much
as any democratic future for communication technology or educa
tion must be.
The good news, however, about free market rhetoric is that although it has
captured the minds of the technical intelligentsia and increasingly larger sectors
of the universities, it is inherently incapable of reaching a wider public, which
may explain the hostility of free-marketeers to majoritarian democracy.
It is only recently (since the triumph of the Market between 1975 and 1989)
that the mass democratic public has tended to vote against its own economic in
terest. The reduction of everything to the "cash nexus" in the wake of globaliza
tion provides a significant opportunity for the left, center-left, and even
traditionalist conservatives. However successful the disciples of Hayek, von
Mises, Friedman, and Posner may have been in the academic fields of economics,

Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation

law, and political science, they possess an inherent inability to persuade a demo
cratic public. Only the external threat of Communism or the merging of free
market arguments with nationalist appeals have made radical marketization at
tractive to voters. A new political program for a global, democratic left must
emphasize the importance of the welfare state, strong unions, and regulation of
the financial markets for the preservation of traditional communities.
The classical theorists of rhetoric and their twentieth-century successors
knew that human beings are a composite of appetite, spiritedness (thymos), and
reason. Free market economists cannot explain the development of social norms
through epideictic discourse or the kind of craft knowledgepractical wisdomthat transcends the calculation of costs and benefits. The triumph of
Homo economicus occurs at the expense of family, work, neighborhood, freedom,
and faiththe topoi of conservatism at its best. Professors Bloom, Bork, Hoff
Summers, and Fox-Genovese may eventually come to recognize that the major
threat to their Western heritage is not a handful of cultural studies types with
purple hair and multiple body-piercings who have captured the Commanding
Heights of the English department, but rather the trumping of academic values
by market values.
I certainly have no magic answer to the assault on the academic vocation; like
Weber, I can only recommend that we continue to do the tasks for which our
calling suits us best: the marshaling of what Weber calls inconvenient facts, pro
viding the tools needed by what Rosa Eberly calls "citizen critics."17
The particular role played by the rhetorician in the current crisis is that of
promoting the methods and values of controversy. I was thrilled in the early
1990s when Gerald Graff proposed that a solution to the culture wars was for us
to "teach the conflicts," but I was dismayed that he had so little to say about the
methods that would help students engage in controversy.18 Ideologues of both
the right and the left do not like the central rhetorical method handed down to
us from Protagoras and Cicero. I agree with Thomas Sloane's argument in his
important book, On the Contrary, that neither English nor Communication de
partments have given the Sophistic and Ciceronian traditions their due. We
need instead to make "debate the conceptual model of rhetoric" and actually re
quire students to argue on both sides of a question. This practice, contrary to
some recent critiques, is not inevitably based on such allegedly male-oriented
traits as antagonism or competitiveness. In fact, when skillfully applied, rhetoric
enables us to transcend those qualities by creating communities of controversy.
A rhetoric of debate enables us to eventually abandon antagonism and enter into
an intellectual process of maieutic or midwifery.19
The relationship between gender and academic practice, however, does lead
me to identify what seems to me to be a primary limitation of Weber's otherwise
compelling account of the academic vocation. The restrained passion and moral
seriousness of his ethic of responsibility do resemble the disillusionment of the
male academic at midlife. In Weber's account of academic and social life, there is
no acknowledgment of sexual difference or the place of the family (although


Professing Rhetoric

Weber's own feminist credentials were remarkably high for his time). The char
acter of Weberian scholar seems terribly, frighteningly alone. There is neither
the sense of personal commitment to a partner or to children, nor is there a sense
that the academic enterprise can transmit a set of craft values best learned in
community rather than intense isolation.
I want to conclude by reading a passage from another of those campus novels
that I read in the early 1980s. In May Sarton's novel The Small Room, Lucy Win
ter, a new instructor at a small New England college, observes her older and ex
perienced colleague Hallie Summerson teach an English class about John
Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne.
Sarton describes Lucy's feelings as she listens:
Something streamed out of her that was absolutely open, passion
ate, of an intensity that made shivers go up and down Lucy's spine.
It was the freeing of a daimon, as surely as the writing of a poem
springs from the freeing of the poet's daimon. It surrounded Hallie
Summerson with the aura of a person set apart, lonely andLucy
half-smiled at the word, but uttered it to herself neverthelesssacred.... This power, Lucy suspected, had to be as carefully guarded
as the creative power of the artist. What nourished it? Would she
herself ever do more than stand at the threshold of the mystery,
stand there with awe, but outside? Would she ever herself be a
keeper of the sacred fire?20
I do not know if Sarton had Weber's allusion to the daimon in mind when she
wrote this passage, but I believe she captures, more clearly and vividly than
Weber, the kind of spiritual passion unique to the academic vocation. I am no
more certain than I was in 1984 that I am doing more than standing with awe at
the threshold of the mystery. Some days, though, I can feel the presence of the
daimon: when a student develops a sense of self-confidence at the platform,
when a class realizes it has just had a civilized discussion about abortion or race,
or when reading a student paper I learn a new interpretation of a text I have read
dozens of times.
May our conversations at this conference help us all continue to feel the
presence of the daimon, the particular daimon who sustains our sense of rheto
ric as a calling.
1. Robert Paul Wolff, rev. of The Closing of the American Mind, by Allan Bloom, Academe, 73, 5
(Sept.-Oct. 1987): 64-65.
2. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, ed. Frederic L. Bender (New York: Norton, 1988) 58.
3. Max Weber, "Science as a Vocation," in H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Es
says in Sociology (New York: Oxford UP, 1946), 12956; the German original is in Gesammelte
Aufstze zur Wissenschaftslehre (Tubingen: J. Mohr, 1922), 52455. Subsequent references are to
the English text, in parentheses, except for a few instances in which I have cited the German text.

Rhetoric as a Vocation: A Weberian Meditation


Some of the difficulties in translating Weber are discussed in Gerth and Mills, vvii. For a useful
selection of Weber's other writings on the universities, see Edward Shils, ed., Max Weber on Univer
sities: The Power of the State and the Dignity of the Academic Calling in Imperial Germany (Chicago: U of
Chicago P, 1974).
4. James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meanings: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language,
Character, and Community (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984).
5. In some ways, science is an unsatisfactory equivalent for the German Wissenschaft, because it con
notes almost exclusively the "hard" sciences in English. In German, for example, the study of clas
sical languages and literatures is referred to as Altertumswissenschaft. Scholarship might be a
workable alternative.
6. See Lawrence A. Scaff, Fleeing the Iron Cage: Culture, Politics, and Modernity in the Thought of Max
Weber (Berkeley: U of California P, 1989) 224.
7. Fritz K. Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 18901933
(Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1969) 352-66.
8. Ringer 357.
9. Fredric Jameson, "The Vanishing Mediator; or, Max Weber as Storyteller," in The Ideologies of The
ory, Vol. 2: Syntax of History (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1988) 12.
10. See also the 1999 follow-up report: $1 Billion for Ideas: Conservative Think Tanks in the 1990s; see
the website, www.ncrp.org, for information on ordering the two reports.
11. See www.tamu.edu/perc/
12. See Benjamin Soskis, "Bush Family Values," Lingua Franca, Mar. 2000: 6-8.
13. Lawrence Soley, Leasing the Ivory Tower (Boston: South End, 1995), 9-10.
14. Jrgen Habermas, "What Does Socialism Mean Today? The Revolutions of Recuperation and the
Need for New Thinking," After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism, ed.
Robin Blackburn (London: Verso, 1991) 25.
15. For further development of these arguments, see James Arnt Aune, Selling the Free Market: The
Rhetoric of Economic Correctness (New York: Guilford, 2000).
16. Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, rev. ed. (New York: Penguin, 1996) 180-207.
17. Edward P. J. Corbett and Rosa A. Eberly, The Elements of Reasoning, 2nd ed. (Boston: Allyn, 2000)
18. Gerald Graff, Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education
(New York: Norton, 1992).
19. Thomas O. Sloane, On the Contrary (Washington, D.C.: Catholic UP, 1997) 34.
20. May Sarton, The Small Room (New York: Norton, 1961) 117.

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The Politics of Professing Rhetoric

in the History of Composition
and Communication

Since the mid-1980s, the politics of our field changed abruptly from consid
eration of actual students and their behaviors and attitudes in the classroom to
consideration of the theoretical and historical discourses that might make up the
content of composition as an academic discipline in the liberal arts; from stu
dents and discussion of actual differences and identities to discourse and discus
sion of difference and identity as theoretical concepts; from the students in our
classrooms and the here and now problems of race, class, and sex to the resurrec
tion of exceptional minority figures in the history of rhetoric.
The study of rhetoric was first introduced as the proper discipline of composi
tion in the mid-1950s, a dramatic turn in the field that is particularly evident in
talks presented at the 1954 Conference on College Composition and Communi
cation (CCCC). This was the first CCCC conference to be planned and held in
the new Republican presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, whose inauguration in
1953 ended the twenty-year New Deal Democratic reign of the Roosevelt-Truman years. That it was re-introduced in the mid-1980s, another politically con
servative era, is no coincidence.
Both the introduction of rhetoric in the mid-1950s and its re-introduction in
the mid-1980s signaled deep reactions against the forces of progressive educa
tion in composition, with its participatory democratic ideals, its reliance on the
social sciences, and its attention to students as an obvious but neglected resource
for pedagogical research. John Dewey's philosophy of progressive education and
its backing by progressive governmental policies masterminded the establish
ment of public education in the first half of the century. Progressive education's
democratic ideals of educating all American youth and its reliance on the politi
cally progressive social sciences were crucial to the opening of secondary and
post-secondary education to working class and immigrant student populations.
Land grant universities were mandated by law to accept without limitation all
high school graduates, and many of those universities had remedial writing
courses and/or other remedial support services by the 1930s. Part of the back
lash against progressive education in the 1950s involved the reconsideration of


Professing Rhetoric

open enrollment policies and the phasing out of remedial writing courses. In
1955 the University of Illinois was the first institution to publicly announce the
dropping of its remedial writing course. Charles W. Roberts, Chairman of Fresh
man Rhetoric, reports that the Illinois plan "which we have decided to pursue
will, by devious and subtle means, make the unprepared student an extremely
rare, if not wholly extinct species on our campus" (95). Roberts writes in his
1955 proposal for the plan that "in my twenty-six years of work with Freshman
Rhetoric at the University of Illinois, I have not seen a more opportune time
than the present in which to straighten out the lines of responsibility in English
instruction in the entire public school system. The good sense of public school
administrators is beginning to assert itself" (97). In referring to these lines, Rob
erts explains that "we have been suffering through a period dominated by edu
cational nonsense
[which] is largely responsible for the hordes of unprepared
students dumped on our doorstep annually" (97).
The neo-progressive forces active in the field of composition from the late
1960s to the mid-1980s, which resulted in student-focused research and
pedagogies, also accompanied a period of unprecedented inclusion of minority
student populations, notably Black and Hispanic, under open enrollment poli
cies fueled by progressive political pressure to open up higher education. Stanley
Aronowitz and Henry Giroux say that the "racial and ethnic composition of
public colleges and universities was rapidly transformed in the 1970s and re
mains in the 1980s the target of the educational counterrevolution. Financial
aid, fellowships, and other scholarship programs have been drastically cut back
by federal and state governments" (6). The social or rhetorical turn in composi
tion of the mid-1980s, strongly influenced by the poststructuralist Marxist/feminist theories of literary studies, has worked hard to deconstruct the
student identity and the student-inclusive pedagogies of the last fifteen years; so
that while we read in our journals about radical politics and the obligatory refer
ences to Audre Lord or Gloria Anzaldua, not to mention what seems like the
endless repetition of the thesis that reality is the social construction of language,
our composition classrooms have been thoroughly traditionalized. Current
composition pedagogy basically consists of teaching formulas for the classical or
modern argument and the techniques or formal requirements of the research pa
per. The only alternative to this focus on form is the Ways of Reading approach
that emphasizes the interpretation of difficult texts. If we focus on writing, we
teach discourse formulas and the rules of research; if we emphasize reading, we
teach the interpretation of the kinds of difficult texts that literary studies has al
ways prized.
The return to rhetoric in composition in the 1950s and the 1980s represents a
return to teaching the universalized forms and principles of discourse and the
valued texts of the liberal arts tradition after periods of political and educational
expansion that are marked in composition pedagogy by the influences of the so
cial sciences. The most liberal periods in the history of composition studies and
pedagogythe decade after World War II and the years from the late 1960s to

The Politics of Professing Rhetoric


the early 1980swere highly interdisciplinary, influenced particularly by the

research conducted in linguistics, anthropology, cognitive and social psychol
ogy, sociology and the proliferating interconnections among these fields that
contribute to studies in literacy and education. In the introduction to his 1950 A
Rhetoric of Motives, Kenneth Burke explains that part of his project is to reclaim
the rhetorical elements "that had become obscured when rhetoric as a term fell
into disuse, and other specialized disciplines such as esthetics, anthropology,
psychoanalysis, and sociology came to the fore" (xiii). I think we have to wonder
about the politics of the reclamation of a subject that had fallen into disuse be
cause its concerns had been taken up by specialties that dispersed its universal
principles by studying psychological, sociological, or anthropological differ
ences in actual language use. We have to ask what such a reclamation might
mean in the wake of periods of academic expansion, particularly the unprece
dented inclusion of working class, Black, and Hispanic student populations.
The social constructivist or rhetorical arguments against scientism and the
objective sciences have obscured for those of us in the liberal arts the fact that the
social sciences have been behind all of the social reforms of this century and that
the humanities as a whole have not only not been behind them but have often
openly resisted them. A recent biographer of Dewey writes that "Dewey's
lifework was provoked by the scandal of the fact that science manifestly makes
progress while philosophy, ethics, and art do so dubiously, if at all" (Ryan 280).
The early history of the social sciences in this century adopted the principles of
scientific naturalism for their new academic disciplines as the only way to get out
from under the prevailing dominance of traditional scholarship, which they
viewed as "metaphorical, value-laden, deductive, and too often based on written
documents rather than on the actual observation of social events" (Purcell 17).
The three principles of scientific naturalismobjectivism, particularism, and
functionalismentailed a "directly observational methodology" that posited
"the only real knowledge available about both [people] and society [as] empiri
cal and experimental" (19, 21). Scientific or morally neutral objectivism, the
first principle, was declared to specifically counter the moral and rational con
ceptualizing that made up much of traditional humanistic scholarship. The em
phasis on individual, measurable, concrete facts, or particularism, the second
principle of scientific naturalism, reinforced the new social scientists' arguments
that things and reality were what should be studied in their disciplines, not
words and logic. As a critic of traditional legal scholarship remarked in a 1930
article defining the new legal realism, a study of the law based on the observed
behavior of actual legal practices in the courtroom, "the traditional approach is
in terms of words; it centers on words ... it has the utmost difficulty in getting
beyond words" (83). Functionalism, the third principle of scientific naturalism,
defined the meaning or importance of any phenomenon in terms of its practical
consequences: "[p]eople, customs, institutions, laws, and beliefs were what they
did in practice, not what they were shown to be logically or what they ought to
be morally" (23).


Professing Rhetoric

Rhetoric, as the central discipline of the liberal arts tradition, was at the core
of the classical education that characterized American colleges well into the
nineteenth century. As Gerald Graff describes, the classical colleges' "concep
tion of democracy assumed the natural right of liberally educated men to na
tional leadership ... locating 'virtue and wisdom not in the people but in an
educated few fit to be their leaders' " (21). Moreover, he describes the "typical
American college [as] a quasimonastic institution where 'the preparation of in
dividuals for Christian leadership and the ministry' ... was considered a more
important goal than the advancement of knowledge" (20). The new universities
that developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to better suit the
needs of a rapidly expanding, industrializing nation adopted scientific models of
knowledge in good part to free themselves from the ecclesiastical influences of
the classical colleges. A rapidly expanding curriculum, an elective rather than
prescriptive system of study, the departmentalizing of subjects, and the almost
doubling of student enrollments every decade from 1890 to 1930 were other
notable characteristics of the new modern universities.
The introduction of rhetoric as the proper discipline of the required first-year
English course by the mid-1950s was part of a revival of classical studies in gen
eral in the humanities that dated back to the 1930s. Classical philosophical and
political systems were re-invoked for study, as in the Neo-AristotelianThomistic movement at the University of Chicago, to counter what many hu
manists viewed as the destructive influences of the new social sciences in Ameri
can education, culture, and politics. The naturalistic world view that prevailed
among many social scientists after 1910 accepted "change as given, order as ac
cidental, process as nonteleological, behavior as adaptive, values as experiential,
and absolutes of any kind as superstitious" (Purcell 9). In the main, the objective
methods of scientific naturalism were deployed by social scientists in the 1930s
and 1940s in the name of humanitarian and progressive ideals. Many social sci
entists were avowed and ardent proponents of Roosevelt's New Deal policies.
The purported philosophical and moral relativism of the new social sciences,
however, provoked a huge reaction by rationalist philosophers and religious
spokesmen, who blamed those ideas for eroding traditional systems of belief and
leading directly to the mass movements of the 1930s, the logical outcome of
which, they argued, was the totalitarianism of the 1940s.
Neo-Humanism, the New Criticism, Neo-Aristotelianism and Neo-Thomism were all academic movements reacting against "the spiritual degeneracy of
the modern world, ... the undue prestige and power of science, ... the lax sur
render to 'romantic' impulses or to naturalistic 'drives,' ... the spread of materi
alistic or pragmatic philosophies" (Thorpe and Nelson 402). In fact as one critic
pointed out, classical and clerical reactions to the liberal-democratic ethos of the
Roosevelt and Truman years were prominent in the United States only in its lit
erary journals. Only in "the journals of the New Criticism" were "authority, hier
archy, Catholicism, aristocracy, tradition, absolutes, dogma, truth, ... related terms of
honor, and liberalism, naturalism, scientism, individualism, equalitarianism,progress,

The Politics of Professing Rhetoric


protestantism, pragmatism, and personality ... related terms of rejection and con
tempt" (Davis 10). The revival of classical studies in the humanities out of which
the New Criticism developed was also the source of proposals to meet general
education requirements with study of the classical trivium of grammar, rhetoric,
and logic and the great books as well as the later introduction of rhetoric in com
position. The academic revival of classical studies in the 1930s was a profoundly
antimodern reaction to the forces of mass or participatory education and democ
racy of those decades.
Richard Weaver's 1948 article "To Write the Truth" and the 1953 articles by
Weaver and his students at the University of Chicago, which introduced classical
rhetoric and argument for the composition course, argued that rhetoric is
needed to define the true names of concepts like democracy: "[d]oes it stand for
something existing in the nature of things, something in accordance with 'right
reason,' or can it be changed overnight to mean dictatorship of the proletariat?"
(28). The teacher or rhetorician, Weaver continues, is also a philosopher, who
"works through logic, which is itself an assurance that the world has order. True
enough [he declares], there will not be much student-centered education here,
and knowledge will take on an authority which some mistake for arrogance"
(30). In his history of the intellectual conservative movement, which he argues
began in 1945, George Nash uses Weaver as a representative figure of the "new
conservative" or traditionalist wing of that movement, citing Weaver's 1948
Ideas Have Consequences as the book that "was to become, in the opinion of many,
'the [source and origin] of the contemporary American conservative move
ment' " (39).
The democratic goals of progressive education and the social scientific
knowledges used to promote those goals continued to influence composition
teaching, however, through the growing popularity of the communications
course after World War II. In the decade after the war, the communications
course was a popular alternative to the composition course as the English re
quirement in many universities. Its focus on the combined skills of speaking,
writing, reading, and listening was a more practical, functional, and topical
study of language than the more traditional composition course. Having origi
nated during the war years as an accelerated and intensive course in English for
inductees in the military, its continuance after the war was influenced by the
large number of war veterans that flooded college campuses under the G.I. Bill.
When it became clear, however, how the new studies in linguistics and the Gen
eral Semantics movementboth strong influences in progressive education and
the communications coursewerebeing used to challenge the very foundations
of traditional language instruction, the English department stepped in and re
claimed composition for the humanities.
The traditional concepts of logic and grammar underlying conventional lan
guage instruction came under direct attack by the new scientific language stud
ies. The new studies in linguistics established that English consisted of a number
of dialects currently in use and that the prestige of certain dialects over others


Professing Rhetoric

was a consequence of conditioned attitudes of value, not of inherent qualities in

the languages themselves. Language was defined as a culturally learned set of
behavioral habits deeply embedded in a person's many senses of identity.
Learning new habits of language would depend on the learner's committed en
gagement and involvement in the environment of the new language. As Donald
Lloyd argued, knowledge of linguistic science called "for drastic correction of the
methods used in the [English composition] course" as well as an entirely differ
ent approach or attitude toward students and their language habits (4142).
The General Semantics movement was critical of abstract language and logic for
obscuring the real differences at stake in many recurring social arguments. Pro
ponents of this movement argued that differences in meaning kept people from
understanding one another and that differences in meaning should provide the
focus of language study. The new social scientific studies of language, which in
fluenced the communications course and challenged the basic assumptions of
traditional language instruction during the late 1940s and early 1950s, invoked
a huge reaction by liberal arts proponents in composition that were strikingly
evident in a number of papers presented at the 1954 CCCC convention.
A series of papers at this conference introduced the discipline of rhetoric to
counter the implications of the new linguistics studies for composition. Six of the
eight papers presented in a series of three panel discussion sessions entitled
"Modern Linguistics and the Teaching of English" reestablished the humanistic
discipline of rhetoric as the proper provenance of composition. These papers es
tablished clear boundaries between the disciplines of rhetoric and linguistics and
argued that rhetoric, as the evaluative discipline, simply took precedence over
linguistics, a descriptive discipline. One presenter wrote that rhetoric, as the
more comprehensive discipline, may borrow from linguistics, but linguists "can
not on linguistic grounds make rhetorical statements or judgements" (McMillan
146). Other papers at this convention argued that the communications course
was inferior to the composition course, the most notable of which was a Marxist
condemnation of the course as the watering down of higher education to meet
the middle-management needs of corporate industry. That the 1954 CCCC con
vention was the first to be planned and held in the new Republican presidency of
Dwight Eisenhower, whose inauguration in 1953 ended the twenty-year New
Deal Democratic reign of the Roosevelt-Truman years, is pretty telling. Some
facts do speak for themselves. The studies and practices of composition are
highly political, and we have to recognize that when rhetoric intervenes in com
position, the more conservative forces in our field are in power.
Works Cited
Aronowitz, Stanley, and Henry Giroux. Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, and Social Criticism. Chi
cago: U of Chicago P, 1991.
Ashin, Mark, "The Argument of Madison's 'Federalist,' No. 10." College English 15 (1953): 3745.
Bilsky, Manuel, McCrea Hazlitt, Robert E. Streeter, and Richard Weaver. "Looking for an Argu
ment." College English 14 (1953): 210-16.

The Politics of Professing Rhetoric


Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.

Congleton, J. E. "Historical Development of the Concept of Rhetorical Proprieties." College Composi
tion and Communication 5 (1954): 14045.
Davis, Robert Gorham. "The New Criticism and the Democratic Tradition." The American Scholar 19
(1945-50): 9-19.
Dykema, Karl W. "Historical Development of the Concept of Grammatical Proprieties." College Com
position and Communication 5 (1954): 135-40.
Francis, W. Nelson. "Modern Rhetorical Doctrine and Recent Developments in Linguistics." College
Composition and Communication 5 (1954): 155-61.
Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature: An Institutionalized History. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
Ives, Sumner. "Grammatical Assumptions." College Composition and Communication 5 (1954): 14955.
Kelly, George. "Prolegomenon to Future Communication Metaphysics." College English 6 (1955):
Lloyd, Donald. "An English Composition Course Built Around Linguistics." College Composition and
Communication 4 (1953): 4043.
McMillan, James B. "Summary of Nineteenth Century Historical and Comparative Linguistics." Col
lege Composition and Communication 5 (1954): 14549.
Nash, George H. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. New York: Basic, 1976.
Purcell, Edward A., Jr. The Crisis of Democratic Theory: Scientific Naturalism and the Problem of Value.
Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1973.
Roberts, Chas. W. "The Unprepared Student at the University of Illinois." College Composition and Com
munication 8 (1957): 95-100.
Ryan, Alan. John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism. New York: Norton, 1995.
Thorpe, Clarence D. and Norman E. Nelson. "Criticism in the Twentieth Century: A Bird's Eye View."
College English 8 (1947): 395405.
Weaver, Richard. "To Write the Truth." College English 10 (1948): 25-30.

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Arizona State University

Sleeping with the Enemy: Recoupling

Rhetorical Studies and Rhetoric
and Composition

The Seventh Biennial Rhetoric Society of America Conference invited pre

senters to respond to the insights of the Wingspread "Prospects for Rhetoric"
conference on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary. In the final entry of
the conference proceedings, Carolyn Miller wrestles with an issue absent from
Wingspread, the fact that Rhetoric remains a house divided as it moves into the
twenty-first century. Having begun the last century as two armed camps, Rhe
torical Studies and Rhetoric and Composition end the century perhaps less an
tagonistic towards one another, but perhaps even worse, as completely
indifferent to one another. As Miller puts it:
Perhaps the most salient fact of rhetoric's academic existence in the
United States is its division by institutional and educational history
into two departmental homes, communication and English. There
are lively and active communities of inquiry and criticism in both
departmental locations, and too few scholars who are familiar with
both. (207)
Indeed, she goes on to wonder whether rhetoric can be a disciplineand
whether it can play an effective role in the academy or in intellectual lifeif it is
divided into two primary contingents that barely speak to each other (20809).
In this paper, I want to take up Miller's question by way of a highly truncated,
broad stroke interrogation of the status of Rhetorical Studies and Rhetoric and
Composition and some of the conditions under which each currently labors in
the academy. Given the entanglements I hope to partially unknot here, it is
probably a good idea to define some terms I will use. First, it may be helpful to
remember that rhetoric is both a practice and a theory (rhetoric) and an institu
tional discipline (Rhetoric). Rhetorical Studies here refers to the disciplinary entity
housed in departments of Speech Communication while Rhetoric and Composition
refers to that disciplinary entity housed in departments of English, and rhetoric
and composition refer to discrete practices and theories. What I want to do here is


Professing Rhetoric

move through some of the issues facing each of the disciplines and the terms
structuring their relations to each other in order to eventually propose a shift in
those relations.
Miller's concern for disciplinary survival is punctuated by the material condi
tions affecting academic departments everywhere. Under assault by increas
ingly conservative legislatures, universities everywhere face retrenchment and
increasing reliance on nontenurable faculty. Since Rhet/Comp has labored under
adverse conditions for decades, current circumstances merely reiterate for it a
particular past. For example, the recent Rhetoric Review survey of doctoral pro
grams in rhetoric discloses that there are fewer programs and faculty and more
graduate students than its last survey about ten years ago (237). Despite the de
cline, however, in 1997 there were 65 doctoral programs in Rhet/Comp (235)
and more than 65 percent of the 1997 graduates found tenure-track positions
(238). As the Modern Language Association reports substantially worse results
for English majors in general (about 50% placed in tenure-track positions),
Rhet/Comp's placement record is comparatively quite good (239). Hence, the
authors of this year's survey suggest that the decline in doctoral programs might
be "optimistically" linked to a likely consolidation and maturation of programs.
I, however, am inclined to suspect that it reflects a reduced commitment to rhet
oric as a disciplinary field of inquiry and an increased commitment to composi
tion. Currently, virtually every major university in the United States requires the
first-year composition course for all its graduates and enrollments are up
(Crowley), and these courses require an increasing number of bodies to staff
them. Therefore, it is not hard to see why Rhetoric and Composition's place
ment record looks so good at a time when other English majors are having diffi
culty getting placed. There is no indication, however, that this has positive
consequences for Rhetoric majors.
Rhetorical Studies finds itself in a somewhat different situation, if no less
troubling. Traditionally housed in Departments of Speech Communication,
Rhetorical Studies has only thirty-two doctoral programs, about half as many as
Rhet/Comp (NCA). Data concerning the number of graduates and placement
rates are unavailable, and that in and of itself may be significant. William Eadie,
former Associate Director of NCA (National Communication Association),
however, has pointed out to me that during his seven-year tenure at NCA:
[T]here are few positions advertised directly in rhetorical studies. It is
likely that individuals who are specializing in this area are taking gen
eralist positions, often at smaller institutions. The few positions in re
search institutions that come up each year attract heavy competition.
The greatest unmet demand of the past couple of years has been for
people who can teach public relations, and I imagine that some of the
rhetorical studies graduates have managed to land some of those jobs,
especially in smaller programs or in programs with heavy teaching
loads, where flexibility of courses that can be taught is valued.

Recoupling Rhetorical Studies and Rhetoric and Composition


If Eadie is correct, and even a casual perusal of Spectra (the official news dis
semination organ of NCA where jobs are announced) over the last few years sug
gests that he is, the picture for Rhetorical Studies graduates is considerably
bleaker than it is for Rhet/Comp graduates. There are fewer jobs, stiff competi
tion, and every likelihood that one will become a generalist and not the specialist
one trained to be. Hence, unlike English Studies, which continues to advertise
for specialists, even if in much reduced numbers, Rhetorical Studies majors are
likely to find it necessary to respond to ads that never mention the word rhetoric.
Eadie argues, however, that doctoral programs in Rhetorical Studies are not, in
his view, under attack. I am less sanguine about this than he. It is significant that
in the same moment that Rhetorical Studies graduates are forced to become
generalists that finally, after a series of ballot challenges over the last decade or
so, the Speech Communication Association, which was founded almost a hun
dred years ago by rhetoricians, has changed its name to the National Communi
cation Association. This marks the fact that the Association, as a professional
body, now believes that representing itself as "Communication" is more descrip
tive of its members' concerns than "Speech," a turn that elides the debt that the
NCA owes to the elocutionists and oral speech proponents who originally
formed the Association. The very thing that those scholars wanted to fore
ground, a specific set of differences from the literate practices of English depart
ments, has now once again been erased. That is not, in my view, necessarily a bad
thing, but it does speak to a formal displacement of a history of disciplinary
identity formation that has a great deal to do with the current status of relations
between Departments of Speech Communication and English Studies.
The history of the relationship between Rhetorical Studies and English de
partments has been at times quite bitter, and despite its own marginalization in
Communication Studies, Rhetorical Studies does not deign to acknowledge the
rhetoric taught in Rhet/Comp. Speech theorists angrily broke with English de
partments in 1914 to form their own professional association largely because
they felt that National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) marginalized oral
practices. When I was a graduate student at the University of Iowa in the early
1990s, Michael McGee, one of the most prominent theorists of rhetoric in Rhe
torical Studies, was fond of telling his students that the reason that he had
switched from English to Speech Communication was that he had "gotten his
aesthetes shot off in the war." He had little use for those who spent their days
plumbing James Joyce when real social injustice continued unabated in the
streets. McGee's remarks point to a presumption that the rhetoric done in Eng
lish departments is inevitably tainted by its close association with English stud
ies, and hence, must suffer from an effeteness that saps its political strength.
This presumption is made clear in the studied indifference Rhetorical Studies
exhibits toward scholarship on the other side of the aisle. As Janice Lauer points
out in a review of the scholarship between and among communication, classics,
and composition (where she collapses rhetoric with composition), while many
"composition historians and theorists ... have cited some relevant scholarship in


Professing Rhetoric

communication and classics ... the work of most of the rhetorical theorists and
historians in communication and classics ... reveal no references to scholarship
in composition" (forthcoming). Keith Miller's review of John Lucaites', Celeste
Condit's, and Sally Caudill's Contemporary Rhetorical Theory supports Lauer's ar
gument: "Of two thousand citations in this volume (a rough estimate), only one
essay in RSQ [Rhetoric Society Quarterly], one in RR [Rhetoric Review], and
one in P/T [Pre-Text] are citedand only once apiece" (203-04). While I be
lieve that there is good cause for Rhetorical Studies to be critical of Composition's apolitical leanings, its failure to engage the rhetoric theorized by
Rhet/Comp at all is highly problematic. Indeed, while this ignorance implies a
more-political-than-thou attitude when it comes to the rhetoric done in English
departments, the fact is that Rhet/Comp has repeatedly attempted to grapple
with the politics and history of its own theory production while Rhetorical
Studies has resolutely refused to examine those very issues. So while Sharon
Crowley, James Berlin, Janet Atwill, Maureen Goggin, Victor Vitanza and oth
ers have labored to produce a history of theory production in Rhet/Comp, such
an enterprise has yet to be undertaken in Rhetorical Studies by even its least
prominent theorists.
On the other hand, to be fair, this ignorance is returned by Rhet/Comp. Rhet
oricians in Rhet/Comp are, by and large, not contemptuous of Rhetorical
Studies because they know very well the ancient to early modern tradition that
Rhetorical Studies also teaches, and, in fact, they are indebted to Rhetorical
Studies for some of the best scholarship of that tradition. For instance, if you lis
ten to Sharon Crowley, she believes that she owes an enormous debt to Rhetori
cal Studies scholarship. Nevertheless, Rhet/Comp rhetoricians are almost
uniformly unaware of the great tradition of rhetorical criticism kept alive by
Rhetorical Studies. Given Rhet/Comp's location in departments of English
Studies, this failure to also take up the intellectual strand of critical work is a
most peculiar state of affairs, given that literary criticism flourishes there. In this
sense, the Rhetoric of Rhet/Comp has permitted literary studies to completely
co-opt one of the most viable political tools at its disposal, that of criticism.
To be sure, Rhet/Comp, at first glance, finds itself in a somewhat more secure
institutional position than Rhetorical Studies. Having made itself into some
thing of a "sure thing" by embracing its status as the single largest service pro
gram in virtually every university and college in the United States, and
consequently becoming the proverbial "goose that laid the golden egg" for the
coffers of colleges of Liberal Arts, it is difficult to imagine a moment when uni
versities will retreat from the bonanza of the first-year requirement. (And one
wonders, then, if perhaps there is a bit of covetousness in Rhetorical Studies' esti
mation of Rhetoric in Rhet/Comp.) This is not to say, however, that Rhet/Comp
is secure from institutional pressure. No WPA is ever immune from the peren
nial pressure to find salary savings, to increase the cap on class size, and to reduce
the number of complaints emanating from young men and women
press-ganged into service in required, largely unpopular, courses. Moreover,

Recoupling Rhetorical Studies and Rhetoric and Composition


English Studies, whose very institutional life almost universally depends on

Rhet/Comp to generate the financial support necessary to maintain large PhD
programs, continues, nevertheless, to regard Rhet/Comp as an inferior calling. If
Rhetorical Studies has little use for Rhet/Comp, ironically, neither does the very
discipline that supposedly has tainted Rhet/Comp.
To make matters more perverse, I want to further complicate Carolyn Miller's
observations about the breach between Rhetorical Studies and Rhet/Comp by ref
erence to Sharon Crowley's and Susan Miller's critiques of the relation between
Rhet/Comp. Not only are Rhetorical Studies and Rhet/Comp not on speaking
terms, but as Crowley puts it, "composition instruction and rhetorical education
are very different things" (269). Susan Miller, for different reasons, makes a simi
lar, if more acerbic, argument in Rescuing the Subject. Hence, while Rhet/Comp fac
ulty do not have the same disdain for each other that English studies does for both
of them, they could not have more differing agendas. In a nutshell, while the rhet
oric in Rhet/Comp is explicitly political, composition scholarship is anything but.
Whereas Rhetoric takes culture as its object, as David Kaufer has observed
(Goggin 195), Composition Studies takes the student mind as its object. This is
not to say that the distinction I am claiming between Rhetoric and Composition is
clean. There have certainly been Neo-Aristotelian rhetoricians, for instance, who
do not take their pedagogy and course content to be political, and there are some
compositionists who take seriously the question of ideology. When considering
the scholarship broadly, however, there is little question that Rhetoric and Com
position, while occupying the same house, do not share the same bed and daily
march to very different drummers.
Consequently, while we often find Rhetoric and Composition faculty making
programmatic decisions together, this alliance is uneasy and riven with contra
diction. Indeed, the implications of the split between Rhetorical Studies and
Rhet/Comp cannot be fully understood without reference to the way Rhetoric in
Rhet/Comp is hamstrung by its relation to Composition. I would argue that
when Rhetorical Studies takes Rhet/Comp's institutional relation to English
Studies to be determining, it misses the more serious difficulty in the current
moment, which is Rhetoric's association with Composition. Because Rhetoric in
English departments has been, through its alliance to Composition, so thor
oughly implicated in the first-year composition requirement, Rhetoric's politi
cal power has indeed been compromised. One need only recall what happened to
Linda Brodkey at the University of Texas to understand the difficulty when
Rhetoric tries to enact its political commitments in the first-year course in de
partments of English. (The firestorm created by her attempt to foreground the
political nature of writing was so hostile that Brodkey eventually left the Uni
versity of Texas.)
As Maureen Goggin would argue, the complexity of the relation of Rhetoric
to Composition is part of a much more entangled history, that of how, at the be
ginning of the last century, Speech Communication, Rhetoric and Composition,
Literature, Linguistics, and Creative Writing were split off from each other in


Professing Rhetoric

the process of disciplinary identity formation, an eventuality which now should

provoke us, she argues, to "[ponder] whether carving up the space in modern
higher education along language lines was not an untenable act" (Tangled 67).
What I am trying to suggest is that while Sharon Crowley gets it right when she
argues against the first-year requirement, only rhetoricians,1 not compo
sitionists, are likely to agree with her. Crowley contends that the first-year re
quirement is thoroughly imbricated with a tradition of pedagogy that privileges
rules, clarity, and process to the exclusion of issues of ideology and power. This is
not to say that the first-year requirement is apolitical. Indeed, the focus on rules,
clarity, and process is totally bound up with institutional politics, but compo
sitionists, on the whole, are not inclined to confront the material conditions of
their situation (21821). There are many more compositionists than rhetori
cians, if Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) at
tendees are any indication. Consequently, unless Rhetoric disentangles itself
from Composition, the first-year requirement will continue to be fraught with
institutional political danger for it.
That is to say, now might be a good time to reconsider relations between and
among ourselves, outside the box the last century placed us in. As Eadie points
out, Rhetorical Studies has already begun to shift "in the direction of cultural
studies" as "the focus of rhetorical studies has shifted away from the history of
British and American public address." While this may reflect an openness to dis
ciplinary change, and I may be wrong about this, it is also a turn that bears
watching to be sure, for one of the crucial places that cultural studies in the
United States has been most noticeably nurtured, and depoliticized, as Cary
Nelson has so scathingly argued, is in the house of English Studies. Hence, one
might argue that having struggled so hard to resist its historical relation to Eng
lish Studies, Rhetorical Studies now, quite without irony, invites the return of the
As I understand the problem, nothing less than rhetoric itself is at risk from
threats on all sides, surrounded as it is by apolitical enterprises with institutional
entitlements from a depoliticized cultural studies and composition studies, to a
contemptuous English Studies, to the unreflective thrust of much of the scholar
ship in Rhetorical Studies, to the balkanization of rhetoric in Rhet/Comp pro
grams. Although Victor Vitanza has somewhere suggested that Rhetoric ought
to "just float," that is, go without a disciplinary home, I am not convinced that
rhetoric can survive being so thoroughly unmoored, given contemporary insti
tutional politics. For sure, the practice of rhetoric itself is alive in any number of
disciplinary locations, as Steven Mailloux has recently pointed out (19, 21), but
with a few exceptions, rhetorical theory, by and large, has been done in Rhetori
cal Studies and Rhet/Comp. There is no good reason for Rhetorical Studies and
the Rhetoric in Rhet/Comp to continue in their ignorance of each other. We are
not enemies, and if we persist in our disciplinary fragmentation, I fear that in the
long run, we risk the diminution of rhetoric as a viable theoretical presence
within the academy. Unless we aim to give up on the entire project of Rhetoric

Recoupling Rhetorical Studies and Rhetoric and Composition


being housed in the academy, it is time that we give our attention to what Rheto
ric might yet become. In my view, Rhetorical Studies and Rhet/Comp still have
important things to teach each other.
The politics of creating full professors. The anecdotal evidence suggests
that with far fewer doctoral programs, Rhetorical Studies has been signifi
cantly more successful than Rhet/Comp in promoting its professoriat.
Theresa Enos's analysis suggests that this is a direct result of Rhet/Comp
being so thoroughly feminized, and no doubt, Rhetorical Studies benefits
from precisely the opposite condition. Gendered or not, however, it is
time to take notice of who gets made full professor in Rhetorical Studies
and how that takes place.
The politics of feminist theory. Deeply indebted to a notion of perspective
to guide its critical project, Rhetorical Studies has refused to treat feminist
theory as anything other than another perspective, that is, it does not get
that feminist theory is, among other things, a critique of perspective itself
and, as such, requires an interrogation of the entire framework structur
ing Rhetorical Studies' critical project. As a profoundly feminized institu
tional entity (Enos), Rhet/Comp has long welcomed feminist theory and
its implications for its theoretical work, albeit I confess, as a largely liberal
politics project.
The politics of doing criticism. Rhetoric in Rhet/Comp needs to familiar
ize, critique, and extend Rhetorical Studies' deep tradition of critical in
quiry. A feminized Rhet/Comp can bring fresh insights to texts that have
previously been largely the province of masculinized readings.
Rhet/Comp can extend its intellectual reach considerably through a polit
icized critical project.
The politics of civic space. Rhetorical Studies and Rhet/Comp have differ
ent things to teach each other about civic space. Rhetorical Studies be
longs to that long tradition of rhetoric as politics and has fairly
consistently engaged the question of what it means to take the civic seri
ously. Rhet/Comp has, by and large, limited its discussion of civic space to
the academy and the role of the classroom in civic participation. As Janet
At will's Rhetoric Reclaimed makes clear, however, both Rhetorical Studies
and Rhet/Comp have been compromised by their location within the lib
eral, humanist academy and the turn to representation. As both Atwill
and Barbara Biesecker have argued, it is time to rethink rhetoric as techne
and disengage from the politics of representation in order to reclaim the
civic for a heuristic rhetoric.
My list is admittedly idiosyncratic and incomplete, but I hope it is suggestive.
By no means do I intend to imply here that Rhetorical Studies and
Rhet/Comp should aim for a unified discipline. There is something to be said for
the diversity that their disciplinary bifurcation creates. However, I do think we


Professing Rhetoric

are well past the time when we should be thinking about what we share and how
nurturing that shared tradition might serve both our political interests.
Perhaps the disciplinary demise of rhetoric would not be a bad thingrhetoric does always rise againbut I believe it would be a very great waste.
1. Perhaps not all of them; rhetoricians are usually quite sensitive to institutional politics and under
stand the privilege that comes with being indispensable, that is, it takes bodies to service all those
first-year courses.
Works Cited
Atwill, Janet M. Rhetoric Reclaimed: Aristotle and the Liberal Arts Tradition. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1998.
Biesecker, Barbara. "Michel Foucault and the Question of Rhetoric." Philosophy and Rhetoric 25:4
(1992): 351-64.
Crowley, Sharon. "Adams Sherman Hill Gets His Wish." (forthcoming CCC.)
. Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1998.
Eadie, William. Rhetorical Studies Programs. E-mail to the author. 07 May 2000.
Enos, Theresa. Gender Roles and Faculty Lives in Rhetoric and Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois
UP, 1996.
Goggin, Maureen Daly. "The Tangled Roots of Literature, Speech Communication, Linguistics, Rhetoric/Composition, and Creative Writing: A Selected Bibliography on the History of English
Studies." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 29:4 (1999): 63-87.
. Authoring a Discipline: Scholarly Journals and the Post-World War II Emergence of Rhetoric and Composi
tion. Mahwah: Erlbaum, 2000.
Lauer, Janice M. "Cross-Disciplinarity in Rhetorical Scholarship?" Inventing a Discipline: Rhetoric Schol
arship in Honor of Richard E. Young. Ed. Maureen Daly Goggin. Urbana: National Council of
Teachers of English, forthcoming: 6779.
Mailloux, Steven. "Disciplinary Identities: On the Rhetorical Paths Between English and Communi
cation Studies." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30: Summer (2000): 5-30.
Miller, Carolyn. "Epilogue: On Divisions and Diversity in Rhetoric." Making and Unmaking the Pros
pects for Rhetoric. Ed. Theresa Enos and Richard McNabb, Mahwah: Erlbaum, 1997: 207-09.
Miller, Susan. Rescuing the Subject: A Critical Introduction to Rhetoric and the Writer. Carbondale: Southern
Illinois UP, 1989.
Nelson, Gary. "Always Already Cultural Studies: Academic Conferences and a Manifesto." English
Studies/Cultural Studies: Institutionalizing Dissent. Ed. Isaiah Smithson and Nancy Ruff. Urbana: U
of Illinois P, 1994.
NCA Graduate Program Directory. National Communication Association, Annandale, VA. 04 May
2000 <http://www.natcom.org/ComProg/gpdhtm/graddir2.htm/>.

University of Alabama

Toward Finding Common Critical

and Pedagogical Ground

In "The Habitation of Rhetoric," Michael Leff argues that American rhetori

cal scholars began the twentieth century as neo-Aristotelian speech critics and
have ended it as neo-sophistic, socio-political critics. More specifically, Leff char
acterizes this development as a shift, or split, in rhetorical scholarship from 1)
criticism that studied speeches to understand their contexts or to locate pro
cesses assessed by their extrinsic effect, thereby aligning speech or rhetorical
criticism with history, to 2) criticism that viewed rhetoric as "a power that ranges
across the entire domain of human discourse," reducing rhetorical criticism to
social critique. What both views share, Leff posits, is a preoccupation with action
as opposed to substance (53).
As Leff argues, it is this emphasis on studying the process of rhetorical action
that has dissociated rhetorical criticism from composition pedagogy. His
torically, the pedagogical tradition linked rhetoric and composition in their
common concern for practical discourse and its implications. Both perspectives
embrace what Leff calls "a humane philosophy" that measures the integrity of
discursive practice by its "effort to balance the aesthetics of production and the
requirements of ethical action" against practical expedience (54).
At the start of the twentieth century, though, while composition remained fo
cused on the product, rhetorical criticism followed the action, as it were.1 A critical
focus on the action effected by rhetoric enabled rhetorical critics to move quickly
from studying rhetoric as public address, political action "constructing or enacting
citizenship," to rhetoric as historical events, "important human activity" using the
art of public address, to rhetoric as cultural studies, socio-political action influenc
ing individuals within particular societies.2 Postmodernism has resulted in rhetori
cal criticism itself becoming a type of action. In defining the role of a critic,
Barbara Warnick admits that the rhetorical critic may still be any of four actors:
artist, analyst, audience, or advocate (232). However, she argues that as an advo
cate engaging in critical rhetoric, one seeks to unravel dominant discourse and is
therefore incompatible with traditional rhetorical criticism (236).
Interestingly, while rhetorical criticism has moved toward cultural criticism
and away from traditional rhetoric, recent scholarship in the area of written


Professing Rhetoric

composition has displayed a shift away from the traditional emphasis on product
and toward a pedagogical emphasis on the composition process. This develop
ment has revived interest in rhetorical theory and has created the opportunity
for exploring common ground, practical and critical, between rhetorical criti
cism and composition pedagogy.3 The purpose of my remarks is to advocate fur
ther exploration of this opportunity and to offer specific grounds for critical and
pedagogical collaboration.
My advocacy comes from the standpoint of one who teaches the history of rhet
oric to students in Communication Studies.4 Often, communication students are
drawn to the study of rhetoric for the power history has shown it to have wielded
or for the social critique it now affords rhetorical scholars. But, nevertheless, such
students wonderwhat will studying rhetoric help me understand practically about the
contemporary world of communication in which we live?
In the world viewed by our students, electronic technology is not only chang
ing the process of communication, it is shaping it in such a way that neither rhe
torical paradigm alone, traditional speech nor print, functions adequately to
explain what is happening. For example, as Kathleen Welch has discussed,
broadcast media have changed the public's reception of messages into a blend
ing of visual and auditory cues and developed what Walter Ong labeled "second
ary orality" (Welch 2426). Electronic technology has enabled the construction
of interactive texts, what Jay David Bolter calls "hypertext" and James Porter
calls "internetworked writing," that has caused the concept of author or even de
fined sources to disappear, ownership of the text to be questioned, the text itself to
become fluid and expansive, and audience to be widely diverse and undefined.
Within these contexts, meaning is negotiated, not permanently constructed, by
the participants involved, and process is continuous and nonlinear.
At the same time, the very complexity of emerging communication processes
is what makes such traditional rhetorical concepts of appropriateness, authority,
agency, and audience more, not less important, in the "real world".3 As Porter re
minds us:
We are in an ethically sensitive and important time right now be
cause what we as users (and as teachers of users) do on the networks
will help constitute the norms for such discourse as they become sta
bilized and legally sanctioned (or not) in the future. (8)
As rhetorical scholars, we cannot address these issues satisfactorily by returning
to the traditional focus on product, nor do I see the solution in focusing critically
on discursive effects in action alone. Rather, as critics and teachers of rhetoric,
we need to shift our focus to studying how to develop the creative producers of
Regardless of how one defines rhetoric, most of us who study it acknowledge
that being rhetorical means making deliberate choices, among various commu
nication options, that establish a relationship with others. In Aristotle's view,

Finding Common Critical and Pedagogical Ground


that relationship should be an ethical one, displaying good sense, good charac
ter, and good will, not just because such was the moral responsibility of the
rhetor, but also because it was the most effective relationship to establish with
one's hearers.7 In other words, effectiveness and ethical responsibility should not
be in opposition but should actually enhance one another.
Today's sophisticated world of communication requires much more of prac
ticing rhetors. In academia, we often refer to the goal not as developing rhetori
cal sensitivity or skill, but rather as developing "critical thinking" skills in our
students. But what exactly does that mean? Are we cultivating the ability to
think analytically or merely to perceive choices? If we mean cultivating the abil
ity to make judgments, what grounds are we proposing for making those judg
ments? Are we establishing a better understanding of how to make good, both
ethical and effective, decisions in producing discourse? In his work on rhetorical
ethics, Porter claims we are not. He posits:
I see most academic discussions of network ethics embracing one of
two positions: either (a) a liberal-individualist position ... based on an
Enlightenment trust in the sanctity of the individual ... or (b) an ex
tremely ironic postmodern position that leaves the ethical issues un
addressed ... I do not believe that either position is adequate. (19)
What Porter advocates instead is "a situated and kairotic rhetorical ethics," a
position that "grants ethical authority to local practice and the conventions of
particular communities," one that "is essentially pluralistic in its constitution
and heuristic and rhetorical in its methodology" (19).
Of course, by kairotic, Porter means appropriate, the ability to accommodate
what Leff labels decorum within a given situation (Leff 6162). Such choices be
come one of two types: those of style, making judgments in the aesthetic and the
ethical production of messages, and those of presentation, choosing among the
modes available for the production of messages. Necessarily, making effective
choices involve judging production competencies, including literacy, speech
performance skills, technological skills, as well as entertainment value for audi
ences increasingly conditioned by a culture of secondary orality (Ong 11).
I suggest that we need to generate a new, collaborative understanding of the
classical "virtues" of stylereplacing the old, pedagogical notion of style as ei
ther imposing "correctness" or aiming for "clarity" with one that will enable us
and those we teach to make better judgments among the choices available.
Without critical direction, as our students demonstrate repeatedly, it is much
easier either to learn the rules and when to follow them, or to drop out of the pro
cess altogether, than it is to learn how to judge independently what choices are
good ones.
What I have been advocating implicitly thus far, it would seem, is the need
for a critical engagement of the virtue of "propriety" in rhetorical practice.
Burkean scholars rightly note that his discussion of language "reinforces the use


Professing Rhetoric

of decorum as a way for a critic to analyze the relationship between the speaker,
the audience and community" as well as for examining the selection of stylistic
devices used to link ideas with communal values and expectations (Smith 78).
However, recognition of the importance of propriety in making rhetorical
choices by no means implies an uncritical acceptance of social oppression or the
dominance of a particular set of values. Respect for both diversity and for unity,
for the individual and for the community, can coexist (Porter 164), but it means
accepting Burke's position that rhetoric involves both identification and divi
sion. As Porter expresses it, "As we strive for likeness and similarity
(consubstantiality) we also affirm our differences" (163). Thus, cultivating the vir
tue of propriety in rhetorical practice is not the same as promoting a set of val
ues; it is the cultivation of valuing a sense of judgment for accommodating propriety.
Again, in Aristotle's terms, such virtue demonstrates good will by showing re
spect for the expectations of others and a willingness to work for a greater, not
individual, good (see I.7.141).
The demonstration of such judgment is important for ethical concerns. As
the history of rhetoric clearly reveals, regardless of the particular views that have
emerged about rhetoric, all have recognized the power of rhetoric, whether to
inform, to persuade, or to entertain. As Robert Hariman has commented: "[In
the contemporary era] thinkers often see the art of rhetoric as either a dangerous
formalizing of discourse that displaces truth and morality, or as a muddled ac
count of public life that fails to discriminate among matters of expertise, ethics,
and entertainment" (149). Typically, rhetorical scholars have tried to avoid the
responsibility associated with such by ignoring the cultivation of it and by con
demning those who use it. Such a critical posture, while important for the in
sights it provides about social conditions, seems to suggest that if we restrict
ourselves to criticizing rhetoric, we can avoid misusing it. To those with such
sentiments, Porter remarks, "Rather than wring our hands in dismay over the
arrogance of wielding this power ... we should see the exercise of discursive
power as common, frequent, unavoidable" (156). If we choose not to accept re
sponsibility for cultivating the ethical and effective use of rhetoric, we relinquish
that power to the hands of those who can exercise it effectively. In particular,
both commerce and politics have demonstrated a readiness to exploit rhetoric if
we leave it to them.
My view, then, is that we need to develop the rhetorical expertise of our stu
dents, helping them become effective voices for ethical rhetoric. To do so, we must
include creative, expressive skills, not just critical and ethical ones, as well as com
munication competencies; that is, we need to reconsider the virtues of adornment,
of clarity, and of correctness. Let me suggest a few ways we might do so.
From the moment Gorgias first demonstrated the potency of combining
poetic form with rhetoric, there have been critics of the use of adornment. In
part, this criticism has stemmed from the belief that rhetoric with poetic forms
created an irrational, and therefore unethical, response from its hearers. But
Craig Smith argues that the distinction between rhetoric and poetic is over

Finding Common Critical and Pedagogical Ground


stated. Smith asserts, "Gorgias was right: poetic gives rhetoric much of its
power to build new realities, and rhetoric can adapt poetic to better meet and
transform expectations in audiences" (83). On the issue of adornment, rhetoric
has too often settled for the practical, but plain, while poetic has indulged in
what is artistically creative without concern for practical matters such as acces
sibility. Both views miss the importance of appealing to the aesthetic tastes of
the hearers.
Eric Havelock attributes this mistake to the fact that we have forgotten the
inherent appeal of the spoken word, an appeal which both rhetoric and poetic
exploit. He says oral language is appealing because it is realistic, not abstract.
So, he says, "poetic language, if it is to be poetic, has to operate with images
geared to what is actually happening. It is a language of action and reaction, of
sharp poignant emotion, not an exercise in logic" (415). We need to remem
ber, he advises, that language we use when we speak orally, "without benefit of
an abstract rearrangement of our thoughts," is popular, immediate, sensory,
dynamic (419). If we are to empower ourselves and those we teach to our full
est communicative voice, we should not restrict ourselves to the language of
abstraction. Certainly, in comparison with the approach employed by adver
tising and consulting professionals, the kind of discursive efforts we often see
in public speaking classes or in freshman composition classes seem tame, con
strained, even tedious.
Ultimately, though, successful (effective and ethically responsible) rhetorical
efforts will result from both artistic, or creative, and competent use of particular
media, whether that be speech, print, electronic, or multi-media forms. Basic
skills in competency have to be taught to make full use of the practical and artis
tic choices available to express oneself. Teaching competency entails some atten
tion to correctness, minimally, to enable appropriate adherence to conventions
and norms, along with technical proficiency. Such "virtues" of style and presen
tation not only function to meet the expectations of the laws or customs, thereby
giving coherence, to a community (Havelock 41314), but also to improve clar
ity and to aid memoria. In his discussion of memory in composition studies, John
Frederick Reynolds points out that memory should be viewed as an inventional
strategy; often, its function is to serve as "a repository for information guiding
intervention, arrangement, and style" (11), as well as in connection with cognitive/neuropsychology (12). In sum, developing a sense of judgment, based on
propriety, adornment (or what is pleasing), correctness, and clarity, should en
able the rhetor to make choices that engage others, encouraging them to partici
pate, and at the same time avoid dominating or oppressing them.
As critics and teachers of rhetoric, we can no longer afford to restrict ourselves
to the old communicative paradigms; Ong's culture of secondary orality (com
bining oral and visual forms) is a reality. As occurred in the transformation from
orality to print, we are not going to lose the old paradigms, so we do have to
maintain them, but we have to adapt and to synthesize them, too. Reynolds re
minds us of our responsibilities as we face this new "language revolution":


Professing Rhetoric

There have been many turning points in the history of rhetoric. Each
has been influenced by changes in communication media and inevita
bly accompanied by dire warnings. With the advent of writing, Plato
foretold the loss of memory. People were equally uneasy with the in
troduction of print. Both fears linger in our reluctance "to put it in
writing." Computers and television raise essentially the same fears ...
These fears may be well founded, but our response to the new media,
as scholars and teachers, is really what is important. (xii)
Our common ground is in recognizing what we as rhetorical scholars have to of
fer in confronting these fears and meeting the challenge together.
1. Beginning with Herbert Wichelns's distinction (in "The Literary Criticism of Oratory") that, un
like literary criticism, rhetorical criticism "is concerned with effect" (in Methods of Rhetorical Criti
cism 54), such emphasis upon action developed into rhetorical critiques of social movements,
contemporary rhetorical practice, and ultimately, socially constructed knowledge as rationale for
action. For a thorough survey of the development of rhetorical criticism prior to the early 1970s,
see Charles J. Stewart, "Historical Survey: Rhetorical Criticism in Twentieth Century America."
As a source of various forms of criticism currently practiced by rhetorical critics, see Roderick P.
Hart, Modern Rhetorical Criticism, 2nd ed.
2. To gain an understanding of these changing conceptualizations of the role of rhetorical study, be
tween the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, compare Gregory Clark and Mi
chael Halloran (Oratorical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America 247) and Herbert Wichelns
(Methods of Rhetorical Criticism 28).
3. Leff's account of rhetoric in the twentieth century is primarily concerned with the shift in critical
scholarship in Communication Studies, formerly Speech Communication. For an account of the
division between Communication Studies and Rhetoric and Composition, see Steven Mailloux's
account in Rhetoric Society Quarterly.
4. My educational background in Speech Communication and English, pedagogical experience in the
Iowa Rhetoric Program, and nearly twenty years of teaching courses in the history of rhetoric
made me eager to address this issue, when Dale Sullivan first proposed it to the Steering Commit
tee of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. Consequently, I have been somewhat dis
mayed to read comments in a discussion stream on H-Rhetor that seemed to validate
fragmentation, rather than collaboration, among rhetorical scholars. Quite surprising to me were
comments by James Aune (H-Rhetor 28 June 2000) suggesting that, in his view, people now
studying in Rhetoric and Composition are better trained in the history of rhetoric than people in
Communication Studies. If true, this provides evidence of how the field of Communication Studies
has shifted away from traditional rhetoric in the past twenty years.
5. See Porter's discussion of these concepts, 7.
6. In advocating this focus, I am not presuming to address the problems of disciplinary boundaries or
institutional constraints. Rather, I am calling for the development of a shared commitment
among those who regard themselves as rhetorical scholars, to focus less on the matters where
scholarly criticism has led us and more on the critical matters the practical world is creating for us.
7. That Aristotle argues for an ethical and effective rhetoric is clear throughout his rhetorical treatise;
see especially 1.2.48.
Works Cited
Aristotle. The "Art" of Rhetoric. New York: Putnam, 1926. Trans John Henry Freese. Cambridge: Har
vard UP, 1967.

Finding Common Critical and Pedagogical Ground


Bolter, Jay David. "Hypertext and the Rhetorical Canon." Rhetorical Memory and Delivery. Ed. John
Frederick Reynolds. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1993. 97111.
Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.
Clark, Gregory and S. Michael Halloran, eds. Oratorical Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Trans
formations in the Theory and Practice of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1993.
Hariman, Robert. "Decorum, Power, and the Courtly Style." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992):
Hart, Roderick P. Modern Rhetorical Criticism. 2nd ed. Needham Heights: Allyn, 1997.
Havelock, Eric A. "Orality, Literacy, and Star Wars." Written Communication 3 (1986): 41120.
Leff, Michael. " The Habitation of Rhetoric." Argument and Critical Practice: Proceedings of the Fifth
SCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation. Ed. Joseph Wenzel. Annandale: SCA, 1987, 19. Rpt. in
Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. Ed. John Louis Lucaites, et al. New York: Guilford, 1999.
Mailloux, Steven. "Disciplinary Identities: On the Rhetorical Paths Between English and Communi
cation Studies." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30 (Spring 2000): 529.
Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982.
Porter, James E. Rhetorical Ethics and Internetworked Writing. Greenwich: Aldex, 1998.
Reynolds, John Frederick. "Memory Issues in Composition Studies." Rhetorical Memory and Delivery.
Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1993. 1-15.
Smith, Craig R. "Roman Decorum as a New Praxis for Existential Communication." WesternJournal of
Communication 56 (1992): 68-89.
Stewart, Charles J. "Historical Survey: Rhetorical Criticism in Twentieth Century America." Explora
tions in Rhetorical Criticism. Ed. G. P. Mohrmann, et al. University Park: Penn State UP, 1973.
Warnick, Barbara. "Leff in Context: What is the Critic's Role?" Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992):
Welch, Kathleen. "Reconfiguring Writing and Delivery in Secondary Orality." Rhetorical Memory and
Delivery. Ed. John Frederick Reynolds. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1993. 17-30.
Wichelns, Herbert A. "The Literary Criticism of Oratory." 1925. In Methods of Rhetorical Criticism: A
Twentieth Century Perspective. Ed. Robert L. Scott and Bernard L. Brock. New York: Harper, 1972.

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Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Republican Rhetoric and Subversity:

Speaking for White Women
and American Indians in the 1820s

In this chapter, I consider the ways in which reformist rhetorics can be, unwit
tingly, complicit with hegemonic cultural values by examining a nineteenth-century children's history text, The First Settlers of New England, written in 1828 by
Lydia Maria Child, a white activist for American Indian rights and abolition. I de
scribe two related rhetorical strategies Child uses in her revisionist history to es
tablish a claim for white women and American Indians as public citizens: (1) the
appropriation and subversion of republican discourse, and (2) the creation of a fe
male jeremiad to condemn American society and call for social change. I argue
that efforts, like Child's, to use rhetoric to intervene in a dominant nationalist dis
course were partially successful in redefining the public sphere to include white
women, but that those efforts failed to recognize or to resolve the specific material,
cultural, and national concerns of American Indians.
Child's use of revolutionary topics and her adaptation of the jeremiad can be
understood in the context of what Jacqueline Bacon, in her analysis of African
American abolitionist rhetoric, identifies as advisory and adaptory rhetoric.1
Advisory rhetoric is one that resists "traditional conciliatory gestures," "emphasize[s] conflict and dissent between rhetor and audience," evokes shock in
order to reveal the audience's hypocrisy, and appeals to "moral absolutism"
rather than logic (Woodward, qtd. in Bacon 56). Bacon also sees "appropria
tion" or the "invoking and recreating [of a] society's dominant texts and topoi"
as an advisory strategyone which "allows marginalized rhetors to turn the
language of those in power into a critique of their society" (57). The classic
American jeremiad, as a "a mode of public exhortation" (Bercovitch xi), can be
understood as a form of advisory rhetoric as well. The American jeremiad is "a
rhetoric of indignation, expressing deep dissatisfaction and urgently challeng
ing the nation to reform" (Howard-Pitney 6). The term jeremiad refers to a
lamentation or doleful complaint, and makes reference to the prophet Jere
miah of the Hebrew bible who warned the people of Israel of their imminent
destruction for failing to keep their covenant with God. In formal terms, the
American jeremiad usually has three parts: (1) a reference to a biblical prece


Professing Rhetoric

dent, promise, or hallowed national past that "sets out the communal norms";
(2) a description and condemnation of the present, or the "actual state of the
community"; and (3) a prophetic vision of the future in which problems are re
solved as the people fulfill their promise (Bercovitch 16). Child's text is pri
marily concerned with the first two parts, the past and the present, and is less
hopeful about the future than the traditional jeremiad.
In contrast to advisory rhetoric, adaptory rhetoric, by appealing to com
mon ground with the audience, "attempts to adapt the message to avoid a
clash with [their] beliefs and values" (Woodward, qtd. in Bacon 56). Bacon
notes that nineteenth-century female rhetors were more likely to marshal
adaptory rhetoric explicitly, and to incorporate advisory rhetoric in subtle or
coded forms (56). She argues for understanding adaptory and advisory
rhetorics as two ends of a continuum, rather than as oppositions (71). This
makes sense in relation to Child's text where the appropriation of republican
rhetoric can be seen as an advisory strategy, while the construction of a female
form of the jeremiad is more consistent with the adaptory. In other words, in
examining Child's rhetorical strategies, we need to attend to the implicit ways
in which her text encodes and comments on her role as a female American, as
well as noting the explicit message calling for a change in social attitudes and
practices toward American Indians.
The rhetorical aims of The First Settlers of New England are articulated directly
in its introduction: Child tells us that she abhors the U.S. government's present
"crooked and narrow-minded [Indian] policy," specifically the plan for removal
of the Cherokees from Georgia to Oklahoma, and seeks, through an examina
tion and indictment of historical precedents in the relations between Europeans
and Native Americans, a "Christian" solution to the "Indian problem" (iv).
Child wants to revise popular notions of the "conduct of the Indians" toward the
Puritans, and to "exhibit some of the most striking traits of Indian manners"
(iii). Her use of history is reformist. She believes that the natives of America were
mistreated by the Puritans, and continue to be mistreated by American policies
and actions. Showing the "true" version of history by telling it from a perspective
that is sympathetic to American Indians rather than to the colonists, Child
hopes to return American politics to its noblest civil and religious originslocated in the Revolutionary revisioning of Puritan government.
For Child, the Puritan treatment of the Indians "grossly violated the princi
ples which form the basis of our government" (iv). This position, seemingly
anachronistic, is consistent with that of popular nineteenth-century historians,
like George Bancroft, who interpreted the past as an extension of the present by
showing the Puritans to be the intellectual forerunners of the Revolution and of
republican government. At the same time, Child's text goes against the tide of
the prevailing nationalist writers who used American history as an occasion to
offer explanations, precedents, and just causes for the "inevitable" demise of the
"vanishing Americans." For Child, history provided a means for revising "mis
conceptions" about the character of both Native Americans and Puritans by

Republican Rhetoric and Subversity


contrasting the good intentions, higher morality, and even civic virtue of the for
mer with the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of the Puritans' (and their descen
dants') morality and actions.
Child wants simultaneously to prove that Native Americans and women do
have the qualities required for republican citizenship, and to revise readers'
understanding of what those qualities are or should be. In the fashion of an ad
visory rhetor, Child is critical of the Puritans and the increasingly common
place view of them as models of piety, religious tolerance, or republican
values.2 She dismisses the claims that they were acting in self-defense and ar
gues not only that their treatment of Americans Indians left little to admire,
but that their representations of them as bloodthirsty savages were highly in
accurate. She describes the colonists as "deluded" zealots, who were "infected"
with "puerile conceits and inexplicable dogmas" (33). In contrast, Child intro
duces the Pequot tribe of southern New England as "a powerful and intelligent
people," whose acts of violence were always matters of self-defense and who
were consistently charitable in their dealings with the colonizers (7). She turns
the tables on the burgeoning nationalist myth by casting American Indians,
rather than Puritans, in the roles of patriots and freedom fighters. For in
stance, she uses heroic language to describe the Narraganset leader
Miantonimo's self-defense in a Puritan court:
the manly and dignified defence of Miantonimo ... was doubtless
expressed in the powerful and energetic language, and manner, for
which the natives of this land have been so justly celebrated, and un
questioningly produced in the minds of his adversaries a conviction
of their own unworthiness ... which increased their desire of freeing
themselves from one who so fearlessly defended the course of truth
and justice. (4849)
Throughout Child's narrative, Miantonimo is always seen as measured, ratio
nal, generous, and compassionate, while the Puritans are almost always incon
sistent, superstitious, greedy, and heartless. Child invests his character with the
individual qualities essential and particular to the ideological formation of the
American republic, such as vision, liberty, tolerance, and self-sacrifice.
Miantonimo thus becomes a representative American, more equipped for the
responsibilities of citizenship than those who would deny it to him.
Child's defense of American Indian character was coupled with an idealiza
tion of the merits of assimilation, however, which failed to account for American
Indian perspectives. Countering the opinion that America could not have been
settled without destroying the native people, she suggests that "intermixing"
would have benefitted both parties: the "stern and morose" Puritans would be
"improved and softened" by the "primitive simplicity, hospitality, and generos
ity of the Indians," while the American Indians would receive the fruits of "our
arts and sciences," and "the pure religion of Jesus" (65).3 Child argues that inter


Professing Rhetoric

marriage was part of God's plan and "might thus testify our obedience to the
will of our heavenly Father, who has made of one blood all the nations of men,
that they may dwell together" (66).4 She warns that a nation built on "the spoils
of natives whom we have destroyed" was destined to receive the "fearful retribu
tion [of God] which has fallen on the guilty nations who have established them
selves on the ruins of their fellow men"(66). Here, we can see Child using the
jeremiad convention to subvert the Puritan rationale for American Indian de
struction and to warn the present generation of the danger of seeing dominant
historical explanations as satisfactory for current relations. At the same time, it is
clear that she is unaware of, or unconcerned about, the possibility of American
Indians speaking on their own behalf.
Child used American history as a way of exploring the interconnections and in
teractions between these various "cultures," and to discover, invent, and assert his
torical precedents that would be consistent with her political beliefs. In many
nineteenth-century historical texts, as well as the court decisions that justified In
dian Removal policy, American Indians were represented as savage, uncivilizable,
unassimilable and therefore destined to extinction.5 In opposition to this view,
Child argued: "That the races of mankind are different, spiritually as well as physi
cally, there is, of course, no doubt; but it is as the difference between trees of the
same forest, not as between trees and minerals" (Child 1986, 185). Neither posi
tion acknowledged that American Indians did not necessarily choose to be assimi
lated, and that they did not see European culture as innately superior. Child's
metaphor fails to account for differences in European and American Indian con
cepts of the "forest," or the land, itself, such as attitudes toward land ownership,
and notions of the secular and spiritual meanings of the land (see Nash). Child's
strategy is to minimize cultural differences in order to assert the possibility of the
inclusion of "Indians" as American national members.
Further, while Child's appropriation of republican language and ideals and
use of themes related to the jeremiad is occasionally powerful, the force of her
appeal is mitigated somewhat by the adoption of an adaptory rhetoric alongside
the advisory. Child's rhetorical choices, particularly related to the form in which
she presents her critique (i.e., a children's history text), might be better under
stood by considering her text as a version of what Lauren Berlant calls the "fe
male complaint." Though Berlant doesn't use the term jeremiad, the form she
describes is similar in its efforts to critique and reform American society. Berlant
writes, "the 'complaint'... is shot through with anxieties about audience that in
part derive from the absence of a theatrical space in which women might see, ex
perience, live and rebel against their oppression enmasse, freed from the oppres
sors' forbidding or disapproving gaze" (238).
Berlant's description of the complaint reveals the extent to which the Ameri
can jeremiad was a form which presumed and preserved a conventionally mas
culine ethe. In other words, the task of the female Jeremiah was complicated by
the rhetor's awareness of her social subject position, and the absence of a legiti
mate female public space. As Karlyn Kohrs Campbell has noted:

Republican Rhetoric and Subversity


insofar as the role of the rhetor entails qualities of self-reliance,

self-confidence, and independence, its very assumption is a viola
tion of the female role. Consequently, feminist rhetoric is substan
tively unique by definition, because no matter how traditional its
argumentation, how justificatory its form, how discursive its
method, or how scholarly its style, it attacks ... the most fundamen
tal values of the cultural context in which it occurs. (398)
The terms Campbell uses to define the role of the rhetor"self-reliance, self-confidence, and independence"correspond precisely to the roles of the republican
citizenthe same roles Child was attempting to claim for both women and
American Indians. Child's text reflects the difficulty of such a maneuver.
As no acknowledged public space existed for a female rhetoric of indignation,
Child, like other women writing, brought public concerns and issues into the home.
The form of her text makes this relocation quite clear, as does its layering of titles:
The First Settlers of New England; or, Conquest of the Pequods, Narragansets and Pokanokets:
As Related By A Mother To Her Children, And Designed For The Instruction Of Youth. Ex
cept for the introduction, the entire narrative is presented as a dialogue between a
"Mother" and her two daughters, Caroline and Eliza. The daughters are indistin
guishable from one another. Their function is to ask Mother questions about history,
to rehearse received notions about American Indians that Mother can correct, to ex
press horror and moral indignation at the stories Mother tells about the abuses Puri
tans inflicted on Native Americans, and to reinforce and reiterate Mother's moral
teachings and perspectives.
Beyond the simple narrative framing, there is very little detail. There is no
setting and little exposition. We learn that stories may commence only if the
girls' "tasks are completed" (45). Domestic economy is learned along with his
tory. At the end of chapters, the girls ask for more stories, which Mother defers to
a later date. Child's representation of "Mother" combines the eighteenth-century notion of republican motherhood with the male-identified republican con
cept of civic obligations, and the liberal concept of democratic participation. As
a republican mother, she must instruct her children on their duties as citizens.In
this case, however, her children are daughters, not sons. The mother's instruc
tion of daughters would have been seen as central to their upbringing, in that
they might have sons who would be citizens one day. But in writing such a book
for children, Child can also be seen as redefining for the mothers (America's
daughters), the duties and the rights of citizenship. While republican mother
hood limits women's political participation to the home, republican citizenship
requires political participation in the world. Such participation is what Mother
expects her daughters to aim for:
From the sketches I have given you of the sufferings of the Pequods,
(which all the other tribes in this country were successively made to
endure, till by continued persecution they were utterly destroyed;)


Professing Rhetoric

you will, I trust, my dear children, be impressed with strong com

passion, and take a lively interest in the fate of those unhappy ones
who have survived the ruin of their race; nor must you imagine that
your exertions will be unavailing. Should you be able to excite a gen
eral interest in their favor in the breast of your young friends, we
may confidently expect that the rising generation will strive to me
liorate their condition, as it is an axiom which admits not of dispute,
that, in governments essentially popular, the voice of the people mustprevail.
(44, my emphasis)6
The last phrase rings with the republican themes of America's founding docu
ments and conveys the authority of public address, despite the fact that it is
taking place between a mother and her daughters in the home. This passage is
also the closest Child comes to offering the hopeful, prophetic vision of the fu
ture typical of the jeremiad form. Mother's statement appears to correspond
to the conventional and sentimental expectation of women's role in the politi
cal sphere: to feel "compassion" and to exert their feminine influence by
"excit[ing] a general interest" among (presumably white male and therefore
empowered) others. However, Child's prose also resists some of the more con
servative interpretations of the sentimental position in its refusal to limit the
political action Mother advocates. In the passage just cited, Caroline and Eliza
are instructed to "incite a general interest ... in the breasts of [their] young
friends." Such friends are not explicitly gendered, nor is Caroline and Eliza's
participation limited to such influence. As the paragraph proceeds, Caroline
and Eliza and their friends become part of the "the rising generation" and ulti
mately "the voice of the people." Their feelings and influence can be trans
formed into public and political action, action that can determine the future of
course of the nation.
Child's narrative thus encounters and interrogates the construction of repub
lican citizenship by making the home a site at which female public action begins,
but to which it is not limited, and by offering historical examples of women
(both white and American Indian) and male American Indians who fulfilled
conventional expectations of the qualities required for republican citizenship.
Significantly, however, public action is, in much of Child's writing, to be done by
women not on their own behalf, but to relieve the sufferings of others. Women's
concerns and rights are at times associated and aligned with those of American
Indians, but rarely argued for explicitly by Child. In general, Child's strategy for
promoting women's rights is to assume them, and to offer, without feminist
commentary, examples of women whose actions reveal all women to be worthy.I
would argue that this position is possible because of Child's relative privilege as a
white middle-class Northern woman; at the same time, such privilege limits the
extent to which she can envision or promote change in women's status generally.
Likewise, while Child is clearly an advocate for American Indians, her writings
also project Romantic and occasionally patronizing representations, and, as I

Republican Rhetoric and Subversity


have suggested, a failure to appreciate the desire and power of American Indians
to resist and reject assimilation.
Overall, Child's critique of American society is limited by internal contra
dictions and inconsistencies produced, at least in part, by the negotiation of
her complex position within the public sphere. Her text did not achieve the
specific result she wanted: Congress's debate over Indian sovereignty would
create the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and would end in 1838, for the Chero
kees, on the Trail of Tears. It is unclear as to whether the text's larger effort to
"undermine the ideological grounds for Indian removal" was ever noticed by
the public at large (Karcher 90). There is no record of the book having been re
viewed, no public trace of praise or censure. Child's biographer, Caroline
Karcher, speculates that Child, who had become the primary breadwinner in
her family, chose to keep the book off the market for fear of alienating the read
ers of her popular children's periodical, the Juvenile Miscellany (9798). An
other possibility for the text's obscurity might stem from its contradictory
radicalnessChild's positions on the Puritans, American Indians, intermar
riage, and women's public role may have been suppressed by being ignored.7
In either case, my analysis should suggest some of the obstacles that female
rhetors faced and some of the limits of rhetoric as a vehicle for social change in
the early nineteenth century.
1. Bacon cites Gary Woodward's study for her definition of the terms advisory and adaptory rhetoric.
Child's interest in American Indian issues preceded her involvement in the abolitionist movement
by just a few years, and my analysis of her text suggests that the rhetorical strategies she used were
similar to those of the female abolitionist rhetors Bacon describes.
2. See Bancroft, for example.
3. This view of intermarriage was uncommon in the North. A few prominent Southerners, Robert
Beverly and Thomas Jefferson, for instance, had expressed similar opinions, see Bieder, Sheehan.
4. Child's earlier attitudes towards intermarriage can be seen in her first historical novel, Hobomok,
which depicts a marriage between a Puritan woman and the legendary Native American inter
preter. Before 1840, with the advent of the American school of ethnology and the popular accep
tance of the notion of separate creations (polygeny) the new ethnology fostered, most Americans
tended to subscribe to the view that Native Americans and whites shared a common origin (mon
ogeny). Therefore, Native Americans could be expected to "improve" (that is, become more like
whites) with education and "civilization," see Bieder.
5. Pearce analyzes this perception at length; see also Berkhofer.
6. I want to note here Child's assumption that the Pequot tribe was "utterly destroyed." As I discuss
elsewhere, it is precisely against this commonplace assumption of "vanishing Americans" that
William Apess, a nineteenth-century Pequot orator, minister, and activist, would have to assert
the fact of Native American survival and existence (see Gussman 1993).
7. I'm thinking here about Henry Lewis Gates's speculations about the "oblivion" of Harriet Wilson's
radical novel Our Nig (xxxxxxi).
Works Cited
Bacon, Jacqueline. '"Do You Understand Your Own Language?' Revolutionary Topoi in the Rhetoric
of African-American Abolitionists." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 28:2 (Spring 1998): 55-75.


Professing Rhetoric

Bancroft, George. The History of The United States of America from the Discovery of the Continent. Ed. Rus
sell B. Nye. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1966.
Bercovitch, Sacvan. The AmericanJeremiad. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1978.
Berkhofer, Robert F. The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present.
New York: Knopf, 1978.
Berlant, Lauren. "The Female Complaint." Social Text 19/20, Vol.7: 1-2 (Fall 1988): 23760.
Bieder, Robert E. Science Encounters the Indian, 18201880. Norman and London: U of Oklahoma P,
Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. "The Rhetoric of Women's Liberation: An Oxymoron" in Lucaites, John
Lewis, Celeste Michelle Condit and Sally Caudill, eds. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader.
New York: Guilford, 1999.
Child, Lydia Maria. The First Settlers of New England; or Conquest of the Pequods, Narragansets and
Pokanokets: As Related by a Mother To Her Children, and Designed for the Instruction of Youth. Boston:
Munroe, 1828.
. Hobomok & Other Writings on Indians. Ed. Carolyn Karcher. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1986.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "Introduction." In Harriet E. Wilson, Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free
Black. New York: Vintage, 1983.
Gussman, Deborah. Remembering Plymouth Rock: The Making of Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century Narra
tives ofColonia New England. Diss. Rutgers U, 1993. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1993. 9412633.
Howard-Pitney, David. The Afro-American Jeremiad: Appeals for Justice in America. Philadelphia: Temple
UP, 1990
Karcher, Carolyn L. The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child. Dur
ham: Duke UP, 1994.
Nash, Gary B. Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early America, 2nd. ed. Englewood Cliffs:
Prentice-Hall, 1982.
Pearce, Roy Harvey. Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind. Berkeley: U
of California P, 1988.
Sheehan, Bernard W. Seeds of Extinction:Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian. Chapel Hill:
U of North Carolina P, 1973.
Woodward, Gary. Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation. New York: Praeger,

East Carolina University

Rhetorical Education for Political

Action: The League of Women Voters
and the Subversion of Political Parties
in the 1920s

With the imminent passage of the Nineteenth Amendment before her, Presi
dent of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Carrie
Chapman Catt urged delegates at the 1919 Jubilee Convention of the organiza
tion to continue working together even after the victorious culmination of the
suffrage campaign. To encourage future organizational work on the part of suf
fragists, Catt told of a literacy crisis threatening American political life. Caught
up in the nationalistic fervor of world war, Catt proclaimed illiteracy, particu
larly among immigrant groups, a force "more menacing to the future security of
our country than any other" (A Nation Calls 8). Illiterates, Catt argued, provided
"hothouse growth potential" for foreign espionage. Catt also constructed those
not able to read and write in English as threats to the progress of political institu
tions because, she suggested, they provided fodder for corrupt political party
men: "Not only would woman suffrage have been established many years ago,
but political corruption ... would have been stamped out in all its worst mani
festations long ago, had these millions not offered dangerous temptations to un
scrupulous men"(13). To fight the "menace of illiteracy," the NAWSA, Catt
argued, should reconfigure itself as a League of Women Voters that would pro
fess literacy in English and, concurrently, spread the ideals of American democ
racy. According to Catt, only by promoting this particular kind of literacy would
newly enfranchised women witness an improvement in the political systems to
which they were finally gaining access.
While the League's educational role, as Catt initially formulated it, certainly
derived in part from a xenophobic sentiment, her vision of the League of Women
Voters just one year later reflects a much more subversive educational goal.
Women quickly discovered that, although the Nineteenth Amendment allowed
them to cast their votes in an already existing, highly structured two-party sys
tem, it most certainly did not enable them to open partisan politics to unlimited
female participation. Indeed, the political issues that interested many suffragists
before 1920 remained foreign to the mostly male political parties after the ratifi


Professing Rhetoric

cation of the Nineteenth Amendment. A year after her address urging the
NAWSA to reorganize itself into a women's organization dedicated to main
taining political stability by teaching literacy and traditional democratic ideals
to immigrant groups, Catt addressed the first convention of that new organiza
tion, the League of Women Voters. In this later address, Catt did not condemn
the threat of illiteracy to democratic ideals, but the threat of political partisan
ship to those ideals. The established political parties, in Catt's view, were the true
barriers to democracy because they prevented women from entering powerful
rhetorical arenas and the debates therein. Catt previewed the experience of the
new woman voter in the political parties thus:
Probably when you enter the party of your choice you will find
yourself in a sort of political penumbra where most of the men are.
These men will be glad to see you and you will be flattered by their
warm welcome ... but if you stay still longer and move around
enough ... you will discover a little denser group, which we might
call the numbra of the political party. You won't be so welcome there.
Those are the people who are planning the platforms and picking
out the candidates, and doing the work which you and the men vot
ers are expected to sanction at the polls. ... And if you stay long
enough and are active enough, you will see something elsethe
real thing in the center, with the door locked tight, and you will
have a hard, long fight before you get behind that door, for there is
the engine that moves the wheels of your party machinery. (Political
Parties 5-6)
Ultimately, Catt believed the vote did not give women political power because
it did not guarantee them voices within the engines of electoral politics. Political
historian Kristi Andersen suggests that Catt's description of the parties' recep
tion of women is accurate. According to Andersen, party officials responded to
suffrage by "tr[ying] to redefine politics so that women's activities and interests
were clearly distinguished from men's: as a result, the space occupied by 'real'
(male) politics constricted" (166). For women to gain access to the discussion
rooms where platforms and candidates are made, they would need to decons
truct and rebuild political parties, the primary arenas of political debate.
Catt and the League hoped to overhaul the partisan electoral arena, thus
granting women positions of public influence from which to argue for their in
terests. What Jacqueline Jones Royster points out about African American
women writers holds true for women trying to enter political parties just after
the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment: "As people of low status or of no sta
tus or privilege, given the habitual hierarchies of power, in the discourse they are
deemed unimportant and made invisible or non-entities." As a result of "such
contexts of disregard," rhetors of low status "must not simply operate with rhe
torical eloquence ... they must also create a space in which their eloquence can

Rhetorical Education for Political Action


be heard" (63). For the League of Women Voters, creating such a space meant
breaking into and breaking open political party structures.
Central to the League's educational endeavors was a commitment to the ex
pansion of political communication beyond the boundaries imposed by political
parties. The League's goals during their first decade focused on increasing popu
lar access to political information and the means of political persuasion. In
creasing access meant working outside of the well-entrenched practices of the
political parties while also remaining immune to their power. Catt's 1919
speech arguing for the League of Women Voters as a needed response to a liter
acy crisis illustrates one important way the League was able to avoid partisan at
tacks. Catt could justify the organization of the League of Women Voters to the
political parties and the larger public by appealing to a nationalist sentiment.
Espousing the patriotic duty of molding immigrants into loyal Americans
through literacy instruction enabled Catt to argue for the continued political
work of the women in the NAWSA after they won the vote.
The League also established itself as a "nonpartisan" organization in order to
avoid party power. At election time, they did not endorse candidates, but in
stead provided women with information about issues and candidates' positions.
While League-circulated information surely resulted in some candidates appeal
ing more than others to women voters, the policy of refraining from official en
dorsement allowed the League to call itself nonpartisan and thus avoid party
authority. From their position outside these entrenched and tainted channels of
political communication, the League could then work to provide newly enfran
chised women with the information and the tools for empowered participation
and political influence.
In keeping with these goals, the League employed numerous educational
methods, including "fact-finding surveys; study and discussion groups; radio
talks; public meetings; citizenship schools; ... pamphlets [... and] pre-election
work, consisting of voters' schools, nonpartisan meetings of candidates; and vis
its to legislative bodies" (Ely and Chappel 95). Here, I focus on two methods
through which the League instructed newly enfranchised women about political
structures and methods of political persuasion in their effort to gain positions of
rhetorical power in the electoral arena: 1) classroom and course-based instruc
tion and 2) hands-on experiential learning.
To understand the pedagogical methods the League employed, it is impor
tant to understand the context in which they developed and applied these meth
ods. Leaders of the League were influenced by the progressive education
movement of the early twentieth century, particularly by John Dewey's theories
of the interconnectedness of communication, education, and democracy.
Dewey's ideas appealed to the League because, like many new women voters in
the 1920s, he recognized that political discussion at the time was ruled by exces
sively powerful political parties. Such control of political discussion by party ma
chinery, Dewey argued, perverted democratic communication. Writing in The
Public and Its Problems, Dewey lamented that


Professing Rhetoric

Instead of individuals who make choices which are carried into ef

fect by personal volition, there are citizens who have the blessed op
portunity to vote for a ticket of men mostly unknown to them, and
which is made up for them by an under-cover machine in a caucus
whose operations constitute a kind of political predestination
The public is so confused and eclipsed that it cannot even use the or
gans through which it is supposed to mediate political action and
polity. (120-21)
Reviving democracy, Dewey contended, required improving channels of politi
cal communication: "the highest and responsive art of communication must
take possession of the physical machinery of transmission and circulation and
breath life into it
for democracy ... will have its consummation when free so
cial inquiry is indissolubly wedded to the art of full and moving communica
tion" (Public and Its Problems 112).
Additionally, the League sought to enact a Deweyian commitment to pro
gressive education by promoting learning by doing. Throughout Democracy and
Education, Dewey critiques the educational approach he calls "scholasticism"or education that is concerned with theoretical arguments and remote
facts divorced from the current experience of learners. As Stephen Fishman and
Lucille McCarthy explain, Dewey advocates, instead, the teaching of concepts
"not as isolated ends in themselves, but as interdependent tools for addressing
pressing social problems" (66). Similarly, League historian Valborg Fletty ex
plains that within the League, "John Dewey's philosophy of learning to do by
doing was adopted. Study was related to use and action. ... The end sought was
not mere interest in government, but doing something about government" (7).
The League's efforts to involve women in political communication first in
volved teaching them about the existing mechanics of government through
League sponsored "citizenship schools." After the 1919 Jubilee Convention,
Catt, along with various faculty at the University of Chicago, organized what
Catt called "a school of citizenship"a series of lectures and discussions address
ing topics such as political primaries, political parties and party machinery, fraud
in politics, campaign funding and campaign finance laws, the distribution of
power in the federal government, and the judiciary system. Citizenship schools,
based on this first school in 1919, became a common feature of the League dur
ing its first decade, with approximately 1,300 such schools held in localities
through the nation by the end of the decade (Fletty 9). Often, these schools de
veloped in conjunction with colleges and universities whose faculty assisted in
the League's educational efforts. Schools from Yale and Brown to the University
of Minnesota and the University of Alabama were involved in educating the new
electorate through League-sponsored citizenship schools in the 1920s. Women's
colleges were particularly important links to the broader public for the League's
educational endeavors. At its first meeting, the League Executive Committee,
acting on the offered assistance of Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard Col

Rhetorical Education for Political Action


lege and President Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr, suggested that women's col
leges serve as "research laboratories" that might assist in the study of civic life
and the preparation of printed materials to inform voters about the findings of
such study ("Where Citizenship" 18-19).
Because effecting change within the existing system relied on the construction
of persuasive arguments, much of the League's early work also involved teaching
women about rhetorical tactics of political influence. Instruction in techniques of
interviewing public officials, public speaking, testifying before legislative bodies,
as well as organizational tasks including writing petitions, resolutions, and other
documents of parliamentary procedure were central to the League's educational
program. League members actively sought to integrate these topics into curricula
at institutions that catered to women students, such as Normal schools and junior
colleges. Boston League leader Grace Johnson, for example, taught courses in the
rhetorical procedures of political influence at both the Wheelock School, a Nor
mal school, and the Garland School for Homemaking, a two-year junior college
offering otherwise traditional coursework for women in domestic issues such as
cooking, child care, and interior decorating. At both schools, Johnson trained stu
dents in parliamentary procedure, both to familiarize them with official proce
dures of governmental activity and to familiarize them with the methods of choice
for conducting meetings in women's organizations, such as the General Federa
tion of Women's Clubs, the NAWSA, and not incidentally, League of Women
Voters. These courses, according to course catalogues, covered "writing [commit
tee] reports" (Wheelock 15); "the management of a meeting; the making, amend
ing, and disposition of motions; writing formal resolutions, ... and constructing a
constitution" (Garland 1314). Such courses trained women for participation in
male-dominated political arenas and in organizations that might further enable
them to participate in those arenas.
As early as 1915, rhetorical education at the Garland School also included
Johnson's "English 7: Extemporaneous Speaking," or, as it was alternatively
called, "Spoken English." In an overview of the purposes of the course, Johnson
argued that skill in spoken English will enable the students "to be of influence in
family, community, school, society, in the world (internationally)" (Course Sylla
bus). Covering research, vividness, gesture, dress, and voice, among other
things, the course was specifically geared to assist those new to the world of po
litical influence. Johnson stressed that women needed to know how best to ad
dress potentially hostile audiences that were not yet ready to accept their
participation in political affairs, much less the changes they advocated. To this
end, she provided students with suggestions for cultivating appropriate atti
tudes toward hostile audiences. According to her lecture notes, Johnson urged
that a speaker "should treat his [sic] audience with courtesy and respect [and]
should be sympathetic toward his audience." Johnson also recommended that "a
speaker should maintain good humor at all times in order to sustain an appearance
of self-control" (Lecture Notes, emphasis in original). As an example of why
courtesy and good humor are needed by those addressing a hostile audience on


Professing Rhetoric

political matters, Johnson relayed the story of abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher:
"Under the most trying circumstances Henry Ward Beecher withstood the deri
sion, hisses, and insults of a[n] ... audience, without any show of ill temper and
eventually he got a hearing and won their respectful attention" (Lecture Notes).
Johnson also offered the speeches of Carrie Chapman Catt and Maud Wood
Park, the founder and first president of the League respectively, as examples of
successful management of potentially hostile audiences.
Johnson's courses also incorporated another central method by which the
League educated new voters in the rhetorical arenas of political life: experiential
learning. The Garland School course catalogue indicates that students engaged
in "Field Work" in conjunction with their studies of public speaking and parlia
mentary procedure. This field work took them to the State House, the Public Li
brary, or the Court House, thus allowing them to experience first hand the
arenas of communication they hopefully would engage in after graduation, per
haps even as members of the League of Women Voters.
At the national level, League educational endeavors also involved applied
learning in the techniques of debate and collaboration. To help women acquire
facility with rhetorical practices of political activism, the League involved their
national membership in the collaborative authoring of the annual program.
This process, which still takes place today, includes three stages. In the first
stage, members of the national program departments and standing committees
identify legislative objectives the League wishes to accomplish in the coming
year. In the second stage, information about these objectives circulates via pam
phlets, bulletins, and study kits to members of the League in all states. Finally,
based on study of and debate about these materials, members decide whether to
support, reject, or amend the proposed program.
First League President Maud Wood Park extended avenues of experiential
education by using them when she established the Women's Joint Congressio
nal Committee (WJCC) in 1920. The WJCC, a coalition of representatives from
twenty-two national women's organizations representing an estimated ten mil
lion women during the decade, provided a forum where women could organize
coalitions in support of legislation and where inexperienced women could learn
from other women well-versed in lobbying tactics, such as leaders of the
Women's Christian Temperance Union and former NAWSA members. As an
extension of the educational machinery put in gear by the League of Women
Voters to challenge political party dominance, the WJCC trained its members to
intervene in congressional activity. The WJCC Lookout Committee monitored
Congressional sessions for measures that might be of interest to women. News
of noteworthy legislation was then circulated nationwide via the WJCC's mem
ber organizations. As a WJCC press release touted in 1921, "This committee
acts as a clearing house for information concerning bills pending in Congress.
Through it women from one length of the country to the other are kept in touch
with the progress of legislation in which they may be interested" (qtd. in Annual
Meeting Report 11-12).

Rhetorical Education for Political Action


Additionally, the WJCC provided training for women in lobbying and testify
ing before congressional committees. Should five or more member organizations
support a particular piece of legislation, the WJCC formed a subcommittee that
actively lobbied for it by circulating publicity and interviewing and testifying be
fore congressional committees and other legislative officials. To enable local, state,
and national lobbying efforts, the Committee initiated educational programs for
the women of its member organizations. The WJCC campaign for the Child La
bor Amendment, for example, included plans for member organizations to assist
in "the preparation by a series of conferences or training classes of a group of mem
bers as speakers and active workers, equipped to speak with authority on the tech
nicalities involved in the subject" (Meeting Minutes, April 3, 1925). Activities
that educated women for direct involvement in the communicative practices of
political persuasion, Park emphasized, were the most important contribution of
the WJCC: "the great work of the WJCC is not to secure the passage of a few de
sirable measures but that it should be the means of interesting the new voters of
the country in desirable legislation and how such legislation may be obtained"
(Meeting Minutes, April 3, 1925).
In agreement with Dewey's belief that a reinvigorated democracy requires
"the improvement of the methods and conditions of debate, discussion, and per
suasion" (Public and Its Problems 208), the League of Women Voters and its affili
ated body, the Women's Joint Congressional Committee, expanded political
debate, discussion, and persuasion beyond the channels to which it had largely
been confined. That League practices threatened established channels is evident
from the resistance they generated. In 1923, the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service
of the War Department widely circulated the so-called Spider Web Chart, a doc
ument that purported to reveal intricate connections among subversive com
munist groups headquartered in Moscow and women's organizations such as
the League and the WJCC. Some verses that accompanied the chart reveal the
defensive rhetoric deployed against these organizations:
Miss Bolshevik has come to town
With a Russian cap and a German gown,
In women's clubs she's sure to be found
For she's come to disarm America
She sits in judgement on Capitol Hill
And watches appropriation bills
And without her O.K. it passesNIL
For she's there to disarm America
(qtd. in WJCC memo, April 17, 1924)
Borne in a nationalistic literacy crisis, the rhetorical practices by and for
which the League of Women Voters educated women for political influence
may not be ideal, but these educational methods might prove instructive to


Professing Rhetoric

many of us who regularly wonder how the teaching of rhetoric can work to en
rich civic discourse or to engage students further in political arenas. The acad
emy was substantially involved in providing instruction in conjunction with
the League, both through curricula that included courses focused on genres of
political influence and through faculty participation in League-sponsored citi
zenship schools. It seems worthwhile to consider if we in the academy today
should alter our pedagogical practices in order to contribute to the work the
League began in the 1920s.
Works Cited
Andersen, Kristi. After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics Before the New Deal. Chicago: U
of Chicago P, 1996.
Catt, Carrie Chapman. A Nation Calls: An Address to the Jubilee Convention of the National American
Woman Suffrage Association, St. Louis, MO March 24, 1919. Washington, DC: National League of
Women Voters, 1919.
. Political Parties and Women Voters: Address Delivered to the Congress of the League of Women Voters, Chi
cago, IL February 14, 1920. Washington, DC: National League of Women Voters, 1920.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press, 1916.
. The Public and Its Problems. Denver: Alan Swallow, 1927.
Ely, Mary, and Eve Chappell. Women in Two Worlds. New York: George Grady Press, 1938.
Fishman, Stephen, and Lucille McCarthy. John Dewey and the Challenge of Classroom Practice. Urbana:
NCTE, 1998.
Fletty, Valborg. Public Services of Women's Organizations. New York: George Banta Publishing, 1951.
The Garland School Catalogue, 192526. Boston: The Garland School for Homemaking, 1925.
The Garland School Catalogue, 1931-32. Boston: The Garland School for Homemaking, 1931.
Johnson, Grace A. Course Syllabus: English 7. Grace Johnson Papers (Woman's Rights Collection).
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
. Lecture notes, ms. Grace Johnson Papers.
Park, Maud Wood. "Organized Women and Their Legislative Program." Washington, DC: Women's
Joint Congressional Committee, 1925, 12pp.
Royster, Jacqueline Jones. Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women.
Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2000.
Wheelock College Course Catalogue, 193132. Boston: Wheelock College, 1931.
"Where Citizenship Has Been Taught." Woman Citizen (November 4, 1922): 1819.
Women's Joint Congressional Committee. Annual Meeting Report, 1921. Women's Joint Congres
sional Committee Records, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
. Meeting Minutes, Monday, February 14, 1921. ts. Women's Joint Congressional Committee Re
. Meeting Minutes, April 3, 1925. ts. Women's Joint Congressional Committee Records.
. Memo, April 17, 1924. ts. Women's Joint Congressional Committee Records.

University of Minnesota

Frederick Douglass,
Between Speech and Print

What qualifies one to speak in a democratic culture, and what makes our
words worthy of attention? What institutions and forms of discourse invest our
words with moral authority? This paper addresses these questions by analyzing
Frederick Douglass' rhetorical career. By analyzing three moments early in this
career, this paper explores the ways in which Douglass helped to pioneer a new
kind of civic discourse, embodied in the credibility of the personal experience
dramatized in public. By negotiating competing Christian and classical models
of rhetorical ethos, Douglass's work as a reformer suggests more broadly how
the conditions of moral witness in a democratic culture are shaped by the institu
tional and material contexts of mass media.
1841: What Gives a Slave's Words Their Power?
In August of 1841, Douglass spoke before a white audience for the first time
at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Convention in Nantucket. For activists in the
abolition movement, this moment would acquire the status of legend. As The
National Antislavery Standard reported:
Temperance meetings were held at Nantucket at the same time ab
olitionists were lecturing: and we indulged the hope that, as they
had the testimony of reformed drunkards to sustain their glorious
cause, so we might have some repentant slaveholder, or powerful
slave to testify 'that which they themselves did know.' The morning
of the twelfth instantly fulfilled our hopes. One recently from the
house of bondage, spoke with great power. Flinty hearts were
pierced, and cold ones melted by his eloquence, Our best pleaders
for the slave held their breath for fear of interrupting him ... It
seemed almost miraculous how he had been prepared to tell his
story with so much power. (Lampe, 61)
The "miracle" of Douglass's eloquence depended, of course, on two racist as
sumptions. First, that African Americans, whether slave or free, are generally


Professing Rhetoric

incapable of the art of oratory that was termed "eloquence"a standard of

speech, which, as the newspaper implies, required "preparation." Reviews re
peatedly expressed surprise that Douglass was "very fluent in the use of lan
guage" and "spoke as well as men who have spent all their days over books," as
The Higham Patriot observed after one of his speeches in 1844. In being so aston
ished with Douglass's words, Northern audiences betrayed their ignorance
about the informal means by which African Americans gained access to literacy
and rhetorical training, even under slavery. As David Chesebrough, John
Blassingame, and Gregory Lampe have shown in detail, Douglass's absorption
of the precepts of The Columbian Orator, and his immersion in a rich tradition of
folk preaching and storytelling, had prepared him well to speak in public.
The second racist assumption about the "miracle" at Nantucket was that the
value of Douglass's words came from their utility for the Abolition movementnot from the personal authority of Douglass, speaking for himself, but to
the impersonal authority of his example. In this sense, he was frequently adver
tised by the Abolitionists as a sort of novelty act: "the colored man speaks with
great power and pathos" (Lampe, 64). The miracle here, in other words, was that
the movement could acquire, at this moment, the firsthand testimony of "a pow
erful slave" to serve its pragmatic ends. As if by divine dispensation, "our best
pleaders for the slave" had been given precisely the rhetorical weapon they needed
for their cause, and which they knew how to exploit, having the paternal foresight
"to hold their breath," of allowing the slave to continue speaking.
Nineteenth-century Americans found themselves in the midst of a propa
ganda war for cultural reform pursued along a number of fronts, including not
only abolition but most notably temperance and women's rights. Using the
mass media of print and oratory to bring previously unrepresented voices into
civic discourse, these movements pioneered an ethos of personal witness rooted
in the Christian tradition of spiritual autobiography. As the temperance movement's use of reformed drunkards illustrated most powerfully, firsthand testi
mony "that which they themselves did know" as the National Standard put
itprovided a new model for the rhetorical authority of moral suasion. And yet
as the "miracle" of Douglass's public speech also suggested, the new media con
tinued to be organized according to neoclassical literary valuesa standard of
rhetorical eloquence cultivated by "men who have spent all their days over
books." Anglo-European elites certified public speech, and more generally the
male exercise of power in civic life, as an exclusive prerogative of professional au
thority: the result of college preparation for the ministry, law, medicine. Given
these competing standards, how did Douglass realize his power of speech?
Following his first appearance on the abolitionist platform at Nantucket,
Douglass was recruited as an "agent" to work for Garrison's anti-slavery move
ment. But he came on the public stage at a time when the nature and scale of civic
discourse changed dramatically in nineteenth-century America as a result of the
development of new oral and print forms of mass media. By 1833 there were three
times as many newspapers published in the states as in France or England, and be

Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print


tween 1825 and 1850 the number of magazines published grew from one hun
dred to over six hundred (Porter 351). At the same time, the public lecture
acquired unprecedented popularity and legitimacy as a channel of civic discourse,
made possible by expanding infrastructure of lyceums and commercial venues as
well as the "professionalization" of the lecturer (Bode, Scott). Douglass would em
brace his role in this environment with tireless energy, giving in the last six months
of 1841 over one hundred public lectures against slavery in sixty different towns
(Lampe). Within this new institutional and material environment of civic dis
course on a mass scale, with reform movements making multiple claims on the at
tention of Northern audiences, Douglass fashioned a rhetorical ethos that moved
across a variety of media, through public words that negotiated the competing
standards of neoclassical eloquence and moral suasion.
1845: Literary License of Public Speech
In 1845, Douglass published his first autobiography, The Narrative of Freder
ick Douglass, in order to prove, ironically, that he spoke from personal experience.
His public speaking had come to seem, for too many people who heard him in
the lecture hall, too miraculous. As he later wrote in My Bondage and My Freedom
(1855): "People doubted I had ever been a slave. They said I did not talk like a
slave, look like a slave, nor act like a slave...." (362). He used his autobiography
not only to demonstrate a first-hand knowledge about slavery "written by him
self," as its title declared, but to assume a traditional model of professional au
thority founded on study of books. He staked his credibility in the lecture hall on
a rhetorical performance in printa paradox illustrated especially well by the
moment when Douglass recounts his apostrophe to the moving ships on the
shore of the Chesapeake. It is the only moment in the narrative when Douglass
quotes himself, thus recording an act of speech. In contrast to the personal tone
and realism of the work as a whole, Douglass's words mimic the self-conscious
and formal lyricism of the orations and dialogues which Douglass had memo
rized from Caleb Bingham's The Columbian Orator, a rhetoric manual intended
for young gentlemen that was reprinted dozens of times and was the first book
Douglass purchased, while still a slave. In the eighteenth-century aesthetic tra
dition of Shaftesbury and associationist psychology, Douglass thus proves to his
white middle-class readers that he possesses a capacity for moral sentiments by
transcribing a rhetorical performance of sincerity, by writing a soliloquy of neo
classical eloquence.
In his preface to Douglass's narrative, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garri
son singles this apostrophe as the single "most thrilling" passage "of great elo
quence and power": "Who can read that passage, and be insensible to its pathos
and sublimity? Compressed into it is a whole Alexandrian library of thought,
feeling, and sentiment" (Douglass 33). For Garrison, it is not the eyewitness tes
timony of Douglass's narrative, "Written by Himself" as the title indicates from
the realistic authority of personal experience, that presents the strongest argu


Professing Rhetoric

ment against the evils of slavery. Rather, it is through the impersonal and styl
ized conventions of neoclassical rhetoric that Douglass makes his most
persuasive claim to moral authority, by demonstrating in his printed text a "sub
lime" capacity to embody the eloquence of nature and the idealized and divine
truths it represents. It was the eloquent presence of Douglass as a speaker within
his text that makes, for Garrison, those truths irrefutable: who could read and
remain insensible?
If, according to the Ciceronian cliche, eloquence was the best speech of the
best men, its usage as a term of literary distinction in the nineteenth century
continued to rationalize civic authority according to the elitist privilege of
higher education. The 1830 edition of Noah Webster's dictionary, for example,
defined "eloquence" primarily as "the act or art of speaking well, or with fluency
and elegance," using "correct, appropriate and rich expressions" (290); it de
fined oratory as a "speech or discourse composed according to the rules of ora
tory, and spoken in public ... pronounced on special occasions" (574).
Emphasizing elegance and propriety, Webster's definitions suggest the degree
to which nineteenth-century oratory derived its social power from the social
privilege of literary education acquired in the American college. Although Gar
rison did not go to college, he secured his own professional authority as a jour
nalist and a speaker by cultivating a neoclassical literary taste. Most
Anglo-European male leaders learned eloquence from the examples of Cicero,
Quintilian, and other Greek and Roman orations they encountered in the col
lege curriculum where, as Michael Halloran has pointed out, rhetoric "was the
classical art ... of public discourse," standing "very near if not precisely at the
center of pedagogical concerns" (257). Outside the classroom as well, American
culture was profoundly committed to the art of oratory (Cmiel, Graff). Young
men formed literary and debate clubs in which they competed with one another
for rhetorical distinction; Americans attended public speeches in huge numbers,
while the press followed political speech with the sort of detail it now reserves for
professional sports. The values of the neoclassical oratorical tradition were dis
seminated across the spectrum of formal and informal educational settings by
such "speakers" and "readers" as Caleb Bingham's The Columbian Orator, which
had been reprinted dozens of times by the time Douglass got his hands on an
Garrison's praise of Douglass's eloquence in his preface to the Narrative was a
form of professional certification for work on the lecture platform. In the same
way that slave narratives typically required prefaces of white sponsors testifying
to their authenticity, Garrison authorized Douglass to speak by invoking the
professional ethos of literary educationthe studied elegance of classical elo
quence preferred by Anglo-American elites. The first page of his preface recalls
that miraculous moment in 1841 when Douglass first spoke in public: "I shall
never forget his first speech at the convention " Garrison immediately fol
lowed him to the lecture podium to declare that Patrick Henry "never made a
speech more eloquent in the cause of liberty ..." (Douglass, 2930). In fact, as

Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print


Douglass later noted, "Mr Garrison followed me, taking me as his text," for an
oratorical "effort of unequaled power," given with "almost fabulous inspiration"
(358). Like so many other abolitionists and reviewers who would praise
Douglass's eloquence throughout his career, Garrison marshaled his own con
siderable eloquence to argue for the specific value of the slave's words as a
speechan accomplished performance of oratory, its "power" indexed not to per
sonal experience but to literary standards measured against the study of books.
As Garrison and so many other leaders of reform assumed, we owe our deference
in matters of civic life to those "best men" who speak with the authority of a col
lege educationthose who have mastered rules of rhetoric and who, by speak
ing with elegance, invest our public life with civic dignity as a "special occasion"
and presumably become entitled to our heightened respect as citizens.
1850s: The Power of Trembling in Public
At the end of his 1845 Narrative, Douglass described his 1841 debut before the
white audience in Nantucket: "I spoke but a few moments, when I felt a degree of
freedom, and said what I desired with considerable ease" (104). By 1855, however,
when Douglass published his second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom, he
claimed not to "remember a single connected sentence. It was with utmost difficulty
that I could stand erect, or that I could command and articulate two words without
hesitation and stammering. I trembled in every limb. I am not sure that my embar
rassment was not the most effective part of my speech, if speech it could be called"
(358). This was the very same speech that Garrison and others praised as a masterful
oratorical performance, and that launched Douglass's very long and very public ca
reer as a professional orator. The different way in which Douglass recalled the same
event suggests more than a faulty memory.
Douglass and other popular reformers used the popular lecture hall to pio
neer what has become a predominant form of civic discourse in the American
culture: the moral witness of ordinary experience. Like William Garrison,
Douglass was committed to moral suasion because he saw it as an alternative, re
demptive means of power to the corruption and hypocrisy of traditional political
interests and actors who customarily dominated civic discourse. Until their
splintering along regional lines in the later 1850s, the national parties managed
through repeated legal "compromises" to keep slavery from becoming a source
of open political conflict. If for this reason the slave-holders did not worry about
the political movement for abolition, Douglass noted, "it is the moral move
ment, the appeal to men's sense of right, which makes them and all our oppo
nents tremble
One great recommendation of this power of moral suasion is,
that everybody may exercise it, women as well as men, children as well as adults"
(Chesebrough 18). Where politics depends on the inequality of interests and the
competitive struggle for advantage, the power of moral suasion depends on its
radical universal potential: women, children, even ex-slaves may wield it and
cause opponents to tremble. Like Harriet Beecher Stowe's highly rhetorical


Professing Rhetoric

anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, Douglass is here redefining the values that
make public speech a medium of civic power.
Like Stowe, Douglass was drawing on a Christian tradition of rhetorical ethos
which, as Nan Johnson has suggested, can be traced to Platonic idealism. As
evangelical Protestantism made the spiritual witness of ordinary people more
visible in public life, and as sentimental culture of an emerging middle-class in
creasingly gave new priority to the capacity for moral agency in women and chil
dren, the influence of abolition as a movement was distinguished from merely
political rhetoric by its egalitarian, even promiscuous use of a rhetoric as a me
dium for moral divination. The power of moral suasion is founded in the univer
sal nature in the human body, and especially when wielded by those unused to
raising their voices in public, it bypasses the arguments, sophistry, and hypocrisy
by which learned men seek to avoid confronting moral truths. Trembling is no
longer merely the sign of political marginalization, the discomfort and fear ap
parent in those unused to raising their voice in civic affairs; it is shared by the cit
izens operating the political machinery of slavery, who have grown so used to
manipulating the civic prerogatives of their privileged literacy as to have no de
fense against its emotional powerno resistance to hearing the ordinary voices
of firsthand witnesses.
Like Garrison, Douglas believed that the abolition of slavery would be accom
plished entirely through moral suasion. It was through the power of its speakers
that it would effect political change. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the
criteria by which public speech was understood and experienced as a form of
power were under revision. In Douglass's early reception in the lecture hall, his
physical appearancethe visual sign of his race, and the subservience and igno
rance which it signified for white audiences in the Antebellum northbecame a
new kind of proof of his moral power, a new means of literally defining the nature
of eloquence. Note for instance the Herald of Freedom's coverage of Douglass's ora
tory in the months following his debut in the lecture hall. "There was great oratory
in his speechbut more of dignity and earnestness than what we call elo
quence. ... He is one of the most impressive and majestic speakers I have ever
heard. I have never seen a man leave the platform, or close a speech with more real
dignity and eloquent majesty" (Chesebrough 25). The reviewer qualifies the term,
"what we call eloquence," as though to draw attention to a more narrow, conven
tional, or technical usage to connote learned and elegant speech, only to praise
Douglass for his "real dignity and eloquent majesty."
In contrast to the formal conventions of classical eloquence, the "real dig
nity" of Douglass's oratorical presence was measured according to physical
cues (gender, class, and race) by which Northern audiences developed a senti
mental rhetoric of moral life. Douglass's audiences frequently invoked his im
posing physical presence:
As Douglass stood there in many attitude, with erect form, and glis
tening eye, and deep-toned voice, telling us that he had been se

Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print


cretly devising means to effect his release from bondage, we could

not help of thinking of Spartacus, the Gladiator; ... A man of his
shrewdness, and his power both intellectually and physically, must
be poor stuff ... to make a slave of ... (Chesebrough 21).
The impressive majesty with which Douglass comports himself as a speaker re
minds us of the power Cicero attributed to oratory to tame savages. Here too is
the enduring fantasy of popular rhetoric in America: that an ordinary man
might rise to distinction on the strength of his own character rather than the
pretensions and artifice of the aristocratic learning. Instead of relying on a false
dignity, predicated on privileges of formal education and its literary cultivation
of imagination, Douglass possesses the plebeian dignity of a Spartacus, defend
ing himself without any advantages besides those nature gave him, in body.
Without the aid of book learning, Douglass speaks with the direct, untutored,
earnest sincerity of his own example of classical manhood, but his racial example
in particular. On the crucial feature of his example, Maria Weston Chapman, an
officer of the Anti-slavery society, observed that "it is interesting to see with how
few words a man of color, like Douglass, can beat down the mountains of preju
dice, which a white man might work a day in vain to pile up proofs against"
(Lampe 103). In the context of abolition, as Chapin astutely recognized, the si
lent spectacle of an African American man standing in the lecture hall was not
only superior in force to the alienating abstractions of racial prejudice, but also
more effective as a weapon of civic reform than the classically inspired oratory of
Anglo-American reformers.
With the palpable evidence of Douglass's body repeatedly invoked to certify
the power of his rhetoric, he came to emphasize the rhetorical value of the "real,"
of trembling in public. Following his break with Garrison in 1847, Douglass
came to define the power of eloquence according to the moral authority of ordi
nary experience, against the classical tradition of eloquence invoked by Garrison
and himself in the Narrative of 1845. The evidence of learning, apparent in the
elegant use of language by which Webster defined eloquence, were no longer the
optimal means of influencing public opinion. For those women and slaves from
whom learning in classical rhetoric had traditionally been proscribed, trembling
bears the moral authority and dignity of ordinary experience: it is a force of the
heart, incommensurable in its influence against prejudice, the proofs piled up by
learned men. Douglass's increasingly identified the power of his own public
speech with the specific potential of the lecture medium itself, through which
large numbers of Americans for the first time came to recognize the "real dig
nity" of our physical difference in public.
By the 1850s, Douglass had developed a new appreciation of the unique civic
influence which the public lecture could have as an instrument of moral suasion,
distinct from the professional mediation of an elite literary education. As
Douglass noted in 1854, abolition could best be accomplished though the pub
lic lecture because of the opportunity it provided to exploit the medium of the


Professing Rhetoric

human body itself: "The live, calm, grace, clear, pointed, a warm, sweet, melodi
ous and powerful human voice is [the] chosen instrument of humanity, justice
and liberty demand the service of the living human voice" (Blassingame xxv).
This "instrument" of the human voice could affect audiences more effectively
than print because of the sensory immediacy of "the living human voice." But
Douglass also saw the lecture hall as a more efficient medium for moral suasion
than the time-consuming reading of books by individuals. In his newspaper the
North Star, Douglass described the lecturer as
a modern invention, called forth by the increasing demands of rest
less human nature. His office is to communicate knowledge to make
men wise, happy and free. He performs the work of instruction on a
grand, yet economic scale, dispensing to thousands what before was
only received by fifties, and doing in one hour what could only be ac
complished in weeks. (Blassingame xxv)
This "invention" had a unique capacity to efficiently exploit the spectacle of
the human body for moral suasion. To feed the particular needs of the medium,
Douglass went on to argue, the reform movement needed "men of heart rather
than learning," whose eloquence came on the inspired authority of corporeal ex
perience, rather than the secondhand study of books and literary conventions of
classical eloquence.
Oratory was perhaps the most popular and venerated literary form of nineteenth-century America. As the case of Douglass's early career on the lecture cir
cuit suggests, however, it was a contested form, subject to competing claims
about the source and nature of truth in civic discourse. The competing claims of
moral suasion and classical eloquence made on Douglass's words, by others and
by himself, were emblematic of larger struggles over the nature and medium of
civic authority in a democratic culture. We might trace our own culture's sensa
tional commodification of "real" experience, apparent, for example, in television
and radio talk shows and the fad of "live" coverage and personal biography, to
the emergence of reform rhetoric that emerged in the nineteenth century with
the maturation our culture's first truly mass media.
Works Cited
Blassingame, John. Introduction. The Frederick Douglass Papers. New Haven: Yale U, 1979-1992.
Chesebrough, David. Frederick Douglass: Oratory From Slavery. Westport: Greenwood, 1998.
Cmiel, Kenneth. Democratic Eloquence . Berkeley: UC, 1990.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Ed. David Blight. New York: Bedford,
. My bondage and My Freedom. New York: Dover, 1969 [1855].
Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature, An Institutional History. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1987.
Johnson, Nan. "Ethos and the Aims of Rhetoric." Essays on Classical Rhetoric and Modern Discourse. Ed.
Robert Connors, Lisa Ede, and Andrea Lunsford. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U, 1984.98114.

Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print


Lampe, Gregory. Frederick Douglass: Freedom's Voice, 18181845. East Lansing: Michigan State UP,
Porter, Carolyn. "Social Discourse and Nonfictional Prose." Columbia History of American Literature.
Ed. Emory Elliot. New York: Columbia, 1988. 345-63.
Scott, Donald. "The Profession that Vanished: Public Lecturing in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Amer
ica." Professions and Professional Ideologies in America. Ed. Gerald Geison. Chapel Hill: U North
Carolina P, 1987. 12-28.
Webster, Noah. An American Dictionary for the English Language. New York: Samuel Converse, 1830.

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Alabama State University

When the 'Past Is Not Even the Past':

The Rhetoric of a Southern Historical Marker

I live in Montgomery, Alabama, where, in the words of William Faulkner,

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."1 Faulkner's observation is particu
larly keen given my newfound home's moniker as "The Heart of Dixie." When
one thinks of American history during the last one hundred and forty years,
Montgomery, Alabama, is akin to ground zero in that the two epochal events
that define modern American democracy, namely, the Civil War and the modern
Civil Rights Movement, both began there.
On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis stood on the west portico steps of the
Alabama state capitol and took his oath of office as President of the Confederate
States of America. Consequently, the inception of the Confederacy began in
Montgomery: its constitution was written there; its Congress first assembled
there; and its first White House was located there. Montgomery remained the
capital of the Confederacy until May 1861 when it was subsequently moved to
Richmond, Virginia.
Nearly one hundred years after Davis's inauguration, America's second cata
clysm occurred when Rosa Parks's December 2, 1955 arrest for violating Montgomery's segregation ordinance launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and
ostensibly, the modern civil rights movement. Five years prior, historian E.
Marion Prior wrote of the Civil War in a manner that historians would later
speak of the Civil Rights Movement, "These four years (18611865) were of al
most equal importance to all Americans, for what took place in the South re
acted on the whole country with greater effect than that of any other four years
in American history."2 Because the defeated South never fully reconstructed, the
Civil War precipitated the Civil Rights Movement. For freedwomen and freed
men, and for their descendants, the promise of Reconstruction remained largely
unfulfilled. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this point the eve of the bus boy
cott. Addressing an overflowing crowd assembled at Montgomery's Holt Street
Baptist Church, Dr. King asserted, "The only weapon that we have in our hands
this evening is the weapon of protest
If we were trapped in the dungeons of a
totalitarian regimewe couldn't do this. But the great glory of American de
mocracy is the right to protest for right."3 Dr. King understood that the U.S.
Constitution was never color-blind, and that only when it became color sensi


Professing Rhetoric

tive, did democracy for all Americans improve. Robert Penn Warren also knew
this. In his book commemorating the one hundred year anniversary of the be
ginning of the Civil War, Penn Warren wrote, "The Founding Fathers were not
really 'democratic' ... democracy stemmed from the Civil War."4
Given this backdrop, my paper examines the topic of historical markers dedi
cated to the memory of the "Blue and Gray" located in Montgomery. Many
scholars have delved into the efficacy of war memorials and monuments as
"texts," and as "works;" however, very little research by comparison has been
done on historical markers. Although markers do not constitute a building or
edifice as monuments or memorials do, like the former, historical markers do at
tempt to "instruct their visitors about what is to be valued in the future as well as
in the past." For these reasons, I am interested in historical markers as rhetoric,
"as apartisan and meaningful language."5 Historical markers are not innocuous.
There is perhaps no greater partisan historical moment in American history
than the Civil War, and there are perhaps few places where partisanship in
"The Lost Cause" runs deeper than in "The Cradle of the Confederacy." In
Montgomery, Alabama, and elsewhere in the South, Civil War memorials,
monuments, and historical markers represent "consecrated forms of piety."6
One only has to consider the brouhaha over the Confederate Battle Flag in
South Carolina. Questions about whether the Battle Flag, and by extension,
the Confederacy represented racism continue to polarize our nation. Again,
Robert Penn Warren offered a perceptive observation when he concluded, "A
clear objective fact is that the Civil War abolished slavery, even if it did little or
nothing to abolish racism."7
There are currently eighteen historical markers highlighting the Civil War in
the city and county of Montgomery. The procedure to obtain a marker is fairly
perfunctory: requests are reviewed by a committee of the Alabama Historical
Association Historical Marker program which decides whether the site is histor
ically significant as well as whether the text is accurate. The text can run up to
fifteen lines with forth-three spaces per line, and the cost today is between
$1,350 and $1,695. There are markers for the first Confederate Soldiers' Home,
and the building where the telegraph message to fire on Fort Sumter was sent.
These were, of course, the first shots of the Civil War. There are also historical
markers for when the U.S. flag was raised over the Alabama capitol, marking its
surrender on April 12, 1865. Only one historical marker has ever raised hue and
cry, and only one marker has ever been stolen. They both are the same, and the
controversy over this marker is what this paper concerns.
On or about October 26, 1995, a historical marker denoting the capture of
Montgomery by Union Major General James Harrison Wilson was stolen from
its location on Dexter Avenue near the state capitol. It seemed that someone was
so incensed by the ideal of paying tribute to the man whose soldiers looted and
burned the University of Alabama, as well as the city of Selma, that a person or
persons literally lifted the one-hundred-pound aluminum cast marker. Despite
a $1,000 reward offered by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's

The Rhetoric of a Southern Historical Marker


Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, police had few clues and no
suspects. Animus toward the marker and its sponsors seemed to have come prin
cipally form two sources: individual and organizational Southern patriots who
reasoned that the "persons responsible for erecting the marker should be 'tarred
and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.'"8 One angry Alabamian indi
cated then when Cleveland, Ohio, erected a monument to Nathan Bedford For
rest, then, and only then, would he accept a marker to Wilson inMontgomery.9
The most vociferous outcry came from groups such as the Sons of Confederate
Veterans (SCV) and the United Daughters of Confederacy. When the UDC met in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, during the first days of this story, members were aghast at
the idea of a marker to Wilson. Said UDC member, Pat Godwin, "I'm thrilled. My
hat's off to whoever did it, and I hope that it (the marker) is at the bottom of the
Alabama River. Erecting an historic marker to Gen. Wilson was a 'scalawag thing
to do.'"10 For their own part, the Sons of Confederate Veterans were more matter-of-fact. They complained about the language or text found on the marker. In
particular, SCV objected to the reference to Wilson as "An Exceptional American
Soldier." I suppose the "exceptional" was too strong a modifier for the likes of the
SCV, after all, just before his triumphant occupation of Montgomery, Wilson had
defeated the legendary General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
At twenty-seven, James H. Wilson was the youngest major general in the U.S.
Army during the Civil War, earning the appellation "boy general." With approxi
mately 14,000 soldiers under his command, Wilson had charge of the largest cav
alry on either the Union or Confederate side.11 Any reference to him as exceptional
was no hyperbole. The Montgomery Chamber of Commerce position regarding
the text was unambiguous. As the former Chamber chair responded, "This isn't
China, we don't edit and revise our history to please those who want it a certain
way...."12 The Chamber official was only partly correct; one only has to think
about the Enola Gay controversy between the Smithsonian Institute and the Vet
erans of Foreign Wars as one recent example of capitulation and altered text.
The SCV also objected to the mention of the "heroic volunteer firefighters"
who saved Montgomery from burning to the ground when retreating Confeder
ate troops set fire to downtown warehouses filled with cotton and corn. The esti
mated value of the cotton alone was put at $40,000,000.13 The SCV wanted the
marker to specify that the firemen were Montgomery citizens. While one might
understand the SCV concerns, they simple misinterpreted the text and readfire
men to mean "Union soldiers." Conversely, perhaps many rank and file members of
the SCV would have been surprised to learn that while the volunteer firemen were
all Montgomery residents, they were not all Montgomery citizens. In fact, many of
these firemen were slaves who replaced the white regulars when all able-bodied
white males were conscripted into the War with the Conscription Act of 1862.14 The
black firemen literally helped to save Montgomery from destruction by fire and not
even the original historical marker to Wilson mentioned these slave firemen. Testi
mony of their valor can be found in one Montgomery newspaper: "The city fire
companies deserve the highest commendation. The members of the negro fire


Professing Rhetoric

company especially deserve great praise. The brave fellows, reckless of life and
limb met the furious flames at every advance."15
Postmodern rhetoricians such as Blair, Jepperson, and Pucci teach us that the
goal of textual reading in architecture is to look for fragments. According to them,
"The critic's intervention begins with the construction of the text, not with the se
lection of the work."16 To be sure, knowing that black men made up the conten
tion of volunteer firefighters that saved Montgomery is an important "fragment"
if we are going to wrest as much of this narrative (history) as possible.
The stolen historical marker to Major General Wilson was finally recovered
but never returned to its original location. It now resides at Maxwell Air Force
Base in Montgomery for reasons that are not entirely clear, except, maybe, if the
marker were stolen now, it would be a federal crime. The city itself is currently
undergoing a historical renaissance.
The Montgomery branch of Troy State University is just months away from
opening its brand new Rosa Parks Library and Museum. Work is underway to
complete the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, and my own univer
sity, Alabama State, just announced the debut of its National Center for the Study
of Civil Rights and African American Culture. In fact, the cities of Birmingham,
Montgomery, Tuskegee, and Selma are now working to interface information
about their respective civil rights histories. Hence, historical markers denoting Alabama's civil rights movement will soon proliferate. Crafting the text for these
markers is a challenge given the concerns about too heavy-handed analysis.
The reason that historical markers, monuments, and memorials denoting the
Civil War are so fraught with tension today has little to do with whether the War
was fought over noble intentions or fought by noble men. This debate has more to
do with our nation's struggle to balm over its original sin, African enslavement.
Thomas Jefferson once said that he trembled when he considered that God was
just, and that His justice would not sleep forever. Yet, this concern did not keep
Jefferson from holding his slaves in bondage until the day he died. These squab
bles over markers, monuments, and memorials attempt to obfuscate the more
painful reality; that is, our nation is still split into white and nonwhite, separate
and unequal. I began my paper by suggesting that Montgomery is America's
Concord for the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement were really struggles for
democracy and citizenship under the purview of the Constitution.
Take, for example, Michael Hill, historian and President of the Tuscaloosa,
Alabama-based League of the South, a Southern nationalist organization that
wants to secede from the United States. In a talk show interview that he gave in
August 1999, Hill labeled the NAACP as a "hate-mongering organization" be
cause, as Hill put it, "The NAACP came out with a plan in the mid to late 1980s
to go after the monuments, the symbols of my ancestors whom I think were
honorable men ... "17 The point here is not to deny that Robert E. Lee was a pa
triot; the point is that where Hill sees just honor for his ancestors, when I con
sider his ancestors, I see shame, misery, and dishonor. Section 3, part 3 of the
Confederate Constitution stated in part, "The institution of slavery as it now ex

The Rhetoric of a Southern Historical Marker


ists in the Confederate States shall be recognized and protected by Congress."

Slavery was not just an ignoble institution; it was also an unmitigated evil. Be
fore 1861, the South was a plutocracy controlled by a slave planter class. And
while it was true that the majority of whites did not own slaves, and the majority
that did were yeoman farmers, the South was a slave-based economy. To use a
cliche, slavery was the South's bread and butter. The defense of slavery was a
very strong reason why the South fought the Civil War. Michael Hill knows this
and is loathed to concede it.
Although I am not a rhetoric teacher per se, I am a humanities teacher who
happens to teach rhetoric as part of my composition classes. One of the chal
lenges in teaching this class to mostly first-year students is getting them to de
construct their notions of Truth, and language's ability or inability to reveal the
truth. Sharon Crowley defines rhetoric as a "search for persuasion rather than the
truth." My students and I often struggle with this issue as we attempt to recon
cile Southern history and culture. If rhetors, as Crowley advises us, are obligated
by their membership in communities to always speak and write as good persons,18 how then do we resolve intracommunity and intercommunity differences
over the definition of a good person or an honorableperson? These thoughts are para
mount as we think about Confederate battle flags and historical markers to Yan
kee generals in Confederate capitals.
Southern patriots are fond of referring to the Civil War as a struggle for sover
eignty or a struggle to protect sacred traditions. These same loyalists describe
the North's actions as unprovoked, and as unchecked aggression. Such views of
the South and of Southerners ignore completely the millions of black South
erners and their circumscribed lives. I am reminded of a defense of the Confeder
ate battle flag given by June Murray Wells, President General, and Director of
the Confederate Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. She noted, "The Battle
Flag was the soldier's flag used by the military.... I was there [at the South
Carolina state Capitol] in 1962 when the flag was raised over the dome. There
was absolutely no negative intent. It was raised as a symbol of Southern pride
and unity, and as a memorial to all of those who lost their lives defending our right
to live as we choose" (emphasis added).19 Wells's selective mediation of history con
veniently glosses over the second civil war in full assault against the ramparts of
Jim Crow in 1962 by another group of Southerners who wanted to change the
way they were being forced to live.
"What does it mean for a culture to remember?" is a simple yet thought-provoking question put forth in Marita Sturken's Tangled Memories: The Vietnam
War, The Aids Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering. For Sturken, cultures often
contest the meanings or the interpretations of their monuments, memorials,
and history. This seems particularly true in the case of the Confederacy and the
Civil War. After all, is it not true that "a nation's monuments efface as much his
tory from memory as they inscribe in it?" (63). Until very recently, it was as
sumed that since Blacks played an insignificant role in the Confederacy's war
effort, black Southerners today would have little interest in reifying Confederate


Professing Rhetoric

history. That is perhaps partially true; I believe that black Southerners in partic
ular, and Blacks in general, have little interest in pursuing a Confederate history
that serves as an ode to dead white men or a history where Blacks only have
agency given to them by Whites. Sturken talks of the National Vietnam War
Memorial as a screen onto which personal memory and cultural memory con
verges, and collides (45). I believe the same can be said about the Civil War. All
of this musing leaves us still pondering the question asked by Frederick
Douglass in the wake of the Civil War, "If war among the whites brought peace
and liberty to blacks, what will peace among the whites bring?"20
1. Quoted from Requiem for a Nun in Tony Horwitz. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfin
ished Civil War (New York: Pantheon, 1998) 352.
2. E. Merton Coulter, The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP,
1950) ix.
3. Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 195463 (New York: Simon, 1988) 140.
4. Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War: Mediations on the Centennial (New York: Random,
1961) 15, 79.
5. Carole Glair, Marsha S. Jeppeson, and Enrico Pucci, Jr. "Public Memorializing in Postmodernity: The
Vietnam Veterans Memorial as Prototype," Quarterly Journal of Speech 77 (1991): 264, 266, 269.
6. Penn Warren 23.
7. Penn Warren 7.
8. John D. Alcorn, "Union General's Marker Stolen," The Montgomery Advertiser 27 Oct. 1995: B1.
9. Tony Horwitz 359.
10. Alvin Benn, "Historical Marker Theft Finds Support," The Montgomery Advertiser 28 Oct. 1995:
11. James Pickett Jones, Yankee Blitzkrieg: Wilson's Raid through Alabama and Georgia (Athens: U of
Georgia P, 1987, 1976) 3.
12. "Union General Marker's Stolen,"
13. Frank Mastin, Jr. "Marker Honoring Union General Kicked Out of Town," The Montgomery Adver
tiser 29 Mar. 1996: A1, A3.
14. William Rogers, Jr. Montgomery During the Civil War (Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1999) 83.
15. Montgomery Daily Mail 17 Apr. 1865.
16. Blair, Jeppeson, and Pucci, Jr. 282.
17. Alan Colm, "Dr. Hill and the Crawfish on Talk Radio," The Alan Colm Show: News Talk 1050
WEVD New York 19 Aug. 1999 http://www.dixienet.org/pressquotes WEVD.htm
18. Sharon Crowley, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students (Boston: Allyn, 1994) 110.
19. June Murry Wells, "South Carolina Flag and the Lee Mural in Richmond, Virginia" 29 Jan. 2000
20. David W. Blight, '"What Will Peace Among the Whites Bring?" Reunion and Race in Struggle
over the Memory of the Civil War in American Culture," The Massachusetts Review 34 (1993): 396.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Kairos and the Rhetorical Place

Kairos is more than a vital rhetorical term: it is quintessentially a term of ethi

cal agency. Matters of right timing and due measure, or any of their offshoots,
imply a doer poised at the rhetorical crossroads of doing. Hence kairos situates
the rhetor in time and place at the point of social action. For the attuned rhetor,
kairos forces not just decision but also judgment, and as such kairos is at the van
guard of both ethical and rhetorical action.
Understanding kairos in this way tags the action to follow as emanating from
the rhetor, placing the responsibility upon the rhetor to determine when to
make his or her rhetoric present, when to make the private public. Seen this way,
kairos is a logic of rhetorical intervention.
Even as I hold to this concept of kairos, I also think it perhaps incomplete. As a
fix, I would like to offer a reading of kairos not intended to compete with but
rather to augment the already well-established resurrection of that ancient
term. According to this complimentary reading, kairos is less about the
"right-timing" of rhetoric and more about a domain of time created for rhetoric,
a time which makes possible the emergence of a multitude of meanings not at
tributable to any particular rhetorical agent. Shifting away from a human focus,
rhetorical agency here is in large part given over to the confluence of kairos (a
temporally bordered domain) and place (a physically bordered domain), a con
fluence in which rhetorical time and rhetorical action are marked off and con
tained. I come to this reading of kairos by way of a 1967 essay by Frank
Kermode, and my application of place to kairos and rhetoric derives from Aristotle's Physics. I will get to both writings shortly. First though, I would like to
gloss three well-established commentaries on kairos for some perspective.
James Kinneavy tells us that kairos appears as early as the seventh century
BCE, by the Greek poet Hesiod: "Observe due measure, and proportion [kairos]
is best in all things" (80). By the fifth century, Kinneavy tells us, Gorgias ex
pands on Hesiod's maxim, making "kairos the cornerstone of his entire episte
mology, ethics, aesthetics, and rhetoric" (81). Though "complex," "the two basic
elements ... the principle of right timing and the principal of proper measure" as
key rhetorical concepts "continue unabated through Cicero" (85), but "the re
sidual influence of kairos is almost a negligible chapter in the history of rhetoric


Professing Rhetoric

since antiquity, partly because of the overwhelming influence of Aristotelian

rhetoric in this history" (82).
John Poulakos writes that "the Sophists were interested in the problem of
time in relation to speaking ... The Sophists stressed that speech must show re
spect to the temporal dimension of the situation it addresses, that is, it must be
timely. In other words, speech must take into account and be guided by the tem
porality of the situation in which it occurs" (27). Coupled with "the sense of ur
gency" which "compels a rhetor to speak" (28), Poulakos arrives at the Sophistic
implication that "ideas have their place in time, and unless they are given exis
tence, unless they are voiced at the precise moment they are called upon, they
miss their chance to satisfy situationally shared voids within a particular audi
ence ... The choice is not whether to speak but whether to speak now" (28).
In "Kairos and the Rhetoric of Belief," Dale Sullivan locates kairos outside
classical rhetoric and in early Christian theology. In his study of the New Testa
ment, Sullivan finds kairos used in four different ways:
One is simply a neutral, non-rhetorical, word for time, a meaning
that is relatively rare ... The other three meanings ofkairos,which
are rhetorical in their associations, can be distributed along a con
tinuum of time lengths, from a single point to a season to a time of
fulfillment, but they all suggest that there is an opportune time for
something to occur, that there are special times determined by God,
shown by God, and filled with God. Put succinctly, kairos in these
three meanings signifies "loaded time." (321)
Following further elaboration of the three rhetorical meanings of kairos,
Sullivan summarizes that "in these cases, as in those mentioned earlier, the word
conveys the sense of ripening" (322).
Here I depart from commonly held notions of kairos and offer an alternative
interpretation, one which I think stretches the idea of rhetorical agency. Bor
rowing kairos from early Christian theology as well, but secularizing it, literary
theorist Frank Kermode takes what Sullivan would have called "ripening" and
applies it to fiction. In an essay called "Fictions," Kermode argues that readers
entering the realm of fiction enter a temporal dimension wholly separated from
"real-time" or clock-time (even as the fiction is submersed in "real-time," i.e.,
our real daily living). A story's plot subjects the reader to the fiction's own
unique rhythm, where minutes can be exploded to last for chapters, and decades
can be traversed with the turning of a page. Whatever the fictive rhythm, time
stays open, alive, for as long as the reading takes. The reader is only as close to
finishing the story as the story is to finishing itself: if I bookmark a 200-page
book at page 100 and leave it for a day, a month, a year, when I pick up that book
again, its story resumes right where I left off.
Immersed in this temporality, the reader is captive of the conclusion. Not
knowing how or when the sequence of events will conclude, the reader is pulled

Kairos and the Rhetorical Place


along an arc of narrative time in which each unfolding present moment is not
just the successor but the summation of all moments past, since the Beginning.
It is a time which, like the story's twists and turns, builds and accumulates, and
which the reader must store and carry. A load of time, to play on Sullivan. It is
time marked by growing suspense in that the outcome remains unknown yet
each word, each page, impels one forward, implying that some unifying signifi
cance awaits come The End. The outcome, the conclusion, can be anticipated,
even predicted, but not known until it is finally reached. And it is only when we
arrive at The End, Kermode argues, that we can look back on all that has taken
place since the Beginning as an organic narrative whole, and thereby organize
our understanding of it. This fictive expanse, from a Beginning on to and includ
ing an Ending, is how Kermode envisionskairos, and the plot which fills this ex
panse, what he calls the Middest, is the narrative equivalent of Sullivan's theistic
Likening it to the tick-tock of a clock, where tick awaits tock to close the kairos,
to organize the "time," Kermode's fictive reading of kairos adds to its classical
forbears not only a narrative structure, but closure. That is, not only does
Kermode's kairos suggest an opportune time to doto Beginby its very be
ginning it commits to an End, and to the interrelatedness of all that transpires in
between. In this sense we receive kairos not as a strategic point in time but as a
set of linked points, who are not only connected to each other but which produce
a coordinated Ending, a way of summing up and interpreting the preceding chain
of narrative events traceable back to the Beginning.
In the real world, Kermode's kairos implies for us a way to organize the mean
ing of an event, to make, as the title of his essay collection suggests, "sense of an
Ending."Tick-tockprompts us to look for causation, a way to explain, a belief that
life's events can be understood relationally. In strictly rhetorical terms, this also
gives us a way to think of kairos as not just a timely interjection into an opportune
moment, but also as a time-filled construction which envelops us. That is, if kairos
can be understood as an unfolding arc of time, rather than as a timely punctuation,
we are then invited to imagine the kairos of rhetorical discourse in new ways. I sug
gest that places can serve as sources of new discourse.
In his Physics Aristotle asserts that "things that are are somewhere, because
what is not is nowhere" (208a27). Though this sounds a little like
2,500-year-old Beat poetry, in fact Aristotle is trying to nail down that which
must be before anything else can be, and for him, place is primary. Therefore,
prior to the kairos of discourse, we must take into account the place of that dis
course, for the kairos of discourse (discourse itself), can no less be "somewhere,"
i.e., in a place, than anything else that "is."
Aristotle uses the idea of a vessel, a container, to serve as a metaphor for place.
A vessel contains whatever is poured into it, the shape of the vessel shaping its
contents, but never becoming one with them. That is, the vessel does not be
come wine when filled with wine, nor does it become oil when filled with oil.
Though they may differ in kind, when in the vessel both oil and wine identically


Professing Rhetoric

take on the vessel's shape. Put differently, the shape of the vessel determines the
shape of its contents. And once its contents are displaced, the vessel as place re
mains, ready for new contents.
Consistent with this containing and shaping notion of place is that at the
same time a vessel limits its contents and holds them intact, keeps them from
spilling out, the vessel simultaneously protects its contents from outside infiltra
tion or contamination. That is, it protects. Place, therefore, as container, serves
the dual purpose of closing in as it closes out. But it is axiomatic: before there can
be containment, there must be a container.
In Aristotle's place terms, then, we can say that before there can be any rheto
ric, and especially that which we might call public rhetoric, there must be a place
for that rhetoric. And by place here, I mean quite literally a physical domain of
some kind able to contain, shape, and protect the discourse, able to serve as a
vessel for it. For instance, without the Hyatt-Regency Washington (or some ho
tel of its kind), the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) would not have had a place
within which to hold its 2000 conference (at which this paper was presented),
would not have had a place which simultaneously contained, shaped, and pro
tected participants and their discourse. Yet, the place was not without discursive
restrictions: even within the conference, even among the RSA membership, only
so many rooms apportioned over so many alphanumeric sessions allowed for just
so many panels and presenters. What has happened to the unripened projects of
those who submitted proposals but who did not find a place within that hotel,
over the course of that conference, to present? What has happened to that dis
course? In other words, the physical limitations of the place (Hyatt-Regency
Washington) forced decisions about the discourse it could contain.
How then does kairos relate to this notion of place? Quite simply in this way:
like Kermode's model oftick-tock,all places too come into beingtick, and as
logic suggests, eventually will cease to betock. Places too, then, are kairotic,
even if they seem outside of kairos's arc. Again, take for instance Hyatt Regency
Washington hotel, owned by the Hyatt Corporation, constructed in 1977. Since
its openingits tickit has set out on a corporate narrative of "hospitality-cum-profits"; someday the hotel will be sold or torn downreach tock as a
Hyatt hotel narrativeand with its closing will end the decades long arc of
tick-tock, the Hyatt Regency Washington story as a place of hospitality-cum-profits. (Punning Kermode, in poring over the numbers, corporate ac
countants and financial officers no doubt will then try to make both sense and
cents of its ending.)
Yet as the Dissoi Logoi shows us, depending on where one stands, different
stories stand out, and so even beneath the corporate kairos overarching this
place, this hotel, other kairoi have been and continue to be inscribed, so that
the hotel becomes a palimpsest of kairoi large and small. A case in point: most
RSA conference attendees likely had no sense of the Hyatt narrative the hotel
is living out and, just as likely, would have little cared. All, however, were
aware that the conference began on May 25, and ended on May 28. Ticking on

Kairos and the Rhetorical Place


Thursday, Tocking on Sunday, this four-day period formed the RSA's 2000 con
ference kairos, itself having been made present within the overarching kairos of
the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Long after the RSA packed up and went home, the
Hyatt narrative carried on.
In short, kairoi come into existence in places, as places. Place, then, is the pri
mary medium. Place provides the pages upon which kairoi can get written and
across which kairoi can endure. Place provides the material room for kairos to
range, and kairos, as a range, provides the temporal room for rhetorical action.
Hand in glove, the temporal dimension of kairos within the physical dimension
of place creates the rhetorical place.
Hence, within a rhetorical place, kairos is not simply a matter of rhetorical
perception or willing agency: it cannot be seen apart from the physical dimen
sions of the place providing for it. In addition, a rhetorical place is not just a mat
ter of location or address: it must contain some kairotic narrative in media res,
from which discourse or rhetorical action can emerge. Understood as such, the
rhetorical place represents a place-bound temporal room which might precede
our entering, might continue past our exiting, into which we might even stum
ble unaware: imagine a true Burkean parlorphysicallyand you will have
imagined one example of a rhetorical place as I have tried to construct it.
Here is another. Two years ago, just a few miles down the Hudson River from
where I live in Troy, New York, a stretch of grass adjacent to the bike path that
runs along the Albany riverfront park became host to the Moving Wall, a
half-scale black-brushed aluminum replica of the Wall at the Viet Nam Memo
rial in Washington, D.C. Designed to get to those who couldn't themselves get
to Washington, the Moving Wall has been touring the country continuously
during warm weather months since 1984, seeking out places in municipalities
large and small where it can be temporarily erected and hosted for about a week
at a time ("Moving Wall").
The week-long emplacement of that half-scale Wall along the Albany
riverfront created many rhetorical possibilities for visitors which its absence did
not. As a created rhetorical placethat is, as a week-long kairos emplaced by a
plot of land able to both provide for and contain the 250-foot-long structurethe Moving Wall created rhetorical prospects for those who entered into
and were swept along its bell-curve of names. Within the greater, protective
context of the week-long rhetorical place and its overarchingkairos, many indi
vidual kairoi likely emerged. No doubt, for some the tick-took experiencing of the
Moving Wall was protracted, both psychologically and temporally: a place of
meditation, remembrance, grief. For others, it may have been quite brief, a
walk-through, a curiosity, an obligation. Some visitors to the Moving Wall likely
made the trip expressly to see it, and having never been to the park before, per
haps will never return. Others (e.g., me) had only stumbled on it unsuspectingly
while riding a bike or while on a casual stroll. Regardless of how they got there or
how they experienced it, the temporary exhibition of the Moving Wall, its kairos,
created the room for these personalized kairoi by constructing a rhetorical place


Professing Rhetoric

in which they could emerge. In this way, we can say that the Moving Wall in that
park during that period of time collaborated in rhetorical agency.
And then it was gone, without a trace. And had one not known ahead of time
that the Moving Wall had been scheduled, and by not knowing, missed it, so too
would that one have missed the opportunity, the week-long kairos of that rhetor
ical place, to find in that park the memorializing rhetoric which that transient
replica attempts to (re)construct. The tick-tock of the Moving Wall would have
passed without a sound.
Because every place is progressing through its kairos, as it simultaneously
provides for kairoi within it, no place is ever really fixed, despite appearances.
Even though the durability of places measured against the swiftness of human
time often puts their kairoi beyond our perception, high-speed time-lapse pho
tography would show us the tender mutability of even the most seemingly sta
ble places. This is not meant to suggest, however, that the kairoi of places change
only over long periods of time: sometimes, the kairos in a given place can change
in the blink of an eye.
On the morning of April 19, 1995, a bomb went off outside the Alfred P.
Murrah building in Oklahoma City, creating a blast face which reduced much of
the building's nine floors to rubble, and taking 168 lives with it. The explosion
produced the greatest terrorist act ever on American soil, one whose shrapnel
and debris pierced the hearts of Americans regardless of their proximity to the
inconspicuous-looking Ryder van parked on Fifth Street.
The broad details of the story are well known. Less well known perhaps is the
extended wake. After the rescue mission had ceased, the building stood, gaping
like a wound, until May 24, 1995, when the remaining structure was imploded.
In mid-July of that year, a memorial task force was convened by the then
Mayor of Oklahoma City, Ron Norick, to plan a memorial site. After reviewing
624 entries, from all 50 states and 23 countries, the task force selected a design
by a Boston firm, and groundbreaking began in October 1998. A year and a half
later, the memorial officially opened to the public on the fifth anniversary of the
bombing, April 19, 2000.
Anyone aware of the events of April 19, 1995, will visit this memorial sol
emnly. The ground itself has been hallowed with blood, and standing on it will
inspire a sense of loss, a bleeding of emotions. Yet, respectfully, I want to look be
yond the autonomous, historical impact of this memorial's location and speak
instead about the memorial's design, because in it I see physically inscribed the
tick-tock narrative of place, in place, how tick-tock transpires through place, and
the way that time in this memorial so graphically eludes, even rebuffs, simple
clock time.
The limits of the memorial extend lengthwise the one block of Fifth Street
which the Murrah Building occupied, between Robinson and Harvey Avenues.
Widthwise, the memorial covers the combined footprints of the Murrah Build
ing, the parking lot of the Journal Record Building (along with the sites of the
demolished Oklahoma Water Resource Board Building and the Athenian

Kairos and the Rhetorical Place


Building), and the section of Fifth Street that formerly divided them. Having
been permanently closed off to vehicular traffic, this section of Fifth Street has
since been transformed into a 318-foot-long reflecting pool ("Architectural
Models /four/"). At each end of the block-long reflecting pool, curbside at both
Robinson and Harvey, spaced pairs of 42-foot-tall arched gates known as the
"Gates of Time" stand opposed, bookending the memorial grounds and estab
lishing the plot of land as a place, contained and protected.
Above each streetside archway faade reads this outward inscription, desig
nating the memorial as a defined place:
We come here to remember those who were killed, those who sur
vived, and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the
impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength,
peace, hope, and serenity. ("Architectural Models /three/")
From the designers, we get this note:
On the inside of the East gate, [the inscription] 9:01, represents
where innocence is left behind. The West gate represents the mo
ment 9:03, where the healing in the aftermath of the tragedy be
gins. Together the gates frame the moment of the explosion, 9:02.
("Architectural Models /three/")
9:01, tick; 9:03 tock. Together, the two gates frame this memorial's kairos.
Separating the gates, yet also drawing them together, is the symbolic narra
tive of the bombing: set back a ways on a parcel of grass, 168 empty bronze
chairs tiered in 9 rows silently face the archtoarch, 9:01 to 9:03 reflecting
pool, and any who would look up from it to them ("Architectural Models /five/").
The empty chairs represent "each life lost, articulated as the absence felt by fam
ily members and friends" (Oklahoma City National Memorial). Across the pool
from the chairs blooms the Survivor Tree, badly damaged during the blast, but
which "bears witness to the violence of April 19 and now stands as a profound
symbol of human resilience" ("Oklahoma"). And then the Rescuers' Orchard,
"Like the people who rushed in from near and far to lend a helping hand, this
army of fruit-and-flower bearing trees surrounds and protects the Survivor Tree"
Anyone visiting the memorial today, and anyone visiting well into the future,
will be awareeven if only vaguelyof the three narratives stacked one atop
another in the same place, covering the same footprint. Buried bottommost is
Pre 9:01, when, since 1977 the Murrah Building routinely functioned as a place
of Federal Administration, playing out the general narrative of the "government
serving its people"; above that is 9:02, when the bomb leveled that narrative in
that place, shearing it and overwriting it with a script of violent, apoplectic op
position to the symbols and bodies of the federal government; and finally on top,


Professing Rhetoric

9:03, the open-sky narrative of national and personal loss, of grieving, but more,
of "healing," a narrative whose story has only just begun to unfold. Though in
the same, single place, stretching between those arched gates, all three narra
tives live, all three kairoi. Two have reached their ending, their tock. One has not.
When one steps within those gates one occupies a unique point between
them: and when one moves between them, one moves, however incrementally,
from one moment to the next, from 9:01 to 9:03, even as one is captured hori
zontally in the encompassing 9:02the instant of the blast. As humans, no visi
tor can remain forever: eventually, the place must be left behind and each
visitor's kairos will conclude, even as the kairos of the place endures.
Such is kairos. Every entrance commits to an exit, every beginning to an end.
Yet, we can also see here the rhetorical depth of place and the way in which a sin
gle place provides at once the repository of kairoi past and the medium forkairoi
present. This one-block parcel of land in Oklahoma City has been a vessel, and
innocence, evil, and repair its contents. No doubt, other kairoi have preceded
these on that plot of land, and in time these too may fade, get overlain, overwrit
ten, or superimposed on by other kairoi. Of course, our reflexive response is to
say "Never!"but we know better. The Oklahoma bombing at least has taught
us this.
Works Cited
"Architectural Models." <http://www.architectural-models.com/oklahoma_city_national_
memorial/index.html >
Aristotle. Physics, Books III and IV. Trans. Edward Hussey. Oxford: Clarendon, 1983"Dissoi Logoi." The Older Sophists. Ed. Rosamond Kent Sprague. Columbia: U of South Carolina,
1972. 279-93.
Kermode, Frank. The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. London: Oxford U, 1967.
Kinneavy, James L. "Kairos: A Neglected Concept in Classical Rhetoric." Landmark Essays onRhetorical
Invention in Writing. Ed. Richard E. Young and Yameng Liu. Davis: Hermagoras, 1994. 22140.
"Moving Wall." <http://www.themovingwall.org/photos.htm>
Oklahoma City National Memorial. Oklahoma City National Memorial. Oklahoma City, 2000.
Poulakos, John. "Toward a Sophistic Definition of Rhetoric." (1983). Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A
Reader. Ed. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New York: Guilford,
Sullivan, Dale."Kairosand the Rhetoric of Belief." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992): 317-32.


Universit Cattolica di Milano (Italy)

Rhetoric and the Body:

A Lesson from Ancient Elocutionists

There is no less eloquence in the tone of the voice, in the eyes and in
the air of the speaker, than in his choice of words.
(Franois La Rochefoucauld, Maximes)

A real, living, growing language has always been a collection of spoken

sounds. The sounds that accompany our thoughts, the prosodic features that
join them in a complex "melody", and the gestures that accompany any
speech are moulds into which we pour our own thought. It is our voice that
gives form and direction to our ideas; it is our body that gives life to them.
The strong link that joins rhetoricin all its forms and functionsand ges
ture is too important a subject to be underestimated. It concerns linguists, who
make a scientific study of language. It concerns phoneticians, who analyze the
sounds of human speech. It concerns musicians, who are interested in the nature
of rhythm. It concerns anthropologists, who must look at all communicative be
havior as a whole and who will find in the human voice the spoken counterpart
of facial expression and physical gesture. It concerns all those in the language
arts, for whom the coloring of a phrase or the gesture accompanying it is as im
portant as the phrase itself.
Many years ago scientists tried a "mechanical speech" approach, intended to
develop machines that produced speech from a vocabulary of prerecorded
words, joined together to form sentences. For very short messages this technique
was valuable, but for more complex purposes the quality of speech was so unnat
ural that it was practically unintelligible. The failure of this approach has many
lessons to teach us about successful oral speech. In fact, there can be no sponta
neous oral communication without a balanced mixture of contents expressed
with vocal sounds and physical gestures.
Thomas Sheridan taught us that there are two kinds of language:



Professing Rhetoric

The one is, the language of ideas; by which the thoughts which pass in
a man's mind, are manifested to others; and this language is com
posed chiefly of words properly ranged, and divided into sentences.
The other is the language of emotions; by which the effects that those
thoughts have upon the mind of the speaker, in exciting the pas
sions, affections, and all manner of feelings, are not only made
known, but communicated to others; and this language is com
posed of tones, looks and gestures. The office of a public speaker is
to instruct, to please, and to move. (13233; my italics)
While studying two of the main aspects of any linguistic performance, namely
its semantic content and its phonetic and/or phonological form, we have to deal
with a basic principle of successful oral communication, that is, the perfect har
mony between intonation and gesture, where intonation and gesture are the
human ideal devices to convey meaning. Our "ancestors" in this field may be
found among the so-called Elocutionists: the group includes all those eigh
teenth- and nineteenth-century British and then American scholars who con
centrated on the study of voice management and elocution.
Intonation and Gesture
Intonation is different from most of the other channels of communication
studied by rhetoricians and linguists, because it has more in common with ges
ture than with semantic contents or grammatical forms. Nevertheless, both ges
ture and intonation are tremendously important to any linguistic performance.
Intonation is the manner of utterance of the tones of the voice in speaking, the
modulation of the voice, the rise and fall in pitch of the voice in speech. It indi
cates the act of performing the movements of pitch. Speaking sounds must have
a slide, or inflection: any monotone inflection would be perceived as uninterest
ing by a listener. Gesture is any movement made with a part of our body, espe
cially the hands and head, to express emotion or information, either instead of
speaking or while speaking. As for intonation, there is no absolute gesture. Ev
ery intonational contour, as well as every gesture, is unique, because tones of in
tonation and body movements are relative, not absolute.
The objection which follows here is: if neither intonation nor gesture is abso
lute, may we have a model for "good" intonation and "proper" gesture, as the
ancient elocutionists suggested, or not? The history of linguistics seems to dem
onstrate that a model for both was once considered possible. As far as the study
of oral performance is concerned, examples are scattered throughout the centu
ries: the sixteenth-century treatises on punctuation (Hart 1569; Puttenham
1589; Dobson 1968) made the first steps towards the definition of a written
transcription of an oral text; in the seventeenth century the study of English in
tonation and rhythm was improved with the precise aim of demonstrating the
"Excellency" of the English language (Butler 1634); the eighteenth and nine

Rhetoric and the Body


teenth centuries saw the flourishing of delivery, because speaking opportunities

were developing rapidly in parliament, at the bar, in the pulpit, in the theatre
and in polite conversation, and the demand for expressing ideas in oral English
increased. In particular, that was the ideal period for the studies on intonation
and gesture to be developed. In 1775 the first impressive study of English in
tonation by Joshua Steele appeared (Zanola Macola 1996): this work pio
neered a number of important frontiers in the subject of prosodic features as a
whole. It was followed by John Walker's The Melody of Speaking (1787), a
markedly pedagogical treatise aimed at giving a guide to those who wanted to
read and speak well. Apart from Sheridan (1762), other eighteenth-century el
ocutionists kept to the traditions established by early English grammarians
and elocutionists. In fact, the great majority of eighteenth-century writings
confined the treatment of oral language to inaccurate generalizations on the
motivational power of words, but concentrated on the relationship between
language and gesture. As a consequence, we have a consistent number of vol
umes that may be very interesting for a psychologist, a communication expert,
or a rhetorician (cf. Burgh 1761; Blair 1788; Priestley 1762).
In spite of this long list of studies, no fixed rule about the correct and proper
use of intonation and gesture can be found. However, what has been clearly
stated since the seventeenth century (Hart 1569) is that the listener's eie and
eare (sight and hearing) should be harmoniously involved by the speaker'smel
ody of voice and gesture. The parts of a speech ought to be combined into a suit
able and attractive arrangement. Without harmony, the entire effectiveness of
oral communication may fail. Harmony means agreement, cooperation, ac
cord, unit, balance, and symmetry.

Principles of "Delivery"
We have started from the apparently obvious consideration that effective
ness in oral communication comes to nothing unless it is combined with varia
tions in the speaker's voice and body movements. As a consequence, we are
obliged now to concentrate on the great value of delivery.
The traditional fifth canon of classical rhetoric must be reconsidered as one
of the historically important characteristics of powerful and persuasive speech.
Highly regarded Roman orators such as Cicero and Quintilian both recog
nized delivery and its importance in speeches: although neither of them dealt
directly with the relationship between the speaker and the audience, they both
noted how speaking may be affected by variations in the voice and body move
ments. As a consequence, they stressed the necessity for proper sounds and
gesture in meeting the situational demands of rhetoric.
The word used by the great Roman authorities to name this part of rhetoric
was pronuntiatio or actio.


Professing Rhetoric

Pronuntiatio est ex rerum et verborum dignitate vocis et corporis

moderatio. (Cicero, De Inventione, 1.7.9)
Cumque esset omnis oratoris vis ac facultas in quinque partes
distributa; ut deberet reperire primum, quid diceret; deinde inventa
non solum ordine, sed etiam momento quodam atque iudicio
dispensare atque componere; tum ea denique vestire atque ornare
oratione; post memoria saepire; ad extremum agere cum dignitate ac
venustate. (Cicero, De Oratore, 1.31.142; my italics)
Est enim actio quasi sermo corporis, quo magis menti congruens
esse debet. (Cicero, De Oratore, 3.59.222)
Pronuntiatio a plerisque actio dicitur, sed prius nomen a voce, sequens a
gestu videtur accipere. (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, 11.3.1)
In English, pronunciation had been established since the early sixteenth
century as the technical term for the oral delivery of discourse. Only when
the science of phonetics began to emerge did the term acquire a new techni
cal meaning.1 In 1617 Robert Robinson wrote The Art of Pronunciation
(Dobson 1968: 20014), a treatise on phonetics, describing in detail "the el
ements and parts of the voice" together with the main problems of spelling
and pronunciation: this book was considered a work on voice and gesture for
years, because in Robinson's time the art of pronunciation would technically
have referred to the art of delivering a speech. The dangers involved in hav
ing two different technical meanings for the same word may have worried
the elocutionists, who were the first to withdraw the termpronunciation from
its setting in rhetoric and to use it in an unambiguous technical sense in lexi
cography and phonetics.
If the difference between delivery and pronunciation is now clear, it is neverthe
less not easy to understand why the word elocution was chosen by British, and
then, by American elocutionists to name the fifth part of rhetoric. This is a prob
lem widely discussed by Wilbur Samuel Howell in his tribute to The British Elo
cutionary Movement (1702-1806):
After all, was not elocution already recognized in England as the
term for the lore of the tropes and figures and for the doctrine of
the three kinds of style? If so, how was a new ambiguity to be
avoided when the term was made also to mean oral delivery? ...
The elocutionists could have avoided this sort of confusion, of
course, by calling the fifth and last part of rhetoric by the alternate
name of action, as classical authorities would have authorized, or
by the new term delivery, as the twentieth century was going to do.
(14950; my italics)

Rhetoric and the Body


As a matter of fact, these rhetoricians refused both the term action, because it
could be associated in English with the idea of gesture (physical motion) rather
than of oral utterance, and the term delivery, probably because it had no roots in
that Latin rhetorical tradition of which they were proud.
In the eighteenth century the word elocution was finally used in its full present
meaning: traditionally connected with rhetoric, this term was a close relative of
eloquence. Thomas Sheridan, one of the most influential British elocutionists, em
ployed this word in its new sense in 1756, translating it directly from the Latin
pronuntiatio in the well-known passage taken from Rhetorica ad Herennium: "Elo
cution is a graceful management of the voice, countenance, and gesture"
(Sheridan 1756: 158).2
British Studies
As a modern study, elocution originated in England in the eighteenth cen
tury. Training in elocution became a need especially for the clergy, often criti
cized for their colorless reading; on the other hand, the seventeenth-century
growing interest in the English language had brought an increased attention to
wards all its aspects, both written and spoken. The Elocutionary movement was
a direct development of the main seventeenth- and eighteenth-century linguis
tic trends. All the greatest English lexicographers, grammarians, and, in some
way, phoneticians of these two centuries have left wonderful pages on voice
management and elocution.
The movement may best be understood by an examination of the books that
were produced in its name. There were hundreds published, but we can distin
guish three main categories:
1. Investigative treatises. They are volumes which contained the substance of
the elocutionary ideas and established the subject (Burgh 1761; Sheridan
1762; Walker 1787; Bell 1867);
2. Manuals designed for use in different professions; namely, manuals for clerical
elocution (Wesley 1770);
3. Books for school and home use, from the "reasoned textbooks" to the illustra
tive anthologies and the books of extracts (Thelwall 1812).
The printed page, the voice, language and the body supplied the material
upon which the movement brought to bear philosophy, rules, principles and no
tation. In devising ways to analyze these materials the elocutionists used the pre
cepts of ancient rhetoric as well as the practices of the stage. They generally
referred to their subject as an art during the whole of the eighteenth century, but
with the beginning of the new century the subsidiary subjects investigated be
came nearer to science, in the sense that elocution tended to be concerned with
speech correction, with the anatomy of vocal physiology, and with the physics of


Professing Rhetoric

sound production. Only nineteenth-century elocutionists, such as Thelwall

(1812) and Bell (1867), looked upon elocution as a science.
Scientific or artistic, their contributions concentrated on three main fields:
bodily action (modifications of facial expressions, manner and attitude, move
ments of arms and legs); voice management (vocal flexibility, control, and buoy
ancy through proper use of accent, emphasis, force, rhythm, tone, pause, pitch);
pronunciation (identification and production of speech sounds, standard vs dia
lectal variations, first studies on the anatomy of speech mechanisms). All these
writings aimed at improvement in delivery, together with development of a
taste for culture and quality.
American Studies
The work of British rhetoricians was eagerly accepted in America. The de
mand for elocution in this country being as great as, or even greater than, in
England, it is not surprising that British elocutionists found there the market for
their publications. The Elocutionary Movement in America takes origin from
the British school of Elocution and until the second half of the nineteenth cen
tury shows little originality. The Americans, in the early stages of the movement's history, republished British authors, copied them, sometimes modified
and adapted their teachings to their own situations. They finally created a U.S.
movement "which possessed attributes of independence as well as adaptation"
(Wallace 105).
Desire for education and the wish to be entertained contributed to the elocution
ists' success. Many people, often trained for professions such as medicine or the
theatre, became "teachers of elocution" in response to a growing demand for
training in this field; their personal background was often vital to the scientific
knowledge of the vocal system, and of the most suitable teaching methods, as a
consequence. One of the greatest elocutionists of the time, James Rush (1893),
was a doctor; Jonathan Barber (1830) worked as a physician while teaching elo
cution in Harvard and Yale; Andrew Comstock (1837, 1844) did the same.
Rush, in particular, made a very detailed analysis of human vocal expression,
based on philosophical and scientific enquiry. His study was divided into
fifty-one sections devoted to: the English sounds (description and production),
the melody of speech (intonation, tones, rhythm, accent, stress, emphasis,
pause), and elocutionary practice (with particular attention to time, force, pitch,
cadence and monotony). The book's apparent and immediate usefulness to
teachers made Dr. Rush a recognized authority in the discipline of elocution: in
fluential teachers of preachers, doctors, actors, together with all the specialists in
speech therapy, phonetics and voice training were attracted to his masterpiece.
A great disciple of Bacon, Rush experimented his theories with his own voice (he
was also a musician) and narrated the process of his evolving ideas: his method
demonstrated that it was time physiology took the study of the human voice out
of the hands of rhetoricians and grammarians. The development of a natural,

Rhetoric and the Body


systematic, analytic science had to be supported by new and precise observa

tions. His way of describing and teaching elocution not only signalled the end of
the British elocutionary practice, but also stimulated many American teachers
to produce their own textbooks.
In the theatre circuit, from Boston to New Orleans and to California, more
than fifty companies were scattered throughout the United States in 1850
(Wallace 180): most of the actors gave programmes of readings in schools and
universities.3 Also among the clergy we find some elocutionists who made his
tory: Rev. James Chapman (1821); Rev. William Bryant, episcopal schoolmaster
in Philadelphia (Bernstein 5); Rev. Ebenezer Porter, professor of Sacred Rhetoric
in Andover Seminary (Wallace 181).
As in England the century before, the production of treatises, manuals or
textbooks on the subject was enormous. The elocutionists' manuals soon began
to have wide circulation. They were in most cases small volumes of easy consul
tation, very concise and clear in theoretical explanation, and full of precious sug
gestions and advice for the reader.4 Inside them, there emerged a lesson on the
typical gestuality of conversation and public speaking on one hand, and on the
main prosodic features of the voice on the other: posture, hands, eyes, and voice
were given the same importance as the content of words and sentences in the
whole act of communication.
The linguist Dwight Bolinger used a wonderful metaphor to describe the hu
man voice:
The surface of the ocean responds to the forces that act upon it in
movements resembling the ups and downs of the human voice. If
our vision could take it all at once, we would discern several types of
motion, involving a greater and greater expanse of sea and volume
and water: ripples, waves, swells and tides. It would be more accu
rate to say ripples on waves on swells on tides, because each larger
movement carries the smaller ones on its back. (19)
Like a sea-storm, the human voice produces waves of sounds, supported by the in
termingling of intonational contours and by gestures. We think that a "new ap
proach" should be given to the study of oral communication. Speech
communication should be considered a form of rhetoric in that it uses the five tradi
tional rhetorical canons to get a point across to the audience effectively. Invention, ar
rangement, style, memory and delivery are fundamental keys to speech. The last one,
delivery, particularly influences the effectiveness of any oral performance.
Although elocution was sometimes declared a subject distinct from the study
of rhetoric, classical rhetoric always considered delivery as an important part of
speech. The orator, lawyer, politician, actor, minister of the church have all been


Professing Rhetoric

always concerned with the manner of speaking. In the American Elocutionists'

writing, a first attempt was made to develop a science of speech: their manuals
are an endless mine of information about reading and speaking skills, speech
sounds (isolated or in context), prosodic features, speech defects and speech cor
rection. The teachers from this movement were all eclectic in their theories and
methods, taking what they considered best from other colleagues and adding
ideas of their own. Their common aim was the sincere desire to improve the
speaking and reading of the American people; their common interest was to
study vocal mechanism and body movements, as the main cues to effectiveness
in oral communication in general, or to public speaking in particular. Unfortu
nately, their followers sometimes brought discredit upon their scholars, by mis
interpretation and lack of serious study and appreciation.
We think it is time for the value of the American Elocutionary movement to
be brought to light again. Thanks to its efforts, elocution became an important
part of the educational plan of any American student: the subject matter and
purposes of public speaking courses nowadays present a heritage in the U.S. uni
versities as classical as that of literature, while yet suiting the pragmatic temper
of the modern United States.
1. For various instances where pronuntiatio has been rendered into English as "pronunciation," see
Howell 1961: 8182, 89,104,112, 25556, 325.
2. The Latin version was: "Pronuntiatio est vocis, vultus, gestus moderatio cum venustate" (Rhetorica
ad Herennium, 1.2.3).
3. James Murdoch, for example, extended the Rush system by his lectures and public reading enter
tainments (Bernstein 1974: 12, n. 15).
4. From an examination of college catalogues (1821-1859), Guthrie (1954) found that the most used
textbooks were those written by three well-known teachers of elocution: Rev. E. Porter (Wallace
1954: 181), followed by J. Barber (1830) and W. Russell (1845).
Works Cited
Barber, Jonathan. A Grammar of Elocution, Containing the Principles of the Arts of Reading and Speaking.
New Haven: Maltby, 1830.
Bell, Alexander Melville. Visible Speech. London: Simpkin, 1867.
Bernstein, Melville. The Collected Works of James Rush. 4 vols. Weston: M&S, 1974.
Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Pres
ent. Boston: Bedford, 1990.
Blair, Hugh. Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. Basil: Tournesein, 1788.
Bolinger, Dwight. "Around the Edge of Language: Intonation." Intonation: Selected Readings.
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972. 19-29.
Burgh, John. The Art of Speaking. 1761. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1953.
Butler, Charles. Charles Butler's English Grammar. 1634. Halle: Niemeyer, 1910.
Chapman, James. The Original Rhythmical Grammar of the English Language. 1821. Hildesheim: Olms,
Cicero. De Inventione. Trans. H. M. Hubbel. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1976.
Cicero. De Oratore. Trans. E. W. Sutton. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1976.
Comstock, Andrew. Practical Elocution or a System of Vocal Gymnastics. Philadelphia: Kay, 1837.

Rhetoric and the Body


Comstock, Andrew. A System of Elocution with Special Reference to Gesture. Philadelphia: Butler, 1844.
Dobson, Eric John. English Pronunciation 15001700. Oxford: Clarendon, 1968.
Hart, John. An Orthographie, Conteyning the Due Order and Reason, How to Write or Paint thimage of Mannes
Voice, Most Like to the Life of Nature. 1569. Menston: Scolar, 1969.
Howell, Wilbur Samuel. "The British Elocutionary Movement (17021806)." Eighteenth-Century
British Logic and Rhetoric. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971. 145-256.
Priestley, Joseph. A Course of Lectures on the Theory of Language and Universal Grammar. 1762. London:
Routledge-Thoemmes, 1996.
Puttenham, George. The Arte of Englishe Poesie. 1589. Westminster: E. Arber, 1895.
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Trans. H. E. Butler. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1953-59.
Rush, James. The Philosophy of the Human Voice. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Grigg, 1893.
Russell, William. Orthophony; or, the Cultivation of the Voice. Boston: Fields Osgood, 1845.
Sheridan, Thomas. British Education. 1756. Menston: Scolar, 1971.
Sheridan, Thomas. A Course of Lectures on Elocution: Together with Two Dissertations on Language; and Some
Other Tracts Relative to Those Subjects. 1762. New York: Olms, 1970.
Thelwall, John. Selections for the Illustrations on the Rhythmus and Utterance of the English Language. Lon
don: McCreery-Cornhill, 1812.
Walker, John. The Melody of Speaking, Delineated; Or Elocution Taught like Music. 1787. Menston: Scolar,
Wallace, Karl, ed. History of Speech Education in America: Background Studies. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954.
Wesley, John. Directions Concerning Pronunciation and Gesture. Bristol: Pine, 1770.
Zanola Macola, Annalisa. "La melodia della parola secondo Joshua Steele." L'Analisi Linguistica e
Letteraria 1 (1996): 173-203.
zanola Macola, Annalisa. English /American Intonation and its Historical Foundations. Milan: ISU, 2000.

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University of New Hampshire

Live from the Operating Room:

A Generic Visual Rhetoric

It has happened that people, after having seen frightening sights

have also lost presence of mind.... In this way the sight engraves
upon the mind images of things which have been seen. And many
frightening impressions linger, and what lingers is exactly analo
gous to <what is> spoken. Gorgias (41)
The rhetorical visual images Gorgias had in mind here included a warrior
who could cause his enemy to flee merely by buckling on his "warlike accouter
ments of bronze and steel." Such an image could make the future possibility of
defeat seem as though it were already present. I must warn you that in this paper
I show some graphic photographs from the operating room. These photographs
by Max Aguilera-Hellweg have the potential to be even more frightening than
Gorgias's example of the warrior.
The epigraph from Gorgias's "Encomium of Helen" demonstrates that rhet
oricians have long known that rhetoric isn't limited to the verbal realm. In this
paper, I use genre as a tool by which to read culture and photographs together.
While genre has long been used as a critical tool, rhetoricians have highlighted
the cultural significance of genre over aesthetic, formal features. To the rhetori
cian, genre becomes a way of identifying typically recurring situations within
human realms of activity and rationality. As such an entity, genre becomes a
bridge in a hierarchy of rhetorical actionbetween culture and artifact. The
genre includes information about the social exigency which precedes the rhetor
ical action and the action itself. As Carolyn Miller has said, when we learn a
genre, we learn:
what ends we may have: we learn that we may eulogize, apologize,
recommend one person to another, instruct customers on behalf of a
manufacturer, take on an official role, account for progress in
achieving goals. We learn to understand better the situations in


Professing Rhetoric

which we find ourselves and the potentials for failure and success in
acting together. (165)
As an abbreviated name for a typical rhetorical situation, the genre plays a dual
role as social frame of a situation and rhetorical action taken within that situation.
In contrast to a semiotic visual calculus, a rhetorical concept of genre seems to
be a more limber, provisional critical tool. For when cultural contexts change,
rhetorical critics (as well as those who use genres) must adapt as genres some
times "evolve, develop, and decay" (Miller). As Catherine Schryer has described
them, genres represent "stabilized-for-now" or "stabilized-enough" frames for
and modes of socio-rhetorical action (111). Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Karlyn
Kohrs Campbell have noted the phenomenon of "productive but transitory"
(147) rhetorical hybrids. Such hybrids occur when the dynamics of several differ
ent genres are operating on and within a single rhetorical artifact.
In the rest of this paper, I analyze Max Aguilera-Hellweg's The Sacred Heart as
such a rhetorical hybrid.1 This book began as an assignment by a business maga
zine to get portraits and documentary photographs of a female neurosurgeon.
At the time, Aguilera-Hellweg was a veteran photojournalist, and this project
was sandwiched in between such assignments as an eighteen-year-old mass
murderer, the Vice President, girl gangs in east Los Angeles, Mexican migrant
workers, and so on. The result of Aguilera-Hellweg's project in the operating
room is a collection of stunning photographs with six short essays penned by the
photographer. Aguilera-Hellweg also wrote an appendix which he calls "Post
mortem: Notes on the Photographs and the Procedures Involved." A brief intro
duction was written by well-known surgeon and writer Richard Selzer, MD; the
brief afterword by well-known photography critic A. D. Coleman.
Aguilera-Hellweg followed through with this project, he says, "for those who
could not bear to look at even one [photograph]" (78). His professed rhetorical ex
igency is to provide even these nonreaders "a visual text by which one might be
come less afraid of the body, medicine, and ultimately, less afraid of death" (78).
For those who do read it, however, it must be read in light of several different gen
res: science journalism, medical documentation, pornography and horror, and
documentary photography. In fact, these genres provide necessary exigencies by
which one might justify taking up such a book from the coffee table.
Science Journalism
The Sacred Heart comes to us first as science journalism. For without the pur
poses of this rhetorical genre, our possession of such a collection of photographs
would appear to be the symptom of a gratuitous blood lust. As a rhetorical
genre, science journalism aims at instruction and epideictic by translating the
content and value of technical knowledge into versions the laity can understand.
The science journalist accomplishes these goals through many topoi, including
entertainment and progress (Anderson 361). Some science journalism, as a re


Live from the Operating Room

cent NPR segment on science publication demonstrates (All Things Considered),

overlaps with the rhetoric of science project of experiencing the socio-rhetorical
aspect of creating and applying knowledge. For example, in one of his "Postmor
tem" descriptions of the procedures photographed, Aguilera-Hellweg notes the
surgeons' need to negotiate with each other as they try to read the anatomical
variations from one person to another (117).
As science journalism, The Sacred Heart seeks to translate for a lay audience
the secrets of the medical fraternity through the topoi of progress and entertain
ment. As a witness to the progress of medicine, the book features several photo
graphs of organs such as this eyeball harvested for transplanting (fig. 1). These
photographs cause the lay audience to acknowledge and celebrate in their full
radiance and luminosity the noble deeds of surgeons and donors alike
(Rosenfield 146). But, conversely, these photographs also invite familiar, enter
taining stories, and the accompanying text sometimes furnishes them.
The title photograph of a harvested heart (fig. 2), for example, collaborates
with Aguilera-Hellweg's account of the night he got these photographs. The re
sult of this collaboration between text and image is a love story not unlike the re
cent movie Return to Me, in which a widower coincidentally falls in love with the
recipient of his wife's heart. However, Aguilera-Hellweg, after a night of wit
nessing her nobility and the all-night application of medical progress she has
spawned, falls in love with the donor rather than the recipient.
Medical Photography
In addition to its journalistic rhetorical action, The Sacred Heart establishes itself as
medical photography both textually and visually. In contrast to the mystical title,

Fig. 1 (12)

Fig. 2 (45)


Professing Rhetoric

the subtitle is quite technical: "An Atlas of the Body Seen Through Invasive Sur
gery." This title lends itself to the rhetorical goals behind the more encyclopedic
photographic atlases which are required for nearly every anatomy class. Dr. Rich
ard Selzer's "hesitation in introducing these photographs to an innocent laity"
(13) implies that these photographs trespass across the line between journalistic
translation and a more graphic presentation of what the surgeon actually knows
and does. The Sacred Heart takes medical pedagogy seriously: several times
throughout the book, readers are assured that the photographer has, at the age of
thirty-nine, gone off to medical school. So no matter how many or few anatomy
classes require future surgeons to study The Sacred Heart, these photographs have
still initiated one real medical student and future surgeon.
According to Pierre Bastionelli, the chair of the medical photography depart
ment at Dartmouth Medical School, such photographs from the operating room
have several advantages over the photographs of cadavers in the encyclopedic
photographic atlases. Among these advantages are the following: they feature
the colors, textures, fluids, and ambiguities of living tissues; they illustrate the
strength, stamina, and precision required of the surgeon; they remind students
and surgeons alike of the patient's humanity; and they can help in the designing
of equipment for the operating room.
The Sacred Heart also offers several sequences of photographs which lend them
selves to the rhetorical goals of the instructional surgical atlases, which usually rely
on illustration rather than photography to demonstrate surgical procedures. This
liver transplant sequence, shown in a series of four images in the original (fig. 3),
represents only one removal of the liver. As medical photography, the ultimate
goal here is not an allusion to a Promethean torture; rather it demonstrates the
feasibility and technique of a manageable procedure. As all anatomical and surgi
cal atlases must, The Sacred Heart has to deal with "the question of labeling" (Rob
erts and Tomlinson 610): labeling is handled (for better and worse) by means of
the "Postmortem" appendix.
Pornography and Horror
Pornography and horror are two of the genres lowest in esteem in our culture.
Carol Clover has characterized these as body genres which create a spectacle of
the body caught in intense ecstasy and terror. What places these genres so low in
the genre hierarchy is the fact that audiences are expected to mimic with their
bodies the ecstasy and terror experienced by the characters in the stories and pic
tures. In other words, these genres are often thought to fail to provide a sophisti
cated aesthetic distance for their audiences. However, many theorists have tried
to salvage these low genres. Thinking of The Sacred Heart in terms of these two
genres does two things: lowers its status, and raises the status of pornography
and horror toward the level of medicine.
Linda Williams characterizes pornography as a scientia sexualis which formu
lates "sexual pleasure as a problem, with solutions involving the need for further

Live from the Operating Room


Fig. 3 (63-67)

sex and further speculation about that sex" (276). Its ultimate goal is to speak an
elusive "essential, self-evident sexual 'truth'" (14). Williams compares the
highly conventionalized formulations of hard-core pornography to the musicaleach has its highly choreographed numbers which can be classified by their
function within the narrative (270). In its early versions pornography featured
the "meat shot." Later the genre shifted to an emphasis on the "money shot,"
which demonstrates sexual pleasure. According to Williams, female pleasure re
mains a visual frontier for pornographers in a serious endeavor to "speak sex" in a
way that resists a monolithic, patriarchal sexual discourse (57).
As pornography, Aguilera-Hellweg's photograph of a penile implant procedure
(fig. 4) rehearses (through three images of penetration) the pornographer's primary
problem of sexual pleasure: how to make it visible. It may not be what the connois
seurs of'Playboy and Hustler want to see, but as Laura Kipness has said, pornography
can be as polysemic as sex itself (156). It may mean to critique and resist the familiar
numbers in Playboy and Hustler. To quote Linda Williams again, "Visual hard-core
pornographic speculation about sexual pleasure demonstrates more convincingly
than any abstract theoretical statement... that resistance is built into the very struc
ture of the power and knowledge that speak" (275).
In his essay "Why We Crave Horror Movies," Stephen King characterizes the
genre in terms of inoculation. According to King, the horror film offers a way of


Professing Rhetoric

Fig. 4 (82)

naming and staving off various threats: economic ruin, political violence, tech
nological trespass, insanity, and, of course, death. James Twitchell and others
have added to this list various sexual anxieties, such as puberty, incest, and
motherhood. In the darkness of such threats, the horror movie "has a dirty job to
do." As King says, taking in a good horror film is like "lifting a trap door in the
civilized forebrain and throwing a basket of raw meat to the hungry alligators
swimming around in that subterranean river beneath" (246). As I said earlier,
inoculation is also Aguilera-Hellweg's goal, but he is more graphic than King
about what he would feed the alligators: human hip (fig. 5).
The effect of horror is similar to that of the sublime. According to Hugh Blair,
It is not easy to describe, in words, the precise impression which
great and sublime objects make upon us, when we behold them; but
every one has a conception of it. It produces a sort of internal eleva
tion and expansion; it raises the mind much above its ordinary state,
and fills it with a degree of wonder and astonishment, which it can
not well express. The emotion is certainly delightful; but it is alto
gether of the serious kind; a degree of awfulness and solemnity, even
approaching to severity, commonly attends it when at its height;
very distinguishable from the more gay and brisk emotion raised by
beautiful objects. (32)
Blair also says sublime objects require sublimity in representation for their effect:

Live from the Operating Room


The object must not only, in itself, be sublime, but it must be set be
fore us in such a light as is most proper to give us a clear and full im
pression of it; it must be described with strength, with conciseness,
and simplicity. (39)
Figure 5 might seem to violate Blair's criteria of sublimity in writing. However,
in the "Postmortem," Aguilera-Hellweg concisely, simply explains that "[w]hat
looks like a knife and fork are instruments for holding back the margins of the
incision" (121). Many of Blair's exemplary sources of the sublime are presented
by the photographs in The Sacred Heart: The obscure is illuminated with the
help of "retracting tools" or surgeons' hands. Water flows, pools up, and falls to
irrigate a wound (fig. 6). There is disorder on and around a cirrhotic liver
crowded by a tumor (the upper right image in fig. 3). As an example of the hor
ror genre, The Sacred Heart achieves its inoculating effects through a sublime
representation of sublime objects.
Documentary Photography
As documentary photography, The Sacred Heart reenacts the ambiguous pro
miscuity of documentary photography itself. Martha Rosier has explained how
documentary photography has become a genre which aims primarily at know
ing and promoting itself as a high art. W. J. T. Mitchell's reading of Walker Evans's "Tenant Farmer's Wife" demonstrates how the genre transforms a simple
portrait of a woman into "the Mona Lisa of the Depression" (Mitchell 294).
When we regard The Sacred Heart as documentary photography, we can ex
pect similar transformations. In fact, one of Aguilera-Hellweg's short essays

Fig. 5 (94)

Fig. 6 (59)


Professing Rhetoric

provides the following anecdote about a visit with an editor which encourages
such transformation:
"You showed me these pictures before," she told me ... reminding
me that two years earlier I had shown her some of my first surgical
photographs. At the same time I had shown her a little book I had
compiled, a handmade volume filled with portraits of Mexicans I
had taken on the border. "That night, I had a nightmare," she said.
"I was looking at your precious little paper book of the Mexicans;
but the images weren't the photographs of Mexicans, it was a surgi
cal procedure." (48)
In this anecdote, to both photographer and editor the surgical photographs
come closer than the "precious little paper book of the Mexicans" to the ulti
mate goal of a reified documentary photography.
As documentary photography, Aguilera-Hellweg's portrait of a woman un
dergoing reconstructive plastic surgery (fig. 7) could be a substitute for the
"Tenant Farmer's Wife" or any of "the portraits of Mexicans ... taken on the bor
der." The absence of surgeon's hands and the symmetry of the idle surgical
equipment seems to remove her from the critical circumstances of the operating
room. The functional cloth and thread along with the sculpted face become the
exigency for a fascinating study in framing, depth, lighting, focus, and texture.
And since the patient seems etherized upon the table for poetic rather than med
ical reasons, the photographer, for this eye procedure, might be more trusted
than the surgeon.

Fig. 7(115)

Live from the Operating Room


Like Aguilera-Hellweg's entire book, the single photograph of a cochlear im
plant (fig. 8) participates in pornographic, horror, journalistic, technical, and
photographic aims. As pornography, this photograph can be read as a contribu
tion to the scientia sexualis: belly, vagina, umbilical chordpregnancy a la Demi
Moore (Dickson). As horror, the pregnancy (following one of Twitchell's read
ings of Frankenstein) may result in a monster. As journalism, it expresses rever
ence for the miracle of medicine. That is, as natural birth brings forth life, the
surgeon's heroic and sacred endeavor continues life. As technical documenta
tion, the remainder tissue reveals one of the fundamental principles behind sur
gery: the body can be altered and not all parts are necessary. As documentary
photography, this stray tissue reminds us of the digital death of photography.
The surgeon is a metaphor for the new photographer, who can use photoshop to
clean up the mess or reinsert the removed object.
There are many, perhaps, who would seem better prepared to speak about
documentary photography from the operating room: the art critic, the art histo
rian, the surgeon, the photographer, the (medical or photo) lab technician.
While the rhetorician studying these photographs may seem like a mere pho
tographer in the operating room, our discipline's recent interest in genre as a dy
namic cultural index can help us better understand such hybrid artifacts as The
Sacred Heart.

Fig. 8(15)


Professing Rhetoric

1. All images reproduced in this paper are taken from The Sacred Heart with page numbers given in
parentheses. Reprinted with permission.
Works Cited
Aguilera-Hellweg, Max. The Sacred Heart. Boston: Bulfinch, 1997.
All Things Considered. Host Linda Wertheimer. Natl. Public Radio. WEVN, Concord, NH. 4 Feb.
Anderson, Ray Lynn. "Rhetoric and Science Journalism." Quarterly Journal of Speech 56 (1970):
Bastionelli, Pierre. Personal Interview. 4 Apr. 2000.
Blair, Hugh. Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. Ed. Abraham Mills. Philadelphia: Kay, 1846.
Clover, Carol. Men Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton UP,
Dickson, Barbara. "Reading Maternity Materially: The Case of Demi Moore." Rhetorical Bodies. Ed.
Jack Selzer and Sharon Crowley. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1999. 297-313.
Gorgias. "The Encomium of Helen." The Rhetorical Tradition. Ed. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg.
Boston: Bedford, 1990. 4042.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall and Karlyn Kohrs Campbell. "Rhetorical Hybrids: Fusions of Generic Ele
ments." Quarterly Journal of Speech 68 (1982): 146-57.
King, Stephen. "Why We Crave Horror Movies." Playboy Jan. 1981: 150-54.
Kipnis, Laura. "Pornography." Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Ed. John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. 153-57.
Miller, Carolyn. "Genre As Social Action." Quarterly Journal of Speech 70 (1984): 15167.
Mitchell, W. J. T. Picture Theory. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.
Roberts, K. B. and J. D. W. Tomlinson. The Fabric of the Body: European Traditions of Anatomical Illustra
tion. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.
Rosenfield, Lawrence W. "The Practical Celebration of Epideictic." Rhetoric in Transition: Studies in the
Nature and Uses of Rhetoric. University Park: Penn State UP. 13155.
Rosier, Martha. "In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography)." The Contest of
Meaning. Ed. Richard Bolton. Cambridge: MIT, 1989. 30141.
Schryer, Catherine. "The Lab vs. the Clinic: Sites of Competing Genres." Genre and the New Rhetoric.
Ed. Aviva Freedman and Peter Medway. Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis, 1994. 10524.
Twitchell, James B. Dreadful Pleasures: An Anatomy of Modern Horror. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.
Williams, Linda. Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible." Berkeley: U of California P,

North Dakota State University

Policing the Architectural Canon:

The Gendered Discourse
of Architectural Studies

Jennifer Bloomer begins her book, Architecture and the Text: The (S)crypts of
Joyce and Piranesi, by (dis)claiming:
All conventional scholarly work ("original research") is written in
the implied first person. Under the mask of objectivity, "I am inter
ested in" becomes "The focus of this study is." The following ...
make(s) no claim at objectivity: it represent(s) the residue of my self,
my cultural condition, my passion (love and hate) for architecture.
The non-neutrality of language and history (and architecture) are
my concerns. (3)
Though my project is vastly different, I make the same disclaimer. I am not ob
jective. And unlike Bloomer, I am not an architect, though I finished the course
work of a graduate program in architectural studies. My relationship with that
discipline is one of love and hate. I wrote once, in a short story about language
and architecture and my passion for both, that we all follow the paths of our pa
thologies. Producing this text leads me back to that line again and again. This
project is the path of my pathology, my return to a dysfunctional home: I know
now there are better places to live, but none of those are quite home, for me.
Here, up front, is a truth as far as I know it: I couldn't cut it in architecture
school. There were many reasons, some having to do with the discipline's callous
treatment of women, the lack of female faculty, the lack of female peers, and
courses peopled by what seemed an unending stream of the worst sort of conser
vative, anti-intellectual little boys. I so internalized the discipline's discourse
that I feared being a feminist, because I knew viewing the discipline through a
critical lens would interfere with the pleasure I found in beautiful buildings, and
feminism, I knew, taught that beauty came with a price. I pushed on through all
that. But when I wanted to write my thesis on Marion Mahony Griffin's archi
tecture and its connection to the accident that I saw as the architectural canon, I
was told by my major professor that to do so would be academic suicide, and to


Professing Rhetoric

focus instead on a contextual analysis of Walter Burley Griffin's Rock

Crest/Rock Glen housing development in Mason City, Iowa. I like to think that
this kind, gently paternalistic man, who was a very fine scholar, saw scholarly
potential in me, and wanted to shelter me from the potential fallout of such a
projectfallout like being unable to gain admission to a doctoral program.
But it was ten years ago and I was a very good girl and I tried to do the thing
he wanted, only I could not. I had no idea what a contextual analysis was, except
that I was fairly certain my goal in writing one was to show that history was no
accident, that a logically linear path of causes and effects led to an entire neigh
borhood of Sullivan School1 houses in Mason City, Iowa. I never defended that
thesis (and I likely could not have "defended" it, as its goals and claims were en
tirely foreign to me, written with the objective, third person disinterest of a per
son truly disinterested). So I am a failed architecture student and a good girl who
was so good that rather than disappoint my professor, the kindly, controlling fa
ther of my dysfunctional family, I preferred to walk away from a degree into
which I had invested thousands of dollars and more than two years of my life.
That passive act was my avoidance of the discipline's attempt to discipline
meto make a man of me.
At the center of the discipline that is architecture is this profound, gender-related crisis. Women are almost entirely absent from all areas of the discipline:
they nearly do not exist in classrooms where tenured women make up only 2.8%
of architecture faculty;2 they are underrepresented in practice where women
constitute 10.8% of practicing architects (and women of color represent .64%);3
they are absent from histories of architecture, whose texts often include no
women and never include more than four women.4 This is in spite of the fact that
nearly half of the students declaring a first year interest in majoring in architec
ture are women. Somewhere between that initial interest and architectural prac
tice, women abandon their dreams. (This makes architecture very different from
fields like engineering, mathematics, and the hard sciences, which have a diffi
cult time attracting young women initially.) Clearly, there is something occur
ring in the academic discipline of architecture that discourages women students
in far greater numbers than it discourages male students.
At least half of this "something" must labeled pedagogical practice. Over the
past ten years, theJournal of Architectural Education has begun to address the gen
der issues that plague architectural educationa studio system that not just tol
erates but exacerbates sexual harassment, a jury system that at its best ignores
women student's work, and an almost exclusively male faculty who assert what
Groat and Ahrentzen call "a tacit double standard whereby male students are
perceived as inherently more architect-like" (172). Dana Cuff, in her history of
architectural practice, reaffirms that notion, asserting, "The acculturation pro
cess indirectly teaches that full-fledged architects are supposed to be men"
(145). However, the other half of this "something" that discourages women stu
dents is what I call discursive practices. The discourse of architecture is neither
objective nor innocent; it is raced, gendered, and classed in ways that have led to

Policing the Architectural Canon


a history of racism, sexism, and classism in practice and in the academy that have
been well documented in the last decade (see Kingsley and Glynn, Ahrentzen
and Anthony, Groat and Ahrentzen, Ahrentzen, Kingsley, Frederickson). The
absence of women and people of color from the history of architecture is both the
cause and the effect of the absence of women and people of color in the present
tense of architectural practice and scholarship. While certainly these gendered
discursive practices also permeate the design studio, they are most manifest in
the ways historians and critics have defined the discipline of architecture. My
dissertation research, which informs this paper, employs a case study analysis of
the critical-historical apparatus surrounding the work and life of one woman ar
chitect, Marion Mahony Griffin, discussing in particular the ways in which her
relationship to the discipline of architecture has been undermined by the ways in
which she has been repeatedly gendered as an architect. Because the field asserts
a masculine identity for a "great" architect, Mahony Griffin's work has been
consistently described in terms that foreground her female gender, undermining
her position within the canon of great architects.
I want us to just spend a moment thinking about how many architects we can
name and how many of those are women. I realized as I began my research that
there's a very good reason for thisno major art history survey text includes a
single woman architect, and no architectural history survey text includes more
than four, most of whom receive mention in a single sentence, with no examples
of their work given. For example, Marion Mahony Griffin is the woman who is
mentioned in the most architectural history survey texts (five), but her mention
is usually part of a subordinate clause in a sentence about her husband and/or
Frank Lloyd Wright, the two men with whom she collaborated most in her life
(Griffin 26 years, Wright 14 years). As Cheryl Glenn explains, "all historical ac
counts, even those most seemingly objective historical records, are stories. And
even these stories are selected and arranged according to the selector's frame of
reference" (388). In the history of architecture, that frame of reference has been
the masculine norm in describing architects and the notion that women have an
unnatural relation to architectural creativity.
The story of Mahony Griffin's life as she tells it in her autobiographical manu
script, The Magic of America, is quite different from the characterizations in sec
ondary sources. Born in Chicago in 1871, the year of the great fire, Marion Lucy
Mahony claims she was carried from the fire in a clothes basket. After the fire,
her family settled in Winnetka, Illinois, a Unitarian enclave just north of
Evanston. When she graduated from MIT's school of architecture in 1894,
Mahony was just the second woman in this country to graduate from an archi
tectural program. She became the first to succeed in placing herself in an ap
prenticeship position and after that one of the earliest to undertake a career in an
architectural practice, working first for her cousin Dwight Heald Perkins and
then for many years in Frank Lloyd Wright's studio as his senior draftsperson.
Mahony Griffin's life and work are not well known, perhaps in part because
her career spanned sixty years and three continents, but in great measure be


Professing Rhetoric

cause she worked collaboratively with famous men. Her early work is both influ
enced by and influenced Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom she worked for around
fourteen years. In fact, her biggest break came when Wright left the country
with the wife of a client in 1909. She was put in charge of several important com
missions, the most impressive of which was the neighborhood of Millikin Place,
in Decatur, Illinois.
In 1911, the 40-year-old Mahony married the 34-year-old architect Walter
Burley Griffin, the man whose architectural style "delighted" herwhose work
she claimed she loved more than she loved the man. Their 26-year marriage led
them both to great achievements, creatively and intellectually. They practiced
architecture in the United States, in Australia, and in India designing over 500
structures and communities of which roughly half were built. Five hundred pro
jects is a huge number, representing an incredible level of creativityparticularly at that time for their small office. After Walter died in India in 1937,
Marion returned briefly to Australia briefly and then to the United States, where
she continued to design intermittently, but never had another commission built.
She lived until 1961, mainly writing, drawing, and teaching. She died in Cook
County Hospital. Her 1000+ page autobiography, Magic of America, written
between 19401949, has never been published and was nearly universally dis
credited in the first wave of secondary scholarship concerning the Griffins, as
was Mahony Griffin herself.
As Griffin scholar James Weirick writes, "Marion Mahony has been fre
quently relegated to a supporting role in discussions of the work of Wright and
Griffin. Quite apart from her architectural work, the simple facts of her life have
been treated with a disregard verging on contempt." (49) In 1988, nearly
twenty-five years into the history of Griffin scholarship, Weirick was the first
scholar to note the lack of correct biographical material on Marion Mahony
Griffin. At least 22 of the most commonly cited sources on Mahony Griffin con
tain serious factual inaccuracies; I refer to just the basic facts of her life that are
easily available in her own autobiography or public record.5 This number doesn't begin to reach the number of sources that contain problematic critical analy
sis of her architectural practice. Weirick correctly identifies the cause of
misinformation, I think, when he calls it "a disregard verging on contempt."
Mahony Griffin was not studied for her own contributions to architecture, but
to situate (and sublimate) her and her work in relation to the men in her life,
Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Burley Griffin. Because the goal was not to es
tablish her place in the architectural canon, the specifics of her life (spelling of
her name, dates of birth and death, for example) fell victim to the primary schol
arly effortto establish and fix the canon of "great men" whose personalities,
buildings, and texts would become central to the story of architecture.
While such a record of scholarship is indeed appalling, what is even more
startling are the ways in which early scholars of the Griffins depicted Mahony
Griffin. The number of comments about her physical appearance, her "stormy"
relationships with others, and her "bitterness" serve to create a gendered picture

Policing the Architectural Canon


of her, one that is in conflict with the standard picture of the architect as a ratio
nal and cultured "gentleman." In addition, because the history of professional
ization in architecture has consistently presented a picture of a man as a great
architect,6 and has described his attributes in masculine terms, clearly the pre
sentation of Marion Mahony Griffin in gendered language undermines her posi
tion to architectural practice and greatness. I do not argue that such use of
language was entirely intentional or that its purpose was to keep women from
the architectural canon. Rather, such gendered readings of women in the arts
represent the status quoa habit of scholarship that habitually omits the con
tributions of women; as Christine Battersby argues, "the achievements of
women who have managed to create are obscured by an ideology that associates
cultural achievement with the activities of males" (305).
For example, many authors describe her, rather than her architecture. H. Al
len Brooks is compelled to note that Mahony Griffin was "so homely she was al
most distinguished" (Prairie School 79). Peter Harrison asserts, "Although she
was less than six years older than Griffin, those who knew them in Australia as
sumed she was at least ten years older" (25). Other authors note that she was
"taller than Walter" (Harrison 25), "angular," "sallow-skinned," and had a
"beaked nose" (Brooks Prairie School 79, Rubbo 18), or "tomahawk profile"
(Harrison 82). Brendan Gill describes her as "gaunt and beaky" (186). While
providing physical descriptions may add another layer of character to the stories
these historians hoped to tell, little physical description is typically provided
about male architects, and in these texts Griffin's good looks are only described
in contrast to Mahony Griffin's "homeliness." Moreover, in many cases, she is re
duced to these descriptions, because they exist in the place of descriptions of her
architectural work, which is always the focus of texts on male architects.
In addition to constructing her as physically unattractive, these texts create a
character that is unnatural and ridiculous. One of the ways in which she is shown
as ridiculous is in her "old maid" status. As James Birrell writes, "Although their
acquaintances greatly admired Marion's technical ability, many felt she married
Walter because of his stupendous rise to fame after Wright had left...." (14).
Even the construction of the sentence undermines her work (technical ability) to
her grasping attempt to catch Griffin's ascending star. There are several other
problems with the unsubstantiated assertion. The first is that "many" of their
acquaintances were not cited in Birrell's research, and the second, and more im
portant, is that Griffin's "stupendous rise to fame" did not occur until after his
marriage to Mahony in 1911.
In a similar vein Brooks writes, "Marion fell inextricably in love with Walter, of
fered her rendering services to him as bait, and on 29 June 1911, married him"
(Prairie School 165). Brooks's use of the word "bait" suggests that the love was
one-sided and Griffin entered into a business arrangement, an arrangement that
had to be baited for him to accept. While this may be true, there is scant evidence
in the primary sources to suggest such a reading and Brooks does not cite anyone
to explain this assertion. David Van zanten makes a similar assertion, also without


Professing Rhetoric

citing a source: "What had been a friendship ... now became love, at least on
Marion's side" (19). He also discusses the Griffin's courtship in terms of battle
Mahony Griffin "pursued," laid "siege," and "took him by storm" (19). Peter Har
rison reports that Australian acquaintances wondered how the "shy Walter Grif
fin" could have proposed marriage. "The initiative," he writes "was attributed to
Marion with the words 'Come along now, Walter, we must get married'" (25). All
suggest a very reticent Griffin, pursued by a comical spinster.
In addition, the language employed in these early secondary sources at
tempted to describe Mahony Griffin as an unnatural woman and in gendered
terms. Harrison asserts that "By all accounts, Marion lacked most feminine
graces" (25). Anna Rubbo asserts, "She never did any domestic chores" (18).
Birrell describes her in overtly masculine terms when he writes, "Her forceful,
businesslike, coldly intellectual manner, held her, and eventually Walter, apart
from the family" (14). But to contrast her "coldly intellectual manner" Harrison
calls her "impetuous" (39), a word often suited to a young girl, Birrell calls her
"bitter and critical" (132), and Brooks claimed that "To hypothesize, it is proba
bly true she lacked the imaginative mind to create ..." (164). Readers are also
told variously, that she "was not much liked by Griffin's family" (Birrell 14),
"that some standards at Castlecrag were lowered by Marion Griffin" (Birrell
132), and that when Griffin's design arrived too late for the Chicago Tribune
Tower competition that "Marion must have failed in her role" (Harrison 67).
Most of these comments are throwaways, clearly the author's opinion: Marion
must have failed in her role; it is probably true she lacked the imaginative mind to
create. And some of such a list of comments might serve to deepen a reader's un
derstanding of Mahony Griffin's character, if they were augmented by other in
formation about her or her work.
It was Birrell's 1964 book that seemed to set the tone for Mahony Griffin's
depiction in later texts. Several later authors picked up his repeated use of the
word "bitter" to describe her. In addition, Birrell asserts several times that
Mahony Griffin was less than generous with money, writing that she "intellec
tualised on economics" (184) and "refused financial advances to Lippincott"7
(132). Each time she is mentioned in Birrell's text, Mahony Griffin's character is
drawn as cold, calculating ("she married Walter because of his stupendous rise to
fame"), bitter, and alienating of pleasant Griffin's family and friends.
In contrast, Mahony Griffin haunts David Van zanten's 1970 book Walter
Burley Griffin: Selected Designs like a ghost. Though she drew the majority of the
designs that comprise the book, she is only mentioned once in the accompany
ing textas Griffin's unnamed "wife" when Van Zanten writes: "Three of the
following pieces are taken from undated and unidentified texts transcribed by
Griffin's wife in her manuscript biography, The Magic of America" (31). Although
Van Zanten discusses the chronology of Griffin's work in detail, never does he
mention that "Griffin's wife" was the architect who drew the majority of the
drawings included in his book, and who had been credited by some scholars with
close collaboration on some of the designs. She is therefore reduced to the role of

Policing the Architectural Canon


typist (and a poor one at thathe goes on to assert he has had to correct her
spelling errors and typos).
These examples are just a brief survey of the way Mahony Griffin herself was
characterized in architectural texts. Not surprisingly, her buildings and her writ
ings received equally scathing characterizations, when they were associated with
her. Interestingly, when the same buildings were mistakenly attributed to
Wright or her husband, the reviews were entirely positive, doting upon the architect's genius. The examples of these gendered discursive practices labeling
Mahony Griffin and her work permeate the historical writing about herand
she is not an isolated example in the architectural world. In fact, examples of
women in architecture who have not been defined by these limiting discursive
practices are the exception. Women are consistently "first-named" in order to
draw attention to their gender and to undermine their authority; their work is
described in gendered language, as one Griffin biographer, Donald Leslie John
son, reports of Mahony Griffin, "Her own work prior to their marriage was in
consistent, lacked restraint, and was not architecturally rationalized as an
aesthetic and technical whole" (12). He thoroughly imbues her work with femi
nine qualitiesinconsistent, unrestrained, irrational, unwhole, suggesting con
versely, that there is a masculine thing, architecture, which is consistent,
restrained, rational, and whole. Such is the practice, not the exception, and is the
work of some of the most lauded scholars in the field.
My greatest concern in pursuing this research is to examine the chilling effect
these depictions of women architects have on young women who hope to enter
the discipline. As long as women constitute a negative presence in the field of ar
chitecture and the discipline of architectural studies, there will not be a welcom
ing space for women in the discipline, which will continue to experience what
Francesca Hughes describes when she writes, "One thing is clear, however: just
as the absence of either sex from a large constituency must indicate some inter
nal crisis in which gender plays a crucial role, the absence of women from the
profession of architecture points to a profound gender-related crisis at the base
of architecture" (xi).
1. The term "Sullivan School" was recently suggested by historian Paul Sprague in his article, "The
Significance of Griffin's Indian Architecture." Sprague argues that this term, rather than the more
commonly used "Prairie School" more accurately reflects Louis Sullivan's (18561924) role as the
intellectual parent of this architectural movement (85-6). Sullivan, who imported the history of
American Transcendental thought into architecture to argue for the development of a truly Amer
ican form, was hugely influential on the young, radical architects practicing in Chicago near the
turn of the century. Because Sullivan's influence is especially more appropriate to the Griffins and
their work than Frank Lloyd Wright's (1867-1959), I use this term instead of "The Prairie
School," which had been the favored term in architectural studies for many years. While "Prairie
School" would accurately describe the Griffins' work early in their careers, Griffin's later work in
the U.S. and the couple's work in Australia and India reflect the inspiration of Sullivan rather than
the stylistic indebtedness to Wright that the term Prairie School connotes. Moreover, the Griffins
themselves wrote of their inspiration by Sullivan.


Professing Rhetoric

2. In 1990 the ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) Task Force on the Status of
Women in Architectural Schools found that tenured women represented only 2.8% of architecture
faculty. Many architecture programs still have no tenured women on their faculty. Reasons for this
almost total absence of women are complex, but some possibilities lie in Karen Kingsley and Anne
Glynn's 1992 study published in the Journal of Architectural Education. Kingsley and Glynn found
that while 70% of women in architectural practice claim they feel sexual discrimination, in the acad
emy that number is even higher, with only 8% of women claiming they did not feel discrimination.
The authors of this study call the academic environment "an isolated and sexist one" (18).
3. In 1995,10.8% of the members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) were women. In contrast,
women were 20% and 24% respectively of the American Medical Association and the American Bar
Association members. Women of color represented only .64% of the AIA membership in 1994.
4. This information comes from Roxanne Williamson's "Index of Fame," a listing she has compiled for
her book. American Architects and the Mechanics of Fame, by studying the survey textbooks of Ameri
can architectural history and counting the mention each architect receives in the texts. Her book
establishes the fact of a rigid canon in architectural studiesa canon that historically has omitted
women's contributions to the field.
5. For example, Mahony Griffin's name was consistently misspelled. Dr. Robert McCoy's 1968 "Rock
Crest/Rock Glen: Prairie School Planning in Iowa" refers to Mahony Griffin as "Mahoney"
throughout. Robert Twombly's 1973 biography of Wright also names her "Mahoney " as does
Wesley Shank's single mention in the 1979 Iowa Catalogue of the Historic American Buildings Survey
(72). Paul Larson's 1982 and 1984Prairie School in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin also refers to her
as Mahoney. (In the second printing a note was made of the error, but it remained uncorrected in
the text.) Vincent Scully's 1988 American Architecture and Urbanism misspells her surname in a sin
gle mention of her (126). An anonymously written 1964Prairie School Review article "A Portfolio of
Prairie School Furniture" also refers to her a "Mahoney." Her first name is misspelled Marian by
Carl Condit, The Chicago School of Architecture (209); Dr. Robert McCoy's 1968 "Rock Crest/Rock
Glen: Prairie School Planning in Iowa" refers to Mahony Griffin as "Marian" intermittently. In ad
dition, the facts of her life, her birth, death, family relations, dates of marriage and graduation re
ceived equally careless documentation: Griffin scholar Donald Leslie Johnson made these errors
not once, but across four books (Weirick 50). Mark Peisch in The Chicago School of Architecture gets
both her dates of birth and death wrong; H. Allen Brooks, whose The Prairie School is still consid
ered the "seminal" text on the Sullivan School, corrects the date of birth, but still mistakes her date
of death as 1962. The date remained uncorrected through several reprintings of the book and was
also mistaken in his second book, Prairie School Architecture: Studies from "Western Architect." David
Van Zanten's 1966 article in the Prairie School Review mistakes the year of her birth and asserts she
was the first woman to graduate from M.I.T.she was the second. More than 20 years later, Van
Zanten's 1987 chapter in John Zukowsky's Chicago Architecture 1872-1922 mistakes the year of
her death. Wilson and Robinson's 1977 The PrairieSchool In Iowa mistakes the date of her death.
Most of these facts are a matter of public record; some are available in Marion's Magic of America,
and after 1975 they were available in a secondary source, as well, Berkon and Kay's "Marion
Mahony Griffin, Architect."
6. Elizabeth Grossman and Lisa Reitzes trace professionalization in architecture to a more and more
gendered male norm. They point out that language about the profession was cast in gendered (male)
terms, while discussions of women in the profession were also gendered, but gendered female, to
highlight the ways in which women were incompatible with architectural practice (2932).
7. Roy Lippincott, the husband of Griffin's sister Geneveive, the Griffins' architectural partner who
emigrated to Australia with them.

Works Cited
Ahrentzen, Sherry. "The F Word in Architecture: Feminist Analyses in/of/for Architecture." Recon
structing Architecture: CriticalDiscourses and Social Practices. Ed. Thomas A. Dutton and Lian Hurst
Mann. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. 71-118.
Ahrentzen, Sherry, and Kathryn Anthony. "Sex, Stars, and Studios: A Look at Gendered Educational
Practices in Architecture." Journal of Architectural Education 47-1 (1993): 11-29.

Policing the Architectural Canon


Battersby, Christine. Gender and Genius: Towards a Feminist Aesthetics. Bloomington: U of Indiana P,
Berkon Susan Fondiler, and Jane Holtz Kay. "Marion Mahony Griffin, Architect." Feminist Art Journal
4 (Spring 1975): 10-14.
Birrell, James. Walter Burley Griffin. Brisbane: U of Queensland P, 1964.
Bloomer, Jennifer. Architecture and the Text: The (S) crypts of Joyce and Piranesi. New Haven: Yale UP,
Brooks, H. Allen. The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries. New York:
Norton, 1972.
. Prairie School Architecture: Studies from 'The Western Architect'. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1975.
Condit, Carl. The Chicago School of Architecture. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1964.
Cuff, Dana. Architecture: The Story of Practice. Cambridge: MIT UP, 1991.
Frederickson, Mark. "Gender and Racial Bias in Design Juries." Journal of Architectural Education 47.1
(1993): 3949.
Gill, Brendan. Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.
Glen, Cheryl. "Truth, Lies, and Method: Revisiting Feminist Historiography." College English 62.3
(2000): 38789.
Groat, Linda, and Sherry Ahrentzen. "Reconceptualizing Architectural Education for a More Diverse
Future: Perceptions and Visions of Architectural Students." Journal of Architectural Education 49.3
(1996): 16683.
Grossman, Elizabeth, and Lisa Reitzes. "Caught in The Crossfire: Women and Architectural Educa
tion 1880-1910." Architecture: A Placefor Women. Ed. Ellen Perry Berkeley. Washington: Smithso
nian Institution P, 1989. 2739.
Harrison, Peter. Walter Burley Griffin, Landscape Architect. Ed. Robert Freestone. Canberra: National
Library of Australia, 1995.
Hughes, Francesca. Introduction. The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice. Ed. Francesca Hughes.
Cambridge: MIT P, 1996. xxix.
Johnson, Donald Leslie. The Architecture of Walter Burley Griffin. Melbourne: The Macmillian Co. of
Australia, 1977.
. Australian Architecture 19011951: Sources of Modernism. Sydney: Sydney UP, 1980.
Kingsley, Karen. "Rethinking Architectural History from a Gender Perspective." Voices in Architec
tural Education. Ed. Thomas A. Dutton. New York: Bergin, 1991. 24964.
Kinsley, Karen, and Anne Glynn. "Women in the Architectural Workplace." Journal of Architectural
Education 46.1 (1992): 14-20.
Larson, Paul. "Introduction: The Prairie School in its Midwestern Setting." The Prairie School in Minne
sota, Iowa, Wisconsin. Minneapolis: Minnesota Museum of Art, 1984. 8-16.
McCoy, Robert E. "Rock Crest/Rock Glen: Prairie School Planning in Iowa." The PrairieSchool Review
V3 (1968): 5-39.
Rubbo, Anna. "Marion Mahony Griffin: A Portrait." Walter Burley GriffinA Re-View. Clayton, Vic
toria: Monash U Gallery, 1988.
Scully, Vincent. AmericanArchitecture and Urbanism. New York: Holt, 1988.
Shank, Wesley I. The Iowa Catalogue: Historic American Buildings Survey. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1979.
Sprague, Paul E. "The Significance of Griffin's Indian Architecture." Ed. Paul Kruty and Paul E.
Sprague. Two American Architects in India. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1997. 8389.
Twombly, Robert C. Frank Lloyd Wright: An Interpretive Biography. New York, Harper, 1973.
Van zanten, David T. "The Early Work Of Marion Mahony Griffin." The Prairie School Review III.2
(1969): 5 + .
. Walter Burley Griffin, Selected Designs. Palos Park, IL: Prairie School P, 1970.
Van Zanten, David. "Walter Burley Griffin's Design for Canberra, the Capital of Australia." Chicago
Architecture 1872-1922. Ed. John Zukowsky. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago: 1987.
Weirick, James. "Marion Mahony at M.I.T." Transition 25.4 (1988): 49-54.
Williamson, Roxanne Kuter. American Architects and the Mechanics of Fame. Austin: U of Texas P, 1991.
Wilson, Richard Guy, and Sidney K.Robinson. The Prairie School if Iowa. Ames: Iowa State UP, 1977.

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University of Pittsburgh

Anonymity, Pseudonymity,
and Collective Authorship: Rethinking
Ethos and the Politics of Disclosure

Nedra Reynolds has defined ethos as "a complex set of characteristics con
structed by a group, sanctioned by that group, and ... recognizable to others
who belong or who share similar values or experiences" (327). Reynolds is at
tempting to reconcile ethos with notions of postmodern subjectivity: ethos is
thus conceptualized not as a stable quality possessed by the rhetor but as a rela
tional location articulated in writing. However provisional and contingent such
location may be in postmodern termsReynolds says, "it shifts and changes
over time, across texts, and around competing spaces"ethos, nonetheless, re
tains for Reynolds its meaning as guarantor of seriousness. As she puts it, "writ
ers earn their rhetorical authority by being responsibleby stating explicitly
their identities, positions or locations, and political goals" (330). Like many of
us, Reynolds wants it both ways: she wants to register her understanding of the
constructedness and flux of subjectivity, and at the same time she wants to con
ceptualize an ethical ground for authority.
I understand the paradoxical aims of this rhetorical move especially as articu
lated by Adrienne Rich in her "Notes Towards a Politics of Location": as the
writer delimits her range of vision to make clear that she cannot speak for every
one, for all time, and across all difference, she at the same time claims the au
thority to speak out of a particular body, place, historical and cultural moment.
But must one disclose one's selfeven a transitory version of one's selfexplicitly in writing to be responsible? Does authority rest on such acts of disclosure?
As I have been working with a wide range of print materials produced by second-wave women in the late 1960s and early 1970sone might say that this is
a moment in time that serves as origin for recent work in feminist rhetoricI
find that the idea of ethos as location only gets me so far as a reader of these ma
terials. What happens, for example, to notions of authority and responsibility
when writers choose to withhold their names or choose to use pseudonyms, or
when a collective chooses to compose together, as is often the case with second-wave materials from underground newspapers, newsletters, flyers, and
manifestos? I don't want to say that such writers are not located through the act


Professing Rhetoric

of writing, but the fact that one is always already located, positioned in and
through the culture, in and through acts of language, is not the same thing as
saying that to be responsible one needs to disclose one's location. Isn't it possible
that sometimes refusing to explicitly name one's location is the politically re
sponsible thing to do? to adopt an authority that the context does not grant the
writer? to refuse the ways in which one has been positioned? or to choreograph
multiple and conflicting positions as does someone like Patricia Williams in her
book Alchemy of Race and Rights'? Might not disguise be a strategic rhetorical
move under certain circumstances and thus the most rhetorically responsible
thing to do? I appreciate Reynolds's effort to negotiate an ethical space for
agency, but I want to trouble the connection she draws between responsibility
and disclosure, and authority and explicitness.
I have found Lorraine Code's Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on Gendered Locations par
ticularly helpful in thinking through the problem of ethos. Code emphasizes the
extent to which "human beings are social creatures all the way down," and that
"sociality is embedded in and shaped by all the myriad story lines into which each
of us is thrust at birth" (73). In these terms, Code goes on to say,
subjectivity is produced and continually reproduced out of a multi
plicity of crisscrossing, sometimes mutually supportive and some
times conflictual, discursive, dialogic relations which are lived not
on a geographic analogue of a tabula rasa, but in specific rhetorical
locationsspatial, historical, racial, cultural, genderedthemselves embedded in and part of the ongoing stasis and flux of narra
tive ways of making sense. Hence every life is always already
partially scripted, partially contained within pre-existing narrative
lines: a film that is already running colors and flavors even one's
simplest utterances, and hence one's ... knowledge claims, one's
testimonial moments. (73)
I take Code to mean that rhetorical spaces are not simply literal texts, but the
multiple discursive arenas in and through which we live, in and through which
we write. Rhetorical spaces enable and constrain acts of writing. We don't con
trol such rhetorical spaces, but we do have the capacity to remake them as we
live in and through them. As Judith Butler has put it, none of us follow the as
signed scripts perfectly, and our very deviations from script have the potential to
alter the script, to be repeatable and therefore potentially disruptive. As I un
derstand Code, responsibility cannot be readable simply by reference to isolated
acts of writing, but that any act of writing is readable in relation to a complex
web of interrelations that cannot be fully knowable to a writer or a reader. In
this sense, ethos isn't something simply in the textbut rather a name for the
web of interconnections between text and world, text and reader. Ethos might
be conceptualized as a way to name part of the dynamic of any literacy event.
Thus, it isn't that "stating explicitly one's location" is therefore useless or futile,

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Collective Authorship


but that it is only one writerly move that invites the reader to trust in but cannot
serve as surety for the rhetorical authority of the writer.
Let me concretize this abstract talk through a consideration of a particular lit
eracy event, a particular workshop that took place as part of the 1972 program
of the New York State Women's Political Caucus. Workshop #13, on the "Poli
tics of Inclusion," was supposed to consider how the Caucus could "reach the un
affiliated, the poor, the aged, the young, the minority women and why it [would
be] essential to do so" (see Appendix A), bell hooks has noted that initially, "radi
cal participants in [the] women's movement demanded that women" from dif
ferent cultural and economic spheres "penetrate" the cultural isolation that had
kept them apart in order to "create space for contact." She argues that for a short
time, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many radical publications attempted to
address a wide audience that was not exclusively white, middle class, straight,
college-educated, and adult. But these efforts were not sustained. According to
hooksand I think she is generally correct in her analysis"as more and more
women acquired prestige, fame, or money from feminist writings or from gains
from [the] feminist movement for equality in the workforce, individual oppor
tunism undermined appeals for collective struggle" (67). This shift from a vol
atile movement attempting to create space for contact across difference to a
more limited, white and middle-class dominated movement can be seen as part
of the rhetorical context enabling and constraining the work of Workshop 13.
A flyer produced by Workshop 13 I take as representative of much of the
written work women produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of the
decentralized and widespread women's movement (see Appendix B). Much of
this material is of the moment, produced for a particular occasion, intended to
incite others to action, and much of it was collectively composed. If we came
upon the flyer without the accompanying Caucus program, we would no doubt
be at a loss. No names are attached. No date is given. "Women's political cau
cus" appearing in the first line is not capitalized so it does not necessarily signal a
specific organizational entity. We might do some digging to find out about the
Children's March for Survival or the Nixon-Mills Welfare Reform bill (men
tioned under item 2 on the flyer)but beyond that, we would be hard pressed
to make much headway with this document. With the Program to provide some
sense of the rhetorical context, we can begin to read the flyer, but as I hope to
make clear, there are still a number of pitfalls.
The three women whose names appear on the Program for Workshop #13
did not in fact compose the flyer. They were conveners who served as resource
people to the workshop participants. It was the anonymous workshop partici
pants who did the talking and writing that produced the flyer. They do not "earn
rhetorical authority by ... stating explicitly their identities, positions or locations"to harken back to Nedra Reynolds's formulationnor is it clear what
their "personal" or "individual" relationships might be to the political assertions
that make up the bulk of the flyer. Are these white women speaking for vari
ously named Others? What is their investment in the issues they raise? Who is


Professing Rhetoric

this We? This piece of paperthe text itselfdoes not speak its own context,
any more than any piece of writing can. I'd like to suggest in fact that the anony
mous text is not so unlike a text with an author's name attachedno text is ever
readable independent of a complex rhetorical matrixeither the context from
which it was produced or those from which it is read, nor is its meaning simply
determined (or limited to) its contexts of production and reception or appropria
tion. The name of an author itself signals an outside, a body that stands prior to
the written text, carrying with it a history that is more or less available to us as
readers however explicit the writer is about naming herself. Like much of the
ephemera of activism, this flyer assumes an immediacy of context, presuming a
close proximity between the bodies that made it and the bodies that received it.
In this case, the flyer was read to an assembled plenary session, with cameras
rolling. While a written text, it nonetheless worked initiallyfor its first audiencemore like oratory. The body of the woman who read the flyer to the as
sembled Caucus served in complex ways as guarantor of a certain kind of
seriousness and physically invested the text with an authority the words them
selves do not command.
But how do I know that and what kind of authority can I claim to support my
reading of this document? On the one hand, I was there. I was a participant in
Workshop #13- Like much of activist print production, this flyer exists because
ordinary people like me saved such materialssometimes donating them to
college libraries, sometimes packing them away in files. But the experiential
knowledge for which the flyer serves as mnemonic promptpowerful as it is for
meis not by itself sufficient. Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman reflect on this
kind of authority in useful ways:
Authority is the privilege to speak as author, as an originator. Such a
privilege is often understood to come from wisdom, insight, or ex
perience of the author. If authority is claimed on the basis of per
sonal experience, then authority becomes a matter of interpreting
one's life, often without reference to the assumptions, beliefs, or
methods by which that interpretation is accomplished. When per
sonal experience is the basis for critical knowledge, such knowledge
may be premised on a fairly unexamined opinion, whose rhetorical
force comes from its appeal to the "authentic." When opinion
claims to be unassailable because it is based on experience, authority
becomes tautologicalit is because I say it is and who are you to
question my life? (93)
I can write about the Workshop #13 flyer from experience, but I am also at 30
years remove. I have ways of making sense of that event now that I did not have
available to me then, and yet of course I cannot reproduce the moment as lived
nor can I speak for all those other participants. Here in capsule is the paradoxical
rhetorical move I mentioned before: I announceas caveat emptorthat I have

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Collective Authorship


special and necessarily limited experiential knowledge in order to claim author

ity to speak, knowing that the authority is at best provisional and that my expe
riential knowledge is not sufficient. I have to bring other knowledges to bear in
order to frame my experience for purposes of critical analysis (cf. Personal Nar
ratives Group).
I participated in the Caucus as part of a Welfare Rights delegation from the
western part of upstate New York. I was a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to Amer
ica) working for a migrant housing project in the "stoop fruit" producing
mucklands of New York. Most of the migrant workers were African Americans
in the Florida to New York "stream"picking citrus in Florida and tomatoes,
onions, cabbages and other vegetables in New York. I was asked by the local
Welfare Rights organizer, a white woman who was not a migrant worker but
who had grown up in this part of upstate New York, to drive a group of local
women to Albany to attend the Caucus. Once there we met with women from
around the state, most of whom were representing other Welfare Rights groups.
I served as recorder for the workshop, and helped to put in final form the report
to the plenary session. I have kept a file from the Caucus with various flyers, a
bibliography on voting and political involvement, a list of pending legislation
having to do with women's issues, steps on how to become a committeewoman
(for whatever party), and the like. In addition, the folder includes a set of notes
from the Inclusion Workshop of the minutes and the drafts of the workshop reportas well as the mimeo flyer distributed in the plenary session reporting on
the Workshop. While the participants in Workshop #13 were a racially and
ethnically diverse group, I was the only middle-class, college-educated white
woman. I thus occupied a position just this side of male: presumably I could
know more than a man could know about "women's experience" but I couldn't
know from the inside what it meant to be poor, on welfare, with limited access to
schooling and jobs. My role as recorder may have made it easier on some level for
other participants to teach me what I could not know first hand: they could di
rect their comments to me, face me, with criticisms of the class and racial bias of
the Political Caucus organization, to make sure I "got it" in the sense of getting
it down on paper, but also hoping I got it on a deeper level. I was an individual
who happened to be recorder but I also felt myself to be surrogate for that group
of prominent womenthe headlinerswho had organized us into an "Inclu
sion" Workshop relegating us to last place on the conference program. An Afri
can American woman volunteered to chair the meeting; much of the final
language of the plenary flyer is hers; and it was her body that rose at the end of
the conference and it was her voice that gave force to the words.
I didn't know then that our positioning in the Caucus program was a result of
conflicts among the leadership. I do remember that we were all struck by the po
sitioning, and we joked about this warp of the Sleeping Beauty storythat like
the excluded fairy godmother, we would end up causing the Caucus more trou
ble than they had bargained for. We knew we were tokens, but that we were
nonetheless going to make the most of the opportunityto make it difficult for


Professing Rhetoric

the leadership to simply use us for political window dressing. Collective ano
nymity was the position we had been assigned but it was also the position that
we reclaimed asserting that "Women will no longer accept anyone else's defini
tion of their self-value and the value of their work" (Item #2). It wasn't for oth
ers to name us. We were the nameless Rank and File in defiant contrast to the
Headliners. With historical hindsight, I can see that we were on the verge of the
change that bell hooks has describedthat the brief moment of volatility dur
ing which women were attempting to create space for contact across difference
was coming to a close. And the very visibility and relative success of such organi
zations as the National Women's Political Caucus ironically helped to bring that
moment to a close.
I know now that the National Women's Political Caucus was formed in 1971
by a coalition of women including Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, Betty
Friedan, Patsy Minsk, and Gloria Steinem. Their purpose was to increase the
numbers of women and sympathetic men participating in the electoral process
at all levels. The earliest meetings held at various sites around the country at
tracted a wide range of groups from religious organizations, the League of
Women Voters, various business and professional organizations for women, as
well as trade unions, Welfare Rights groups, and various feminist organizations
(Garden 139). But from the earliest discussions, there was a split between those
who wanted to focus exclusively on women's issues defined narrowly in such a
way as to exclude questions about welfare, abortion, sexual orientation or racism
(most prominently this was Betty Friedan's position), and thoseparticularly
Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinemwho urged a broader understanding of femi
nism and warned that the Caucus could easily become simply a haven for the
white middle-class (Heilbrun 214).
The 1972 meeting of the New York State Women's Political Caucus
(NYWPC) attempted to address this split by includingironically and tell
ingly, as I've notedas its 13th of 13 concurrent workshops a session on the
"Politics of Inclusion." A representative from the NAACP, a Welfare Rights or
ganizer, and the chairwoman of the National Caucus of Spanish-Speaking
Women served as the conveners and resource people for this session. Of the al
most 200 conveners listed for the Caucus, including nationally-known figures
such as Shirley Chisholm (who had only recently declared her candidacy for
President of the United States), most represented relatively "mainstream" po
litical, religious, and educational organizations. However wise any of these
women as individuals might have been, in the context of the Caucus, they
made too evident their sense of priorities in relegating primarily poor and mi
nority women to the last workshop as if as an afterthought. Even though the
sessions ran concurrently and thus no session was technically "last" in real
time, the women who participated in this so-called inclusion workshop under
stood that they were last and least.
But that is not the whole of the story. As Kathleen Weiler has argued, "peo
ple will use the means at hand, the power that they can employ to meet their

Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Collective Authorship


needs and assert their humanity" (51). To look below or behind the Women's
Political Caucus's apparent sidelining of difference requires that we consider
how the workshop participantsknowing full well how they had been posi
tioned in this rhetorical contextnonetheless made use of rhetorical resources
at hand. In reflecting on what she calls "fractured identities," Donna Haraway
notes that among U.S. women who have affirmed their historical identity as
U.S. women of color, "this identity marks out a self-consciously constructed
space that cannot affirm a capacity to act on the basis of natural identification,
but only on the basis of conscious coalition, of affinity, of political kinship"
(198). The we-saying of this flyer suggests not a claim to unity that erases dif
ference but something like the coalition-building that Haraway describes
based not on "natural identification" but on claims to political kinship. Gay
Women, the Aged, Women in Prison, Single parents, ethnic groups, the
young, the working poor are named in the flyer and given a material reality in
the Caucus. Participants of Workshop #13 felt that we were standing in the
stead of such women even when we were not literally so representative. In
standing for such a coalition, the Workshop members were also pointing out
the absence of this coalitional array within the Caucus at large.
In other words, the coalition across difference does not yet exist except
on the page as the assertion of the collective authors' coalitional vision.
They do not state explicitly the positionality of the individual authors, nor
of the literal collective membership of the workshop, but project a possibil
ity for the assembled body of women. I'd like to call this an ethical projec
tion. By not stating explicitly the identity of the writers, the flyer attempts
to create the occasion for the building of a coalitional "we." The we-saying
is thus doubly valenced: offering ideal and critique at once. If the leader
ship wants to include more women in the political processto use the
Women of Workshop 13 and those they stand in for political purposesthey are going to have to consider the "mechanicsthe system and
tactics that keep women divided and that encourage oppressed people to
fight each other." In a sense, the ethical appeal of the flyer rests on the need
for mainstream members of the caucus to join in coalition with an imag
ined, a projected "we" (rather than the we they have assumed as the de
fault, white middle class we), to locate themselves as part of a coalitional
"we" in order to realize it, to make it realnot to speak for others, not to do
all the talking, but to listen, to learn and to educate themselves to a sense of
political kinship across difference. Or, as Adrienne Rich puts it, to imagine
a "We who are not the same. We who are many and do not want to be the
same" (225). To do this the authors of the flyer consciously chose not to
identify themselves as separate individuals, but to use the power and au
thority of a textual, choral anonymity. In this context, the Workshop par
ticipants' rhetorical choice strikes me as the exercising of politically
responsible authority. Their's is an ethos that is projected as a possibility, as
a challenge to the taken-for-granted.


Professing Rhetoric

Works Cited
Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993.
Carden, Maren. The New Feminist Movement. New York: Sage, 1974.
Code, Lorraine. Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on Gendered Locations. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Heilbrun, Carolyn G. The Education of a Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem. New York: Dial, 1995.
hooks, bell. "Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory." Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Boston:
South End, 1984. 1-15.
New York State Women's Political Caucus. Program. March 4, 1972.
. Workshop 13 Plenary Statement. March 4, 1972.
Personal Narratives Group. Interpreting Women's Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narratives.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989
Reynolds, Nedra. "Ethos as Location: New Sites for Understanding Discursive Authority." Rhetoric
Review 11 (1993): 32538.
Rich, Adrienne. "Notes Toward a Politics of Location." Blood, Bread, and Poetry. New York: Norton,
Roof, Judith, and Robyn Wiegman. Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity. Urbana: U of Illi
nois P, 1995.
Weiler, Kathleen. Women Teaching for Change: Gender, Class and Power. Critical Studies in Education Se
ries. South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey, 1988.
Williams, Patricia. The Alchemy of Race and Rights: A Diary of a Law Professor. Cambridge: Harvard UP,


March 4, 1972


8:00 A.M. - 10:00 A.M. Registration

10:00 A.M.
Plenary Session
Lower Lobby

Linda Lamel - Conference Coordinator

Greetinga: Coastaae* Osok - New York State

Assemblywoman (R-125 A.D.)

Liz Carpenter - former Prees Secretary

and Special Asslltant to Mrs. Lyndon


Barbara G. Kllberg - former

Namber President lixon's White

Houee Staff; Member, Board of

Directors, Common Cause

Laurie Beers - Co-chairvoman,

National Youth Caucus

Jonnle Jones - Ceordinatlng Committee,

Manhatten Women's Political Caucus

Amy Betanaos - New York City Commissioner

of Housing Relocation

Barbara Smith - Coordinator, Saratoga

County Women's Political Caucus

12:30 P.M.
Box Lunch

1:30 - 5:30





State Structure

Starlight Boom

Evaluation of proposals for temporary state


Resource people:

Anne Cohan - Co-chairwoman, State Structure


Joyce Ahrens - Co-ooairwomaa, State Struc

ture committee

Ronnie Felt - Rational Policy Council,

National Woman's Political

Caucus) member, State Structure


Lower Level #4

formulation of goals and politioal targets for

Nev York State Women's Politioal Caucus

Resource people:

Representatives from local caucuses

Party Bules and Thalr


Room 331

The rules by which the parties operate and how

they should be changed so that they no longer

systematically exolude women from decision-


Resource people:

Nancy Dubner
- member, Democratic State

Oommittee (Rochester)

Sarah Llebehutt - Professor, Politioal

Soienoo, S.O.I.Y. Brookport





Lower Level #3A


How are delegates to the national conventions

chosen; how to become a candidate for delegate;

what role you can play at the convention


Reeouroe peoples

Ksther Lewis
Judith Glasor

10. .

- former chairwoman, Legisla

tive lotion Committee, New Yerk

State League of Women Tetors

Director of Special Prelecte,

S.U.F.Y. Purchase; President

of Board of Eduoatlon, Rye

Yolanda Quitman - founder of Pulse of Women






Image-building and use of the media

Resource people:

Letty Pogrebin - Editor of Me magazine; former

publicist for major publishing


Bllen Loohoya - Public relations director

for succeseful candidate for

Albany County District






How to become a candidate and who should be one

Resource people:

Karen Burstein
- former Democratic



candidate for 4th Con

gressional distriot

Janice Dooley
- former Democratic

candidate for Albany

Oounty Legislature

Liz Lynch
- former candidate Sohen

eotady County Board

Mary Ella Reutershaa - former candidate East

Hampton town beard;

Legislative Chairwoman,

Ajaerloan Aseooiation of

Uairersity Women

finding the weak ones; what information to get,

where to get it and how to use it

Resource people:

Joanna Banthin-Stelser - Politieal eoientist

Cornelia letter
- Planning aseooiats,

New York State Office

of Planning Serrioesi

paid campaign organ

iser and manager

Linda Darldoff
- Urban planner; Author,

the Suburbs Must Ocan

Their Gates

Ihe Politlcs of Inclusion

Lower Level #2

How to reach the unaffiliated, the poor, the aged,

the young, the minority women and why it is essential

to do BO

Resource people:

Althea Simmons - Secretary for Training,

National Association for the

Adraneament of Colored People

Irna Santaella - lastera Regional Chairweman

Bational Caucus of Spanish

Speaking Women

Jeanette Washington - Welfare Mothers Organiser


Workshop # 13
Politics of Inclusion
The women's political caucus will, address itself to the problems of all
women. We are particularly concerned with, the problem of getting people
to come and participate.
Most important is to have a relevant program
1. avoid unnecessary rhetoric,

2. know local issaes&& devise programs to deal w i t h local problems

let people now whet you can do for them, and what you can do together
Specific i s s e s to be concerned about include:
Quality educationwake sure schools teach the a u t u e u t i c history of
the American peoples and recognize and expose the roots of white racism
Support and p a r t i c i p a t e in the C h i l d r e n ' s riarch for Survival on
March 24 and 25. Contact your local Welfare Rights for further info,
Women should be guaranteed the right of self determainf.tion and econ
omically sustained to implement this goal.
We oppose thePixon-millsHRI plan for so called Welfare Reform as
a .measure that violates w o m e n ' s right to self deter intition.
We will support all women, this includes Gay Women, the Aged, Women
in Prsson, Single P a r e n t s , .
tho young, .ALL WOMAN
Woman will no lon er accept anyone else's d e f i n i t i o n or thier self
valuie and the v a l u e of their work
The w o m e n ' s causus must address itself to the working poor--to racog
nize their con onalitv with other oppress-d people
We must work for economic j u s t i c e for all.
We shall educat o u r s e l v e s and o t h e r s to the f a c t that we all are
dependent on the governmetns assistance in some way and there fore, are
all, in e f f e c t on w e l f a r e .
3. kn Use neighborhood communications--contact organziat ions such
as the Golden Agtsrs, welfare Rights, H A A C P , grass roots poverty organiza
t ions. Organize voter regastration, use the media multui langiage radio,
underground papers, people's papers--go knocking door to door and talk and
4. The structure of the csucus must allow all women to speck for
5. BLliminst, econemicic barriers tomembership.Thereshouldbe no
mumbership d u e s . Each should c o n t r i b u t o according to hermeans.Provide
funds for low income womea to a t t e n d meetings, provide t r a n s p o r t e t i o n .
6. Recogmize the . i o c n o n i c s - - t h e s y s t e m and t a c t i c s that keep us
all divided and that encourece o p p r e s s e d people to fight each othor

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Old Dominion University

Mediated Ethos: Instructor Credibility

in a Televised Writing Course

In a recent College English article, Chris Anson poses an important question:

"What will multimedia do to alter the personae of teachers and students as they
respond to each other virtually?" (276). A study I completed in 1998 prefigured
Anson's question and included a description of how students construct a
writerly ethos when they have "voice or verbal presence" but not "bodily or ma
terial presence" in televised courses (Neff, "From"). Anson's question is clearly
worth additional consideration; thus, my current study examines human and
technological interactions that shape teacher ethos in writing courses delivered
from a distance. I find Tita Baumlin's work on ethos helpful in this examination.
She defines ethos as "the interrelations among language, authority, private char
acter, and public self ... intricately interwoven with the culture's concepts of
power, gender, and rhetorical self-fashioning" (230), and she concludes that the
"traces of capitulation to, and exploitation of, both authority and other" are
present in the process of fashioning an ethos (253). In the distance education sys
tem that I study, producers, technicians, site directors, and instructional design
ers share authority over what is seen and heard by distant students. Other
pedagogical decisions, traditionally the province of the instructor, are mediated
by microphones, cameras, computers, and studio arrangements. In the video
taped recordings of each classroom session, lie traces of these human and techno
logical interrelations, traces of an instructor refashioning her teacher ethos in the
new world of distance education.
Background and Research Questions
My original study of a distance education system that uses interactive televi
sion (ITV) as its delivery medium led to several findings. In ITV, students are
constructed as educational consumers, courses are packaged as products to be
purchased, site directors serve as sales representatives for those courses, and
market research is used to assess satisfaction with products consumed. Fortu
nately, ITV constructs students as producers as well as consumers. Student texts
are the products offered in exchange for grades, and the value of student texts in
creases in proportion to distance and invisibility. That is to say, the less an in


Professing Rhetoric

structor knows about a student, the more that instructor bases evaluation on the
written text. ITV creates a virtual space in which students can develop writerly
subjectivities because their texts are valued commodities in this culture. In a
face-to-face (f2f) classroom, a text is packaged in the physical presence of a stu
dent (her level of class attendance, how well her personality fits with the instructor's personality, physical markers such as race, ethnicity, gender). This is not to
say that these markers are unavailable except through physical presence; it is to
say that a student text carries more weight when an instructor assesses it with
out knowing much about the author. I would compare the experience to blind
review of a journal submission versus face-to-face review of a colleague's draft.
In the present study, teacher ethos is the salient issue. While students rate
ITV courses highly in both quantitative and qualitative evaluations, faculty dis
like ITY A look at stereotypes of the classroom that our culture perpetuates may
be instructive here. These stereotypes are so ingrained that even before we begin
kindergarten, many of us can "play school" according to the rules of our particu
lar part of the world. In the 1950s, middle-class, suburban culture in which I
was immersed as a child, I knew that a classroom lesson unfolded in a three-part
format (teacher asks a question, student responds, teacher offers an evaluative
comment). I knew that the teacher had all the power. She got to call on students
and to reprimand them if their answers were wrong. I can recall the classroom
my playmates and I constructed under the weeping willow tree in the front yard.
The teacher's role was best, and we fought for it. I can also recall the 1970s class
room my children and their playmates set up in the basement recreation room,
and these days, my granddaughters are repeating the scenario.
In contrast to these face-to-face classroom stereotypes, where the assumption
is that the teacher manages all things, let me describe the ITV classroom. The
teacher talks to a camera; students press microphone buttons to contribute to
the discussion; the engineer announces that one site is not receiving the broad
cast; students at another site complain that their exams were not returned in the
mail; and simultaneously, a producer switches cameras to show the electronic
chalkboard instead of the instructor. Such a scenario raises several questions:
What happens to teacher authority (and by extension to writing instruction)
when producers, technicians, site directors, and instructional designers appro
priate course delivery? What happens when microphones, television screens,
cameras, computers, and studio arrangements demand the instructor's atten
tion and affect her timing? What happens when students can talk among them
selves at their separate sites, and the instructor does not know that they are
talking? And most insidious, what happens when a high-ranking administrator
tells students they can get their money back for a course they find too rigorous?
At its simplest, what happens is that the instructor does not want to play this
particular teaching game, and many faculty refuse ITV assignments. The power
and glory of the teacher as "Subject Supposed to Know" is diminished. My goal
is to learn whether, and how, faculty can reinvent or fashion a teacher-ethos that
works for them and for their students in distance-education writing classes.

Mediated Ethos


Methodology and Data

The current phase of the study focuses on an advanced composition course
taught over ITV by Dawn Hayden during the spring 1998 semester. Using
methods from grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss; Strauss and Corbin), I ana
lyzed videotapes and other data from the course. Grounded theory encourages
the blurring of researcher-participant positions by valuing the experiences that
all agents bring to a project. As the researcher moves through recursive cycles of
data analysis and theory building, findings are shared with participants so that
all stances are interrogated by other stances. (For a detailed explanation of
grounded theory in composition research see Neff, "Grounded.") In the follow
ing sections, I describe several authority issues that emerged in Hayden's ITV
writing course: access, content, timing, who has the floor, pedagogy, and text
Access to the course: Demographic studies show that students who
have limited physical access to higher education are eager to earn a four-year de
gree through ITV (Feenberg; West). Some mediating elements, such as televi
sion transmission and electronic mail, improve demographic access to courses at
the same time that other mediating elements (site directors, electronic registra
tions) impinge on the instructor's authority to prevent overrides or late registra
tions or enrollment by students who have not met prerequisites. In Hayden's
course several students did not meet prerequisites but were allowed to register
by their site directors.
Sometimes access is an issue because a receive site may be closed for a holi
day (as occurred during Hayden's course) while the main campus is open, and
broadcasting is scheduled. In ITV students can attend a "live" class at their re
ceive sites while it is being delivered, or they can watch a videotape of the class
later if they are absent. The instructor may push for "live"attendance, but her
authority is undermined by the promotion of ITV as a system that permits stu
dents to time their own learning. In Hayden's situation, she could not physi
cally see who was or was not present on a given day. Neither could she see who
was paying attention.
Course content: In face-to-face (f2f) classrooms, the instructor merges
content and presentation of content into what she hopes is a seamless fabric.
She uses presentation methods to signal the relative importance of the content
she covers. In ITV, presentation is controlled by the technician who deter
mines what is shown on the screen. In one of Hayden's classes a guest speaker
uses power point slides, and the technician shows the slides, not the speaker,
until well into the presentation when he shows the speaker in a small box in
the lower corner of the screen. When content and presentation do not support
one another, students become confused about which content the instructor
wishes to emphasize.


Professing Rhetoric

Timing: One of the biggest paradoxes in ITV concerns time versus tech
nology. ITV classes are slower, not faster, as one might expect. Everything from
calling role to distributing papers takes more, not less, time in spite of the tech
nology. When a guest speaker in Hayden's class needs the microphone, there's a
pause while it is transferred. Another guest stops to sip water many times be
cause she says she is nervous about being on television. The frequent repetition
of instructions because of botched transmissions (in one class a thunderstorm
eliminated all communication from a site) affect Hayden's decisions about
which activities to attempt, when to switch activities, and whether to repeat
material when the downtime ends. In a parallel study of how time is allocated in
an ITV class, early results show technological interference at a 26% rate (Dare).
That means one fourth of class time is lost because of problems with things like
microphones, bandwidth transmission, and the weather.
Who has the floor: Technology mediates the instructor's authority to
designate who speaks in an ITV classroom. In Hayden's one-way video,
two-way audio situation, students speak without waiting to be recognized be
cause the instructor can not see them to call on them. They press a microphone
button and then choose whether or not to identify themselves before they
speak. Hayden, who may be in the middle of a sentence, hears a voice coming
out of the air without warning. In her virtual classroom, there are eighteen
floors, but Hayden is physically standing on only one of them.
Pedagogy: Hayden uses various methods including lecture, small group
work, conferences, student presentations, and guest speakers. She invites her
graduate assistant to co-teach with her on occasion. Hayden cannot easily switch
from a planned activity to an unplanned one because of conditions and constraints
such as the large font size required for items shown on the electronic chalkboard
and the requirement that all handouts be distributed in a course pack several
weeks before the semester begins. Paradoxically, Hayden often must switch activi
ties because of technological problems such as a student's slides not arriving at the
studio in time to be broadcast during his presentation or a student paper that is
delayed by the mail room and thus can not be copied, distributed, and discussed
in time to be pedagogically valuable. In one class session, to compensate for a dis
tribution problem, Hayden reads a student's paper aloud. Her frequent inter
spersing of "quote/unquote" detracts from the reading.
In another instance late in a class session, Hayden finishes a lecture and di
rects students to work in their peer response groups. One group, made up of stu
dents who are alone at their sites, is told to use the audio bandwidth of the
broadcast so they can conduct their peer work orally. All other sites are directed
to turn off the sound on their monitors. The bandwidth group struggles to do
the work of peer response without being able to see one another. They spend
much of their time asking each other to clarify points from the lecture. One stu
dent says, "I am a full-time student and this is probably the hardest class I have

Mediated Ethos


this semester just going through these extra steps just to communicate. I'm try
ing to work with it, but it's taking so much time." A few students finally decide
to phone each other during the coming week. At the end of the tape, a student
asks: "Is Rosemary there? Is Christy there? Is anybody there? Hello?" (West).
Most of the students have walked out on the discussion, sound pedagogy not
Text ownership:
Somewhat prophetically in the first class session,
Hayden comments that she has never lost a student's paper. Perhaps that's be
cause she has control over such things in her f2f classes. Just a few weeks into the
ITV course, a student at one site notes that she received someone else's personal
narrative paper by mistake. The mailroom, UPS, and the site directors assume
authority over paper exchanges in ITV
In each of the areas discussed above, the instructor finds her authority chal
lenged. The irony is that the tacit authority she wields in a f2f class becomes visi
ble in ITV precisely because the classroom is now electronic (see Moran for a
reverse twist on this phenomenon). Videotape analysis shows how Hayden re
fashions her teacher ethos under these conditions. First, she reconfigures student-teacher roles. She talks openly with her students about the complications
of the system. She makes jokes, she admits defeat, she soothes students who get
upset about their work not arriving on time, and she discusses how an individual
might cope with being alone at a site. Likewise, students soothe Hayden by tell
ing her not to worry and by suggesting alternatives for paper exchanges.
Hayden graciously accepts their support. In one instance, when a student at a
distant site gives an oral presentation, Hayden becomes a student notetaker
whose actions are visible to everyone since one camera captures her as she writes,
and another displays her notes on the electronic chalkboard.
Second, Hayden invites students to help her shape future ITV writing
classes by completing a survey. Students record their answers and then discuss
them eagerly in whole-group format. In response to a question about peer re
view, students suggest that Hayden send drafts to different sites so that peers
do not always respond to writers at their own sites. Hayden asks students what
would help them cope with distance education. They suggest an orientation
video for first-timers, a commercial that previews English 327 for future stu
dents, and a separate commercial previewing the next writing course Dawn is
scheduled to teach.
Jarratt and Reynolds in "The Splitting Image" conclude that "ethos revised
through feminism can help students see themselves as positioned in a social
and political setting" (57). When students move away from "generalities
aimed at a general audience" and "identify themselves and those to whom they
write and speak within networks of gender, class, and power," they are able to


Professing Rhetoric

"both split and resuture textual selves" (57). Likewise, in distance education,
the interrelations of technological and human intermediaries enable teachers
to split and resuture their pedagogical selves. These changes in ethos reverber
ate beyond the fifteen-week semester. For example, at the urging of ITV fac
ulty, the English Department has composed a position paper which has been
sent to the Provost, explaining the problems of continuing with ITV as a
means of writing instruction and proposing solutions such as dividing one
broadcast time slot among three sections of Advanced Composition. That way,
faculty can combine on-line instruction with televised instruction in various
proportions, and the English department can keep enrollments for writing
courses capped at twenty-three students while the administration can claim
that three times as many students are being served for the same cost. (Admin
istrators must factor the per-hour broadcast cost into the cost per student for
delivering distance education.)
If we look at teacher ethos as a core category in theorizing distance educa
tion, we can see that giving up power and taking up power become an interac
tive dance with several new steps for traditional f2f teachers and students to
learn. However, changes in classroom authority are not inherently negative.
It's funny that we as teachers do not want to give up too much of our power,
yet we want students to assume more power. At the same time that we com
plain about the administration making pedagogical decisions that should be
reserved for faculty, we are not asserting ourselves by making technological
decisions. ITV allows us to look at ourselves from new perspectives (after all,
our f2f class sessions are captured permanently on videotape) and to learn from
what we see. We can find ways to intervene earlierways to share power with
administrators just as we say we want students to share it with us. Distance ed
ucation gives us the opportunity to make visible and material our tacit deci
sions about classroom authority.
Let me conclude with a look to the future when my great grandchildren
may be playing school. I see that they will be on-line with their cousins who
live in different cities. Individual monitor-mounted cameras will transfer their
digitized images and audio tracks. Each monitor will receive split-screen im
ages of all the other players. For these children, the mediating technology will
be invisible because teaching with technology will be the norm. But I wonder
whether the pedagogical choices will be the same. Will the children compete
for the role of teacher? Will teaching time rotate every ten minutes? Will
grades be assigned? By whom? As for teacher ethos, I am not sure. If we use the
transition from f2f classrooms to electronic classrooms to interrogate our prac
tices, perhaps we can resuture our "selves/selphs" into a dynamic teacher-ethos
that takes us beyond the good sense, good moral character, and good will of
the "Subject Supposed to Know" (Brooke 168). We can become open, unsta
ble, energetic, flexible, non-authoritative, informed subjects that ITV makes a
place forif and when we wish to inhabit that place.

Mediated Ethos


Works Cited
Anson, Chris M. "Distant Voices: Teaching Writing in a Culture of Technology." College English 6.1
(1999): 261-80.
Baumlin, Tita French. "'A good (wo)man skilled in speaking': Ethos, Self-Fashioning, and Gender in
Renaissance England." Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Ed. James S. Baumlin
and Tita French Baumlin. Dallas: Southern Methodist UP, 1994. 22963.
Brooke, Robert. "Transference: Plato and the Problem of Rhetorical Method." Ethos: New Essays in
Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Ed. James S. Baumlin and Tita French Baumlin. Dallas: Southern
Methodist UP, 1994. 149-69.
Dare, Lane. "The Cost of Technological Tensions: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog." Unpublished paper,
April 2000.
Feenberg, Andrew. "Distance Learning: Promise or Threat?" <http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/
feenberg/TELE3.HTM> Feb. 16, 1999.
Glaser, Barney G., and Anselm L. Strauss. The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Chicago: Aldine, 1967.
Hayden, Dawn. "Engagement in Distance Learning: Ruptures in the Established Order." Conference
on College Composition and Communication. Atlanta, GA, March 25, 1999.
Jarratt, Susan C., and Nedra Reynolds. "The Splitting Image." Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Crit
ical Theory. Ed. James S. Baumlin and Tita French Baumlin. Dallas: Southern Methodist UP, 1994.
Moran, Charles. "From a High-Tech to a Low-Tech Writing Classroom: 'You Can't Go Home Again.'"
Computers and Composition 15(1) April 1998. 18 June 2000 <http://corax.cwrl.utexas.edu/cac/archives/vl5/15_l_html/15_l_Features.html>.
Neff, Joyce Magnotto. "From a Distance: Teaching Writing on Interactive Television." Research in the
Teaching of English 33 (1998): 136-57.
. "Grounded Theory: A Critical Research Methodology." Under Construction: Working at the Intersec
tions of Composition Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. Christine Farris and Chris M. Anson. Logan:
Utah State UP, 1998. 124-35.
Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin. "Grounded Theory Methodology: An Overview." Handbook of Qualita
tive Research. Ed. Norman K. Denzin and YvonnaS. Lincoln. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1994.27385.
West, Temple. "Engagement in Distance Learning: Making Students Visible." Conference on College
Composition and Communication. Atlanta, GA. March 25, 1999.

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West Chester University of Pennsylvania

The Essay Matters because the Essayist

Matters: Personal Disclosures and the
Enactment of Ethos in Essays by Black
Feminist Writers

The tradition of black feminist essay writing resonates strongly with my own
history. I was a teenage girl in the 1960s when writers like Frances Beale used es
says to articulate an emergent black feminist perspective on womanhood. I was
a young military woman in the 1970s when activists like Angela Davis used es
says to push for recognition of our full enfranchisement in the nation's institu
tions and social movements. I was a non-traditional college student and the
mother of two young sons in the 1980s when advocates like Audre Lorde used
essays to assert the integration of domestic experiences and public roles; and I
emerged as a college professor in the 1990s when scholars like bell hooks used
essays to redefine what it can mean for African American women to be academic
intellectuals. Essays from these decades are personally significant because they
tell the story of my life as an African American woman.
I am painfully aware that black women historically have struggled mightily to
claim a meaningful intellectual presence in many social and political spheres of in
fluence. But it also fascinates me, as a rhetorician interested in the topic of ethos
(which I define succinctly as personal power), that black feminist writers who have
long sought ways of establishing a substantive presence in conversations about
public issues have invested heavily in the essay form. They seem to recognizea fea
ture that I believe marks the genre as distinctively rhetorical discourse: that the
power ... the proof ... indeed, the truth of an essay derives principally from its
readers' embrace of its author's visionthat the essay matters precisely because the
essayist herself matters. It is a principle that writers like June Jordan, Alice Walker,
and Audre Lorde have used to great advantage. Whether appearing singly in
magazines and newspapers or published in thematic collections, essays have been
used successfully by black feminists to place items on the public agenda in ways
that meaningfully touch both mind and spirit.
Scholarship in African American studies dating from the 1970s and 1980s
forward has established the existence of a world view which suggests that being


Professing Rhetoric

"black" (in terms of belief system rather than color) encompasses a valuation of
an independent, long-standing Afrocentric consciousness, along with a shared
experience of white domination. Through the lens of this world view, Black fem
inist thought addresses the complicated relationships among biological classifi
cation, the social construction of race and gender, the material conditions
accompanying these social constructions, and black women's awareness of those
intersecting dimensions.
Carl Klaus makes the observation that "... essayists seem to conceive of the
essay as a place of intellectual refuge, a domain sacred to the freedom of the mind
itself" (164). For essayists who are black women, that freedom is counterbal
anced by an ever-present burdena legacy of slavery, misogyny, and many
other kinds of oppressionthat compels them as socially marginalized individ
uals to forego much of the characteristic detachment privileged by essayists and
critics who participate in the (white) European belletristic tradition. Often,
black women infuse their essay-writing with rhetorical strategies intended to ac
commodate this intense relationship among their statuses as writers, their di
versely positioned audiences, their preferred subject matter, and their own social
agenda. My reading of black feminist essays suggests that in significant ways,
their authors exert considerable controlownership, if you willof the lan
guage that shapes them as well as their readers. Much more valuable than the
ostensible freedom to express themselves that essay-writing affords, ownership
of their discursive "selves" made possible by the essay form allows these essayists
to invest themselves with the kind of rhetorical poweror ethosthat white
male essayists seem to have enjoyed for so long.
This perspective has helped me to understand the subjectivities of African
American women in a sociological sense, that is, as "human lived experience,
along with the physical, political, and historical contexts of that experience"
(Ellis and Flaherty 1). It is important to my readings of black feminist essays to
acknowledge the relation of the essayist's self-concept to the world around her,
and to understand how she integrates cognition, emotion, and the experiences
of her lived body in order to develop her work.
The sociologists whose work I have reviewed emphasize that subjectivity is
situated such that the voices in our heads and the feelings in our bodies are
linked to cultural, political, and historical contexts. I extend that general think
ing to black women, for whom these contexts, importantly, include the positive
aspects of community and spirituality threaded through the racism, sexism,
poverty, age-discrimination, and class-oppressions. All of these, in their particu
lar manifestations and interactions, shape the black feminist writer's capacity to
articulate the nuances of her subjective processes.
I think it is useful to view an essayist's ability to project a sense of herself as be
ing ultimately tied to her ability to sustain a personal relationship between her
self and her readers. Wendell Harris acknowledges that while all essays are by
definition "personal" to a degree, the voice readers hear acutely in texts that are
characterized as "personal essays" would best be described as, in his words, "a

The Essay Matters because the Essayist Matters


strong, clear sense of the author's presence" that expresses ... '"here I stand, this
is where my honestly described thoughts lead me'" (197).
The essay, as a mode of rhetorical discourse, allows the strategic enactment of
social agenda because it is flexible enough to accommodate the full range of dis
cursive options that these writers wish to employwhether autobiographical or
expository, whether understated or strident. Within the territory of the essay,
these writers can exert multiple identities, speak in several voices, and engage
numerous kinds of battles. They can use the form to show readers possibilities
for negotiating their own self-identity, given the multiple locations from which
the essayists speak as black women.
Black feminist essayists have always aimed to purposefully interpret their
own experiences, and those of other black women, by bringing their entire be
ings to bear in important ways. They have grasped for themselves, and assert to
others, the vital connection between what one does and how one thinks. This
connection between experience and consciousness that shapes the everyday lives
of black women pervades the work of black feminist essayists and shapes their
sensibilities as writers.
I propose that this subject position, or "self," is built into the text in order to be
construed by readers as revelations of the writer's "true," if only momentarily sta
ble, identity. This "self" speaks and is heard on the basis of what Patricia Hill Col
lins (21719) calls an "ethic of personal accountability" for the essay-writer's
claims to knowledge. A dynamic of establishing credibility and trustworthiness
(which we recognize as the classical notion of ethos) is significantly conditioned by
readers' characterizations of writerscharacterizations which are in turn condi
tioned by markers of a speaking "self" that are strategically placed on the page.
As a rhetorical discourse, the essay includes special features designed to make
it more persuasive to readers and to the writer herself. Among these are what I
call personal disclosures. These are bits of information about the writer that she en
dows with salience, places in specific locations in the essay, packages with other
images, flags as revelatory, and connects to the essay's central message. I propose
that personal disclosures are rhetorical constructs that work to lay a foundation
for readers to accept the essayist's message because they figure vitally in the ne
gotiation of her ethos.
The use of self-disclosures in essay-writing involves providing information
about one's physical attributes, attitudes, values, and experiences in a manner
that suggests that whatever is being disclosed by the writer may not be widely
known, and that the information has significance for both the giver and the re
cipient of that information. The essayist as rhetor may hope these self-revealing
details will demystify her character in the eyes of readers and establish solidarity
with them. She will often challenge stereotypes that may stand between her and
her audience. She will also work at highlighting experiences, relationships, and
values that she anticipates are shared across the cultures represented in her audi
ence. A disclosure can be considered a "revelation" in that it appears to readers as
a vehicle for insight, an idea that should lead them somewhere in their own


Professing Rhetoric

thinking. The reader's act of classifying information as disclosure directs

him/her to construe whatever message is being delivered in light of what has
been disclosed.
From the standpoint of ethos, the essayist can create an image of herself which
she can deploy strategically as a warrant, authorizing her to make sense of her
ideas in particular ways. Just as references to others are often invoked in texts to
warrant a given set of facts, so too the essayist's self is called upon in her work to
warrant a given range of ideas and opinions. In this way, the essayist can position
herself between her subject matter and her readers, and her disclosures, in effect,
say to those readers, I want you to seethis through my eyes, but to do so you have to know
what has shaped my vision.
An essayist can use the tactic of sharing something private with another per
son, in order to generate a certain level of intimacy, and even a sense of caring, in
readers. We put our trust in people we know, in people who identify themselves
with us in certain ways. Yet, at the same time, of course, readers are not totally
united with the writer; the sum total of her disclosures also highlight where she
is different from them. For reasons that become most meaningful within the
framework of each text, the essayist as rhetor invites readers to understand con
currently both the ways they can connect with each other and the ways in which
they must remain distinct from one another.
An essay-writer typically makes numerous decisions about whether to in
vest her text with self-disclosures, what to disclose, and where to place them.
For example:
Will they be physical descriptions, references to relationships, details of
her education, faith traditions, political affiliations, community statuses
and roles, interpretations of or reflections on of past life events?
Should they be presented as straightforward declarations, or woven into
narrative passages, or merely suggestedhinted at, for example, by adopt
ing some linguistic features of a group she wishes to be associated with?
Will they come mainly at the beginning or end of the piece, or inter
spersed throughout?
The essay-writer's answers to all these questions, and many more, work to
ward particular ends designed, among other things, to win readers' authoriza
tion of the essay-writer to speak on the matter under discussionin other
words, to gain their acknowledgment of her right to speak to them.
What follows are some excerpts which illustrate personal disclosures in sev
eral of the essays I have been studying. To fully appreciate their impact, however,
you should read them as they unfold in the original essays. I hope you will read
the essays with this question in mind: how does this writer use her self to influ
ence your reaction to her message?
The first set of excerpts are from Audre Lorde's essay "Turning the Beat
Around, Lesbian Parenting 1986." They illustrate how disclosures serve to es

The Essay Matters because the Essayist Matters


tablish a critically significant identity. Lorde uses a range of status markers to

identify herself in genderized terms and to emphasize her existence within a par
ticular kinship and broader social context. Her words evoke images and sugges
tions that many readers can elaborate on from their own experiences, and this
elaboration completes connections that facilitate their interpretation of her mes
sage about the social texture of families headed by Gays and Lesbians:
... when I talk about mothering, I do so with an urgency born of my
consciousness as a Lesbian and a Black African Caribbean american
woman staked out in white racist sexist homophobic america. (42)
I gave birth to two children. I have a daughter and a son
two children together with my lover, Frances .... (42)


We are a Black and a white Lesbian in our forties, raising two Black
children. (43)
The next passage marries broader, more interpretive ideas to concretely de
scribed experience:
We were an interracial Lesbian family with radical parents in the
most conservative borough of New York City. Exploring the mean
ing of those differences kept us all stretching and learning, and we
used that exploration to get us from Friday to Thursday, from tooth
ache through homework to who was going to babysit when we both
worked late and did Frances go to PTA meetings (45).
In addition to suggesting something physical and experiential about the essay
ist, this passage connects that physicality and experience to strong emotions:
Jonathan, at seventeen, asking, "Hey Ma, how come you never hit
us until we were bigger 'n you?" At that moment realizing I guess I
never hit my kids when they were little for the same reason my fa
ther never hit me: because we were afraid that our rage at the world
in which we lived might leak out to contaminate and destroy some
one we loved. (44)
The following set of excerpts are from essays by Alice Walker and June Jordan.
These passages illustrate another function of personal disclosures. In each case,
these sophisticated, intellectually gifted, and widely respected writers place
themselves between their readers and the people they write about. In Walker's
essay, "Nobody Was Supposed to Survive," it's the members of Philadelphia's
MOVE group. In Jordan's essay, "Requiem for the Champ," it's Mike Tyson.
The very mention of these two subjects almost automatically brings to many
minds intense images of radicalism, violence, and misogyny. Although Jordan's


Professing Rhetoric

prose is perhaps a little more forceful than Walker's, both writers insist that
readers view them and their subjects togetherand, as explicitly raced beings.
Walker's essay reasons through the question of whether the MOVE members
deserved "the harassment, abuse, and ... deaths" that were ultimately a conse
quence of their lifestyle. She establishes a personal, intimate connection with
the MOVE members by identifying herself with their physical characteristics
such as their dreadlocks hair style:
There we stood on a street corner in Paris, reading between the
lines. It seems MOVE people never combed their hair, but wore it in
long "ropes" that people assumed was unclean. Since this is how we
wear our hair, we had recognized this "weird" style: dreadlocks. The
style of the ancients: Ethiopians and Egyptians. Easily washed,
quickly drieda true wash-and-wear style for black people (and
adventuresome whites) and painless, which is no doubt why MOVE
people chose it for their children. And for themselves: "Why suffer
for cosmetic reasons?" they must have asked. (156)
In "Requiem," Jordan outlines the horrific conditions of poverty and oppres
sion under which Tyson learned the life-rules that have governed his personal be
havior as an adult. She indicts those who might share responsibility for
maintaining the kind of social order that could dehumanize the former boxer.
Like Walker, she strives for the effect of personal connection:
Mike Tyson comes from Brooklyn. And so do I. In the big picture of
America, I never had much going for me. And he had less. I only
learned, last year, that I can stop whatever violence starts with me. I
only learned, last year, that love is infinitely more interesting, and
more exciting, and more powerful than really winning or really los
ing a fight. I only learned, last year, that all war leads to death and
that all love leads you away from death. (223)
I am more than twice Mike Tyson's age. And I'm not stupid. Or slow.
But I'm Black. And I come from Brooklyn. And I grew up fighting.
And I grew up and I got out of Brooklyn because I got pretty good at
fighting. And winning. Or else, intimidating my would-be adversar
ies with my fists, my feet, and my mouth. And I never wanted to
fight. I never wanted anybody to hit me. And I never wanted to hit
anybody. But the bell would ring at the end of another dumb day in
school and I'd head out with dread and a nervous sweat because I
knew some jackass more or less my age and more or less my height
would be waiting for me because she or he had nothing better to do
than to wait for me and hope to kick my butt or tear up my books or
break my pencils or pull hair out of my head. (223)

The Essay Matters because the Essayist Matters


These passages by Walker and Jordan show exceptionally well how personal
disclosures operate as a persuasive element. As a matter of strategy, the essay-writers provide well-chosen personal information in order to place themselves directlyphysicallybetween their readers and subjects of their essays. Such
identification becomes a point of stasis: If Jordan and Walker have succeeded in
getting readers to identify them with their subjects, then readers should dislike
the writers as much a they dislike Tyson or the MOVE people, oras I believe Jor
dan and Walker are counting onreaders should accord the subjects greater
value as human beings. The disclosures are calculated to work in conjunction with
the essayists' respectability as "Alice Walker" and "June Jordan."
Today, I've asked you to consider, specifically, that when an essayist makes
personal disclosures in her work, she employs a key strategy in the construction
of her ethos. Carefully selected self-revelations can induce readers to validate the
authority of the person who "speaks" to them from the pages of the text. I would
like to bring this presentation to a close by re-stating my view that the connec
tions that an essayist makes with her readers by means of personal disclosures re
lies on her ability to make parts of her being resonate with parts of theirs. Yet, at
the same time, reader and writer are not totally united, because the sum total of
these disclosures also highlight places where they are different. Ultimately, the
essayist as rhetor asks us to understand how we can connect, and how we can be
distinct, at the same time. That is the great thing about the essay formits
opens a space for continuity and discontinuity to coexist, in order to help us navi
gate the territory that a writer claims to inhabit.
Works Cited
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment.
New York: Routledge, 1990.
Ellis, Carolyn, and Michael G. Flaherty, "An Agenda for the Interpretation of Lived Experience. Inves
tigating Subjectivity: Research on Lived Experience. Ed. Carolyn Ellis and Michael G. Flaherty.
Newbury Park: Sage, 1992. 1-13.
Harris, Wendell V. "Reflections on the Peculiar Status of the Personal Essay." College English 58.8 (Dec.
1996). 934-53.
Jordan, June. "Requiem for the Champ." Technical Difficulties: African-American Notes on the State of the
Union. New York: Vintage/Random, 1994. 221-26.
Klaus, Carl H. "Essayists on the Essay." Literary Nonfiction: Theory, Criticism, Pedagogy. Carbondale:
Southern Illinois UP, 1989.
Lorde, Audre. "Turning the Beat Around: Lesbian Parenting 1986." A Burst of Light. Ithaca: Fire
brand, 1988. 3948.
Walker, Alice. "Nobody Was Supposed to Survive: the MOVE Massacre." Living By the Word. San
Diego: Harvest/Harcourt, 1989. 153-62.

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Armstrong Atlantic State University

Apologizing for Authority: The Rhetoric

of the Prefaces of Eliza Cook, Isabelle
Bird, and Hannah More

This article examines how late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British

women writers used the apology form of the preface in order to carve a place for
themselves in the literary market. This above statement of purpose introduces a
series of key terms that we will be interrogating but also leaves a lot of questions.
As opposed to apologizing here, as my topic would deem appropriate, for the
lack and limitations of this presentation in not looking at the other strategies
women might use or the larger issue of the preface as a rhetorical situation or the
nature of the nineteenth-century literary marketplace generally, I want to in
stead focus our attention on the topics at hand: the genre of the preface, the rhet
oric of the apology, and the presentation of the woman writer.
Amelia Opie's early nineteenth-century prefaces offer a rather extreme ex
ample of the tendency to self-deprecate and apologize. Her preface to Detraction
Displayed (1826) mourns her father's death and asks for understanding and sym
pathy. She writes: "With more than usual self-distrust, I give this book to the
world ..." (1). She expresses her diffidence and asks for generosity considering
the circumstances. Her preface to Illustrations of Lying a few years later in 1829
blatantly avows her intentions to apologize: "I am aware that a preface must be
short, if its author aspires to have it read. I shall therefore content myself with
making a very few preliminary observations, which I wish to be considered as
apologies ..." (v).
So why and how did apology become a type of preface by women? How does
Opie's example here illustrate a type of self-presentation common among
women during the century? How does apology becoming a good strategy for
situating oneself as an author, an authority? How does deflection of authority
then go about asserting authority? Through an examination of the prefaces of
three writers that span the century in chronology and genre, I want to discuss
how women writers achieved their authority by deflecting it. From the pref
aces of essayist and novelist Hannah More, to those by the poet Eliza Cook,
and finally to travel writer Isabelle Bird's, we see these writers use particular
strategies to ensure the public of their legitimate authority. Through present


Professing Rhetoric

ing the authors humbly, situating the project as communal, and characterizing
the writer's efforts as un-artful, the apology form of the preface becomes a way
for its author to gesture to key discursive codes, social or rhetorical, and argue
the work's worth.
A few significant points urge us to the preface as a site of authorial presenta
tion. Looking back at the prefaces of Chaucer, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift,
and Johnson, the early history of the preface demonstrates its use as an appeal
to a patron or a proem for the author to present his real self. Then the nine
teenth century enters as a kind of heyday for the preface, where the preface
achieved a significant position beginning with the publication of Wordsworth's preface and ending with Hardy swearing off the novel in Jude. We
might remember the prefaces across the pond as well known as the primary
text's themselves: Walt Whitman and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In his article
about Hawthorne's prefaces, Timothy Dow Adams quotes Christopher
Morley's comment about the preface as "a bit of pleasant intimacy after the
real toil is over." (89). The preface, by the nineteenth century, had become a
place for the author to receive us into the text. The author could remove the
mask of the narrator or the fiction of the narrative and speak to us
man-to-man. The author can justify the project, give suggestions for readers,
provide a declaration of intention, and finally legitimate his authority.
What happens, however, if that author is a woman? How can a woman be
publically "intimate" as Morley above suggests? The genre of the preface be
comes a much more vexed rhetorical situation when, as a location for public
self-representation, it demands a female display herself. While literary conven
tion may beckon the writer to show herself, on no accounts does social conven
tion allow the woman to strip for us and keep our respect. So what is a girl to do?
First, she must apologize for the offense. We see More, Cook, and Bird doing
just that. Often apology comes in the form of admission of diffidence. We will
see that in Hannah More's preface to her Essays on Various Subjects where she apol
ogizes to her readers: "It is with the utmost diffidence that the following pages
are submitted to the inspection of the Public ..." (1). In her preface to her Poems
of 1850 Eliza Cook admits: "I am well convinced that there is much that is faulty
in my writing." (4). Isabelle Bird concurs in her preface to her 1856 volume
chronicling her travels to America, The Englishwoman in America, by emphasiz
ing her diffidence: "Where I have offered any opinions ... I have done so with ex
treme diffidence, giving impressions rather than conclusion" (2).
These apologies certainly ring as appropriately feminine, the apologies of a
proper woman for being so presumptuous. This self-deprecatory position was a
natural one for women writers considering their social place as women. A Victo
rian middle class wife, the Victorian ideal, was selfless, as Coventry Patmore, Sa
rah Stickney Ellis, and John Ruskin among others remind us in their
descriptions of the Angel of the House. In 1858, writing to her recently married
daughter, Queen Victoria herself writes: "There is great happiness ... in devot
ing oneself to another ..." (104-05).

Apologizing for Authority


Certainly the prefaces we have here by More, Cook, and Bird further support
this idea of woman as caretaker, as about community betterment rather than
self-aggrandizement. Part of the apologetic form of their prefaces can be identified
by the way these writers locate its purpose as communal rather than personal. The
antithesis of the "cash nexus" system of the increasingly industrialized and capital
ist Victorian England, community was the project of the woman and found a ha
ven in her hearth, home, and garden. The woman writer then can apologize while
justifying the project as community-driven and community-furthering: she can
argue for her text fulfilling a feminine responsibility. The project is justified by the
support of select friends or the public at large.
Hannah More attributes her success as due to her friend's efforts as much as her
own. She goes on to address her preface to "friends" thereby ensuring a readership
community. For Cook, these friends are the public which have already welcomed
her writing: they "afford indisputable proof of the good opinion I have gained" (3).
This good opinion may appear in the form of the public reception, "the patronage
already bestowed" she calls it, or just the encouragement of a few intimate friends
but is an indispensable component in the justification of a project. All four of her
prefaces excuse Bird's presumptions on the grounds that her works were pub
lished at the urging of friends. Similar to her preface to her American travels, but
accounting for her publication on Hawaii, Bird writes: "At the close of my visit,
my Hawaiian friends urged me strongly to publish my impressions and experi
ences ..." (vii). Somehow part of the apology for authoring needs to involve mak
ing it less an individual and more a communal project.
Not only is the ideal woman about community, but this ideal woman did not
desire either intellectually, emotionally, or physically. Throughout the century
such ideal women proceed from the pages of great fiction and poetry from
Austen's Elinor or Anne Elliott to Bronte's Helen Burns and Miss Temple, from
Eliot's Dorothea to Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott." Volumes of Keepsakes recorded
visions of the ideal woman: eyes demurely averred, waiting patiently and pas
sively for lovers to return and make her complete. Women characters and writ
ers struggled with this ideal, as elusive as any ideal. At century's end Virginia
Woolf describes her: "She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely
charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family
life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was
a draught she sat in itin short she was so constituted that she never had a mind
or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the mind and
wishes of others" (58-59). She continues: "Killing the Angel in the House was
part of the occupation of a woman writer."
This ideal was about sacrifice and selflessness, community and lack of desire.
Apology then is a seemingly natural response considering the social restrictions
in place. Rather than "Killing the Angel," though, perhaps women writers
found they needed to just step on her: in that by standing on her hallowed
ground they could step up to higher ground. Diffidence and apology for pre
sumption proceeds from the discursive system in place and at the same time can


Professing Rhetoric

be used to create new discursive possibilities. At the same time that society
placed limitations on women, these same restrictions were recuperated by
women productively. Women writers were able to gesture to and concede to
these appropriate behaviors in order to make their work marketable. The pref
aces are places where they could signal these codes and use them as grounds for
their work's value. Women writers achieved authority through their apologetic
prefaces. By assuming their positions as women and assuring the public of their
habituating the private sphere, by acknowledging their presumptuousness,
women writers use the social codes in place to show how their project is still in al
liance with ideals of femininity.
So we can conclude there perhaps: women writers apologized in the prefaces
in order to authorize themselves as good women. But that does not take us far
enough. There is a history to the preface that runs parallel with the history of fe
male humility that suggests the apology as otherwise appropriate for authoriza
tion. We must turn now to the history of the preface in rhetoric and the proper
forms it originally took.
Historically, the second of the five canons of oratory, arrangement, takes up
the issue of dividing a discourse into parts. In the fourth century Aristotle distin
guished between four parts. Then Quintilian comes along and argues for five
parts, not four. Finally, the well known discussion in Rhetorica ad Herennium sets
down the six parts: exordium being the first. The role of the exordium was to
predispose the audience to the speaker and topic, the term itself meaning "be
ginning a web." Often the exordium included both an introduction of the topic,
a direct address or pricipium, and an insinuatio or indirect address where a
speaker might address the audience in an attempt to create a favorable impres
sion of his personality. The insinuation portion of the preface or exordium is then
tied to ethos as it is about the promotion of the author's good sense, good mor
als, and good will. It establishes credit with the audience. According to Aristotle
in his Rhetoric, ethos was essential for persuasion: "moral character, so to speak,
constitutes the most effective source of persuasion" (1.2. 1356al3).
Since at least the 4th century then, humility has been urged as the appropriate
tone for the exordium as it is an essential virtue for establishing ethos. Repeatedly,
here in Book I and later Book II of Of Oratory, Cicero makes this precise point:
In my view, even the best orators, those who can speak with the ut
most ease and elegance, unless they are diffident in approaching a
discourse and diffident in beginning it, seem to border on the
shameless ... For the better the orator the more profoundly is he
frightened of the difficulty of speaking, and of the doubtful fate of a
speech, and of the anticipation of an audience. (I xxvi 118121 (85))
Later in his definition of the ideal orator in Institutes of Oratory as the "good man
skilled in speaking," Quintilian reiterates Cicero's earlier point: "for the exor
dium sometimes takes its complexion from the character of the pleader; and

Apologizing for Authority


though he speaks sparingly and modestly concerning himself, yet, if he be

deemed a good man, much influence in reference to the whole cause, may de
pend on that consideration" (Book 4: ch. 1154). Repeating himself later,
Quintilian again: "Very frequently, too, an exordium will be pleasing from a cer
tain modesty in thoughts, style, tone, and look of the speaker ..." (Book XI ch.
15 (313)). By the nineteenth century, according to John F. Schell in his article,
"Prose Prefaces and Romantic Poets: Insinuations and Ethos," through its ex
tended history, the ethical appeal had become a common convention and cer
tainly an important part of this appeal had to do with the rhetor's humility.
What happens, though, when you are discussing not the "Good man skilled
in speaking" but the "good woman." Tita Baumlin addresses just this problem
as a good woman wasn't supposed to speak, period. Baumlin proceeds from
showing all of the restrictions on a woman speaking in the Renaissance era to ad
dressing the difficulty of establishing ethos for Elizabeth I as the very public
queen of England She explores the rhetorical moves it was necessary for her to
make in order to maintain her authority as a good speaker ergo good woman. I
believe the preface allowed women writers a location and generic conventions
for just that kind of maneuvering. In her examination of the strategies of legiti
mation in French Renaissance women's prefaces, Anne Larsen defines the genre:
"It seeks above all to solicit the reader's good will through the rhetorical device
of captatio benevolentiae with its standard exordial topoi ... The less established
the writer, the greater the use of exordial topoi.... (11-12). Based on this analy
sis then the preface was indeed an important location for the woman writer as
Larsen goes on to argue. Women writers could face the public as they were ex
pected to as "un-established" writers by adapting the "apologetic topoi" of the
genre to their own ends. By apologizing, women writers could behave as accept
able women and could also engage the classical rhetorical convention of the ex
ordium. The preface was originally a location for an orator to disarm the
audience, and what better way to do that than to apologize. The woman rhetor
was then establishing her ethos as a good woman and simultaneously demon
strating her acknowledgment of the proper rhetorical device of humility in the
exordium of her public speech.
Part of the responsibility of the preface then was to establish the rhetor's
ethos, to give the argument credibility through the rhetor's credibility. The ora
tor had to present himself as the good man speaking well and we see here the
good woman speaking well too. Part of being a good woman as we saw above
was being humble and concerned with community. Part of being a good woman
meant not being an author. Many times part of the apology form of the preface
for a woman writer meant not only deflecting her own authority but denying
her project all together. This meant situating her project as non-literary or re
moving it from the realm of competition, indeed from the critic's arena, all to
gether. Women writers were denying their facility with and access to the
imagination. This dismissal of their work as the result and product of imagina
tion, among other things, signals the way in which the faculty of the imagina


Professing Rhetoric

tion had become gendered masculine in the Romantic era. It also integrates the
classical associations of the apology with the more contemporary notion of apol
ogy as defense or what speech act theorists today define the apology as, which is
"appropriately offered when an individual has violated a social norm" (Scher and
Darley 127). Paradoxically, women writers could defend themselves and their
violation, their womanhoodtheir ethosby denying themselves as writers.
Hannah More will argue that the similarity to real life is the strength of her
Essays and elevates their narrative. While exhorting its un-artfulness as its
strength, More apologizes for the novel's unliterariness and sets it up as entirely
spontaneous, the conception of a daydream on a roadtrip. The work arose out of
conversation and discussion and was arranged because of "amusement" rather
than literary aspiration. Cook writes that her work may not be literary enough in
places as well. In her account of America and of Japan, Bird argues that she was
engaged in an act of mimesis, not creation: she had not intended to publish and
this account is haphazard and uncrafted. And in the Golden Chersonese, the same
lament recurs: "I am quite aware that 'Letters' which have not received any liter
ary dress are not altogether satisfactory either to author or reader, for the author
sacrifices artistic arrangement and literary merit ..." (viii).
While we can link the apology form of the preface to the history of the pref
ace, we must also locate it in the history of the idea of the "apology." The earli
est meaning of the term Apology from the Greek via Latin (apo + logos) is to
defend, not necessarily to express regret or ask pardon. As a formal defense or
justification invoking Socrates's Apology, it is not an asking for forgiveness at
all but an arguing for a stay of execution. Later Sidney's An Apology for Poetry ar
gues for literature's instructionalparticularly moralbenefits. The term
shifts in meaning from defending a person or event in legal courts to a concept
or act of writing in society. As defense, the form falls within judicial or forensic
discourse according to Aristotle's Rhetoric. In this context then, the apology
takes on new meaning: not only is it a way to excuse the project of a woman but
to argue for it. The Apology's assertive original history, then, when combined
with its later "humble" connotations becomes a powerful rhetorical device for
simultaneously deflecting and asserting one's authority. Women writers' use
of this standard authorial position as defense allows them to be both women
and writers. When considered in light of its original defensive purpose, the
apology creates discursive possibilities for women writers. We can identify the
ways these apologies yield to arguing for a stay of judgement or yield to an as
sertion of a project's worth.
Hannah More's voice is decidedly assertive despite the introductory diffi
dence and deference. Again in Strictures More is explaining why she is looking at
the defects in the female character as a result of the flawed system of education:
"Is it not unreasonable and unjust, to express disappointment if our daughters
should, in their subsequent lives, turn out precisely that very kind of character
for which ... their instruction had been systematically preparing them?" (ix).
The series of rhetorical questions that follows this initial question here, though

Apologizing for Authority


supposedly interrogative are decidedly assertive in outlining how she will

prove this injustice. Cook, who knows she is a successful writer and whose suc
cess alone recommends her, in the midst of her apology, reminds us of this suc
cess in submitting: "... my sense of honesty will not allow me to indulge in the
common style of prefatory language; yet if any accuse me of conceit or pre
sumption, such accusation is most unfounded." (34). She wants to avoid both
disgenuine deflection and immodest assertion yet still must, with confidence,
assert her place. At the same time the project is apologized for, explained as co
operative, and excused as non-literary, Bird also asserts a claim for its accep
tance. She articulates her unique accomplishment and demonstrates how it
deserves its own place in the market. She prefaces her record of her visit to
America with an assurance of her research. Her prefaces to her Japanese book,
as with her later Hawaiian account, establish her as traveling new frontiers, a
kind of pioneer: "From Nikko northwards my route was altogether off the
beaten track ..." (vii). Like the American account she has something new to
say because she has seen things differently, and here she wants to argue that
she has seen something that others have not. She has forged new paths as a
traveler and as a woman.
In conclusion, the apology becomes a way for women writers to gesture to
appropriate feminine codes and to powerful rhetorical precedents in order to
justify their projects. In their prefaces, women writers were using the ideolo
gies in place to create new discursive possibilities: they were using established
ideologies as "the available means of persuasion." Gerard Gennette describes
the preface as a "paratext," a threshold between the inside and outside of a
text. And social historians have discussed women's role as "hostesses," wel
coming those from the public within. Given the presence of this common ter
minology, we need to think of the preface's possibility as a threshold space that
can reconcile the private and public, the woman and writer. Perhaps the
woman writer is not anxious, alien, or antagonist in the authorial role of the
preface writer but able to use the available means to authorize herself and her
work. Indeed, perhaps in the preface, we should recognize her as already at
home, welcoming the reader within.
Works Cited
Primary Texts: Prefaces
Isabelle Bird. The Englishwoman in America. London: Murray, 1856.
. The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither. New York: Putnam, 1884.
. The Hawaiian Archepelago. 1875.
. A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains. New York: Putnam, 1881.
. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: An Account of Travels on Horseback in the Interior. New York: Putnam,
Eliza Cook. The Poems of Eliza Cook. 1850.
Hannah More. Coelebs in Search of a Wife: Comprehending Observations on Domestic Habits and Manners, Re
ligion and Morals. 2nd ed. London, 1809
. Essays on Various Subjects Principally Designed for Young Ladies. London: Wilkie, 1778.


Professing Rhetoric

. Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education with a View on the Principles and Conduct Prevalent
Among Women of Rank and Fortune. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Budd, 1800.
. The Lady's Pocket Library Containing Miss More's Essays ... etc. New York. 5th American Edition,
Primary Sources: Rhetoric
Anonymous. Rhetoric Ad Herennium. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1954.
Aristotle. The Rhetoric of Aristotle. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1960.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Of Oratory. 2 vols. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1942.
Quintilian. Institutes of Oratory or, Education of an Orator in Twelve Books. 2 vols. London: Bell, 1910.
Secondary Texts
Adams, Timothy Dow. "To Prepare a Preface to Meet the Faces that you Meet: Autobiographical
Rhetoric in Hawthorne's Prefaces." ESQ:Journal of the AmericanRenaissance. 23 (1977): 89-98.
Baumlin, Tita French. "A good (wo)man skilled in speaking: Ethos, Self-Fashioning, and Gender in
Renaissance England." Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Dallas: SMU, 1994.
Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Pres
ent. Boston: Bedford, 1990.
Corbett, Edward P. J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. New York: Oxford UP, 1965.
Gennette, Gerard. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Cambridge and New
York: Cambridge UP, 1997.
Hibbert, Christopher, ed. Queen Victoria in herLetters and Journals. New York: Viking Penguin, 1985.
Jarratt, Susan C. and Nedra Reynolds. "The Splitting Image: Contemporary Feminisms and the Eth
ics of Ethos."Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory. Dallas: SMU, 1994. 37-64.
Lanham, Richard A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991.
Larsen, Anne R. "'Un Honneste Passetems': Strategies of Legitimation in French Renaissance
Women's Prefaces." L'Esprit Createur. 30:4 (1990): 11-23May, James M. Trials of Character: The Eloquence of Ciceronian Ethos. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P,
Schell, John F. "Prose Prefaces and Romantic Poets: Insinuations and Ethos." The Journal of Narrative
Technique. 13 (1983): 86-99.
Scher, Steven J., and John M. Darley. "How Effective are the Things People Say to Apologize? Effects
of the Realization of the Apology Speech Act?" Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 26:1 (1997):
Woolf, Virginia. "Professions for Women." Women and Writing. San Diego: Harcourt, 1979. 57-64.


Augustana College

Romantic Heroism and "Public Character":

Ethical Criticism of Performative Traditions
in Public Discourse

Scholars of political rhetoric and concerned citizens in a democratic commu

nity must attend to two tendencies that threaten the very foundation of a demo
cratic political culture: the tendency to substitute confrontational, exclusionary,
and reactionary public argument for civil public discussion, and the seemingly
contradictory tendency to reject the notion of "character" as a substantive issue
worthy of public judgment. We might begin to improve this confused condition
by attending to the mutually defining element linking the concepts of "charac
ter" and "civil discourse": the constitution of political agency. All political rhe
tors inherently offer, for public acceptance, a sense of how the political world
works, what sorts of action are best within that world, and how political agents
should conduct themselves and engage their fellow citizens.
We can recognize the constitution of agency, for instance, in the performance
of a ubiquitous American political tradition: the rhetorical construction of polit
ical figures as "heroes": leaders with extraordinary abilities, enthusiastic cha
risma, and a singular commitment not only to embody the values of the
community but to defend such values in mortal combat with those who would
oppose the community. Whenever politicians construct themselves as heroes,
they offer for public acceptance specific norms and expectations for political actionnot just for the hero himself, but also for the community championed by
that hero.
The performative tradition of "romantic heroism" in American political rhet
oric constitutes a complex sense of public character that has the potential to both
promote and degrade American civil society. This essay first reconceptualizes
"public character" as the rhetorical constitution of political agency through the
appropriation of performative traditions, and then examines "romantic hero
ism" as a performative tradition in American political rhetoric of considerable
ethical importance. This discussion is intended to illustrate not only the signifi
cance of heroism in public discourse but also the larger utility of "public charac
ter" as a critical mechanism for the ethical evaluation of political rhetoric.


Professing Rhetoric

"Public Character" and the Ethical Criticism of Public Argument

One important goal for public argument is the promotion of a "civic culture,
one based on communication and persuasion" (Denton 5). Walzer argues that
"only a democratic civil society can sustain a democratic state," and "civil soci
ety is tested by its capacity to produce citizens whose interests, at least some
times, reach further than themselves and their comrades, who look after the
political community" (104, 105). In order to maintain a functional democratic
system capable of pursuing the good for its citizens, the citizens within that sys
tem must possess "political agency" (104)the capacity to act as "authoritative
and responsible participants" (Walzer 105) in public life. The normative goal of
civil society provides critics with a central criterion for evaluating political rhet
oric: Does the rhetorical performance construct a "citizen" capable of demo
cratic public discourse and efficacious action? Or does it restrain (or eliminate)
the capacity of the political subject to participate in public life as a citizen?
Redefining "Character" as "Public Character: "Enabling Civic Agency.
"Character" is a politically significant issue because it provides a necessary focus
on "acting well"a normative focus essential to civil society, according to
Walzer. One instance in which the intersection of ethics and politics through
character is fundamentally important is in the election campaign. Contrary to
those who draw a distinction between "substantive issues" (that "matter") and
"character issues" (that do not), several critics (Bitzer 24243; Jamieson
viiviii; McGee 5354; cf. Johannesen 8182) have identified character as the
one issue that citizens can (and should) evaluate when making a voting decision.
However, as Johannesen points out, the citizenry is apt to dismiss the signifi
cance of the "character issue" to the extent it is understood merely as personal
traits or moral principles exercised in private life. Such a dismissal allows a
well-meaning citizenry to divorce the idea of character from public conduct. As a
result, it is an unfortunate yet likely condition that American citizens learn and
accept potentially unethical approaches to public life even as they pride them
selves on attending to the "issues that matter." Citizens should, rather, ap
proach character as descriptive of action; what one does and should do, as a more
concrete account of who one is. I therefore define "public character" as the en
actment of ethical conduct in public life through the performance of ideal politi
cal agency.
Evaluating "Public Character" as the Product of Public Discourse.
Scholars with an interest in the rhetorical constitution of "character" have artic
ulated the connection between rhetorical practice, the establishment of public
relationships, and the constitution of ethical standards for public life (Antczak,
Thought and Character, Differences; Benson; Booth; Garver; White). Public argu
ment teaches the means by which humans existing in social communities can

Romantic Heroism and "Public Character"


(and should) interact discursively to think and act, both rationally and ethically.
What makes democratic political participation possible is the constitution of an
audience that both recognizes its political agency and is motivated to act virtu
ously for the betterment of the community.
As I have argued elsewhere (Klien, Rhetorical Constitution, Defining "Public
Character"], "public character" is a normative argument regarding two con
nected relationships. First, a construction of public character enacts an "ideolog
ical worldview": a perspective of how the sociopolitical world works and a
relationship of political agency between the individual human and the larger
world (indicating the available, and best, ways to act in public). Second, a con
struction of public character enacts a relationship of civic friendship between the
rhetor and the audience (indicating a level of respect and identification with
other persons within a public community). Ideally, these relationships will be
composed of a reciprocal sharing of community values and the possibility for
open, interactive ethical conduct through civil discourse and political action,
both individual and collective.
"Public Character" as an Appropriation of Performative Traditions.
Jasinski's (Forms and Limits, Imtrumentalism; see also Murphy) conception of
"performative traditions" reminds us that rhetorical invention is an innovative
process of drawing from multiple sources of discursive context and interweav
ing them into a coherent whole. This process is influenced by pre-existing
norms and traditions such as ideology and genres of public communication, but
not in a unitary, overly deterministic way. These norms are themselves an
intertextual interweaving of multiple threads. The possibility of innovation al
ways exists, since alternative possibilities for interpretation and action are avail
able to draw from the contextual matrix.
Such a connection between context (ideological as well as historical) and tex
tual performance seems especially applicable to the construction of "character."
Norms for character and ideal conduct are virtually never generated from thin
air by an autonomous agent. "Public character" involves the negotiation be
tween the choices of the individual rhetor and a matrix of ideological,
intertextual influences which constrain those choices. Therefore, the identifica
tion and examination of performative traditions in political rhetoric can help the
critic recognize how contemporary performances of public character both grow
out of and contribute to ongoing traditions of rhetorical performance (Klien,
Rhetorical Constitution).
Moreover, such an approach can aid the critic in locating contextual con
straints on rhetorical performance, which can affect how ethical responsibility is
allocated by the critic. The appropriation of an ethically suspect performative
tradition does not always mean that an individual rhetor is "being unethical" by
making such an appropriation; rather, the pattern itself (such as the construc
tion of a mythic hero character in political campaigns) may inherently involve
ethical concerns which can be attributed to the traditions of American political


Professing Rhetoric

practice more generally. By featuring the power of textual performance to an

equal (if not larger) extent with the specific choices of rhetors as public agents,
attention to performative traditions of public character may enable ethical eval
uations of political practices, institutions and cultural demands on a larger scale.
"Heroism" as a Performative Tradition in American Public Character
The character of the "hero" is one that has been ubiquitous in public discourse
for centuries, especially in politics. A recurring discussion of heroic rhetoric is
found in analyses of conservative political rhetoric that utilize the formal concept
of romantic myth (Conrad; Lewis; Solomon). According to Conrad, romantic
myth creates a "symbolic universe" consisting of "idyllic" and "demonic" worlds
that are clearly differentiated and described in ways consistent with the past expe
riences of the audience. The romantic myth is the story of a heroic struggle of
Good versus Evil, situated in a historic past and continuing as an ongoing quest.
Romantic myth provides a narrative scheme in which people are justified in acting
aggressively to promote positive change in society (a "crusade") even as they spiri
tually transcend society in favor of the better world to come.
Constitutive Elements of the Heroic Tradition. The character of the
hero factors centrally into romantic myth. Hankins provides a helpful discussion
of the heroic narrative, which he describes as a "monomyth" involving an individ
ual journey through separation or departure, trials and victories of initiation, a
mortal struggle between good and evil resulting in the hero's victory, and a return
into and reintegration with society (35). Ronald Reagan appears often in this lit
erature as an example of how conservative rhetors have appropriated the myth of
the hero to construct norms for political agency (Fisher; Hankins; Lewis).
Fisher also demonstrates how the character of the hero can be deployed dif
ferently in order to promote different ideological worldviews and different
modes of political agency. For instance, Reagan's brand of "Western heroism"
was constructed conservatively, using language such as re- words (e.g., recapture,
renew, and so on) and coded god terms (e.g.,family, neighborhood) that suggests a
look back to America's past as the source for continued material prosperity
(Fisher 305-06). By contrast, John F. Kennedy provided a much different
"knight-errant" mode of heroism: one more future-oriented, more concerned
with moral principles than with material comfort, more group-oriented than in
dividualistic, and more prone to act as a revolutionary rather than a reactionary
(Fisher 30809). Whether the hero is a savior of tradition or a knight for prog
ress, it is undoubtedly a fixture in the American political landscape, one that fac
tors into the constitution of American public character.
Illustration: Romantic Heroism in Presidential Campaign Rhetoric
Presidential campaign rhetoric provides perhaps the best evidence of the cen
trality of the romantic hero myth in American political rhetoric. Not only is the

Romantic Heroism and "Public Character"


American presidency the single most powerful position in American govern

ment and in international affairs, but it is also a condensation symbol for over
two centuries of American heritage, values and political philosophy. It is no sur
prise that most presidential election campaigns invoke, at least in part, the nar
rative of the romantic hero. What these candidates are competing for, after all, is
the position of National Hero.
While this essay is being written, Vice President Al Gore is currently con
ducting his campaign as a demonstration of his heroic potential. In response to
the unexpected early success of former Senator Bill Bradley in public opinion
polls, as well as to early polls that showed his weakness against Republican chal
lengers George W Bush and John McCain, Gore began to run not merely as a
scrappy underdog candidate, but as a "fighter," one committed to defend those
who could not defend themselves.
Gore's moral universe is rather different from that of Reagan and the Moral
Majority, but it is still defined as a "good guys versus bad guys" battle between
vulnerable Americans and those powerful interests who threaten them. Gore's
new "fighting spirit" is evidenced in two recent television advertisements run by
his campaign.
Announcer: He's taken on the worst polluters in America, and be
come a leading voice for clean air, clean water, and the environment.
Al Gore. He fought efforts to cut Medicare, and is the only candidate for
president committed to protecting Medicare and preserving Medicaid.
He's taken on the HMOs and big drug companies, fighting for a patient's bill of rights and more affordable prescription drugs. The expe
rience to do the job. Al Gore: Fighting for us. (Gore 2000, "Fighter,"
emphasis added).
Gore: I know one thing very clearly about the job of president. It's the
only job mentioned in the Constitution where the individual who holds
that job is charged with the responsibility offightingfor all of thepeople. Not
one state, not one district, not the wealthy or the powerful or the special
interests, but for all of the people. Including, especially, those who need
a voice, who need a champion, who need somebody who will lift up those who
have been left behind. (Gore 2000, "Champion," emphasis added).
Al Gore is a man from and in touch with the community (especially as evidenced
by his casual attire and rolled-up shirtsleeves), yet possesses extraordinary
strength, stature, resolve and commitment to American valueshealth and
safety, equal opportunity and freedom of choice. Gore defends the weak against
the strong in order to uphold these values, and this defense is accomplished by
fighting, by being a champion. Indeed, 'Al Gore: Fighting For Us" is a primary
slogan for the campaign, voiced at the end of numerous advertisements and on
the official campaign web site:


Professing Rhetoric

On every issue, Al Gore has been therea champion of working fam

ilies. He has worked hard to strengthen our economy while also pro
tecting the environment. He has sought to help working parents
balance the demands of both home and work, and improve the edu
cational system for their children. He hasfought to increase commu
nity policing, institute tougher punishment, and ensure smarter
crime prevention in our neighborhoods. Every step of the way, Al
Gore has been there, fighting for us, fighting for America's families.
(Gore 2000 web site, emphasis added)
Gore's heroic campaign rhetoric is by no means unique or special; rather, it il
lustrates the ubiquity of the romantic hero myth in the constitution of American
public character. The construction of a heroic character, a singular champion
who defends the weak against the evil, serves the purpose of drawing together
the inconsistent impulses towards individual freedom and social order through a
coherent, familiar and satisfying mythic narrative.
Discussion: The Implications of a Heroic Public Character
for Civil Society
Given the ubiquity and power of romantic heroism as a performative tradi
tion, it is necessary to evaluate how appropriations of this tradition affect the
possibilities for an active, engaged citizenry in a civil society. By engaging this
broad tradition in terms of the two key dimensions of public characterideological worldview and civic relationshipswe can note some aspects of this tra
dition that provide cause for ethical concern.
Heroism as an Ideological Worldview. While the persuasive power of
the heroic voice may be compelling for political candidates, the ethical implica
tions of such a voice raise concerns for the prospects of a truly civic culture. To
the extent that the candidate is capable of presenting a strong and inspirational
performance of this voice, the hero has the potential to inspire and encourage
ideal modes of conduct among those who share his commitment to a particular
system of values. However, the heroic voice involves a constitution of the politi
cal world that may actually discourage the development of an active and civil
public culture due in part to two ideological tendencies: the vilification of oppo
nents as mortal enemies to the community, and the preference of a combative
approach to politics over a discursive approach of tolerance, negotiation and
Since public life is constructed (through moral binaries and a martial meta
phor) as a moral struggle between the forces of good and evil, since public issues
are defined in terms of a reified set of morally definitive community values, and
since the hero acts as a determined "fighter" who sacrifices himself for the bene
fit of those community values, this character is reluctant to admit of the possible

Romantic Heroism and "Public Character"


need for negotiation and compromise as a legitimate component of public dis

course and policy making.
Heroism and Civic Relationships. Such an emphasis on moral combat
encourages a confrontational and intolerant relationship with political oppo
nents. Those who offer alternative worldviews or approaches to public policy
are to be fought and defeated rather than respected and engaged with in polit
ical dialogue.
Perhaps more important than the competitive relationship of political oppo
nents, though, is the civic relationship between the political hero and the pur
ported beneficiary of heroism. The nature of the heroic narrative seems to
promote public passivity and an inordinate reliance on extraordinary political
actors. The relationship between the hero and the community is often (but not
always) one of unique, individual champion and community of vulnerable vic
tims. Because Americans are threatened by moral enemies and are ill equipped
to defend themselves for material or philosophical reasons, they require the in
tervention of an extraordinary figure to assume the bulk of responsibility for
public action in order to protect themselves and their values.
The ethical implications of political heroism include the continued weakening
of the public's recognition of their own civic responsibilities. In order to construct
a powerful vision and persona, heroic candidates do civil society a disservice by si
multaneously downplaying the need for citizen involvement and raising unrealis
tic expectations regarding what a political leader can and should accomplish. The
negative results are twofold. First, Americans grow to depend on political heroes
as they concern themselves primarily with private self-interest. Second, they set
themselves up for disappointment when political leaders fail to live up to the ex
traordinary expectations that are established by the political narrative of heroism.
Alas, politicians invariably reveal themselves as mere mortals incapable of living
up to their self-imposed hype; little wonder that American voters find themselves
increasingly disillusioned, cynical and apathetic toward politicians who can't pos
sibly deliver the heroic results they promise.
The heroic tradition in political rhetoric appears to be extremely attractive to
American voters, as the legacies of "great presidents" such as Washington, Lin
coln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan illustrate. In each
case, greatness seems to be defined by the association between the hero, the
mythic heritage and traditional values of the nation, and the defense of those val
ues in the face of adversity and identifiable enemies. As a consequence, most of the
candidates are compelled to construct themselves as similar extraordinary public
champions. With each construction, the narrative of the romantic hero becomes
more and more ingrained as a defining mainstay of American political discourse,
and the negative aspects of this narrative continue to erode American civil society.


Professing Rhetoric

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Victoria Aarons and Willis A. Salomon. Lewiston: Mellen, 1991. 12143.
Benson, Thomas W. "Rhetoric as a Way of Being." American Rhetoric: Context and Criticism. Ed.
Thomas W. Benson. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1989. 293-322.
Bitzer, Lloyd F. "Political Rhetoric." Handbook of Political Communication. Ed. Dan D. Nimmo and
Keith R. Sanders. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1981. 225-48.
Booth, Wayne C. The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988.
Conrad, Charles. "The Rhetoric of the Moral Majority: An Analysis of Romantic Form." Quarterly
Journal of Speech 69 (1983): 159-70.
Denton, Robert E., Jr. "Political Communication Ethics: An Oxymoron?" Ethical Dimensions of Politi
cal Communication. Ed. Robert E. Denton, Jr. New York: Praeger, 1991. 15.
Fisher, Walter R. "Romantic Democracy, Ronald Reagan, and Presidential Heroes." Western Journal of
Speech Communication 46 (1982): 299-310.
Garver, Eugene. Aristotle's Rhetoric: An Art of Character. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.
Gore 2000, Inc. "Al Gore's Agenda For America in the 21st Century." Gore 2000 Official Campaign
Site. May 2000. <http://www.AlGore2000.com/agenda/>
. "Champion." Advertisement. Gore 2000 Official Campaign Site. May 2000.
-. "Fighter." Advertisement. Gore 2000 Official Campaign Site. May 2000.
Hankins, S. R. "Archetypical Alloy: Reagan's Rhetorical Image." Central States Speech Journal 34
(1983): 33-43.
Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. Eloquence in an Electronic Age: The Transformation of Political Speechmaking.
New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
Jasinski, James. "The Forms and Limits of Prudence in Henry Clay's (1850) Defense of the 1840 Com
promise Measures." Quarterly Journal of Speech 81 (1995): 454-78.
. "Instrumentalism, Contextualism, and Interpretation in Rhetorical Criticism." Rhetorical Herme
neutics. Ed. William Keith and Alan Gross. Albany: State U of New York P, 1997. 195-224.
Johannesen, Richard L. "Virtue Ethics, Character, and Political Communication." Ethical Dimensions of
Political Communication. Ed. Robert E. Denton, Jr. New York: Praeger, 1991. 69-90.
Klien, Stephen A. Rhetorical Constitution of Public Character and Conservative Ideology in the 1996 Republi
can Presidential Primary Campaign. Diss. U Illinois, 1999
. "Defining 'Public Character': Agency and the Ethical Criticism of Public Argument." Argument at
Century's End: Reflecting On the Past and Envisioning the Future. Ed. Thomas A. Hollihan. Annandale,
VA: National Communication Association, 2000.
Lewis, William F. "Telling America's Story: Narrative Form and the Reagan Presidency." Quarterly
Journal of Speech 73 (1987): 280-302.
McGee, Michael C. "'Not Men, But Measures': The Origins and Import of an Ideological Principle."
Quarterly Journal of Speech 64 (1978): 141-54.
Murphy, John M. "Inventing Authority: Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Orchestration
of Rhetorical Traditions." Quarterly Journal of Speech 83 (1997): 71-89.
Solomon, Martha. "The 'Positive Woman's' Journey: A Mythic Analysis of the Rhetoric of STOP
ERA." Quarterly Journal of Speech 65 (1979): 262-74.
Walzer, Michael. "The Civil Society Argument." Theorizing Citizenship. Ed. Ronald Beiner. Albany:
State U of New York P, 1995. 153-74.
White, James Boyd. When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Char
acter and Community. Chicago: Oxford UP, 1984.

Brown University

Paranarrative and the Performance

of Creative Nonfiction

In the lengthy and unforward-moving conversation between Alice and

Humpty Dumpty, before Humpty's proclamation that "When / use a word ...
it means just what I choose it to meannothing more or less," there transpires a
verbal jockeying-around about choice, about who would choose what subject
and at what apparently pointless turn in the conversation each might make that
choice. Two things occur on either side of Humpty's attempt to be master of lan
guage by declaring himself to be master: first, this jockeying-around, and then
his complicating remark that some words are "like a portmanteauthere are
two meanings packed into one word" (Carroll 198). At stake, of course, for the
text and its characters, for its author, and for its readers, is the condition of arbi
tration which, when called upon as Humpty Dumpty calls upon it, effects a
sense of the arbitrary, of an order chosen (perhaps whimsically) by speaker/author while (paradoxically) intimating language's own power by virtue of its
portmanteau complexity. Just so, certain narrative structureschoices of order
and organization not derived from traditional conventions and experimented
with sometimes more freely in creative nonfktion than in other genresappear
arbitrary to readers and critics; yet within them are definitive acts of the mind
that seek morphological structure, no less definitive and self-conscious than
Humpty Dumpty's, although to somewhat more serious intent.
Serious enough, if Addie Bundren speaking her lessons about human rela
tions and language in the middle of As I Lay Dying has any weight here, asserting
"that words are no good; that words dont ever fit even what they are trying to
say at" (Faulkner 162), the final preposition pointing toward the void and refus
ing closure even on this so assertive a statement. And she does keep on speaking
her odd monologue, in spite of.
First, a definition. Creative nonfiction, although a term in reasonably fre
quent use, is an ambiguous genre. Teasing out possible definitions, Joselyn
Bartkevicius observes that the lines between fictionwhat is "made up"and
non-fictionwhat is, then, "not made up"are too easily crossed to separate
one definitively from the other, and even non-fiction's usual aspiration to adhere
to what-actually-happened marks off little ground to be claimed exclusively:


Professing Rhetoric

Hemingway bellicosely claiming all those stories not to be about him. Maybe,
then, we've got to see the relation rather than the separation between the two, to
which Bartkevicius posits: "When a piece of creative nonfiction resembles fic
tion, the 'non' might suggest not so much 'not,' as something like 'kicking off
from.' Why else insist that it is not fiction unless it is in danger of being mistaken
for fiction?" (255). Its kinship with poetry"lyric and image or a structure built
on association and repetition rather than narrative" (255)might reveal a more
useful distinction, not fictional narrative but rather structural "layers of strange
ness" that need "the act of writing ... to unearth" (253), so "[i]n creative nonfic
tion, in order to tell the truth, I must let the incongruities be ... I must explore
the gaps" (254).
Whether Iserian blanks or the metaphoric gaps-between-meanings in a
word's portmanteau-ness or just absences of conventional transitions, the
gaps-to-be-explored open up something in actual experiences or perhaps simply
resist our (conditioned) inclination to make a story all of a piece, even the stories
about our experiences. But the gaps begin with actual experiencethe
strangenesses and the incongruitieswhich are then sustained in or by the text,
tentatively or partially stabilized by words and their syntactical arrangements
which "create the topography of our minds" (Bartkevicius 256) and "one brain's
own idiosyncratic topography" (Dillard 270). Typography"natural and artifi
cial features of a district; knowledge or description of these"is etymologically
dependent upon topos or place seeking location. And by mere shift of vowel, to
pography becomes typography"the style, arrangement, or appearance of
typeset matter"so the features of the mind and the text of the mind merge in
the mingling of words as mind seeks location in words.
"We tell ourselves stories," Joan Didion reminds us in her prefacing remarks
to The White Album, "in order to live.... We interpret what we see, select the
most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writ
ers, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasma
goria which is our actual experience" (11). Chafing against the imposition of
traditional narrative linearity and sensing with unsettledness its "adequate
enough performance" (12), since "the production [of it] was never meant to be
improvised," led Didion to realize: "to know that one could change the sense
with every cut was to begin to perceive the experience as more electrical than
ethical" (13). No surprise that, articulating her motives for writing, she would
assert that "the arrangement of words matters." And here, to be wordsprung
from the unreal of the literal, she segmented her narrative into fifteen numbered
and nonsequential bits, "disparate images."
Nonfiction "Kicking Off From"
Even definition needs location or instances-of: creative nonfiction is memoir,
autobiography, and biography; history; travel writing, nature writing, and sci
ence writing; essays; literary journalism; all narrative structures of relative fa

Paranarrative and the Performance of Creative Nonfiction


miliarity. Nor perhaps is it entirely banal to point out that not all writers of these
chafe at imposed conventional narrative lines. Of those who do, however, one
finds contemporary instances-of rather easily enough: at one end is Jonathan
Raban's accessible Passage to Juneau layering as it does Raban's experiences with
Vancouver's historical explorations and surveying of the stretch of water be
tween Seattle and Juneau; at the other are Annie Dillard's For the Time Being, far
from inaccessible but without overt section-to-section rhetorical links, and Wal
ter Benjamin's Arcades Projects with its 925 pages of disparate yet correlating
notes, and E. L. Doctorow's City of God, a fictional instance of this type of narra
tive structure.
Traditionally, then, these discoursesmemoir and travel writing and so
forthreplicate actual chronological order or at least stick to the time sequence
of what-happened and so form-wise are prestructured (apparently) by the
events themselves into formed-before-writing personal anecdotes. Here, how
ever, my concern is with those who assume that nonfiction's main objective (or
potential) might be more than the replication of something that precedes the
writing (recognizing, of course, the necessity of being-before, without which
nothing could be written) and liberation from enslavement to an overly defini
tive literalism, not then expecting the words to match closely something
not-words: "words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at."
The forms which the not-fitting words take when arranged togetherif that
form is not spatially or temporally or causally (pre)figuredlack conventional
markers of coherence. What those forms might be, if not mere hotchpotch, has
been discussed, argued, and written about, and even the title of Robert Root's es
say ("Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Episode, Segment") suggests that the
naming itself might go on and on. Carl Klaus traces back his experience with the
form to reading E. B. White's and George Orwell's essays and then keeps going
back to find a tradition to avoid such labels as newjournalism orpostmodernism, goes
back via the terms paratactic and disjunctive to Montaigne and Bacon and to the
possibility "that disjunctive form often seems to be occasioned, at least in part, by
an impulse to evoke a sense of the rich array (one might even say, the disarray) of
images, observations, recollections, and reflections that may have come to mind
during the process of exploring or thinking about a particular subject, experience,
or aspect of existence" (46). Montage-parataxis, inclusionary in form, approxi
mates the movement of thinking rather than the stasis of the already-thought:
"the segmented form and shifting focus of disjunctive essays tend to suggest the
wide-ranging movement of a mind in theprocess of recollection and reflection, as
well as the associative leaps and intuitive connections that the mind often makes in
the process of pondering a particular subject or experience" (46 italics added). The
comprehension of fragments or segments, in reading such texts, gets complicated
by reading further segments and experiencing a constant back-and-forth move
ment of thought unlike the more traditional accumulative effect of a linear text,
"almost as if I were experiencing some of the very same associative leaps that
might have provoked the essayist to write a piece in disjunctive form" (46).


Professing Rhetoric

"Associative leaps," attaining to "in the process of," reflect the realization that
life, the experiences of it and the being in it, is not narratively coherent but
rather is fragments of consciousness, momentary sensations of the sensual and
sensuous; the writer, then, seeks a cognitive and aesthetic textual complexity
that does not express but morphologically is a peculiar constructed conscious
ness. So Orwell, ruminating on his schoolboy days at Crossgates, concludes
"Such such were the joys" with a string of sense-bound memories: "And if I went
inside and smelt again the inky, dusty smell of the big schoolroom, the rosiny
smell of the chapel, the stagnant smell of the swimming bath and the cold reek
of the lavatories, I think I should only feel what one invariably feels in revisiting
a scene of childhood: how small everything has grown, and how terrible the de
terioration in myself" (55). Or what I sense picking up this old Doubleday An
chor paperback and smelling that peculiar odor of paperback pulp paper and
reading the first sentence of "Marrakech""As the corpse went past the flies left
the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few min
utes later"and the sensations and thoughts of that first reading come back
paratactically as more than can be summarized or paraphrased.
On my desk and on the floor around me are books and photocopied sheets of
paper, the Nonesuch Library edition of Lewis Carroll's complete words with
Tenniel's drawings and Annie Dillard's Encounters with Chinese Writers and a first
edition signed copy of William Gass's Habitations of the Word and T. E. Hulme's
posthumous Speculations, second edition, and Hulme's translation of Henri
Bergson's Introduction to Metaphysics and Roland Barthes's Image Music Text with its
coming-apart Perfect binding and a photocopy of Barthes's "Literature and Dis
continuity" and three Nicolas Freeling novels and a scattering of notes on yellow
lined paper. Out of this chaotically juxtaposed mess of already-written texts I am
trying paratactically to let something emerge, first stringing out ands. And tenta
tive and tenuously holds together the thing trying to (in)form itself, for and "desig
nates only external and unnecessary relations" (Gass 167) and and is "almost
essential for excess ... enumerates things and conditions ... and helps to fork
them into heaps" (170), and and effects "ghostly forms, whiffs, sibilant sugges
tions, vague intimations," but mostly and creates lists which "are juxtapositions"William Gass reminds us in his essay "And"which "often employ some
of the techniques of collage. Collage, of course, brings strangers together, uses its
'ands' to suggest an affinity without specifying what it is, and produces, thereby, a
low-level but general nervousness" (176). Such nervousness, aroused subtly by the
potential sublimity of the list's unendingness (after all, nothing stops the possibil
ity of yet another and) in both writer and reader (will this never end?), marks the
crucial nature of montage-paratactic morphology.
The writer is not merely amassing material in a shaken pot but rather ex
plores the potential of form formulating itself out of the way one perceives, re
flects, reads, of form formulating as in the sound of notes brought together into
music, of form formulating its own morphology.

Paranarrative and the Performance of Creative Nonfiction


"The lasting effect [of music]," Susanne Langer tells us, "is, like the first effect
of speech on the development of the mind, to make things conceivable rather than
to store up propositions" (244). And so she offers the notion of the "unconsum
matedsymbol" wherein "the assignment of one rather than another possible mean
ing to each form is never explicitly made" (240). Here again is the portmanteau
of words, the irreducible and hence unconsummated meaning, now played out
with improvisational gesture like Didion breaking from the linearity of conven
tional narrative .
When Donald Davie picks up Langer's philosophical making-things-conceivable, he remarks that "the central act, of poetry as of music, is the creation of
syntax, of meaningful arrangement" (16) that makes possible through/in "the
structure, the morphology of feeling," the presentation, the feeling of '"what it
feels like to feel'" (19). And so quotation layered upon quotation. This articula
tion of layering, then, is not prose syntax or traditional forms of prose syntax,
but "dislocated syntax," as Davie terms it, describing Pound's Cantos: "a syntax
that is musical, not linguistic ... understood ... to mean not only the rhythm
that rides through tempo and metre in the verse-paragraph, but also in the
rhythmical recurrence of ideas hinted at in one canto, picked up in another much
later, suspended for many more, and so on" (20).
What suspends "propositional sense" (21) in poetry helps identify the creative
nonfiction experiment in locating sense and meaning in a paratactic morphology.
Creative nonfiction's paratactic morphology is without or beyond conven
tional markers of coherence, and it refuses too the conventions of closure, in turn
resisting certain "commodifications"if you willthat are possible with the
easily paraphrased text whose closure offers with closure the very proposition it
self. And you have to love words for this, not narcissistic or uncritical love but
rather their terms of engagement, because they resist the capriciousness of sheer
arbitrariness and demand the performative, akin to the improvisation of jazz but
with words rather than notes, to fulfill in some particular way Joan Didion's
claim that "the arrangement of words matters."
An image, rather than conceptual definitions or instances-of, might bring
all this into tangibility. The flneur is handy enough, that peripatetic wan
derer, without singular character, moving along "felt knowledge" (417),
handy too because Walter Benjamin found him useful as an image of the con
sciousness of the paratactic, navigating between where streets allowed him to
go and where he whimsically might want to go: "The street conducts the
flneur into a vanished time. For him every street is precipitous. It leads downwardif not to the mythical Mother, then into a past that can be all the more
spellbinding because it is not his own, not private" (416). '"His eyes open,'"
Benjamin later on notes, this time quoting Larousse, '"his ear ready, searching
for something entirely different from what the crowd gathers to see. A word
dropped by chance will reveal to him
"' (453). Even in this layering of quo
tations, one sees the move away from personal expression, to the not-private,


Professing Rhetoric

toward a sensibility that walks with open senses, "usually a little vague and al
ways humble before the thing" (Percy 61).
But the flneur's reputation as an idler, a layabout, a whimsical sightseer,
even if intensely observant, risks Humpty Dumptyness and needs philosophical
rigor if its morphology is to achieve aesthetic-cognitive significance. In his Intro
duction to Metaphysics, Henri Bergson states that "our interest is often complex.
This is why it happens that our knowledge of the same object may face several
successive directions and may be taken from various points of view" (3536).
Written inquiry, then, must parallel the multi-perspective perceptions of curios
ity: "to seek to penetrate with them ['ready-made concepts'] into the inmost na
ture of things, is to apply to the mobility of the real a method created in order to
give stationary points of observation on it" (27). A paratactic morphology, then,
to catch this mobility, must pick up and posit the fragments of details, must
"[m]erely show," as Benjamin claims (460), and therein "to discover in the anal
ysis of the small individual moment the crystal of the total event. And, therefore,
to break with vulgar historical naturalness" (461). Akin to the splitting of at
oms, montage-parataxis "liberates the enormous energies of history that are
bound up in the 'once upon a time' of classical historiography" (463).
Rhetoric, Roland Barthes has pointed out, "must construct a work in large
masses and let the details take care of themselves." "Paraphrase," on the one
hand, "is therefore the rational operation of a criticism which demands of the
book, above all, that it be continuous" (174) and to that end must be preposi
tional. Parataxis, on the other hand, values details over the schema or over tradi
tional notions of development and inverts or redefines the rhetorical. Thus
paranarrativenot metanarrative, which emulates paraphrase and resembles
the rhetorically overreaching structure of the Aristotelian beginning-middle-end (and thereby propositionally "explains" a text)is a morphology whose
construction-of is evident like "the mobility of the real," including the real of the
writer writing and the reader reading, in the act of. Hence the surprise of discov
ery, the flneur coming-across. While "discontinuity is the fundamental status
of all communication: signs never exist unless they are discreet" (181), in tradi
tional coherence such discreteness is minimized by conventional forms and
markers; in montage-paratactic texts, the part-whole relation of traditional
texts is disturbed, because these are texts "without rhetorical transcendence"
(178). Barthes arrives at the notion of marquette, a "preliminary model or
sketch," from the French/Italian macchia or "spot," "not, strictly speaking, a
ready-made structure which the work must transform into an event; rather it is a
structure to be realized starting from pieces of events."
Bergson and Benjamin and Barthes: a gathering of names from the begin
ning of the alphabet in an effort to begin a paranarrative. In montage-parataxis,
flneur is text and writer and reader, so the conventional and triangularly-represented distinctions made among these begin to dissolve, in film-like montage,
and the act of reading comes close to the act of writing and the act of the text
comes close to the act of the minda performance of meaning within which the

Paranarrative and the Performance of Creative Nonfiction


"mobility of the real" is possible as piece is placed along side piece, the parataxis
of the writer and the reader and the text, strangers brought together within a
suspension of the propositional. Such "work calls for a uniquely attentive reader,
capable of following all the 'leaps and gambols,' all the 'sallies and variations' of
a mind in action" (Klaus 45). Therein is the potential of performance whose po
tential is realized in the acts of writing and reading, acts that might even invoke
"the power of incantation or prayer" (Root 360) as writer assembles words to
ward form and reader, working within the arbitrage of words, approaches an ac
tive performance perhaps akin to singing the significance of a text.
Works Cited
Barthes, Roland. Critical Essays Trans. Richard Howard. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1972.
Bartkevicius, Joselyn. "The Landscape of Creative Nonfiction." The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers
of/on Creative Nonfiction. Ed. Robert L. Root, Jr. and Michael Steinberg. Boston: Allyn, 1999.
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge,
MA, & London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999.
Bergson, Henri. An Introduction to Metaphysics. Trans. T. E. Hulme. London: Macmillan, 1913.
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass. 1896; London: Nonesuch Press, n.d.
Davie, Donald. Articulate Energy: An Enquiry into the Syntax of English Poetry. London: Routledge,
Didion, Joan. The White Album. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.
Dillard, Annie. "To Fashion a Text." The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction. Ed.
Robert L. Root, Jr. and Michael Steinberg . Boston: Allyn, 1999.
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Cape, 1930.
Gass, William. Habitations of the Word. New York: Simon, 1985.
Klaus, Carl H. "Excursions of the Mind." What Do I Know: Reading, Writing, and Teaching the Essay. Ed.
Janis Forman. Portsmouth: Heinemann, about 1996.
Langer, Susanne K. Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art. 3rd ed.
1957; Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1971
Orwell, George. Collected Essays. Garden City: Doubleday, 1954.
Percy, Walker. The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to
Do with the Other. New York: Farrar, 1992.
Root, Robert, Jr. "Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Episode, Segment." The Fourth Genre: Contem
porary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction. Ed. Robert L. Root, Jr. and Michael Steinberg. Boston:
Allyn, 1999.

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Ball State University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Preparing Ethical Citizens

for the Twenty-First Century

"Rhetoric is a study thatin addition to imparting an art and guid

ing good practiceencourages critical and substantive reflection
about the situated relations of discourse to reason, character, and
community in human action."
David Fleming, "Rhetoric as a Course of Study"

The development of undergraduate courses with a specific focus on rheto

ric has traditionally been the province of communications departments. In
recent years, however, some composition and rhetoric programs, including
ours, have begun to develop undergraduate rhetoric courses beyond
first-year composition, sometimes in collaboration with communications
departments, sometimes not. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
we have participated in a unique partnership with our communications col
leagues for the past year or two on a proposal for a certificate program in rhe
torical studies. At the center of this proposal are three core curricular areas,
each informed by a concern for ethics: rhetorical foundations, rhetorical in
quiry, and rhetorical action.
In working on this proposal, we have been confronted with many challeng
ing theoretical and practical questions, two of which we address in this paper:
1) How do we offer our students a historical perspective on rhetoric that both
challenges the dominant Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition and incorporates
the rhetorics of previously silenced groups? 2) How do we answer the question
of ends? That is, how do we answer the ancient rhetorical question posed by
Plato's Socrates, "Is it not the responsibility of the teacher of rhetoric to also
teach virtue?" In the first part of our essay, we discuss the theoretical and prac
tical implications of a curriculum that investigates the contested nature of rhe
torical history and argue for the value of including heretofore silenced or
unacknowledged rhetorical traditions in a rhetorical studies course. We then
take up the issue of ethics and its place in our curriculum.


Professing Rhetoric

Mining for Gold in the Gaps and Fissures of the Rhetorical Tradition
We propose an undergraduate curricular model of rhetorical studies that is
not limited to the ancient Greek and Latin traditions that promote the idea of
speaking well in both a practical and moral sense. We believe our students will
be better served by introducing them to a more richly defined tradition that in
cludes the textual and oral practices of those rhetors who have remained behind
the curtain of the dominant discursive tradition. We are not advocating that we
jettison a rhetorical history that has already written us, but we are advocating
one that highlights, alongside Plato, Aristotle, the sophists, Quintilian, and
Cicero, those from whom we have heard so little: Diotima and Aspasia; Chris
tine de Pizan; Maria Stewart; bell hooks; and Henry Louis Gates.
A fruitful way of studying rhetorical history and criticism, in our mind, is to
place competing ideas and discourses side by side so that they can engage dialec
tically. What we hope emerges is a classroom, a miniature polis, where ideas are
traded and debated in a spirit of democratic exchange, where ideas from com
peting discourses and traditions are discussed, making possible a democratic
community and a citizenry whose aims are ethical. We are schooled in a tradition
where vocabulariesdiscourseswield a certain power; we must, therefore,
give our students the tools both to acknowledge the power of such vocabularies
that have named our world for so many centuries and to question their relevance
for our world today. In a sense, what we are asking our students to do is engage in
a rhetorical critique of all discourses, all narratives; we are asking them to recog
nize knowledge differences as well as interrogate the conditions that made some
of them dominant in the first place.
In order to do this intellectual work, we must interrogate the concept of a
democratic community, one that allows for the opportunity for allnot a select
fewto debate, accept, or reject a range of ideas and truths that are based on
differently lived material realities. In other words, we must question the useful
ness of a narrowly defined Greek democracy that privileged Athenian men and
consider instead one that allows for a plurality of multicultural voices that tra
verse class, gender, race and ethnic boundaries. We are guided here by the work
of political philosopher Chantal Mouffe, whose conception of radical democracy
corresponds roughly to the kind of rhetorical studies classroom we envision. In
The Return of the Political, Mouffe explains that "since there will always be com
peting interpretations of the democratic principles of equality and liberty, there
will therefore be competing interpretations of democratic citizenship" (66). It
might sound as if Mouffe is suggesting a poststructuralist relativism here. She is,
in fact, arguing for the necessity of a community's *shared* ethico-politico val
ues, of a shared identification with the values of liberty and equality that do not
compromise the differences associated with race, class, gender, ethnicity, and so
on (6971). Put another way, this anti-foundational approach to studying the rhe
torical tradition leads to the critical interrogation of all discourses and provides a
hermeneutic structure that considers the social, economic, racialized, and

Preparing Ethical Citizens for the Twenty-First Century


gendered perspectives of a multicultural community. Opening up the notion of

a democratic community makes space for a broader rhetorical history populatedboth then and nowwith the heretofore suppressed or ignored
rhetorics whose hermeneutic and epistemological practices necessarily call into
question the validity of received histories.
As rhetorical theorists, we engage in the critical act of inquiry, paying atten
tion to the way that knowledge is made and valued as well as positioning our
selves to hear the varied nuances of different ways of knowing. Jane Sutton's
clever tropological analysis of the origins of rhetoric suggests that the rhetorical
tradition already entails instability and slippage which compromises its patriar
chal authority. Sutton calls into question the universal narrative logic of Tradi
tional (Big T) rhetoric that cannot keep separate its conventional taxonomy of
ordered thoughtreasonfrom its mythic nature whose eloquence give rise to
its opposite, style (see "Taming"). By comparing the originary myth of rhetoric
(female) with its traditional logical authority (male), Sutton ably turns rhetoric
on itself. That is, by reworking of rhetoric through metaphor, metonymy,
synecdoche, and irony she subverts the authority of rhetoric/logic/male and
foregrounds its opposite, rhetoric/style/woman/whore.
Sutton's recasting of rhetoric's history with the subversive mythic rhetoric-as-woman illustrates that history is a contested and slippery concept, and it
invites the possibility for (re)defining rhetoric and for hearing its many voices.
We offer two examples to illustrate this point. First, Jami is working on a project
wherein she is researching the rhetorical practices of two antebellum nineteenth-century women, one of whom is African American. Very little has been
written on Maria Stewart, and only within the last few years has any scholarship
been produced that situates her within a rhetorical traditionan African Amer
ican one conducted by African American women. As she focuses on Stewart's
speeches and written texts in order to derive from them rhetorical principles,
Jami considers Stewart's contributions to African American rhetorical traditions
as well as to cross-cultural rhetorical traditions generally. Arguably, Stewart
played a major role in the early feminist movement as well as the abolitionist and
to some extent the black nationalist movement, but her voice has been largely
excluded from rhetorical history. Despite Stewart's efforts to galvanize a rela
tively small, free black community in Boston, being neither white nor male
made it virtually impossible for her to construct an ethos that would effectively
appeal to her mixed audience. As a result of these difficulties, her oratorical pur
suits were short-lived, but her presence at the podium and in print allows us to
resurrect her presence and place it historically within a larger community of
women, of African Americans, and of rhetors in general.
Just as Stewart attempted an alternative rhetorical approach to invoking a
community, Henry Louis Gates has identified a rhetorical style that differs from
traditional (white) discourse; specifically, he argues that Signifyin[g] is the pri
mary trope in African American discourse. Citing it as a "profound disruption at
the level of the signifier" (1195), Gates explains that African American


Professing Rhetoric

Signifyin[g] is a direct critique of white meaning. In its linguistic misdirection,

such Signifyin[g] destabilizes standard discourse and at the same time functions
as a trope of community for African Americans. More than this, however,
Signifyin[g] has become a survival technique in so far as it allows this commu
nity to create their own knowledge practices, to exist within yet apart from the
dominant discursive tradition, simultaneously. That is, while Signifyin[g] de
parts from the structural or explanatory power of the Saussurian system, its pur
poseful misdirection nevertheless allows for a strategic autonomy with the
African American community whose unique rhetorical style begets cultural
If we introduce Gates's Signifyin[g] to our students in rhetorical studies, we
are offering them insight into the ways existing power structures might be po
tentially undermined with the introduction of alternative rhetorical practices.
By doing so, we necessarily set up a dialectical relationship in which competing
rhetorical systems that implicitly call into question the privileged status of one
versus the marginalized status of the other. Analyzing competing rhetorics al
lows us and our students to consider the ways in which rhetorical practices shape
our material realities, and ultimately sheds more light on the ways we have all
been constructed by rhetorical history. Both Sutton and Gates illustrate for us
the possibility of a curriculum that hopes to prepare its students for ethical,
democratic citizenship. By structuring a rhetorical studies curriculum whose
discourses are set in dialectic motion, we are preparing our students to interro
gate the power relations inherent in the competition for epistemic priority. Fur
thermore, Stewart's experience allows us to put theory into practice. By
enabling students to find meaningful ways to converse with and within different
discourse communities, they stand poised to secure the possibility of a demo
cratic social structure.
Grappling with the Q Question
As we have just argued, a critical and multicultural approach to rhetorical
history and theory is necessary if we are to prepare students to engage effectively
and ethically in civic discourse. We turn now to what Richard Lanham has called
the Q question: Can virtue be taught? Or more pointedly, is it the responsibility
of the teacher of rhetoric to teach virtue?
In Western rhetorical traditions, the desire to connect ethics with eloquence (or
"discoursing well") goes back at least as far as Protagoras, who democratized the
notion of arete, civic virtue, and argued for its teachability (Schiappa 16871). Al
though most ancient rhetoricians were unwilling to claim, as Protagoras did, that
they taught virtue, none could really avoid addressing the question in some fash
ion or other. Plato's Gorgias bluntly says "no," teaching virtue is not the teacher of
rhetoric's responsibility, although Gorgias's own performance and instruction
suggest an ethical concern for ensuring that the most probable version of truth at a
given time prevail. Isocrates says in the Antidosis that while virtue cannot be di

Preparing Ethical Citizens for the Twenty-First Century


rectly taught, it can be learned through exposure to models of virtuous speech;

and, of course, Quintilian answers the question by begging it, that is, by simply
asserting that by definition the rhetor is "A good [person] speaking well." It is in
Quintilian's honor, that Lanham dubs the question of teaching virtue the "Q"
question, after "its most famous nonanswerer" (155).
In a curriculum aimed at preparing ethical citizens for the twenty-first cen
tury, we can hardly avoid the Q question nor can we afford to dodge it as
Quintilian does. However, facing up to this question from a postmodern, multi
cultural perspective raises very difficult questions: Given the absence of founda
tional truth for many of us, on what basis do we derive ethical principles? How
might our notion of ethics reflect and mediate cross-cultural differences in ethi
cal ideals? What is the relationship between private moral beliefs and a negoti
ated sense of public morality? How do we go about connecting ethics and
eloquence in the curriculum and in our teaching? While it is surely impossible to
address any of these questions adequately in such a short paper, we'd like to ad
dress a few of them briefly.
As Robert Scott argued in his seminal essay "On Viewing Rhetoric as
Epistemic," those who eschew foundational notions about truth face a greater not
a lesser responsibility for ethical action, symbolic and otherwise: "One who acts
without certainty must embrace the responsibility for making his [or her] acts
the best possible" (137). While Scott suggests three "ethical guidelines" for indi
vidual ethical actiontolerance, will and responsibilityCeleste Michelle
Condit offers a theoretical framework for ethical community action. In
"Crafting Virtue: The Rhetorical Construction of Morality," Condit suggests
that although private moral beliefs may be irreconcilable, the need to act as a
community offers the possibility for a publically negotiated, rhetorically con
structed concept of morality. Briefly, we'd like to summarize three of Condit's
arguments, for we believe they offer us a place to begin conceptualizing a teach
able kind of "virtue."
First, Condit argues, "public rhetoric requires that an individual speak a pub
lic language that includes linguistic commitments shared by all who are constitu
ents of a community.... More fundamentally, these terms are moral because the
public arena, by its very nature, requires the use of terms that match the essen
tial requirements of moralitythe sacrifice of self interest for larger goods"
(309). In other words, the act of engaging in public discourse forces individuals,
if they are to be persuasive, to articulate their concerns in more tolerant, less
self-interested, more responsible terms. Second, she argues that while there are
no universal moral codes that cross all cultures, there are certain boundary con
ditions such as the killing of humans or "lying in cooperative communication sit
uations" which are cross-culturally considered to be morally problematic (311).
But just as the moral prohibition against killing humans gets set aside in the par
ticular situation of war or capital punishment, so, too, other general notions of
the "good" become radically redefined when applied to given situations: "[T]he
[moral] 'goods' themselves are created and defined within these contests, be


Professing Rhetoric

cause agonistic attempts to apply general concepts of 'goodness' to particular is

sues require the definition, challenge, and transformation of 'general goods'
themselves ... Consequently, general principles do not preexist particular moral
quandaries but are produced from them" (309). Third, Condit argues that only
through "equality in communication," that is, inclusive participation of diverse
members of the community can we insure that "dominant elites" will not
"hi-jack" public discourse and definitions of morality for "partisan ends" (310).
The metaphor Condit uses for this work of rhetorically and communally con
structing morality is "craft" for its suggestion of collectivity: "[M]orality is con
structed by collectivities through their public discourse in a process ... that
utilizes the capacity of discourse simultaneously to create, extend, and apply
moral concepts" (320-21). Clearly, one reason that Condit's notion of morality
as a "craft" appeals to us is that we see such a craft as teachable. We'd like to con
clude by suggesting two approaches to teaching the craft of virtue.
One approach is Krista Ratcliffe's notion of rhetorical listening. Ratcliffe de
fines rhetorical listening as "a trope for interpretive invention" (19697). As such,
"rhetorical listening turns hearing (reception) into invention (production)" (220).
Elaborating further, she says, "The rhetorical listening that I am promoting is a
performance that occurs when listeners invoke both their capacity and their will
ingness (1) to promote an understanding of self and other that informs our culture's
politics and ethics, (2) to proceed from within a responsibility logic, not from within
a defensive guilt/blame one, (3) to locate identification in discursive spaces of both
commonalities and differences, and (4) to accentuate commonalities and differences
not only in claims but in cultural logics within which those claims function" (204).
Although related to the concept of "active listening" in communications studies
and "critical reading" in English studies, it differs significantly from both. Unlike
the notion of active listening, rhetorical listening "means more than simply listen
ing for a speaker/writer's intent " in order to paraphrase the discourse back to
speaker/writer to confirm that intention (205). And unlike literal and metaphori
cal notions of reading, rhetorical listening means more than reading critically in
order to "master" the text. Rather it means "letting discourses wash over, through,
and around us and then letting them lie there to inform our politics and ethics"
(205). It means listening for voice as well as silence, for emotion as well as reason; it
means listening paratactically, suspending judgment and rational management of
meaning, letting the discourse steep in one's consciousness. As Ratcliffe suggests,
sometimes "we can hear what we cannot see" (207). Particularly useful for our
project is Ratcliffe's notion teaching rhetorical listening as a "code of cross-cultural
conduct," a phrase she takes from a talk by Jacqueline Jones Royster. For if public
morality requires "equality in communication," then surely we need not only to
include the many heretofore excluded others but also we need to learn how to lis
ten differently.
Another approach to teaching virtue as craft involves turning the process of
stasis inquiry on its head. Rather than seeking to arrive at a shared point of stasis,
this strategy involves teasing out all of the questions at issue and identifying as

Preparing Ethical Citizens for the Twenty-First Century


many conflicting interests and values as possible. This approach is one advanced
by practical ethicist Anthony Weston in Toward Better Problems. Although Weston
never refers to stasis theory, or to rhetoric for that matter, his line of thinking paral
lels this ancient inventional strategy. Arguing against the tradition in practical
ethics of seeing ethical problems as puzzles to be solved or as episodic events to
which one discovers and applies a particular moral principle, Weston argues for
conceptualizing ethical problems as complex problematic situations which often
yield no simple answer and which often involve conflicting moral principles.
Drawing on Dewey, he recommends two general strategies. First, he suggests that
rather than viewing ethical dilemmas as episodic, discrete problems we
reconceptualize them as complex, contextualized ethical situations. This process
of redefinition enables the discovery of what Weston calls "better problems"that is, a more fully defined sense of the problematic situation. Embedded
in these "better problems" are often new issues and considerations as well as new
kinds of solutions. Following from this complication of the ethical dilemma is the
second strategy recommended by Westonintegrative decision-making in
which patterns or connections are made among competing principles and values
and decisions are made with the full realization of their trade-offs and compro
mises (57).
As heuristics or inventional practices, rhetorical listening and better
problematizing are closely related and can be combined pedagogically. For exam
ple, in a freshman seminar that Alice taught, "Ancient Rhetorics and the Modern
Arts of Persuasion," she used the Oakland School Board debate over Ebonics to il
lustrate the complex and competing issues and discourses involved in public pol
icy decisions. The class read the original Oakland School Board resolution, its
revision, editorials for and against the proposal, including Jesse Jackson's initial
condemnation of the proposal and his later retraction of his objections. The class
grappled with various questions at issue: questions of definition, value, conse
quence, and procedure. For example, we considered such questions as the follow
ing: Should Ebonics be defined as a dialect and thus a variation of English or as a
distinct, African-influenced language? And what consequences follow from either
definition? Should we privilege the value of self-esteem that comes from the study
of one's home language or risk the loss of self-esteem that might come from privi
leging dominant language practices in order to enable students to succeed in the
educational and professional mainstream? The class also read excerpts from Zora
Neal Hurston's and Alice Walker's fiction written in Ebonics as well as the mixed
discourse in more academic essays by Geneva Smitherman and Keith Gilyard and
discussed our emotional as well as our rational responses to Ebonics, noting the
differences in our responses according to race, class, age, regional background.
And while students did not end up agreeing on the issue of bilingual education or
the place of Ebonics in the language arts curriculum, they did end up seeing the is
sue in much more complex terms and appreciating more fully other points of view.
In short, the salutary effects of Condit's notion of rhetorically crafted moral
ity were evident in these class discussions on Ebonicsstudents saw how vari


Professing Rhetoric

ous constituencies articulated their views in terms that accommodated the

concerns of larger or opposing constituencies; they saw at work the dialectic be
tween general notions of the "good" (say, equal education for all) and particular
and contested definitions of the "good" in the case of this educational policy in
this particular school district; and they could not help but recognize the benefits
of "equality in communication," that is, the inclusion of many diverse voices, in
arriving at a just public policy decision.
While we would concur with Isocrates that virtue cannot be taught directly
and with Gorgias that the teacher of rhetoric cannot guarantee that her students
will be virtuous, we would argue, nonetheless, that we can teach virtue as a
craftby making students aware of the ethical implications and responsibilities
entailed in their communicative acts and by designing curricula which fore
ground the virtues which Protagoras named as central to democracy over 2500
years ago: respect, tolerance, and justice.
As we begin to imagine new paradigms for rhetorical studies generally and
for dealing with the questions of history and ethics specifically, we must keep in
mind that such a project needs to engage ethics indirectly and directlyindirectly by the values it communicates through curricular choices and directly by
its willingness to grapple with the subject of ethics explicitly. A rhetorical studies
curriculum that dialectically engages multiple rhetorical traditions provides
students with a broader and more inclusive concept of rhetoric, and a curriculum
that acknowledges cross-cultural differences in ethical ideals enables students to
respect and negotiate such differences. What we are proposing, in short, is an
undergraduate program in rhetorical studies whose curricular aims are ethical
and whose goals include preparing ethical citizens.
Works Cited
Condit, Celeste Michelle. "Crafting Virtue: The Rhetorical Construction of Public Morality." Contem
porary Rhetorical Theory. Ed. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New
York: Guilford, 1999. 30625.
Fleming, David. "Rhetoric as a Course of Study." College English 61.2 (1998): 169-91.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "The Signifying Monkey and the Language of Signifyin[g]: Rhetorical Differ
ence and the Orders of Meaning." The Rhetorical Tradition. Ed. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce
Herzberg. Boston: Bedford, 1990. 1185-1223Lanham, Richard. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993.
Mouffe, Chantal. The Return of the Political. London: Verso, 1993.
Ratcliffe, Krista. "Rhetorical Listening: A Trope for Interpretive Invention and a 'Code of Cross-Cultural Conduct."1 CCC 51.2 (1999): 195-224.
Schiappa, Edward. Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric. Columbia: U of South
Carolina P, 1991.
Scott, Robert L. "On Viewing Rhetoric as Epistemic." Contemporary Rhetorical Theory. Ed. John Louis
Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New York: Guilford, 1999. 131-39Sutton, Jane. "The Taming of Polos/Polis: Rhetoric as an Achievement without Woman." Contempo
rary Rhetorical Theory. Ed. John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New
York: Guilford, 1999. 101-26.
Weston, Anthony. Toward Better Problems. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992.


North Central College

Rhetoric and Ethics: Is "How Should

We Proceed?" the Wrong Question?

But isn't the body real?the body "proper" is a name for the family
of idiolects. It is, moreover, the referent of phrases obeying various
regimens. My teeth hurt: this is a descriptive, paired with a co-presented request: Relieve meof this. The dentist turns your suffering into
a case that verifies a cognitive phrase ... In relation to this case, and by
way of an answer to your request, the dentist prescribes certain ac
tions proper to re-establishing your health (health being itself the ob
ject of an Idea). The same goes for other professions of the "body"
mutatis mutandis: for the sports coach, for the sex therapist, for the cu
linary artist, for the dance or singing teacher, for the military instruc
tor, the body is a set of symptoms read and treated on the basis of an
Idea of the good body.But the toothache is painful, it's a lived expe
rience, etc.!How can you verify that it is a lived experience? You are
the exclusive addressee of this pain. It is like the voice of God: "You
can't hear God speak to someone else, you can hear him only if you are
being addressed ... Wittgenstien adds: "That is a grammatical re
mark." It circumscribes what an idiolect is: "I" am alone in hearing it.
The idiolect easily falls beneath the blows of the dilemma: if your
lived experience is not communicable, you cannot testify that it ex
ists; if it is communicable, you cannot say that you are the only one
able to testify that it exists. (Lyotard, 83-84)
The movement between speaking and knowing is a movement from rhetoric
to ethics. What makes speaking an act to be adjudicated is the ethical end or ob
ject that the spoken's trajectory necessarily posits. The joining of the two, how
ever, the actual movement itself, its vector through language, is neither a
question of rhetoric nor of ethics; to assess such a move rhetorically or ethically
invariably reinforces the very movement itself, the knowledge that apparently
grounds speaking and knowing, the adjudication of how well one had spoken.
Similarly, the "How should we proceed?" question that is the focus of today's
session is not something that can be answered either by rhetorical or ethical in


Professing Rhetoric

quiry, although what motivates the question and its possible answers might be
addressed: we can investigate the way an utterance points towards knowledge
or we can analyze the implications of knowledge, but our methods ultimately
fail to offer an examination of the causality that the proceeding from rhetoric to
ethics entails. Put into more practical terms, we systematically encounter a
break between speaking and knowing whenever we are forced to identify some
thing about a subject of an utterance. As Lyotard so carefully shows us, we en
counter a very real question of causality whenever an utterance or its effects are
in doubt, whenever we must consider the speaking of what one "knows" to be
true, what one has in fact experienced, what one remembers. Lyotard privileges
the radical particularity of a subject's speech in such way that the very idea of a
"we" that "proceeds" in ethical terms becomes impossible. More importantly,
Lyotard accentuates the particular experience or memory that a particular sub
ject places within phrases. Such renderings of a subject's movement into mem
ory or into the fictions of existence (which are one and the same) offer us a trace
of the question of a proceeding, of how we are to move within/among/between
the impasse(s) or differends that the ethical/rhetorical elision covers over. Put
another way, memory and its traumatic underside offer up the very form of the
dilemma of action in the face of impossibility, where the question "How do we
proceed?" seemingly resolves itself by focusing back on how we've been.
This question of proceeding is the very foundation of current examinations of
sexual identity. From Foucault to Butler, and their most recent redactors, we see
important examples of how current elisions between the rhetorical and the ethi
cal lead to a dismissal of the question of causality in favor of a fictionalized, linear
subject. By dismissing causality in favor of knowledge, one can only at best point
towards a "constructed" self that makes the rhetorical and ethical cohere, a unity
that still must be posited solely in terms of a future. The turn towards, and the
persistence of, Foucault over the last ten years shows the power of conceiving
knowledge in terms of a pre-established rhetorical position, where we use an
ethos founded on the spoken as the precondition of a speaking subject that pos
its a self, what allows for a rhetorical ethics/ethical rhetoric that is fundamentally
performative. In this paper, I want to suggest that contemporary considerations
of sexuality as performance rely upon a foundational cohesion between rhetoric
and ethics within performance itself, specifically in the work of Judith Butler.
More importantly, I would like to consider how we might (re)turn to the origins
of the "How should we proceed?" question as a way of considering sexual iden
tity within the interstices of rhetoric and ethics, as the very demand for a future
in the face of an irreconcilable past.
In her provocative extension of Foucault, Judith Butler establishes a sexuality
that offers one answer to "How should we proceed?" First in Gender Trouble and
then in Bodies that Matter, Butler struggles with constructing an ethics of sexual
identity in the face of what she sees as a clearly rhetorical performance. This be
comes the grounding of her notion of the heterosexual matrix, the system
through which "bodies" perform:

Rhetoric and Ethics


I use the term heterosexual matrix throughout the text to designate

that grid of cultural intelligibility through which bodies, genders,
and desires are naturalized. I am drawing from Monique Wittig's
notion of the "heterosexual contract" and, to a lesser extent, on
Adrienne Rich's notion of "compulsory heterosexuality" to charac
terize a hegemonic discursive/epistemic model of gender intelligi
bility that assumes that for bodies to cohere and make sense there
must be a stable sex expressed through a stable gender (masculine
expresses male, feminine expresses female) that is oppositionally
and hierarchically defined through the compulsory practice of het
erosexuality. (151)
In this note and throughout her text, Butler deconstructs the law that portrays
gender as only heterosexually intelligible, where the very knowledge of a body
relies upon a heterosexually defined coherence: a body is only a body within a
heterosexual pairing. At issue here for Butler is how such a limit placed on the
body reduces it to some form of alien(ating) knowledge or ethics that
contextualizes the body as body only within such a pairing.
Butler argues against such knowing of bodies in favor of presenting an alterna
tive system that would allow us to know them in their multiplicity and in their be
coming, where agency is rendered through constructedness. In Gender Trouble, she
concludes that "Construction is not opposed to agency; it is the necessary scene of
agency, the very terms in which agency is articulated and becomes culturally intel
ligible" (147). By pairing construction and agency, Butler then calls for theorizing
of bodies in terms of a repetition carried out in the future:
The critical task is ... to locate strategies of subversive repetition en
abled by those constructions, to affirm the local possibilities of in
tervention through participating in precisely those practices of
repetition that constitute identity and, therefore, present the im
manent possibility of contesting them.... The task is not whether to
repeat but how to repeat or, indeed, to repeat and, through a radical
proliferation of gender, to displace the very gender norms that enable
the repetition itself. (147-48)
The important turn for Butler occurs in the immanence of repetition and its possi
ble subversion. Such an immanence requires that the ethical already be wholly
realized within the initial utterance, that the rhetorical and the ethical are al
ways already coherent within any "repeated" gender act.
Butler ultimately leaves the model of discourse in place that allows for sexual
relations to be intelligible, that we still have a knowledge that stems from speak
ing or performing. In her very criticism of those theories that define sexual rela
tions as intelligible through a heterosexual imperative, Butler buys into the
same epistemological model that allows bodies to enunciate what might now


Professing Rhetoric

appear to be more "natural" behavior. In other words, she deconstructs an ethics/knowledge of bodies in order to replace it with a more ethical/knowledgeable model that allows for greater variation in knowledge. In this sense,
epistemologically, Butler's performativity does not offer up anything more
about knowledgeabout ethics itselfthan much of what she sees in either
Kristeva or Lacan. More importantly, she does not recognize the ways in which
the very bodies she posits matter, something she attempts to rectify in her subse
quent work.
But even here Butler avoids the very problem of particular bodies, where the
very term "body" presupposes some material whose substance is the same as an
other. At the outset of Bodies that Matter, she maintains a stable notion of a set of
bodies within her ethics:
In other words, 'Sex' is an ideal construct which is forcibly material
ized through time. It is not a simple form or a static condition of a
body, but a process whereby regulatory norms materialize 'sex' and
achieve this materialization through a forcible reiteration of those
norms. That this reiteration is necessary is a sign that materializa
tion is never quite complete, that bodies never quite comply with
the norms by which their materialization is impelled. (Bodies that
Matter 1-2)
The problem here begins with Butler's own grouping of bodies into a
performative collective. On the one hand, there should be a plurality of bodily
possibility, while on the other all bodies must work the same in order to con
struct such an ethics of performance. This is precisely her argument against the
ories of sexuality that seemingly privilege heterosexualitythat they assume
all bodies to be the same and that bodies can only be intelligible within such
Similarly, Butler's earlier critique of compulsory heterosexuality defining
gender relations into a unified field, applies to her own constructing of bodies
withinand at odds withcontext. From this position, Butler concludes that
all sexual relations, straight and gay, are performative representations.
The repetition of heterosexual constructs within sexual cultures
both gay and straight may well be the inevitable site of the
denaturalization and mobilization of gender categories. The repli
cation of heterosexual constructs in non heterosexual frames brings
into relief the utterly constructed status of the so-called heterosex
ual original. Thus, gay is to straight not as copy is to original, but,
rather, as copy is to copy. (Gender Trouble 31)
For Butler there is no copy of a copy, no fake of a fake, no real gap between bod
ies and language, between an ethics and a rhetoric. In other words, Butler dis

Rhetoric and Ethics


misses metaphor, taking representation to be the thing itself. What makes

bodies ultimately unified is performance. What makes bodies discernable in the
first place is performance. But at the same time, there must be agency there
within the context, within the very categorizing that any matrix imprints. But
ler sees the inherent discrepancies within each category as evidence for a relation
that is defined through performance, a knowledge of how bodies may in fact
speak. Such a blurring of the spoken and the known in the end confuses having
with being, placing a subject's being in the position of having a relation to a
group, where a being in knowledge is equated with a being of language.
This returns us to Lyotard's concern with how we establish such cohesion be
tween knowing and speaking. The earlier quote from Lyotard directly addresses
this: "the body proper is a name of a family of idiolects." However, no one idio
lect represents such a family. In fact, it is just this impossibility of eliding the par
ticular and the universal that leads Lyotard to his problematizing of ethics in
terms of discrepancies within knowledge: "if your lived experience is not com
municable, you cannot testify that it exists; if it is communicable, you cannot say
that you are the only one able to testify that it exists" (84). As his dentist exam
ple illustrates, the pain of a body is particular; it speaks only in terms of the sub
ject of that body. Lyotard teaches us that what's at stake in a given utterance or
performance, what such an utterance or performance might in fact represent as
knowledge, is fraught with the very subjective field that Butler and Foucault
find restrictive. By insisting on a sexuality as a future performativity, they rely on
an ethics of futurity separate from any previous utterance, separate from what a
body might in fact speak to its subject. The only move accessible to such a
de-particularized subjectivity is to consider subjectivity in terms of a question
like "How should we proceed?," where a body can then be placed in a forever un
furling sexuality, where one's sexual positioning is unstable yet completely con
stituted within some temporal movement.
As a way of perhaps avoiding the ethical and rhetorical constraints of a "we"
that "proceeds," I would like to consider how sexuality as remembering places
the instability in the inability to remember trauma, in the fictionalization of
one's past relative to one's body, one's body relative to one's past. This is not to
suggest, as Butler might have us believe, that investigating the body is tanta
mount to placing it in the position of cause. What if the body itself were rhetori
cal, a trope that demands some form of jouissance, some kind of pleasure? In this
sense, the body becomes a demand for ethics rather than functioning solely in
terms of ethics. This would mean that a body could be instrumental to a signify
ing system, an ethics, but neither its cause nor its effect; a body would be a "real"
locus onto which and through which a subject's position in language is tran
scribed. This would place causality not in the rhetorical or the ethical but rather
in the way in which both body and language elide, a space that neither the rhe
torical nor the ethical can consider. It is this discrepancy that Foucault's notion
of power confuses since it demands the body and the law to be one and the same,
that the body is always a body only in terms of law. This formulation would be


Professing Rhetoric

correct if we acknowledged that the first body and the second body were not the
same, that there is a "real" body that is lost or vacated when the second body, the
body of law, presumably takes its place. Now this is not to suggest that this
pseudo first body is some sort of essentialized, controlling self, or some form of
true sexuality. Rather, the first bodythe body that mattersis one whose lim
its are not, whose rims and orifices are only later inscribed with meaning, what
Blanchot in Writing the Disaster would term the first death that is irrecoverable.
But of course, such rims and orifices are there whether we name them or not,
whether we localize them within some matrix of power or not. The very material
of this first body becomes the locus for the second. In this sense, sexuality be
comes a form of Baudriallardian hyper-reality, a process of simulation that at
tempts to approximate what is presumed to be first, presumed to be real. This is
what Lacan means when he says there's no sexual relationship, that there is
nothing in any way natural or "real" about sexual relations and that to transcribe
any form of knowledge onto such an irreconcilable absenceeven in the futurewould be to predetermine our utterance by suggesting that its punctua
tion is known.
I realize that even this critique of the "How should we proceed?" question
doesn't really help us to think about speaking or knowing without some sort of
extra discursive positioning, some sort of metalanguage that can hold rhetoric
and ethics together in the face of real disruptions/disruptions of the real. Put in
terms of Lyotard's notion of the differend, we can say that the body, the first
body that is, occupies a disturbance within a phrase regimen, marks the
place/time of a differend that haunts discourse such that the second body is not
adequate to cover over the first. In this sense, sexual identityone's
epistemological inhabiting of a bodyfunctions not as a performance, but
rather as an encounter with memory, a stumbling over of something before that
intrudes, as an experience or trauma that we attempt to recall in the present.
The differend that is sexual identity although having its origins in the past is for
ever played out as memory in the present, even as we hope for a future. A subject
recalls or recollects a body of which remains little or no evidence. It is an experi
ence or trauma both in terms of one's history but also, and more importantly, as
a differend in the present.
The disjunction between rhetoric and ethics, between speaking and know
ing, demands a circuit that itself constitutes an ethical act in that what remains
from the said, an ethos, constitutes a knowledge now impossibly separate from
the original point of enunciation. This closure of the spoken and its retroactive
re-insertion within the symbolic register marks the very structure that places
both ends of an utterance outside the domain of rhetoric and ethics. Although
the chain of an utterance has rhetorical force and an ethical object, the structure
of the chainits rhythmic dives through languagecannot be pursued. By
naming language as contingent, Rorty has already told us this. Of course, this
doesn't stop any of us from following after ethics and rhetoric into the field of
causality. In fact, the pull of causality is itself much too strong for either rhetoric

Rhetoric and Ethics


or ethics to resists. And, more importantly, since rhetoric and ethics cover over
such a primordially lost cause, to borrow Metzger's so apt title, any pull by cau
sality threatens to tear apart the smooth system of speaking and knowing on
which so much seems to depend. In the end, by disrupting the elision between
ethics and rhetoric we are simply left with no "we" from which, or even to which,
to proceed. And it is in that space, or rather that moment, that we encounter
what I would argue should be the real object of rhetoric and ethics, the particu
larity of a speaker's position relative to some lost memory, a speaker's position
within forgetfulness.
Works Cited
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P,
Blanchot, Maurice. Writing the Disaster. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1986.
Butler, Judith. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge, 1993.
. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume I. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York:
Vintage, 1990.
Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and
Knowledge 1972-1973- Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 1998.
Lyotard, Jean-Frangois. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele. Minneapo
lis: U of Minnesota P, 1988.
Metzger, David. The Lost Cause of Rhetoric: The Relation of Rhetoric and Geometry in Aristotle and Lacan.
Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995.

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University of Central Florida

Public Schools, Private Ethics:

Rhetoric of Service in Composition

In 1999, twenty of my honors first year composition students at the Univer

sity of Central Florida participated in a pilot course called "Writing and Reading
in the Community." The students served as tutors, readers, listeners, mentors,
extra hands, researchers, observers, and, most importantly in the case of this
course and for the argument of this paper, writers at a local Orlando school,
Hillcrest Elementary. This school, the only foreign language magnet in central
Florida, is an amazing model of public education as a democratizing enterprise,
which I describe in more detail in a later section of this chapter. In 1998, Presi
dent Clinton visited the campus, and the many public suggestions he made late
in his term about the integration of foreign language into elementary education
are significantly shaped by what's going on at Hillcrest and other schools like it.
I ground the major argument for this essaythat scholars in composition
and rhetoric need to refigure their notion of servicein the Hillcrest example. I
situate the argument within a major controversy in the field and then offer some
background information about service-learning in composition studies, an area
where I believe we might find some hope of reimagining this notion. My over
arching goal is to encourage thought about ways in which rhetoricians can use
our skills and resources to improve local public education, our own intellectual
and political positions, and our work as teachers. The key to the model I present
is our struggle with this troubling notion of service.
In the final essay of Composition in the University, and in many other places,
Sharon Crowley argues against the universal requirement of composition in uni
versity curricula. Referring to Nancy Fraser's work, she attacks the "needs dis
course" that undergirds this requirementthe line of thought that suggests
that required freshman composition courses are justified because students
"need" them to learn to write. Crowley argues that this attitude and the curric
ula that have emerged from it deny student subjectivity, support the exploita
tion of teachers, and limit the potential of composition both in terms of class
instruction and the development of the field. She explains that as the universal
requirement necessarily relegates English departments to a role of "service" pro
viders, it diminishes their power and intellectual reputation. Though it causes


Professing Rhetoric

her to be called troublemaker in many venues, Crowley argues, in short, that

this requirement should be done away with.
I have heard Crowley present this argument in many professional conversa
tions both formal and casual, and in most cases there seems to be at least an ini
tial communication breakdown with some members of her audience: apparently
the universal requirement is understood as an endemic part of composition. In
other words, when people imagine doing away with the requirement, they
imagine doing away with the courses altogether. This is not what Crowley advo
cates; rather she suggests that composition studies should offer something that
students would themselves identify as valuablethat the demand for the
courses should emerge from student interests rather than from institutional pol
itics or unquestioned tradition. The punchline is: Composition should get out of
the service business.
This tricky term service has resonance beyond institutional geography, how
ever. I believe that one way to move away from the negative notion of service is
to offer our students and colleagues in other fields a positive sense of service,
reclaiming that term in a way that valorizes action beyond the classroom and
challenges students to see themselves as involved citizens. At the end of her es
say, Crowley suggests that the classical model for rhetorical instruction, based
on situated civic discourse, offers some good ideas for reimagining a composi
tion studies field that values student goals and responsibilities (264). I submit
that involving students in service-learning, particularly in connection with
public education, is one promising specific strategy for accomplishing the goal
of reinvigorating our commitment to educating for civic responsibility even as
we continue to struggle with questions about issues like the fate of the univer
sal requirement.
For about the last ten years, service-learning approaches to teaching in higher
education have been on the rise. From our vantage point in composition and
rhetoric studies, we can see that the beginning of this trend coincided roughly
with what we identify as the "social turn" in our own history, a moment also
closely connected with the emergence of cultural studies, Writing Across the
Curriculum (WAC), and other social pedagogies. At this point we began en
masse to focus away from requiring students to express their true selves or to
pour their thoughts into portable paper molds/modes. As we claimed solid
ground as a field, developing more prestige in graduate studies and perhaps be
ginning to feel the guilt pangs associated with becoming a comfortable part of
"the establishment," we began to imagine that the work our students produced
in the classroom might be appropriate for some other audiences besides their
peers and us. Rather than just running the paper factory, then, some leaders in
the field wanted to connect the work that students do in the classroom with
what lay beyond it. The tradition of a certain activist spiritperhaps the same
one that has inspired leaders in our field to look for ways to be inclusive, to meet
the needs of a wide range of students, to embrace the personal and the individ
ual, in theory, to accomplish many of the objectives Crowley argues are derailed

Public Schools, Private Ethics


by the universal requirementled this service-learning movement that has

gained momentum over the last ten years.
A 1997 American Association for Higher Education volume, Writing the Com
munity: Concepts and Models for Service Learning in Composition, traces the develop
ment of the movement from Stanford to universities such as the University of
Minnesota, Arizona State University, and Michigan State University through
out the 1990s. This monograph is part of a series of texts on service-learning in
eighteen academic disciplines including social sciences, natural sciences, busi
ness, and the humanities.
The contributors to the composition book identify a number of motivations
and justifications for bringing service-learning to the composition classroom.
Writing for the community gives students "real" audiences to work with and for.
This may help to prepare them for the world of work. It may also persuade them
to see themselves as activists, as better citizens, as people who can effect change.
Service-learning brings the university into more productive connection with the
community around it. Both benefit from this association, and entire communi
ties can be helped by the work that students and teachers do in connection with
their service. Teachers have opportunities to influence their students to see alter
native views of the world, opportunities that rhetoricians like Patricia Bizzell, Ed
Schiappa, and Thomas Miller encourage us to take on responsibly.
These writers also identify the downside of service-learning. It is administra
tively complicated and time-consuming. It involves potential liability problems.
Sometimes projects fail: students get frustrated, agencies are disappointed. As
signments have to be more carefully designed, and evaluation can be more com
plicated than in traditional writing courses. There may be an ethical problem with
"requiring" students to "volunteer." Writing for the community doesn't always
change students' perspectivessometimes students who come in with closed
minds leave with minds closed even tighter. And some students don't appear to be
affected by their experiences at all.
Despite these concerns, however, the nineteen writing scholars, teachers, and
administrators who contributed to this book advocate service-learning peda
gogy strongly. What concerns them most, overall, is that programs and courses
be designed thoughtfully, with careful focus on clear goals, and with sensitivity
to student, teacher, and community needs. What seems to inspire them most is
the democratizing potential of this movement. These teachers value democratic
thinking and action, and consider service-learning to be an excellent tool for ad
vancing their students' appreciation of it.
Most of the programs outlined in the Adler-Kassner volume have adopted
the Stanford model for service-learning. The defining characteristic of this
model is its focus on writing as service, not just writing about service. Many of
the other service-learning programs and initiatives that have emerged around
the nation have a different focus. They include courses that contain a service
component, but the writing for the course is typically expressive, consisting of
journals and personal experience essays. In his article, "On Reflection: The Role


Professing Rhetoric

of Logs and Journals in Service-Learning Courses," Chris Anson recommends

that instructors pay careful attention to their pedagogical objectives when as
signing reflective writing. According to Anson, a course that focuses exclusively
on reflective writing will produce unsophisticated writing and will fail to foster
critical thinking. This is related to critiques of process and other pedagogies.
Bruce Herzberg makes a similar warning in his "Community Service and
Critical Teaching," a 1994 College Composition and Communication article that is re
printed in the Adler-Kassner volume. He describes a tutoring project in which
upper division writing students in his class at Bentley College, a small and elite
institution with a major service-learning program, participated. Students
helped people at prisons, homeless shelters and other sites to improve their read
ing and writing. Herzberg recounts his disappointment that students weren't
able to see beyond their emotional personal reactions to the situations their cli
ents were in to understand the cultural and political contexts that put them
there. From this article it is clear that Herzberg wanted students to imagine
ways in which they might change the circumstances that created the difficulties
these people faced. Instead, he claims, their initial reactions were personalizedthey felt pity or judgment or affection for individuals in these agencies.
They did not envision themselves as agents for change there or see this work as
part of a system. Ultimately, Herzberg says, his students did experience a certain
shift. He claims that their final papers for the course show "a sense of life as a
communal project, an understanding of the way that social institutions affect
our lives, and a sense that our responsibility for social justice includes but also
carries beyond personal acts of charity" (Adler-Kassner 66). It's important to
note that Herzberg's students did not write for their community; their service
was tutoring, a very personal and potentially emotional act. Though this work
was obviously designed to help students to see the power of language through
teaching literacy, it did not focus on what their own words, their own rhetorical
acts, could mean to their community as the Stanford model recommends.
Aaron Schutz and Anne Ruggles Gere draw heavily on Herzberg's argument
and experience in their 1998 College English piece, "Service-Learning and English
Studies: Rethinking 'Public' Service." These authors renegotiate the definition
of the term public to account for spaces within students' worlds. They suggest
that service-learning should be understood to include work that students do on
campus to advance the interests of their peers and themselves. They argue that
this focus might help us to avoid the overly personalized emphasis Herzberg
complains about in his experience, and help us to train students to recognize
their ability to have an impact in their communities. In making this argument,
they critique the concept of "volunteerism" that so many associate with service-learning, arguing that the key to service is a sense of connection among par
ties, rather than a romantic notion of rescuing the underprivileged. Participants
have to maintain a sense of the learning that is being accomplished through this
work in order for it to be worthwhile. These authors discuss the associated trou
bling feminine ethic of thinkers such as Nel Noddings, who focus on the

Public Schools, Private Ethics


one-to-one care and nurture models of service. They suggest that redefining and
carefully shaping service-learning projects can help students to develop both
compassion and commitment to action.
In this spirit I now locate my exploration of the possibilities of service-learning in a short discussion of the example I referred to earlier, that is, my students'
work at Hillcrest Elementary School.
Over 45% of the children at Hillcrest do not speak English as a first lan
guage. The two most common native languages in this group are Spanish and
Vietnamese. Other students speak French, German, Chinese, and Japanese.
The school's goal is to equip all students to be bilingual, biliterate, and
bicultural by the time they leave the school at the end of the fifth grade. The
faculty has designed an innovative model to accomplish this. Students spend
most of their days in groups determined by their native languages; they spend
one portion of their days learning language arts and social studies in their na
tive language and one portion studying language arts and science in a second
language. In the case of native English speakers, the second language is French
or Spanish, though occasionally intriguing corporate partnerships make other
languages available. Students whose native language is not English spend this
second part of their days learning English. In the middle of the day students
come together for community time when they have lunch, take "specials" such
as art, physical education, and music, and study math. In my many years as a
student and teacher, few classroom sights have amazed me more than, for ex
ample, the kindergarten French class I attended several times. I was sur
rounded by five-year-old children of various genders and ethnicities who spoke
to me with impeccable French accents and shifted, seemingly effortlessly, be
tween English and French as was necessary for working with a non-Francophone like myself.
By making second language acquisition a challenge and requirement for all
students, the Hillcrest plan helps everyone involved to share this intellectual
challenge. This common ground is significant, but the children at Hillcrest also
have differences. Because it is a magnet school, Hillcrest is affected by class is
sues in major ways. Many children from affluent areas in the city attend the
school because their parents believe in the potential benefits of learning a second
language during elementary school. The neighborhood in which Hillcrest is lo
cated is near downtown Orlando and is categorized as inner city, but is in the
heart of a district that is constantly being considered for controversial historic
district status, which naturally affects property values and neighborhood popu
lations. To make the mix even more complex, the children from a nearby home
less shelter also attend Hillcrest while they are in the area. These factors were
particularly interesting to the group of my students who were enrolled in a
linked Introduction to Sociology course that focused on class issues and social
difference. The school's emphasis on diversity and other policies, such as re
quired school uniforms, help to decrease the potential troubling effects of this
situation, but unfortunately Florida education politics exacerbate them.


Professing Rhetoric

The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, has a strong commitment to what he calls
education reform. (This is the same governor, by the way, whose "Talented
Twenty" program essentially did away with affirmative action policies in Florida
college admissions.) Unfortunately, he demonstrates that commitment through
what many consider to be tremendously shortsighted assessment strategies such
as the A + program, which "grades" each public school annually based on stu
dent grades, performance on a standardized test administered to fourth graders,
and other standardized criteria. This assessment does not accommodate such
problems as the low English proficiency of some students or the high mobility
rate at schools like Hillcrest, nor does it reward innovation. For this reason,
Hillcrest, a school in which students are learning, community is being devel
oped, and educational innovations are taking place every day, receives low
grades ranging from Cs to Ds. According to the plan as Bush proposed it, par
ents of students in schools that receive consistently low scores have the right to
request vouchers to pay for their tuition at private schools. This portion of the
policy is hung up in the courts and may or may not ultimately be implemented,
like many voucher programs around the nation. This plan clearly is prejudiced
against a school like Hillcrest, which cannot compete with other kinds of schools
while maintaining its priorities.
Before the 20 eighteen- and nineteen-year-old students in my composition
class began their service-learning work, they had discussed this policy and its
implications for Hillcrest along with other hot topics in state and national edu
cation. Many of the students, approximately evenly divided along gender lines,
fairly ethnically homogenous, and claiming a wide range of majors including en
gineering, public relations, and education, believed in this policy when they
started the course. Fresh out of their own public school experiences, they said
that it made sense for schools to be held accountable and for people to be able to
make choices about their kids' educations. Though I made my own opinion
about the policy clear, I didn't actively attempt to sway theirs. Virtually all of
them saw educational politics differently after working at Hillcrest. As nineteen-year-old Simon, a mechanical engineering major and self-proclaimed con
servative Republican, put it in a letter he sent to Governor Bush via e-mail,
"When I read about the Bush-Brogan A+ Plan for Education, I thought it was
generally a positive step to improve our public schools. The goal of the program
is for all students in Florida to receive the best possible education each and every
year." Later in the letter he adds, however, "Working at Hillcrest Elementary
has opened up my eyes to a new type of education in Florida. I admire the fact
that Hillcrest is promoting cultural development through education, and be
lieve this should continue unimpeded by a testing system which seriously diverts
this effort."
Other students expressed similar positions in a variety of documents (bro
chures, web pages, etc.) they wrote and designed to influence and call to action
their fellow citizens, community leaders, educational experts, and others in the
name of equitable and high quality education. I do not mean to suggest here

Public Schools, Private Ethics


that a few professions of new visions from students justify a shift in our
pedagogies. In some ways, what I am saying here could be interpreted as good
old-fashioned romantic composition conversion experience pedagogy, the stuff
parents warn their kids about before they send them off to college. What I am
suggesting is that as students reexamine their own educational experiences from
a position of service, they can begin to understand their world differently; they
can begin to feel an investment in their communities and to value the kind of
work that, for example, inner city teachers do every day. Idealistically, I hope
that this will encourage them to become citizens who care about public educa
tion and who take action to bring about real reform in it in the future. Practi
cally, this kind of work gives students "real audiences" to write for and from
whom they can receive useful feedback. This kind of pedagogy has the power to
transform students' views of service courses as they see themselves involved in
the process of learning from several subject positions.
Students aren't the only ones who begin to see things differently when they
participate in public education service. I am part of a coalition of faculty mem
bers who are connecting their college classrooms with elementary and secondary
classes. What we find as we do so is that the basics of education, the things we
take for granted, like reading, writing, and mathematics, are much more fasci
nating and complicated than we most often understand them to be from our
vantage point as members of higher education.
As we make interdisciplinary links, the category of service shifts, shared pri
orities emerge, and the stigma of service can be converted to a source of power
and pride. We can take the resources we have as educators and citizens and bring
them to our local public schools, modeling the notion that active engagement in
and commitment to community literacy is not a remedial endeavor nor a tan
gent of nor prequel to higher education, but is a critical social concern for which
we are all responsible. This is a kind of service I believe our field could be proud
to be part of.
Works Cited
Adler-Kassner, Linda, Robert Crooks and Ann Watters, eds. Writing in the Community: Concepts and
Models for Service-Learning in Composition. Washington, DC: American Association of Higher Edu
cation, 1997.
Anson, Chris. "On Reflection: The Role of Logs and Journals in Service-Learning Courses." In Writing
in the Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Composition. Washington, DC: Ameri
can Association of Higher Education, 1997.
Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1998.
Herzberg, Bruce. "Community Service and Critical Teaching." College Composition and Communication
45.3 (1994): 307-19.
Schutz, Aaron, and Anne Ruggles Gere. "Service Learning and English Studies." College English 60
(1998): 129-49.

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University of Arizona

The Rhetoric of Globalization, Graduate

Student Labor, and Practices of Resistance

Michel Foucault once declared, "where there is power, there is resistance"

(History of Sexuality 95). Alternatively, we could say that where there is resis
tance, there is power. However, this does not mean that from the point of resis
tance, we can easily backtrack to a single source of power. According to
Foucault, power is not centrally located, but dispersed into multifaceted
power-effects that operate differentially within localized sites. Thus, to under
stand the relationship between individuals and power, he advocates the study of
local practices to determine how individuals are systemically created as particu
lar kinds of subjects. Specifically, he identifies four "technologies" by which indi
viduals come to understand themselves and their place in society: 1) one's
relationship to the means of production, 2) language use, 3) practices of power
and discipline, and 4) practices of the self ("Technologies of the Self"). Because
these technologies rarely, if ever, work in isolation, they need to be studied in
conjunction with one another in order to fully understand the complexity of
power relations. In other words, a close analysis of the relationship between local
texts (practices of power and discipline that set limitations upon individuals and
the practices of self-defining and/or resisting those predetermined roles) and
global texts (one's relationship to the means of production as well as one's lan
guage use), reveals that what goes by the name of resistance is often merely the
adjustment of local conditions to the needs of a global system.
Take graduate student labor, for instance. Diverse and widespread forms of
graduate student resistance, varying from departmental complaints to union
ization efforts, point to complex mechanisms of power attempting to maintain
the graduate student labor force as it currently exists. While graduate student
resistance provides alternatives to traditional graduate student roles, it also
works to enforce a properly transgressive role. Graduate student complaint,
even in the form of unionization, does not fundamentally change the structure
of labor within the university; and while these various forms of graduate stu
dent resistance are all viable options, they do not exhaust the possibilities for
constructing the graduate student role. In an effort to arrive at potentially new
possibilities, I will use the first part of this paper to demonstrate how our tradi


Professing Rhetoric

tional forms of resistancedemanding that universities make the current sys

tem accommodate and include our needsfunction to amend, rather than
subvert, the problematics of university labor structures. I will use the second
part of this paper to discuss how working with university administrations, as
well as placing demands on our departments and professional organizations,
indicate that graduate student resistance can be read as a symptom of the
synecdochic relationship between the university economy and the global po
litical economy. I will end by arguing that in order to construct new solutions
to the problem of graduate student labor, we must conduct Foucauldian anal
yses by placing our local context in dialectical relationship to the global con
text of advanced capitalist exploitation.
By way of exemplifying how traditional forms of resistance are delimited to
the adaptation of the system in which they operate, I turn to a particular situa
tion at the University of Arizona (UA). Although not itself a unionizing effort,
this resistance occurs concurrently with a burgeoning union drive and its partici
pants have worked to change English department conditions just as often as
they have worked to organize all graduate students. I use this example because
as a graduate student I am familiar with it and because I think it is representative
of the way local contexts simultaneously resist and adapt to global changes. Spe
cifically, I will examine a series of letters exchanged between the English Gradu
ate Union (EGU) and the Dean of the Graduate College. This exchange is one
part of an ongoing graduate student effort to pressure the central administra
tion for new funds to alleviate the egregious working conditions in the English
department. Typically, graduate students teach two courses per semester, each
with a capacity of twenty-five students, and, on average, work more than 30
hours to complete the duties expected of their 20-hour appointment. In other
words, these students work more than 10 free hours each week.
The first letter in this exchange, sent from the graduate students to the Dean,
briefly provides the history of information gathering and recommendations that
have already been made on our campus concerning graduate student workers in
general and the English department in particular. While aware that poor working
conditions "are not limited to the English department, but are indicative of larger,
more wide-spread systemic problems with graduate student education and with
the state of higher education in general," the letter nevertheless references numer
ous and varied data pointing to the English department as an especially onerous
site of labor exploitation (March 30). Outlining three concrete suggestions for ac
tion, the letter requests an immediate response to these conditions: the elimina
tion of registration fees for all graduate students (amounting to between 10% and
20% of a student's annual salary); the reduction of maximum course size from 25
to 20 students; and the reduction of workload from a 2-2 to a 2-1 course appoint
ment for first- and last-year graduate students. What I believe to be strategic
about this letter is both its attempt to position the working conditions of English
graduate students within a larger context of the university and its attempt to re
main in solidarity with other graduate students by foregrounding the recommen

The Rhetoric of Globalization, Graduate Student Labor, and Practices of Resistance


dation to eliminate fees for all students. These rhetorical moves strive to avoid
isolating the English department as the single "trouble spot" whose improvement
will prevent larger unionizing from taking place.
This strategy, however, did not entirely succeed. Against these attempts to
position the English department within a larger context, the Dean not only at
tempts to isolate the situation to the English department, but also uses this let
ter against the department. While the students contextualize the situation
globally, the Dean's response reasserts the administration's power by exclusively
focusing on the local context. For instance, he asks for evidence that our time to
degree is too long, that we are poor teachers because we are overworked, that we
cannot find jobs after we graduate, and that the department cannot attract
other, better students because of these working conditions. In a separate letter,
one not shared with us by the Dean, he asks our department head for even more
specific evidence: GRE scores, GPAs, placement records, and teaching evalua
tions. We read this response, regardless of its intentions, as more than a request
for additional information; we read it as an intimidation tactic that attributes
the difficulty of balancing unreasonable teaching and scholarly requests to our
individual inadequacies rather than to any larger local-global dialectic at work.
Moreover, in both of his letters and subsequent conversations, the Dean criti
cized our language as too strongeven histrionic. The policing of our language,
as Foucault might suggest, is intimately related to the policing of our coopera
tion and the reinscription of hegemonic relations between graduate students
and the university for which they work. In this way, the administration dictated
to us the appropriate avenues for and goals of graduate student resistance. They
suggested that we might temper our language, apparently to appear more ame
nable to and understanding of university constraints, and redirect our attention
from the central administration to the official graduate student organization,
the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC). The university recog
nized GPSC is not only politically conservative, it is also a forum for continu
ously appearing to address graduate student issues while never actually
addressing any of thempartially because it has no authority to do so and par
tially because the paid council positions come with the requisite that the council
will not disrupt university or administrative business. Such an avenue for
change, in other words, is a dead end.
In a letter of response to the Dean, the EGU repeated that the administration
had sufficient evidence of our workload and that we would not provide him with
the specific information he requested because "we believe [he] misread both the
meaning and the spirit of our letter" (Apr. 28). In order to clarify our intentions,
we held a face-to-face meeting with the Dean during which three members of
the President of the University's staff remained outside the office waiting with
other graduate students to hear its results. As I have mentioned, it is widely
known within our university that graduate students are in the beginning pro
cesses of unionization; it is further believed that these efforts originate primarily
from the English department. The small group of administrators awaiting re


Professing Rhetoric

suits of this meeting, then, suggests that the university is threatened by the pos
sibility of a graduate student union drive. A unionized graduate student
population would both require redefining our work from "professionalizing op
portunities" to employment and hold the university accountable to improved
working conditions. Perhaps such fears are the reason that the central adminis
tration eventually engaged our concerns and invited us to collaborate with them
on solutions. The administration made a choice to work with us and thereby en
sure that our resistance followed a path that would not disrupt the larger opera
tions of graduate student labor. Given our letter writing campaigns, press
releases, and protests in front of the administration building, we clearly were not
going to make use of the proper graduate student channels. In other words, the
administration was more willing to negotiate with us because they believe im
proving conditions in the English department will significantly minimize inter
est in unionizing. Indeed, the President specifically asked another English
graduate student in a meeting on graduate student workloads exactly how
much it would take to stop thisto reference "this," he pointed to the flyer on
graduate student organizing that had just been sent to every graduate student
employed by the university.
While the university's central administration may wish to prevent the possi
bility of a unionized graduate student workforce, it is just such a possibility that
is being advocated by our professional organizations. Recalling Foucault, we
need to remember that the university is not a unified whole, but functions
through multiple, sometimes disparate pockets of power. Because of an ongoing
struggle over the mission and future of a university, these disparate power
sources will sometimes function at odds with one another and sometimes in
communion. Thus, if we are to take the local-global dialectic encouraged by a
Foucauldian reading seriously, we need to think about how this threat of union
izing is received by those outside the university administration, but still in ser
vice to the universitythose organizations whose power-effect sustain
university structures. First, in order to understand the complexity of these dis
parate power sources, we need to understand how the global economy is cur
rently reshaping the university structure.
The influence of globalization on the university has contributed to an increas
ingly involved relationship between the corporate and the academic worlds, with
significant implications for the graduate student population. Key university shifts
toward the increasing use and rapid replacement of new information technology,
the heightened interest in distance-learning, the proliferation and exploitation of
graduate student and part-time labor, the increasingly sophisticated strategies for
marketing students, and the decreasing federal and state funding for higher edu
cation all work to reproduce the global corporate model of down-sizing in effort to
increase profits. Corporations no longer merely advertise within universities and
market toward the expanding student population. They are increasingly teaching
our students indirectly through corporate-created classroom software and more
directly through corporate-owned and -taught courses. To point to one example

The Rhetoric of Globalization, Graduate Student Labor, and Practices of Resistance


among many, several universities currently contract with Kaplan Educational

Centers or Sylvan Learning Centers for the teaching of first-year composition and
mathematics courses (Gose). These corporations then become responsible for hir
ing instructors and designing curriculum. Such university practices make clear
that graduate student funding opportunities are not based on the apprentice
model, but rather the employee model. I mention the apprenticeship model not as
a nostalgic harbinger to the past nor to suggest that typical practices are apprentice-based, but only to reinforce that graduate student labor in its most wide
spread configuration is exploited employment and not apprenticeship. Perhaps
more disturbing than the loss of the mythic apprenticeship model, these new prac
tices threaten to replace the teaching of theoretical knowledge with the basic skills
emphasized by these testing centers. Such a replacement renders the need for spe
cialized professors obsolete and further justifies the shrinking tenure-track job
market. Given these conditions, it is little wonder that graduate students consider
unionizing. What might be surprising, though, is the professional encouragement
that unionizing receives.
Many professional organizations have publicly stated the need for more ethi
cal graduate student labor practices. For instance, the American Studies Associ
ation (ASA) recently passed a resolution in favor of graduate student unionizing
and the Modern Language Association (MLA) just voted on three resolutions
concerning labor practices in general and graduate student labor in particular.
According to the MLA ballot, the first resolution opposes "the use of sweatshop,
prison, and nonunion labor throughout the academic world," while the second
resolution asserts that "whereas the 'apprenticeship' model no longer obtains in
a job system that fails to guarantee employment in the fields for which graduate
students train ... be it resolved that the MLA asserts that graduate students ...
are employees." The final resolution simply states that "the MLA endorses the
right of all academic employees ... to engage in collective bargaining" (MLA
Ballot). What is particularly significant about these resolutions is that they sig
nify the official recognition of various local resistances.
Unionization does not occur because the ASA or the MLA endorses it; rather,
professional organizations tend to condone these practices because they are al
ready occurring and because support quells rather than fuels further resis
tance. I believe it is for just such reasons that the MLA, recognizing the
urgency of graduate student labor issues, began taking steps to alleviate the
pressure of a poor academic job market by introducing an alternative job fair for
those students earning PhDs but not finding academic positions. According to
the 1997 "Final Report" from the MLA Committee on Professional Employ
ment, more than half of the PhDs graduating in English between 1990 and 1995
"failed in the year the degree was awarded tofind the kind of employment for which they had
presumably been trained' (7). While a job fair could hardly be said to pose a threat to
students on the job market, the emphasis on alternative jobs seems particularly sus
picious given the new university economy. Rather than pressuring universities to re
new and create new lines of funding for full-time, tenure-track positions, the MLA


Professing Rhetoric

alternative job market helps ease PhDs out of the academy once they have com
pleted their function as cheap graduate labor. In addition to the changing job
placement expectations of our professional organizations, private foundations
have begun to follow a similar path. Because private foundations currently pro
vide a significant portion of the funding that was previously picked up by the
state, they are integral to the maintenance of current university structures and
also need to be taken into consideration.
Using the same logic as the MLA alternative job fair, many national founda
tions are attempting to facilitate the transition of humanities PhDs outside their
chosen academic profession. For instance, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellow
ship Foundation recently created what it calls a practicum grant. The foundation
will award 30 grants of up to $ 1500 to PhD students "for internships that engage
their academic discipline in a context outside of college teaching and research"
(Woodrow Wilson Press Release). This grant as well as the MLA alternative job
fair encourage graduate students in the humanities to seek careers outside of the
university and thereby alleviate departmental responsibility to their so-called "ap
prentices." If PhDs seek employment outside of the university, the university's de
cision to reduce the number of full-time tenure-track positions, for which
graduate students are supposedly being trained, becomes significantly more toler
able. While some argue that such alternatives "provide graduate students with an
understanding of the deeper nature of their own skills and of their versatile appli
cation," that too must be seen in a broader context (Woodrow Wilson Press Re
lease). Versatility, for instance, is a rhetorically benign term for signifying the
necessity of broadly applicable skills within the unregulated, insecure, and
part-time labor-force of the global political economy. Making use of the economic
practices and language of globalization, these professional resolutions along with
alternative placement options allow for and contain graduate student resistance
by normalizing both its discourse and its practice.
No doubt these practices make good sense given the current state of higher
education. The configuration of graduate student employment as the cheap,
flexible labor of aspiring experts without the associated responsibility of placing
graduates in professorship positions provides an apparently sound solution to
the chronic underfunding of the humanities. However, it is the mimicry of the
global corporate structure within this solution that needs to be called into ques
tion. University, professional, and private responses to the graduate student la
bor forcealthough variedfollow a predictable pattern established by the
neoliberal politics of the new global economy. Primarily, these responses mark
the shift in decision-making power from the state or university to the market or
corporate world. What students and/or corporations want, the university will
provide. Within this model, graduate student labor offers a convenient method
for universities to quickly alter the number of its employees based on fluctuating
student populations with few attendant risks. In other words, universities are
applying the logic of globalization, precipitated by the neoliberal tenants of de
regulated labor and privatization, to the graduate student labor force. The uni

The Rhetoric of Globalization, Graduate Student Labor, and Practices of Resistance


versity administration as well as professional and private organizations adapt

and accommodate graduate student resistance, whether by appeasing spots of
unrest, providing empty avenues for voicing such complaint, or creating alter
native jobs. Such accommodation paves the way for continued exploitation of a
graduate student population that teaches, on average, 63% of all first-year Eng
lish courses for a fraction of the cost of full-time instructors ("Final Report" 7).
Certainly tele-courses and other educational technologiesthe often heralded
tropes of globalizationmight allow universities to teach even more students
without the expense and inconvenience of accommodating graduate student re
sistance. However, universities often favor graduate student labor over technol
ogy for entry-level and general education courses because it allows undergraduate
students to have the unique opportunity of small classes and discussion sections
which reinforce many universities' student-centered claims. Further, because
graduate students' future success often relies on letters of support and evaluations
stemming from their work, the university is able to increase graduate student
workload beyond their economic compensation with minimal threat of com
plaint. Put simply, the greater the need for work, the greater the employer's ability
to extract surplus value (profit) by paying for only a portion of the work per
formed. Just as Karl Marx argued in the mid-nineteenth century that the factory
worker "gets paid for such a small portion of his labour that machinery would in
crease the cost of production" (Capital 517), I believe that a wholesale replacement
of human instructors with educational technology will be indefinitely deferred as
long as universities desire to market themselves as student-centered and graduate
student labor remains proportionally inexpensive. While Marx made this com
ment during the transitional stage of the industrial revolution, it is not surprising
that such a phenomena reappears as we transition into the new global economywhat some call the third industrial revolution. The basic logic of capital re
mains the same within globalism as it did during industrialism even though the
specific machinations of that logic alter according to historical developments and
local practices. Just as machines did not replace human labor in the industrial rev
olution, they will not do so in the technological revolution. Neither, however, can
we expect this technology to disappear.
To be sure, technology-based instruction will continue to increase since it
fulfills a function that graduate student labor cannotit increases the student
population without placing strain on the physical configuration of the cam
pus. This function, however, can only be accomplished through the exploita
tion of a cheap labor force to design, implement, and administer new
instructional technology. Such a cheap labor force can readily be found in the
graduate student population, giving the university one more area of special
ized labor to exploit from graduate students under the guise of "professional
development." In other words, the technological turn in some areas of instruc
tion works parasitically with the conditions of graduate student labor. The in
creasing use of technology will, then, only continue to exacerbate graduate
student working conditions.


Professing Rhetoric

I want to end by making some brief connections between the situation at the
University of Arizona and the political economy in which it operatesan econ
omy I briefly attempted to map. First, I believe that graduate student actions
like the UA letter-writing exchange and meetings with administrators are im
portant and necessary. They beget results. In subsequent meetings with other
Deans and with the President of the University, several indications were given
that the English department will see at least a partial workload reduction this
fall and a substantial reduction for the following fall. Of course, this was sug
gested verbally and with significant qualifications. Regardless of what level of
success we achieved, it is important to note that the kind of tactics performed by
these English graduate students cannot be performed in isolation. As I men
tioned earlier, one of the reasons we might see departmental results is the visible,
campus-wide unionizing effort that is strongly associated with the English de
partment. Even though I fully support unionizing graduate students, I think it
is also important to remember that such efforts are not sufficient to the subver
sion or transformation of the current university economy. An economy that re
lies on corporate rather than public funds, that invests in technology and
part-time labor rather than permanent faculty, and that seriously underfunds
the humanities and other supposedly nonpractical intellectual pursuits needs to
be attacked at its root causes, and that requires analysis of its local-global dialec
tics. In order to substantially affect this current university economy, we need to
begin locating it within the global political economy, lodging critiques against
that economy, and providing concrete alternatives to its hegemonic effects. I end
this paper by urging all of us to carefully examine our departmental, profes
sional, and university rhetorical practices for their complicity in proliferating the
effects of a global political economy and then to invent new constructions of
graduate student education that more adequately resist such economic abuses.
Works Cited
English Graduate Union. Letter to Dean of Graduate College at The University of Arizona. 31 Mar.
. Letter to Dean of Graduate College at The University of Arizona. 28 Apr. 2000.
Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vin
tage, 1990.
. "Technologies of the Self." Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Ed. Luther H. Mar
tin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hutton. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1988. 16-49.
Gose, Ben. "Tutoring Companies Take Over Remedial Teaching at Some Colleges."Chronicle of Higher
Education 19 Sept. 1997: A44-45.
Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume One. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin,
MLA Committee on Professional Employment. "Final Report." Dec. 1997.
Pivo, Gary. Dean of the Graduate College at The University of Arizona. Letter to Cathy Chaput and
Bill DeGenaro, English Graduate Union Co-chairs. 10 Apr. 2000.
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. "Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Announces First Practicum Grant WinnersIntegral Part of The Humanities at Work.'" <http://

Long Island University

Rereading the Literacy Crisis

of American Colleges and Universities

In their introduction to Contending with Words, Patricia Harkin and John

Schilb argue that the literacy crisis in America during the 1970s was defined by
critics as a failure on the part of American colleges and universities to teach writ
ing and reading in ways that were consistent with conventional values (3). The
mere existence of a literacy crisis is nothing new, for critics have been identifying
literacy crises since 1870, and the coupling of literacy crises and American edu
cational institutions is not surprising; in fact, some have argued that the most
recent literacy crisis is more the result of the appropriation of literacy by educa
tional institutions and a meritocratic social order and less an actual decline,
whatever that may look like, in the literacy practices of Americans (Ohmann,
"Literacy" 217; Trimbur 294).
What might be more interesting is what social and historical contexts for lit
eracy and education suggest about both educational institutions and the condi
tion of literacy in the America today. In a recent survey of first-year students,
researchers at UCLA discovered that students increasingly view education as a
means to higher income rather than a way of expanding their experiences and
perspectives. More specifically, 74.9% of first-year students identified their pri
mary goal in college as attaining a financial security while 40.8% indicated that
it was developing a personal philosophy, as opposed to their peers twenty years
ago, for whom the numbers were almost exactly reversed. According to the di
rector of the survey, the trend is more significant in light of the size of the survey
and the "unprecedented levels of academic and political disengagement"
(Bonner). This disillusionment with higher education is also apparent in drop
out and graduation rates in America. According to ACT, Inc., the national college-dropout rate for first-year students increased "slightly but steadily" from
1983 until 1996 (though it decreased slightly in 1997), and the graduation rate
had reached a new all-time low in 1997 (ACT, Inc.).
Mark Edmundson seems to have it right when, in an effort to explain the seem
ingly contradictory mix of boredom and ambition in contemporary students, he
suggests that the problem lies with the educational system itself, and specifically
with its increased emphasis on training, and entertaining, and not on transforma


Professing Rhetoric

tion (Bonner 14; Edmundson, "Lite"). In The University in Ruins, Bill Readings ar
gues that students (and their parents) have become consumers in contemporary
academic institutions, which are busy transforming themselves into "bureaucrati
cally organized and relatively autonomous consumer-oriented corporation[s]"
(11). The social implications are significant, as many have argued. For example,
bell hooks suggests in Talking Back that not only has education in American col
leges and universities become immersed in a "crisis of engagement," a condition in
which knowledge has been "commoditized" and "authentic learning" has ceased,
but that it is also in the midst of "a crisis in meaning" that affects students and
teachers alike, both of whom are uncertain about the purpose of education, as well
as "unsure about what has value in life" (51). Others, such as Jean Franois
Lyotard, have criticized this mercantilization of meaning, and still others, such as
Neil Postman, have gone so far as to argue that if the crises of meaning in Ameri
can classrooms continue, the end of education will be forthcoming.
This lack of engagement in education becomes more interesting within the
context of literacy instruction. Though statistics about literacy conditions can
be misleading, the sheer magnitude of studies, such as the one conducted by the
National Institute of Literacy that claims that forty million adults in America
have "significant literacy needs," makes them difficult to dismiss easily. His
torically, literacy instruction has undergone three distinct transformations from
"part of an apprenticeship in certain forms of complex social activities" to "part
of a routinized form of social practice (religious observance)" and finally had
been "routinized and embedded in a hermitic context: the public school"
(Nespor 176). Instead of being "grounded in everyday contexts of use," instruc
tion in literacy practices were situated within "particular institutional contexts
whose sole function was to impart 'skills' abstracted from contexts of use," and
instead of learning how to use reading and writing rhetorically, or to achieve cer
tain ends within contexts, students learned "to 'read' and 'write' in courses de
signed to teach nothing but reading and writing" (17677). What is key, here, is
the way that literacy, society, and education become immersed within a particu
lar institutional culture. As definitions of literacy shifted from context-specific
practices and functions to universalized skills situated within classrooms, the
cultural values that these versions of literacy represented shifted from community-specific definitions, not unlike sophistic nomos, towards increasingly institu
tionalized cultures, first of the church and then the state, which became the
purview of experts (see Habermas, "Modernity" 9).
In light of these contexts, my rereading of the crisis goes something like this:
particular versions of culture have been institutionalized within American col
leges and universities as the standards for certification. As such, these cultural
values have formed the basis for full-fledged admission into social and economic
credibility and authority through the institutionalization of naturalized literacy
standards as natural ways of writing and reading. In other words, particular ver
sions of what it means to write and read have been situated within American col
leges and universities, specifically, as Susan Miller has documented (51 ff),

Rereading the Literacy Crisis of American Colleges and Universities


within English departments, as a way of ensuring the currency of particular cul

tural capital and exerting social control. In doing so, sanctioned versions of literacynot only certain ways of writing and reading but also, through these
practices, versions of who to be and how to see the worldserve as the cultural
capital of the academy and, by extension, of American society at large. After all,
academic writing, according to a best-selling composition textbook, "has
wide-ranging implications for the way we think and learn as well as for our
chances of success, our personal development, and our relationships with other
people" (St. Martins 2). What I am trying to suggest is that what has been called
a literacy crisis might actually be a crisis in meaning and legitimacy. From this
perspective, the crisis reflects the increasing lack of legitimacy in the institution
alized versions of literacy and cultural capital within American colleges and uni
versities for students and society they serve.
So what are these literacies and the cultures that make them meaningful? A
cursory analysis of the best-selling composition textbooks suggests that these
literacies are centered upon the critical, as in critical writing, critical reading,
and critical thinking, which, though presented as absolute, is thoroughly rhe
torical. According to composition textbooks, the critical serves as the most fun
damental standard for literate performance and a universal basis for
communication. Critical writing, reading, and thinking are necessary, according
to The Simon and Schuester Handbook for Writers, in order "to participate actively in
the ongoing exchange of ideas and opinions that you [i.e., students] encounter
in college and beyond" (101). In the ways that the critical is defined, however,
the links among education, society, literacies, and cultural capital are explicitly
clear. Engaging in critical reading and critical thinking, Harbrace College Hand
book explains, enables students "to distinguish between ideas that are credible
and those that are less so" (392), a distinction that, it is implied, is based upon
some universal standards, such as the difference between fact and opinion,
which, once again, is contingent and rhetorical. To a greater or lesser degree, all
of the best-selling composition textbooks (except for The Elements of Style] define
critical writing in terms of rhetorical modes, which, according to The Macmillan
Reader, are description, narration, a variety of expositions (i.e., exemplification,
division-classification, process analysis, comparison-contrast, cause-effect, and
definition), and argumentation-persuasion (vixv). In spite of their contingen
cies, these ways of writing, or what Harbrace calls "[s]trategies for develop
ment," are defined as "natural thinking processes that are especially useful for
shaping ideas about a subject" (342), thereby proffering versions of who stu
dents should be and how the world is.
According to the best-selling composition textbooks, the sanctioned version
of literacy is comprised of universal(ized) practices of critical reading, writing,
and thinking, which give rise to natural(ized) versions of the ideal writer and
reader as a rational consciousness and of a foundational world based upon the
primacy of Western reason and the search for Truth. As defined by these text
books, academic literaci(es) privilege elaborate syntactical and sequential rela


Professing Rhetoric

tions, large amounts of new information, and truth values, as opposed to

rhetorical and social conditions, as Scollon and Scollon, Faigley, and others argue
of all essayist literacies. Through these practices, the sanctioned literacies of
American academies endorse fictionalized and essentialized subject positions of
rational minds communicating with other rational minds and objective, tran
scendent versions of the world in which the complete accessibility to reality cor
responds to its complete expressibility in texts. As it turns out, the sanctioned
literacies of the academy represent the culture of a white American middle class,
and yet these literacies are fraught with problems, as many critics have pointed
out, and not only, I would add, for those who do not come from the idealized
middle class. In the ways that they have been institutionalized in American col
leges and universities, the sanctioned literacies hide textual and curricular biases
by naturalizing and legitimizing aspects of the middle class literate tradition as
natural and legitimate indicators of skills and abilities (Collins). At the same
time, they ignore the cultural biases of standard American English and
depoliticize the dissonance between the primary and popular discourses of stu
dents and the secondary discourses of the academy (Lu). In addition, they can in
crease the powerlessness of writers (Ohmann, "Use"), and they privilege
particular students (Gee) and certain experiences (Bizzell 147) and can lead to
epistemological alienation (Chiseri-Strater). For students whose histories are not
those of the American middle class, there are obvious problems. And increas
ingly for students who, like myself, come out of a white, European-American
middle class, the cultural capital of sanctioned academic literacies has less and
less relevance and legitimacy to their cultures.
If so, then the contemporary crises in literacy and education are crises of meaning
and legitimacy, as I have already suggested. As part of larger social crises of educa
tion and meaning in American society, what critics are calling the contemporary cri
ses in literacy cannot be resolved by the responses from American colleges and
universities, which have been new conferences, journals, books, and other institu
tional formations designed to address increasingly specialized aspects of literacy and
education (Harkin and Schilb 3), for not only has this tendency failed to address the
conditions of literacy in American society, but it has also contributed to larger crises
of meaning and education in postmodern America.
According to Readings, contemporary academic institutions have three op
tions: reaffirming a national cultural identity, reinventing cultural identities
that are relevant to American society, and abandoning the "social mission" of ac
ademic institutions (90). It is the second option that interests me the most. If we
are to escape these crises in meaning and education in America, then I believe
that we must generate alternative understandings of literacy, not the universal
ized versions of literacy that seem to have less and less relevance to students' lives
but context-specific versions of literacy that, in the increasingly multicultural
classroom, respond to the literacy needs of specific students and particular class
rooms. If we can offer students context-specific literacies, then I believe we can
go a long way to restoring the social and intellectual legitimacy not only to Eng

Rereading the Literacy Crisis of American Colleges and Universities


lish classes but also, I dare to suggest, to education in America. To this end, one
useful term that I have used to talk about context-specific literacies is Mary Louis
Pratt's contact zone. The literacies of contact zones shift the focus from functional
literacies, or the minimal ability to read and write in mechanical ways, and from
cultural literacies, or the mastery of particular canons and commonplaces, to the
ability to mediate and negotiate competing discursive practices. In doing so, these
context-specific literacies foreground the ways that classrooms are sites of compet
ing versions of cultural capital. Within contact zones, being literate amounts to
controlling the discourses that mediate and that emerge from cultural clashes. As
such, the classroom itself becomes a contact zone, or a place where the cultural
capital of the academy comes into conflict with the versions of cultural capital that
students bring with them into the classroom.
Before I close, I want to comment on the issues of standards, legitimacy, and
the literacies of contact zones. As such, the literacies of contact zones can re
spond directly to the conditions that have been called the contemporary crises in
literacy and education in America by generating context-specific standards that
reflect the literacy histories and literacy needs of particular students and teachers
within specific classrooms. As alternatives to the universalized standards of con
ventional academic literaci(es), the literacies of contact zones are predicated
upon difference. In classrooms, contact zones bring together historical and insti
tutional traditions with the literacy needs of students and teachers. Together,
the students and the teacher, as co-teachers, select the languages that are used,
the content that is addressed, the knowledge that is produced, and the actions
that are taken, features that, as Nan Elasser and Patricia Irvine (1992) explain,
are necessary to constructing new discourse communities.
Given the ways that the literacies of contact zones foreground difference,
they require new standards for assessing and authorizing literate performances,
context-specific standards that emerge from the contact zones of each class
room. Such context-specific standards are legitimized not by an absolute author
ity, as are conventional academic literacies, but by the provisional authorities
within contact zones, provisional authorities that also authorize students' dis
courses and their abilities to assess their own and other literate performances. In
the absence of foundational standards, the provisional authorities of contact
zones are generated through what Pat Bizzell calls "collective discursive ex
change" (263). In classrooms, provisional authorities challenge conventional
practices of evaluation, as well as traditional subject positions of teachers and
narratives of education in English departments and, by extension, the academy
at large. In these alternative narratives of education, becoming literate amounts
to investigating the privileged discursive practices of the academy and integrat
ing them with competing practices in ways that legitimize alternative standards
and competing cultures. In these conversations, institutional and disciplinary
voices of teachers engage in a dialogue with the voices of students, as representa
tive of alternative discourses and versions of cultural capital, in the process of
constructing the boundaries of context-specific definitions of literacy in a way


Professing Rhetoric

that offer a Gramscian challenge to the conventional literacies of the academy.

As such, these literacies of contact zones can serve, I hope, as one of the many
voices in the ongoing conversations of what it means to be literate in America.
Works Cited
ACT, Inc. Trend of Increases in ACT College-Entrance Scores Continues. Iowa City. 13 Aug. 1997.
ACT, Inc. New Low for College Graduation Rate, But Dropout Picture Brighter. Iowa City. 1 Apr. 1998.
Bizzell, Patricia. Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992.
Bonner, Ethan. "College Freshman Aiming For High Marks in Income." The New York Times 12 Jan.
1998, late ed.:A14 + .
Chiseri-Strater, Elizabeth. Academic Literacies: The Public and Private Discourses of University Students.
Portsmouth: Boynton, 1991.
Collins, James. "Hegemonic Practice: Literacy and Standard Language in Public Education." Re
writing Literacy: Culture and the Discourse of the Other. Ed. Candace Mitchell and Kathleen Weiler.
Westport: Bergin, 1991. 229-54.
Edmundson, Mark. "On the Uses of a Liberal Education: I. As Lite Entertainment for Bored College
Students." Harper's Magazine Sept. 1997: 39-49Elsasser, Nan, & Irvine, Patricia. "Literacy as Commodity: Redistributing the Goods."Journal of Edu
cation 174(1992): 26-41.
Faigley, Lester. "Going Electronic: Creating Multiple Sites for Innovation in a Writing Program."
Resituating Writing: Constructing and Administering Writing Programs. Ed. Joseph Janagelo and
Kristine Hansen. Portsmouth: Boynton, 1995. 46-58.
Gee, James Paul. The Social Mind: Language, Ideology, and Social Practice. New York: Bergin, 1992.
. Social Linguistics and Literacies. Bristol: Falmer, 1996.
Habermas, Jrgen. "ModernismAn Incomplete Project." The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern
Culture. Ed. Hal Foster. New York: New Press, 1999. 3-15.
Harbrace College Handbook. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1998.
Harkin, Patricia & Schilb, John. Contending with Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age.
New York: Modern Language Association, 1991. 110.
hooks, bell. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston: South End, 1989
Lu, Min-zhan. "Redefining the Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy: A Critique of the Politics of Linguistic
Innocence." The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook. Ed. Gary Tate, Edward P. J. Corbett, and Nancy
Meyers. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. 327-37.
Lyotard, Jean-Frangois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P,
The Macmillian Reader. Boston: Allyn, 1999.
Miller, Susan. Textual Carnivals: The Politics of Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991.
National Institute for Literacy. Fast Facts on Literacy. <www.nifl.gov.> 22 July 2000.
Nespor, Jan. "The Construction of School Knowledge: A Case Study." Rewriting Literacy: Culture and the
Discourse of the Other. Ed. Candace Mitchell and Kathleen Weiler. Westport: Bergin, 1991. 169-88.
Ohmann, Richard. "Literacy, Technology, and Monopoly Capital." Politics of Letters. Middletown:
Wesleyan UP, 1987. 215-29.
. "Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language." The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook. Ed. Gary Tate, Ed
ward P. J. Corbett, and Nancy Meyers. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. 310-18.
Postman, Neil. The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School. New York: Random, 1995.
Pratt, Mary Louise. "Arts of the Contact zone." Profession 91 (1991): 33-40.
Readings, Bill. The University in Ruins. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1996.
The St. Martin's Guide to Writing. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.
Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 1999
Scollon, Ron, & Scollon, Suzanne B. K. Narrative, Literacy and Face in Interethnic Communication.
Norwood: Ablex, 1981.
Trimbur, John. "Literacy and the Discourse of Crisis." The Politics of Writing: Postsecondary. Ed. Richard
Bullock and John Trimbur. Portsmouth: Boynton, 1991. 277-95.

Vanderbilt University

Sophistic Masks and Rhetorical Nomads

Newton Garver has commented that the philosophical study of language in

the twentieth century has been shaped by what he calls "two distinct flurries."
"The first movement," he writes, "was naturally a reinforcement of the philoso
phy of language based on logic; but the subsequent movement has been an over
throw of that long tradition, the overthrow which Derrida speaks of as the
closure of metaphysics."1 To understand the predominant philosophical concep
tion of language in the twentieth century, then, is to understand language rhe
torically. To conceive of language as such, moreover, is to behold an
unprecedented revolution in the nature of Western philosophy, for "the philoso
phy of language," Garver adds, "has almost invariably been based on logic
rather than rhetoric."2
The occasionally hesitant, somewhat uneven, though nevertheless steadily
growing interest in the Sophists during the modern era is thus coextensive with a
larger rhetorical movement in Western thought.3 Perhaps it is no surprise, then,
that during the so-called closure of metaphysics many in rhetorical studies have
found in the image of the Sophists a particularly attractive form of discourse and
knowledge, of citizenship and pedagogy, whose perceived kinship with the exi
gencies of contemporary rhetorical thought has proved too appealing to ignore.
Indeed, the current fascination with the Sophists in rhetorical studies might be
likened to the relief of a courteous host whose duty to the prescriptions of hospi
tality has long distracted him or her from family and loved ones while attending
to the wishes of a demanding houseguestone who has overstayed his welcome
by nearly two-and-a-half millennia. One might even say that these loved ones,
our Sophistic ancestors, appear now like forgotten kin, whose memory had been
repressed by Platonic slander and the ellipses of fragmentary documents, but to
whose image we now return as if to reclaim our disciplinary roots, our long-deferred authentic origins. Like most memories of distant kin, however, the ques
tion is less one of authenticity and more of the sense and value such memories
acquire in the present, of the ways in which such images organize our current
and future desires.
In this essay I explore the contemporary image of the Sophists in rhetorical
studies, an image whose features have acquired an undeniable claritya palpa
ble sense and value, a tangible currencyin present considerations regarding


Professing Rhetoric

the promise and vitality of rhetorical studies as a whole. I argue that by ques
tioning this modern image of the Sophists we may effect not so much a recovery
of the past, but perceive within it, rather, a conception of the being of rhetoric
peculiar to the apparent closure of metaphysics in the present. In the language of
much contemporary scholarship on the subject, I propose to refigure the current
refiguration of the Sophists.
The notion of sophistry in the disciplinary lore of rhetorical studies remains
largely synonymous with the idea of cunning and artful performance. To the
extent that their virtuosity is presumed to have been rooted in a Protagorean
relativism, the livelihood of the Sophists apparently depended upon an ability
to present a fitting ethos for one audience rather than another. The Sophists
were adept in the wearing of masks, in other words, for the quintessential Pla
tonic suspicion of the Sophists was, of course, always that their appearances
were mere illusions, obscuring some fundamental and contradictory reality.
Contemporary re-valuations of the Sophists have affirmed and celebrated
these sophistic masks as a way of questioning the metaphysical priority of
transcendent truth, the autonomous subject, and the sovereignty of reason.
Victor Vitanza's recent work, for instance, seeks to liberate the virtuosity of the
Sophists from the metaphysical sign of the negative, under which it has been
placed so often in the history of Western thought, while Susan Jarratt finds in
the Sophists a consummate model of liberal pluralism, whose "playful tones,"
to use her term, bespeak an ability to instruct all manner of subjects in healthy
democratic participation.4 In the midst of what Vitanza calls "the Third Sophistic,"5 then, a revel in the many masks of the Sophists is assumed to consti
tute a fundamental refusal of the metaphysical tradition's alleged obsession
with the transcendent subject and its faultless identity.
The celebrated mutability of the Sophists was naturally a product of their
itinerant nature, for which they are also well remembered today. John Poulakos
describes sophistic itinerancy as "nomadic," according to the sense in which
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari define the term: as a form of thought and
practice produced by a particular spatio-temporal movementa smooth and
fluid movement distinctly other than that of well-ordered citizens who populate
the stratified, hierarchical space of the city-state.6 Of course, particular modes of
thought and divergent ways of perceiving reality attend these forms of move
ment and their corresponding spatial arrangements. The peculiarphronesis of the
Sophists, thentheir sense of prudence concerning the choice of public personaewas, according to disciplinary lore, an effect of nomadic thought and practicea skill in the ability to move deftly from one local identity to the next. By
this account, the masks of regional identities might be said to have formed the
very territory the Sophists nomadically traversed.
The correspondence between sophistic masks and the nomadic being of the
Sophists lies at the heart of a familiar list of polarities. We have, for example, the
Platonic and the sophistic; the mask and the genuine; the citizen and the no
mad; the state and the steppe; essence and appearance; metaphysics and rheto

Sophistic Masks and Rhetorical Nomads


ric. These familiar polarities, of course, have long represented a Platonic effort to
distinguish between the true and the false in order to elevate the manifestations
of the ideal forms over and above the perversities of mere simulacra. The con
temporary reconsideration of the Sophists in rhetorical studies has consisted
largely of an inversion of this asymmetry, elevating and affirming the sophistic
pole so as to argue, in patently postmodern fashion, that all is artificial, all is rela
tive, all is appearance or performance.
Does this affirmation, however, effectively hasten the closure of metaphysics?
If these polarities were established according to patently metaphysical values of
truth and falsehood, of appearance and illusion, does the inversion of their origi
nal hierarchy effectively undermine those metaphysical values? To the contrary,
merely amplifying the terms of the sophistic pole leaves the original metaphysi
cal criteria to which they owe their existence unquestioned. To the extent that
this is so, and insofar as this image of the Sophists is used to authorize the current
proliferation of rhetoric's domain in the present, we may yet retain a conception
of rhetoric animated, however distantly, by the unseen hands of metaphysics.
An unfortunate entailment follows from these Platonic and sophistic polari
ties: namely, the assumption that, when confronted by this condition of stasis,
we must choose one pole or the other. We are compelled to choose, in other
words, between the Platonic vision of the true rhetor, a bureaucratic dialectician
suited for the maintenance of the ideal republic, or the sophistic master of the
simulacrum, whose visible mask obscures no true face but begets, rather, as
Nietzsche might have said, an entire series of masks, each one more ingenious
than the one before.
What if, however, the true being of rhetoric resided not in any one pole of this
antithesis, but in the very movement between them? What if the self-professed
authenticity of the city-dwelling philosopher was in fact a sophistic performance
all its own? And what if, under certain conditions, the mask of the nomadic
Sophist was as much a bureaucratic instrument as any other? What if, in other
words, the truths of the Platonic and the sophistic were not discrete, but instead
formed what John Sallis might call a "double truth," and irreducibly so?7
Like every double truth, that of the relations between the Platonic and the so
phistic must be a paradoxical truth. What, then, might be its defining features?
On the one hand, the time of the Sophists featured a remarkable pan-Hellenism,
where previously fixed social hierarchies based on wealth and birth were becom
ing fluid. During the swelling humanism of the fifth century BCE, and particu
larly in Athens, even the institution of slavery came under at least some
question. In short, this was a time characterized by the experience of a dramatic
transformation in conceptions of physis and nomos, an unprecedented equivoca
tion between the bonds of divine, immutable law and the mandates of contin
gent, human convention.8 While the Sophists were indeed regarded with
suspicion by conservative elements of Greek society, they nevertheless fulfilled
important functions within the city-state. W. K. C. Guthrie writes that, as for
eigners, "they had no chance of becoming political figures themselves, so they


Professing Rhetoric

used their talents to teach others."9 Guthrie describes such instruction according
to the economic vocabulary of supply and demand: as democracy spread in Ath
ens and elsewhere, so sophistic instruction became more valuable.10 Far from be
ing parasitic elements simply extracting their goods from a pure and insulated
city-state, the very "foreignness" of the Sophists was a resource literally embod
ied by the institutions of that city-state, for the students of the sophiststhose
who populated the social and political hierarchy of the cityowed their station
in life both to the privileges of birth and to their status as the pedagogical prog
eny of the Sophists. The Sophists, therefore, were truly liminal figuresat once
alien to and incorporated within the machinery of Hellenistic bureaucracy.
And yet, on the other hand, Platonic philosophy hardly emerged at a com
plete remove from the influence of the Sophists, but within a temporal develop
ment wherein the Platonic actually followed from the sophistic. Guthrie, for
one, repeatedly describes the sophistic age as a "transitional" period and argues
that "with the Sophists Greek thought entered not on its decline but on its early
manhood."11 Indeed, Socrates and Plato inherited elaborate and well-rehearsed
philosophical discourses on questions intimately related to the influence and in
struction of the Sophists.12 The profundity of Socrates and Plato's philosophy de
rived not so much from the originality of their inquiries, but more from the
manner in which they transformed the polyvocal flux of existing social, political,
and intellectual debates into a particularly coherent and rigorous system of
thought. In this context, the pristine clarity of the metaphysical ideals inscribed
by Socrates and Plato owe their peculiar luminosity to, and may not even have
come into being without, the shadowy gradations of sophistic thought and practicea notion suggested by Richard Marback's argument that "the current dis
tinction between Platonic philosophy and sophistic rhetoric provides a
misleading framework for reading the Western rhetorical tradition."13 Like all
transitional periods, the age of the Sophists was thus one of jointure, wherein
competing and irreducibly different systems of thought were at once held to
gether, though in tensionsimultaneously joined and separated in a doubling
movement: the very portrait of a double truth.
Unlike the currently fashionable and patently postmodern image of the
Sophists, then, the double truths of their existence reveal those internal condi
tions of metaphysical thought that ensure the inevitable transformation of
metaphysics in generalwhat Derrida describes as its "closure."14 For the dou
ble truth of the Platonic and sophistic poles does not depend upon or even yearn
for a dialectical synthesis. Instead of a completely liberated nomad, we find in
the Sophist one who is quite at home in the domicile of a republic. Conversely, in
the genesis of Platonic thought we perceive not a transcendent origin, but one
sullied by its encounters with and inheritances from the contested career of
sophistry. Far from establishing a dialectic, then, a further doubling occurs
within each of the Platonic and sophistic poles of this double truth, leading not
to a dialectical resolution, but to the proliferation of difference and multiplicity,
of yet more masks and different truths: an irreducibly doubling truth, that is,

Sophistic Masks and Rhetorical Nomads


doubly redoubled. John Sallis notes that Plato's Timaeus, in his discourse on the
cosmos, describes "the possibility of the second, the possibility of being other
than one"the image of the double, in other wordsas "Xayehov: severe,
difficult, troublesome, dangerous."15 Whereas the metaphysician would seek to
domesticate this doubling movementthat is, to resolve its irreducible differ
ence into a choice between supposedly knowable identitiesan apprehension of
its fundamental otherness preserves the severity and danger, the expression of
pure difference, worn on the many masks of the Sophistsan apprehension
which undermines any recourse to metaphysical explanations. "The double is
XayeHov," Sallis writes, "because it never simply remains the double but, un
doing the definiteness that the article would ascribe to it, always broaches re
doubling, doubling the double."16 Our task, therefore, is not to choose the
Sophist over the Platonist, as if a fundamental essence, continuity, or similitude
ensured that either of these terms actually referred to some knowable and uni
fied identity.17 Our task, rather, is to find the Platonic within the mask of the so
phistic, as well as the sophistic behind the mask of the Platonicto transform
these previously fixed and knowable identities, in other words, as well as the dis
ciplinary politics that attend them, by making manifest their inherent other
ness, by transforming their likenesses into the sheer difference of hitherto
unimagined forms of knowledge and discourse.
Before offering a final provocation, I should make clear that I do not wish to
characterize the history of metaphysics in terms of any fundamental continuity,
nor would I willingly suggest that the time of the Sophists and our own should
be likened according to a symmetrical or circular logic. Nevertheless, much like
the spirit in which Derrida claims that "There is no sense in doing without the con
cepts of metaphysics in order to attack metaphysics"18and in a temptingly
suggestive counterpoint to the ways in which Plato required sophistry for the
opening of metaphysicsso too may we conclude that the remnants of Platonic
thought will be necessary for its closure, and that the otherness of these rem
nants still might live within the modern image of the Sophists.
1. Newton Garver, "Preface," Speech and Phenomena by Jacques Derrida (Evanston: Northwestern UP,
1973): xii.
2. Garver xi.
3. For major works that have contributed to this modern interest in the Sophists, see W. K. C. Guthrie,
The Sophists (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1971); Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato (New York: Universal
Library, 1967); G. F. W. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 3 vols, trans. E. S. Haldane (Lin
coln: U of Nebraska P, 1995); G. B. Kerferd, The Sophistic Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge UP,
1981); MarioUntersteiner, The Sophists, trans. Kathleen Freeman (Oxford: Blackwell, 1954). For in
fluential or noteworthy scholarship on the Sophists in rhetorical studies, see Susan C. Jarratt, Re
reading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1991); Richard
Marback, Plato's Dream of Sophistry (Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1999); John Poulakos, Sophisti
cal Rhetoric in Classical Greece (Columbus: U of South Carolina P, 1995); Brian Vickers, In Defence of
Rhetoric (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988); Victor J. Vitanza, Negation, Subjectivity, and the History of Rhetoric
(Albany: State U of New York P, 1997).


Professing Rhetoric

4. See Victor J. Vitanza, Negation, Subjectivity, and the History of Rhetoric (Albany: State U of New York
P, 1997) and Susan C. Jarratt, Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured (Carbondale: South
ern Illinois UP, 1991).
5. See Vitanza, Negation.
6. See John Poulakos, Sophistical Rhetoric in Classical Greece (Columbus: U of South Carolina P, 1995)
and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans.
Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987).
7. John Sallis, Double Truth (State U of New York P, 1995).
8. See especially W. K. C. Guthrie, The Sophists (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1971): 55-163 and G. B.
Kerferd, The Sophistic Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981): 111-30.
9. Guthrie 40.
10. Guthrie 4041.
11. Guthrie 50.
12. See especially Guthrie, The Sophists 176-225, 250-60 and G. B. Kerferd, "The Future Direction
of Sophistic Studies," Ed. G. B. Kerferd, The Sophists and Their Legacy (Wiesbaden: Steiner,
1981): 1-6.
13. Richard Marback, Plato's Dream of Sophistry (Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1999): 13.
14. See Jacques Derrida, "Differance," Speech and Phenomena, 1967, trans. David B. Allison (Evanston:
Northwestern UP, 1973): 129-60.
15. Sallis xi.
16. Sallis xi.
17. Edward Schiappa and John Poulakas have debated the possibility of fixing either the historical or
conceptual identity of rhetoric and sophistry according to our available disciplinary vocabulary.
See John Poulakos, "Towards a Sophistic Definition of Rhetoric," Philosophy and Rhetoric 16 (1983):
3548; "Rhetoric, the Sophists, and the Possible," Communication Monographs 51 (1984): 21526;
and "Interpreting Sophistical Rhetoric: A Response to Schiappa," Philosophy and Rhetoric 23
(1990): 21828; Edward Schiappa, "History and Neo-Sophistic Criticism: A Reply to Poulakos,"
Philosophy and Rhetoric 23 (1990): 307-15; "Neo-Sophistic Rhetorical Criticism or the Historical
Reconstruction of Sophistic Doctrines?" Philosophy and Rhetoric 23 (1990): 192217; and
"Rhetorike: What's in a Name? Toward a Revised History of Early Greek Rhetorical Theory," Quar
terly Journal of Speech 78 (Feb. 1992): 1-15.
18. Derrida 250.

Boston College

Paideia versus Techne: Isocrates's

Performative Conception
of Rhetorical Education

Although the classical Platonic question whether "rhetoric" is an art (techne)

seems to have been settled by Aristotle in rhetoric's favor, the existential doubt
continues to animate many a discussion in both rhetorical historiography and
contemporary rhetorical theory. The debate has now moved beyond the "foun
dational and totalizing question 'What is rhetoric?"' to the more inclusive and
proactive question 'What can a rhetoric be?'" (Lucaites, Condit, and Caudil 19).
In the spirit of anti-foundationalism, this paper seeks to revisit the question of
techne from a perspective of Isocrates, the rival of Plato and Aristotle. Isocrates
gives an ambivalent response to the question "do you possess a techne"often pos
ited in Platonic dialogues to poets and rhetoricians alike. Answering "yes" or
"no" would mean to yield to the assumptions of Plato's epistemology. Instead,
Isocrates ushers in a notion of a discursive education (logon paideia) that is
grounded in the pre-Platonic performance culture. Rather than objectify the
subject matter of a "rhetoric,"paideia fosters self-reflexive performance (mimesis)
of civic excellence. Isocrates's language game is worth the attention of today's
rhetorical educators as he argues for an inclusive and politically responsible dis
cursive training (logon paideia) over and against the disembodied mastery of a
techne. However, logon paideia would stand in sharper relief if we first consider the
implications of the techne question in Plato and Aristotle.
The Techne Question in Plato and Aristotle
Isocrates's reluctance to identify his profession as a techne and his expansive con
ception of paideia can be understood as tactical maneuvers in an ongoing rivalry with
Plato. Plato's Socrates uses the techne question to refute his interlocutors' claim to le
gitimate knowledge. This knowledge, for Socrates, must be about a definitive sub
ject matter, otherwise no techne can be claimed. Hence, the ubiquity in many
Platonic dialogues of the "peri ti" probe ("what is X about?"), which Socrates uses to
determine the "aboutness" of a particular sphere of human activity.
Platonic criticism of performers of poetry and rhetoricians highlights the same
putative deficiency in regard to "subject matter": their subject matter is logoi,


Professing Rhetoric

rather than the knowledge of shipbuilding, medicine, or mathematics. The dia

logue Ion, for instance, pictures Socrates failing to pin down the rhapsode's knowl
edge: "You are exactly like Proteus, twisting back and forth, assuming every shape
... in order not to display how skilled you are in wisdom about Homer (peri
Homerou sophiari)" (542 a). Ion's knowledge, however, unlike the expertise of the
doctor, the fisherman, or the charioteer, does not attach itself to a specific group of
objects. In fact, it is not attached to objects at all: the rhapsode knows "the kind of
thing ... that a man would say, and a woman would say, and a slave and a free
man, a subject and a rulerthe suitable thing for each" (540 b). Ion imitates only
Homeric words, but does not possess an expertise in a distinct craft.
This charge of epistemological deficiency, however, is tied to Plato's negative
conception of performance, according to which verbal or bodily imitation (mime
sis] is always inferior to the "original." Plato apparently invented the pejorative
sense of mimesis as a "bad copy." According to Havelock, pre-Platonic usage
"refers to 'sympathetic behavior,' not to abstract copying or imitation, and in
great many cases this behavior is physical, a matter of speech, gesture, gait, pose,
dress and the like" (Preface toPlato 58 n22). Havelock points out that Greek edu
cation was based on a performative union of speech and action:
What you 'did' were the thousand acts and thoughts, battles,
speeches, journeys, lives, and deaths that you were reciting in rhyth
mic verse, or hearing, or repeating. The poetic performance ... had
itself to be a continual re-enactment of the tribal folkways, laws and
procedures, and the listener had to become engaged in this re-enactment to the point of total emotional involvement. (159)
Socrates forgives Ion his epistemological failure in exchange for an admission
that the rhapsode's skill is not an art, but a product of divine inspiration (Ion
542a). Plato does not offer this plea bargain to rhetoricians. Like the Ion, the
Gorgias employs the techne question, only in this dialogue rhetoricians are
charged with moral deficiency as well. Because rhetoricians ingratiate their au
dience without having a clearly circumscribed expertise in a particular subject,
and do so shamelessly, they are deliberate impostors. Socrates summarizes this
twin indictment in his conversation with Polus:
Flattery, however, is what I call it, and I say that this sort of thing is a
disgrace ... because it aims at the pleasant and ignores the best; and
I say it is not an art [techne], but a habitude [empereia], since it has no
account [logos] to give of the real nature of things it applies, and so
cannot tell the cause [aitiari] of any of them. I refuse the name of art
to anything that is irrational [alogon]. (465a)
Plato wrote Gorgias around the same time as Isocrates composed Against the
Sophists. While exact dates of these texts are contested (see Roochnik 182), the
techne question is pivotal in both. Isocrates refuses to equate his teaching with a

Paideia versus Techne


tetagmene techne, a "fixed art," and negates a possibility of a techne that "can im
plant sobriety and justice in depraved natures" (Against the Sophists 12, 21). Not
that Isocrates denies that he professes a teachable knowledge (why open a school
and charge tuition, then?); rather, his dancing around techne suggests that affir
mation would render Isocrates vulnerable to Plato's epistemological criteria. As
Roochnik points out, Plato sets up an elaborate trap for Socrates's opponents:
All of these arguments hinge on granting the goodness of techne.
Should the interlocutor agree to this, he is committed to the notion
that knowledge is good and not equivalent, either in kind or value,
to opinion. It further implies that he thinks determinacy, clarity,
precision, and arithmetic stability, the hallmarks of techne, are de
sirable. Should the interlocutor agree to these assertions, he will be
refuted by Socrates, for his own views cannot measure up to these
standards. Once refuted, he becomes open to the exhortation to
seek moral knowledge, that is, to become philosophical. (204)
Roochnik argues that Socrates resorts to techne analogy only for purposes of
refutation and exhortation, while never claiming a techne of moral knowledge
himself (22731). If this is so, Isocrates's eschewing of techne and his expansive
claims to paideia and philosophia make more sense, since the supposed value of
techne is but a bait designed to marginalize rhetoric and endow philosophy with
a higher intellectual and moral status. Not only status is at stake, however. As
will be discussed later, Isocrates presents a contesting version of philosophy, the
one thoroughly based in performance culture and political discourse (logos
politikos), in explicit contrast with Platonic flight from the traditional
performative paideia.
By the time Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric is written, the meaning of techne and
the value of rhetoric have evolved. If Plato consistently divides knowledge be
tween theoretical and productive types, Aristotle offers a tripartite classification
of knowledge into theoretical, practical, and productive. Unlike Plato, Aristotle
reserves the term techne only for productive arts (such as poetics and rhetoric).
Also, Aristotle considers rhetoric as a systematic techne rather than as a "knack"
(Rhetoric 1254a2). Finally, Aristotle pronounces rhetoric "useful" (khresimos)
(1355al2). Aristotle, then, seems to have exculpated rhetoric from the twin
charge of epistemological and ethical deficiency and thereby established rhetoric
as a legitimate discipline. Such is the prevailing opinion in contemporary rhetor
ical historiography.
Yet legitimacy is purchased at a price of rhetoric's subordination to practical
arts of ethics and politics, and separation between propositional content and
performative power of discourse. Comparing rhetoric with other areas of in
quiry, Aristotle states: "Thus it appears that Rhetoric is as it were an offshoot of
Dialectic and of the science of Ethics, which may be reasonably called Politics.
That is why Rhetoric assumes the character [hupoduetai hupo toschema, "slips un


Professing Rhetoric

der the appearance"] of Politics, and those who claim to possess it, partly from
ignorance, partly from boastfulness, and partly from other human weaknesses,
do the same" (1356a7). In this veiled attack on Isocrates's logospolitikos, Aristotle
indicates that rhetoric gives expression to political subject matter, but must not
be confused with it. Here, subordination is a matter of distinguishing between
substantive knowledge furnished by extra-rhetorical disciplines of ethics and
politics and potential public statements. Rhetoric's function is "to observe (to
idein) in each case the existing means of persuasion" (1355bl4); it is merely a
"faculty [dunamis] of furnishing arguments" (1356a7). Furthermore, this "fac
ulty" is a mark of already fully habituated ethical agents. "The Rhetoric" as
Poster contends, "is provided as a manual for the student trained in dialectic who
needs, particularly for purposes of self-defense or defense of Platonic-Aristotelian philosophy, to sway the ignorant or corrupt audience or to understand the
functioning of rhetoric within a badly ordered state" (244).
Another related legitimacy condition pertains to the relationship between po
litical agents and received opinions (endoxa) from which rhetorical syllogisms are
formed. According to Aristotle, to gain mastery of rhetorical argument (to be
come enthumematikos), one must be able to discern the true (alethes) from that
which resembles it is. Such is the requirement for the capacity to "divine well in re
gard to endoxa" (1355all). Grimaldi thinks this passage implies that the rhetor
simply aims at what is true in each particular case (1:23), but there is a good reason
to disagree with him. I have argued elsewhere that Aristotle remains consistent
throughout his corpus in his treatment of endoxa. Because of his belief in the cycli
cal nature of knowledge, he approaches them as manifestations of universal truths
about cosmos and human nature, rather than as culturally and situationally spe
cific utterances (Haskins 168-73). Indeed, even before deploying endoxa in an ar
gument, the rhetor must reconstitute the propositional content of endoxa in terms
of commonplaces (topof) (Rhetoric l403bl). Consequently, the linguistic form is
separated from its extralinguistic content and performative elements of discourse
are relegated to style (lexis), treated in the Rhetoric's third book apart from the dis
cussion of proofs, genres and emotions.
So, while Aristotle gives a positive answer to the Platonic probe "is rhetoric a
techne?" he also significantly limits the scope and function of rhetorical practice
and education. If Plato "had developed the metaphysical justification for an
epistemology that rendered rhetoric irrelevant to the central problem of con
necting ideas with words, objects, and actions" (Ober, Political Dissent 251), Ar
istotle took a different route. He redefined rhetoric as a neutral capacity
(dunamis) in the hands of a rational agent. It may well be that Aristotle's re
sponse to the techne question was a "correction" not of Plato, but of Isocrates.
Isocratean Logon Paideia as Performance
In none of his extant texts does Isocrates directly name his profession a
techne. Translators of the Loeb edition in many instances have offered phrases

Paideia versus Techne


"art of discourse" or "art of words" where no such terms exist in the original
Greek (Roochnik 28388). Roochnik sees Isocrates vacillating between reject
ing techne and associating with it. For despite his negative view of a "fixed art,"
Isocrates still wishes to "hang a shingle," or advertise his knowledge as some
thing worth paying for: "[Isocrates] studiously avoids actually using 'techne' to
speak about what it is he teaches, while at the same time trying to associate what
he teaches with the arts" (287).
Isocrates's ambivalence on the techne question is important for at least two
reasons. First, it reminds us of the mutability of the terms we have embraced to
explain our profession to insiders and outsiders alike, as well as of the role these
terms play in a convoluted dynamic of status and marginality in the history of
rhetoric (Hariman). On the other hand, this ambivalence points to a conception
of education that does not sit easy with a demand for a discreet body of principles
which could be viewed apart from performance (as Aristotle would imply by the
phrase to idein, to observe). Isocrates challenges our deep presumption of the
goodness of a systematic rhetorical methodology, rooted as it is in Aristotle's ac
count of the art of rhetoric. For example, Solmsen's landmark essay "The Aristo
telian Tradition in Ancient Rhetoric" bemoans the fact that in Isocrates "we lack
a starting point of the same solidity and authenticity as Aristotle's three books
on rhetoric" (36). On the other hand, a few scholars have attempted to recon
struct Isocrates's "theory" on the basis of ancient testimonia's assumption that
Isocrates had produced a handbook. They typically proceed by extracting from
Isocrates's extant writings a set of principles or criteria that can qualify as theory.
For instance, Gaines interprets Isocrates's putative emphasis on the parts of
speech as a valid rhetorical theory. Rummel seeks to find the conceptual ground
ing of Isocrates's "ideal of rhetoric" in his reliance on opinion (doxa).
However, if we keep reading Aristotle back into Isocrates, we are likely to dis
cover mostly those elements that are congenial to Aristotle's epistemology and
politics. I suggest that Isocrates's compositions do not aspire to an atemporal
status of theory. Several scholars have questioned the desire to ascribe a techne to
Isocrates. Michael Cahn focuses on kairos ("opportune moment") as a key notion
explaining Isocrates's radical indeterminacy and Yun Lee Too depicts Isocrates as
a hegemonic rhetor who ensures the pedagogical and political relevance of his
writings by accenting his role as an agent of knowledge. I would like to add to
these insights another perspectivethe one derived from Isocrates's own de
scriptions of the performative dimension of his paideia. While "performance"
has certainly become an academic buzzword, I do not imply that we need to im
port it into our readings of ancient texts. In Isocrates, the notion of performative
education is readily apparent. Unlike Plato, whose relationship with the oral
performance culture is marked by antagonism, Isocrates builds upon the tradi
tional Greek link between speech and action, common in pre-Platonic under
standing of mimesis (Havelock 5760).
Isocrates explicitly affirms his debt to the poetic tradition. In his monumental
Antidosis (itself a "mimesis" of Plato's Apology) he substitutes the term philosophia


Professing Rhetoric

for mousike in a description of the two disciplines "bequeathed to us by our ances

tors": "physical training for the body, of which gymnastics is a part, and, for the
mind, philosophy" (181). In Greece of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE mousike
denoted the educational practice of memorization and recitation of the poetic tra
dition; while at the time of publication of Antidosis (354353 BCE) philosophy was
precisely the term contested by Plato and Isocrates (Timmerman 149).
How, then, does philosophia work as the mental counterpart of gymnastics?
Isocrates pictures a progression from imitation to self-conscious performance.
First, "those concerned with philosophy impart to their pupils all the forms
which speech (logos) happens to use," then follows a period of intense exercise and
habituation, and finally, the pupils are set to test if they can "bring their opinions
(doxais) into closer touch with the occasions for applying them" (Antidosis 184).
This picture of Isocrates's logonpaideia appears almost too simple, unless we rec
ognize the striking strategy of usingphilosophia in place of mousike, as well as the
insistence on doxa as a pinnacle of an apparently long and arduous learning pro
cess. Indeed, Isocrates accents doxa in what seems like a deliberate gesture
against Plato's conception of philosophy as an ascent away from "mere opinion."
As Takis Poulakos comments, "the kind of learning Isocrates promotes, then,
has to do with the ability to make experienced judgments in those affairs that
present themselves full of uncertainty and ambiguity but which nevertheless
must be addressed" (97).
The ability to address unforeseen contingencies does not exhaust the
performative thrust of Isocrates's paideia. If this were the only Isocratean contri
bution to the classical rhetorical lore, it could be easily assimilated into Aristotle's conception of techne (sans the proud label of philosophy, of course).
Rather, it is the notion of political identity as a product of discursive training and
recurrent political performance that seems to fly in the face of the Academy and
the Lyceum.
Performance is not just a way of knowing, it is a way of doing and being.
Isocrates promotes discursive education (logon paideia) as training in social ac
tion. Students arriving at Isocrates's doorstep should expect not only to memo
rize and practice poetry and prose for the sake of acquiring facility in oratory, but
also gradually to grow into public persons whose actions are worthy of poetic
and political praise. We should keep in mind that another meaning of the term
doxa is "reputation." For Isocrates, "An honorable reputation [to dokein einai
kalon kagathon] not only lends greater persuasiveness to the words of a man who
possesses it, but also adds luster to his deeds, and is therefore to be sought after
more zealously by men of intelligence than anything else in the world" (Antidosis
280). If Aristotle's "ethos" constitutes an intrinsic proof, a means to an external
end, Isocrates stresses "good reputation" as both a means and an end of public
An ancient aristocratic ideal of goodness and nobility, kalokagathia by
Isocrates's time had become transformed "into the inborn nobility of the citizen
body as a whole" (Ober, Mass and Elite 263). Its aesthetic and political aspects

Paideia versus Techne


are no doubt linked for Isocrates, as he imagines kalokagathia as a kind of mi

metic magnet for those who embark on the study of philosophy. But he adds an
ethical dimension to this "god term" by stipulating that mimesis of worthy dis
courses requires contemplation and appraisal (theorem kai dokimazein) of models
of civic excellence, not unreflective mimicry (Antidosis 277). Thus, to Aristotle's
subsequent displeasure, Isocrates is able to claim ethics as a province of a discur
sive paideia.
But there is more. Isocrates argues that a good reputation is ultimately be
stowed on an agent by a political community: "the stronger a man's desire to per
suade (peitheiri) his listeners, the more zealously will he strive to be honorable (kalos
kagathos) and to have the esteem of his fellow citizens" (Antidosis 278). Whereas
Aristotle prefers to bracket the consequences of performance for a speaking sub
ject by stressing rhetoric as a capacity rather than activity, Isocrates considers the
audience's response essential to one's political agency. Aristotle would find such a
life, dependent as it is on vicissitudes of audiences and situations, burdensome and
even vulgar. Unless speakers stay within a circle of like-minded friends or disciples
("the ideal speech situation") possibilities of failure abound. In Isocrates's view,
those who do not seek approval of their political community, like his former stu
dent Timotheus, find themselves in disrepute. As is evident from Antidosis and
Panathenaicus, Isocrates puts himself in a position of constantly proving his profes
sional and political worth to his audience.
To claim a techne, then, whether in Plato's or Aristotle's sense of the term,
may not be the best course for defending our profession. As Isocrates's case sug
gests, we cannotindeed, we shouldn't aspire tosettle the question "What
can a rhetoric be?" once and for all. By the same token, the indeterminacy of a
performative paideia entails not less but more responsibility on the part of rhe
torical educators. Rather than declare a Baudrillardian victory and go home, in
determinacy challenges us to accept the burden of proof as agents of knowledge.
Works Cited
Aristotle. The Art of Rhetoric. Trans. J. H. Freese. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1977.
Cahn, Michael. "Reading Rhetoric Rhetorically: Isocrates and the Marketing of Insight." Rhetorica 2
(1989): 12144.
Gaines, Robert. "Isocrates, EP 6.8." Hermes 118 (1990): 165-70.
Grimaldi, William. Aristotle, Rhetoric I: A Commentary. New York: Fordham UP, 1980.
Hariman, Robert. "Status, Marginality, and Rhetorical Theory." Contemporary Rhetorical Theory. Ed. John
L. Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. New York: Guilford, 1999. 3551.
Haskins, Ekaterina. "Rhetoric between Orality and Literacy: Cultural Memory and Performance in
Isocrates and Aristotle." Quarterly Journal of Speech 87 (2001): 158-78.
Havelock, Eric. Preface to Plato. Cambridge: Belknap, 1963.
Isocrates. Isocrates II. Trans. George Norlin. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1929.
Lucaites, John L., Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader.
New York: Guilford, 1999.
Ober.Josiah. Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Power of the People. Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1989.
. Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule. Princeton: Princeton UP,


Professing Rhetoric

Plato. Plato III: Lysis, Gorgias, Symposium. Trans. W. R. M. Lamb. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1967.
. Oeuvres Completes V: Ion, Menexene, Euthydeme. Paris: Collection des Universites de France, 1931.
Poster, Carol. "Aristotle's Rhetoric against Rhetoric: Unitarian Readings and Esoteric Hermeneutics."
AmericanJournal of Philology 118(1997): 219-49.
Poulakos, Takis. Speaking for the Polis: Isocrates' Rhetorical Education. Columbia: U of South Carolina P,
Roochnik, David. Of Art and Wisdom: Plato's Understanding of Techne. University Park: Pennsylvania
State UP, 1996.
Rummel, Erika. "Isocrates' Ideal of Rhetoric: Criteria for Evaluation." ClassicalJournal 15 (1979):
Solmsen, Friedrich. "The Aristotelian Tradition in Ancient Rhetoric." AmericanJournal of Philology 62
(1941): 35-50.
Timmerman, David M. "Isocrates' Competing Conceptualization of Philosophy." Philosophy and Rhet
oric 31(1998): 145-59.
Too, Yun Lee. The Rhetoric of Identity in Isocrates: Text, Power, Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP,

University of Iowa

Thoroughly Modern Vico:

The New Science and
Counter-Enlightenment Politics

For on one hand the conceit of nations, each believing itself to have
been the first in the world, leaves us no hope of getting at the princi
ples of our Science from the philologians. And on the other hand the
conceit of scholars, who will have it that what they know must have
been immanently understood from the beginning of the world,
makes us despair of getting them from the philosophers. So, for the
purposes of this inquiry, we must reckon as if there were no other
books in the world. (Vico, The New Science, 89)
Given the self-reported originality of The New Science from Vico's comments
on previous scholarship, it would seem to make it a curious point of departure for
an inquiry into the emergence of modernity. For Vico, everything stated in The
New Science arrived fully formed and was derived from nothing other than his
own reason and the providence of God. Given his effort to radically depart from
existing philosophy and emerging natural science, and the relative obscurity of
his work at the time and since, it is challenging to place Vico within traditional
intellectual history. Indeed, his faith in divine providence and his turn away from
the rise of subject centered rationality emerging elsewhere on the continent
makes The New Science at once a reiteration of classical knowledge and a radical
reformulation of it. Thus scholars staking claims to traditional categories of in
tellectual history are faces with a quandary; is Vico the last of the ancients, a dif
ferent sort of modern, or a man ahead of his time?
Mark Lilla takes up the question of Vico's place in intellectual history in G. B.
Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern, arguing that Vico was, and continues to be,
misinterpreted by generations of philosophers (as much as he was in his own
time). By returning to works prior to The New Science, Lilla hopes to illustrate
Vico's position against the rise of Enlightenment within the cultural context of
its emergence, and to criticize efforts by Isaiah Berlin and others to recuperate
Vico as a hero of the "counter-enlightenment". Equally as interesting as Lilla's
philosophic reconsideration of Vico is the challenge that his conclusions about


Professing Rhetoric

counter-enlightenment politics, applying his conclusions about the conservative

nature of Vico's critique of the Enlightenment to contemporary critiques of En
lightenment rationality.
In this essay, I read the controversy over Vico's deployment as a "counter-enlightenment" hero as something more than a simple question of intellectual lin
eage. The efforts to place Vico within or against particular rhetorical and
philosophical traditions, as exemplified in Lilla's critique of Berlin, demon
strates some of the competing tensions that emerge in the production of moder
nity as a historical category. Whether considered "Counter-Enlightenment" in
the emancipatory or chauvinist senses of that term, historical scholarship on
Vico illuminates the political entailments of intellectual history as it is currently
produced in rhetoric and philosophy, which in turn demonstrates the contested
territory of modernity. At stake in this disagreement over modernity are our no
tions of the legitimacy of reason, the limits of individual will, and the political
entailments that arise from each of these.
Lilla argues that our received view of Vico, the somewhat grave narrative of a
forgotten scholar born before his time advanced since Michelet's translation of The
New Science, points to an interesting tension: How could one who came to be valo
rized by the Romantics have been so ignored or reviled by his contemporaries? Isa
iah Berlin identifies Vico as a sort of Counter-Enlightenment John Brown, an
unsuccessful rebel who nevertheless became a hero to those who would later take
up the cause against Enlightenment rationality. For Berlin, Vico represents one of
the earliest attempts to derive a modern philosophy free of rationalism, advancing
an outlook that he will term "pluralism." According to Berlin's essay,
"Giambattista Vico and Cultural History":
Vico is the father of both the modern concept of culture and what
one might call cultural pluralism, according to which each authen
tic culture has its own unique vision, its own scale of values, which in
the course of development is suspended by other visions and values.
For Berlin, Vico anticipated the potential dangers of rationalism allowed to
reign without opposition and, in his New Science, provided a mechanism for under
standing divergent cultures in a manner that avoided reading the past as simply
the rough road to a more progressive present.1 As part of a career devoted to the
development of intellectual history and to the virtues of philosophic Romantics of
the nineteenth century, Berlin frequently returned to Vico as a source of inspira
tion and influence, and for illustrations of the complexities of philosophical plural
ism. In each case, Vico is identified as an inspiration to Romantics that followed
him, both in nineteenth-century France and twentieth-century England.
While Lilla admits to Berlin's view that Vico was the father of the CounterEnlightenment, he insists that Vico was certainly not a pluralist (6). Despite his
appropriation by the Romantics that followed him, Vico stood against the En

Thoroughly Modern Vico


lightenment not as a radical, but rather as a reactionary. The combination of

pre-modern theology and modern science that makes Vico such an important
and enigmatic historical figure and marks his work as the first anti-modern so
cial science, also makes him somewhat politically suspect on Lilla's view. His sus
picion of the motives for Vico's critique is evident even as he admits to Vico's
originality, as he states "Vico is the first European thinker to have presented a
profoundly anti-modern political theory in the guise of a modern social science"
(9). Under the guise of scientific inquiry, Vico advances a political theory and a
conservative agenda.
Lilla contends that despite its philosophic monism, rationalist philosophy had
pluralistic or democratizing effects on the domain of knowledge. Modern philoso
phy sought to liberate men from previously established social orders and author
ity. By this rationale, it is of no small political consequence that Vico launches out
against rationalism in the majority of his recorded work. Indeed, Lilla argues that
shoring up existing social hierarchies was one of Vico's goals. He contends that as
an advocate of theological science, Vico was more inclined to seek freedom from
philosophy and reason than to advocate the search for freedom through them. Ap
plying this measure to contemporary scholarship he concludes:
The contemporary attempt to revive aspects of Counter-Enlightenment thought, while retaining features of the Enlightenment out
look (notably liberal politics) might be understandable. But it is
historically and philosophically naive. Vico, his followers, and early
adversaries all understood that modern thought is not a bloc, that
within it are two rival traditions moving in opposite directions, forc
ing us to choose between them. Either one resigns oneself to living
with a broad Enlightenment tradition that values reason, skepti
cism, and freedom, or one sets off with Counter-Enlightenment
thinkers who abandon those principles in the pursuit of order, au
thority, and certainty. Autaut, the modern world offers no third al
ternative. (Lilla 13)
Berlin is Lilla's obvious target. While Lilla's title would seem to suggest that
Vico will be the hero of a critique of the modern, through the course of the argu
ment Vico appears equally as dangerous and anti-democratic as his 16th century
Tuscan counterpart, Machiavelli.
Still, as Marcello Montanari concludes in his review of Lilla's book in TheJour
nal of Modern History, it is difficult to pin down precisely "the modern" that Vico
is positioned to be against. Clearly Vico's arguments for a science of culture
rather than one of nature are a poor fit for an increasingly human centered natu
ral philosophy premised upon individualism and rationality. But from this dif
ference we cannot infer that he is hostile to subject centered reason in the
modernist sense altogether. In fact, the search for principles of civic association
was premised on the belief that through true science the divine language of


Professing Rhetoric

Providence might be discovered, maintaining a place for the human mind and
reasonability within his analysis. Ultimately it is the faculty of reason and the
practice of scientific thought that afford inquiry into the providential order of
the world. If Vico's commitment to science is an indication, then it is clear that
Vico holds a much more vexed relationship to the Enlightenment than either
Lilla or Berlin suggests.
On my view, Lilla underestimates the tension between theological hermeneu
tics and scientific observation in The New Science, missing the connections between
the sciences of culture and nature. While Vico is not attempting to mirror the
practices of natural science, and perhaps is explicitly rejecting them, he still ap
proaches the question of certain knowledge as if there were an ontological basis for
such knowledge claims. It seems that Lilla's effort to produce a consistent ortho
doxy across Vico's career undervalues elements that mark The New Science as a sig
nificant departure from the Vico of On Method and earlier lectures on rhetoric on
this very topic. Where traditional theology relied upon hermeneutic practices for
uncovering the divine word, Vico seeks to establish the divine order scientifically
through observation. Thus while his object of vision and warrants for observation
are different, Vico is still operating under some of the assumptions of what might
be called modernist scientism. I contend that the affiliation of Vico's scientism
with particular modernist logics and methodological assumptions indicates an af
finity with modern science even as it is a refutation of it. However, before illustrat
ing this claim, that Vico's science reflects a modernist method even as it refracts
and distorts it, one crucial term must be interrogated.
The term modernist in general is often an adjective, as in a modernist painter or
modernist philosopher. In the former case we are dealing with a different notion
of modern, based on aesthetic genre distinctions. The latter example is also
problematic in this case, since "philosopher" is a label toward which Vico was
somewhat ambivalent at best, and to which he is quite hostile at worst. Given
Vico's posthumous talent for avoiding simple genre distinctions, one fruitful av
enue for approach would be to ask the question: how will we learn from Vico if
we read his work as if he were principally a modernist rhetorician? This approach
affords us opportunities to both refine our understanding of Vico's practices of
analysis and to encounter the political questions of the Enlightenment more
specifically. Considered within the contested terrain of modernist rhetoric,
Vico's argument for a pursuit of knowledge tempered by a limited form of rela
tivism is more easily understandable. Indeed some of this work has already been
undertaken, but not without controversy, in Michael Mooney's Vico in the Tradi
tion of Rhetoric.
The choice of the term rhetorician in the phrase "modernist rhetorician" may
seem uncontroversial, as Vico was a teacher of rhetoric for most of his life. Never
theless, philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith were able to write
and lecture on rhetoric and avoid calling themselves by this name. Again, it im
portant to remember that the point of asking this question is not one of the ap
propriate placement of Vico in scholarly history, but rather the effects of a

Thoroughly Modern Vico


particular association of The New Science and the old rhetoric. Vice's metaphysic is
designed to examine the common nature of nations in the light of divine provi
dence (New Science 17). For Vico, it is only through the denial of the conceit of
mathematics as a universal measure that we might achieve true knowledge of the
appropriate course for nations. In place of the mythologies previous scholars es
tablished through human constructed mathematics, Vico sets forth a chronologi
cal narrative, rooted in philosophical axioms but ultimately derived from the
analysis of historical documents. First, he argued that divine providence had al
ways been cast upon people living together, even among the Greeks and barbari
ans who didn't recognize it. Thus, it was upon principles of divine authority that
all civic bonds were formed and maintained, both before and after the birth of
Christ. Additionally, Vico's inquiry relied on the fundamental importance of hu
man ideas. Men were considered weak to the degree that they are allowed to culti
vate imagination more than reason, but in this case, reason refers to nothing more
than the knowledge of objects in and of themselves. By this measure, Vico upheld
the value of philosophic criticism based on this recognition of the importance of
ideas. Finally, The New Science relied upon a notion of eternal history common to all
nations and the principles of natural law. The presence of a universal history, wider
in scope than the history of the civic sphere suggested a true point of origin for all
human action and continuity to all existing histories.
Although rooted in a science of culture rather than one of nature, the presup
positions of universal principle, natural law, and certain knowledge illustrate
that assumptions common to Cartesian rationality are also present in Vico's Sci
ence. These affinities move The New Science away from the probabilism of
rhetorics reliant upon classical notions of topical invention. But despite the sci
entism of his analysis, Vico is clearly a modernist like none other, in that the de
velopment of the nation and civic life was the object of The New Science, where
other modern sciences read politics only as an analog to nature. Fascinatingly,
Vico's science is simultaneously conservative and radical, looking to history as a
means for understanding the world scientifically, while simultaneously invent
ing the category of culture in opposition to nature.
Within The New Science, Vico's turn from the "table of things moral" attributed
to Cebes the Thebian, to the construction of "a table of things civil" is no surprise
when considered from the perspective of rhetoric, where historical precedent, eth
ical principle, and civic association are often held together. Classically considered,
the civic domain is thought to be the home turf of rhetoricians, the agonistic space
in which speakers vie for glory and recognition using persuasion as the weapon of
choice. Vico would likely recognize this conception of rhetoric, but in a manner
different from some rhetorical histories. Based on his reconsideration of classical
cultures, Vico would read the arrangement of civic space and the production of
civic discourses in Greece and Rome as distinctive cultural artifacts rather than as
the immediate historical predecessors of his own political culture. In this sense,
classical rhetoric operates as a point of contrast rather than a forerunner of (then)
contemporary politics. If Vico is a rhetorician, he is not a strict adherent to classical


Professing Rhetoric

assumptions or to an unbroken rhetorical tradition, a difference upon which we

more clearly justifies the new title of modernist rhetorician.
Vico borrows a Protagorean fragment, man is the measure of all things, and
adds to it a new critical clause. He states, "Because of the indefinite nature of the
human mind, whenever it is lost in ignorance, man sees himself as the measure of
all things" (54). The alleged conceits of Vico's philosophical contemporaries (Des
cartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza in particular) find their common roots in this ten
dency to take oneself as measure in the absence of true knowledge. Vico seeks to
set the record straight by establishing reasonable and freely chosen points of de
velopment to characterize the emergence of human reason with divine providence
as its point of origin. Man may be he measure of all things, but certainly not the
center of the universe. Ultimately, placing Vico's work within the context of the
critique of philosophy and rhetoric will help deal with seeming impossibility of lo
cating Vico once and for all. In end, I maintain that it is more profitable to rhetori
cal historians to view Vico's challenge to our criteria for periodization as an
opportunity to reconsider our practices more broadly than to attempt to fix Vico's
place in history. In reading the debates on Vico's place in intellectual history, our
own presuppositions about rhetorical history are made apparent.
For this reason, it s crucial to read Berlin and Lilla in light of our contempo
rary rhetorical and political situation. Berlin champions the Romantics for their
critique of rationalist dominance as a constraint on individual expression. Lilla,
conversely, criticizes the Romantics for abandoning the emancipatory power of
reason, arguing that there can be no other path to freedom. In each case, the tra
vails of recent political history and the specter of totalitarian restriction are
placed on the opposite side of the argument. This reversibility suggests that
what at the outset is an apparent contradiction between Romantic idealist and
rationalist readings of politics might be a displacement of a fundamental affilia
tion between them. Indeed, the principles of individual sovereignty that under
lie both of these competing positions suggests that the opposition of
romanticism and reason is actually division constitutive of the domain of mod
ern politics. Similarly, we can conclude that both of these senses of politics are el
ements of the set of relations that make modernist subjectivity possible, that
they are divergent manifestations of a single logic. The opposition serves to
shore up ideologies of individualism and volunteerism, and to the degree that
one side or the other is championed in the name of freedom, the notion of the in
dividual subject as an arbiter is left uninterrogated. Thus while Berlin and Lilla
differ on their readings of Vico, their assumptions about the function of intellec
tual history and the role of the political subject are almost shockingly similar.
There are clear parallels between this controversy and Habermas's critique of
poststructuralism, who argues that the turn away from rationality prevents us
from making appropriate genre distinctions between philosophy and rhetoric
and, even worse, robs political movements the possibility of self legitimation
through rationality.2 Habermas asserts that French poststructuralism operates
in the manner of Romantic politics, transforming politics into aesthetics and lev

Thoroughly Modern Vico


eling the distinctions between philosophy and art (both assumptions are open to
a good deal of criticism). For both Habermas and Lilla, our choice is reason or
terror and therefore, we must continue the Enlightenment project in order to
guarantee freedom and to guard against the potential for Fascism in the Counter-Enlightenment. However, if one considers that we are participants in a his
torical moment that can furnish both a critique of reason and at the same time
attempt to argue for an increase of political freedom (albeit on contingent foun
dations), we might have moved beyond this modernist double bind. The divi
sion that Lilla constructs is rooted upon the exclusion of the critique of reason
from Enlightenment politics, an analysis that points to the potentially fascist
conclusions of Enlightenment rationality (as in the case of Horkheimer's repres
sive tolerance). This refusal to consider the critique of rationality lends credence
to an argument of the dangers of unchecked rationality. Yet the inversion of this
hierarchy which champions individual expression would still hold the individual
subject as the end and arbiter of politics, ignoring the complexities of collective
identification. For a truly radical critique of modernist politics, we must affect a
displacement of this logic altogether. For the history of rhetoric, this implies an
effort to understand the sets of relations constitutive of the modern political sub
ject, with all the enabling constraints that this subject position insinuates and all
the complexities of its development. More broadly, it might also imply the inter
rogation of our own political beliefs and their complicity with logics that overes
timate the power of volunteerism and individual agency. It is within this frame
that a rereading of modernist rhetoric can serve our political present and future.
1. Berlin's idealist reading of Vico can be found in several essays distributed across his career, as
well as in the larger project Vico and Herder.
2. Habermas's critiques of Derrida, Foucault, and other poststructuralists are best seen in The
Philosophic Discourses of Modernity. In the twelve lectures that make up the book, Habermas identifies a
decisive break between poststructural theory and communicative rationality in the wake of the cri
tique of subject centered reason. Where French Poststructuralism takes the critique of subject cen
tered reason toward a potentially nihilist critique of any and all conceptions of reason, Habermas
suggests that the critique of subject centered reason might have more profitably turned down a path
toward the reexamination of reason as communicative action.
Works Cited
Berlin, Isaiah. Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas. Ed. Henry Hardy. New York: Viking,
. "Giambattista Vico and Cultural History." The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of
Ideas. Ed. Henry Hardy. London: John Marrow, 1990. 49-69Lilla, Mark. G. B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993.
Montanari, Marcello. Rev. of G. B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern, by Mark Lilla.Journal of Modern
History 67 (1987): 462-64.
Mooney, Michael. Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1985.
Tagliacozzo, Giorgio, and Hayden V White, eds. Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium. Balti
more: Johns Hopkins UP, 1969.
Vico, Giambattista. The New Science of Giambattista Vico: Revised Translation of the Third Edition (1744).
Trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fish. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1968.

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Iowa State University

Rhetoric of Science
as Non-Modern Practice

In 1994, Art Walzer and Alan Gross published an article in College English dis
cussing rhetorical analyses of the space shuttle challenger accident. They de
scribed the analyses as either being a form of naive positivism or a nihilistic
postmodernism, and they proposed their Aristotelian position as one which re
solves the failures of either extreme. I start here because Walzer and Gross iden
tified an earlier essay written by Carolyn Miller, Barbara Fennel, and me as the
representative of the radical postmodern positionan attribution that came as
something of a shock to us. In part of that article we argued that the managers
and engineers at Morton Thiokol, the manufacturer of the shuttle's solid rocket
booster, could not resolve their differences because their arguments belonged to
different argument fields in Steven Toulmin's terms. Specifically, we wrote that
participants in the discussions "were unable, more than unwilling" to recognize
and accept each other's positions (Herndl, et. al. 303). Identifying this moment
in our argument as the central issue, Walzer and Gross charge that ours was an
anti-rhetorical position because it makes reasoned argument impossible.
I begin here not because I want to refute Walzer and Gross at this late date.
Rather, I begin here because I think their critique has considerable merit; it
identifies important problems that have bothered me ever since. When Walzer
and Gross charged us with making argument impossible in science and technol
ogy, they identified our position with the incommensurability thesis in rhetoric
of science. In its harder or softer forms this thesis holds that differences in theo
retical paradigms or discursive fields make it impossible for scientists to per
suade opponents or to resolve what Kuhn famously called paradigm debates.
But much of the controversy over the issue of incommensurability and the con
sequent possibility or impossibility of rational argument grows out of the way it
has been widely interpreted through the metaphor of translation.
Perhaps because of their grammatical connotations, Kuhn's poorly defined
terms paradigm and paradigm shift are usually interpreted in terms of translation
between languages or discourses in analyses of scientific controversies. Similarly,
Richard Rorty's metaphor of disputants using different "vocabularies" leads critics
to understand incommensurable positions as ones between which translation is


Professing Rhetoric

impossible. Rorty refutes the notion that scientific controversies can be resolved
by reference to external reality or to the truth conditions of statements. Because
statements have meaning only as part of what he calls "vocabularies," scientists
arguing for opposing theories can only redescribe phenomena over and over un
til they gain adherents. If we are operating within a social constructionist or
poststructural position that locates the difference here as linguistic, the meta
phor of translation leads to a rhetorical stalemate very like the one Walzer and
Gross attributed to us. There is a latent idealism in Kuhn's unfortunate com
ments that "proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in differ
ent worlds, " and that they "see different things" when they look at phenomena
(Kuhn 150). Such talk by Kuhn and others leads to what Karl Popper calls the
"myth of the framework" and Donald Davidson debunks as a "conceptual
scheme." The latent idealism in Kuhn's language makes incommensurability
seem absolute and final.
Kuhn's and Rorty's unfortunate metaphors aside, incommensurability
need not indicate a purely linguistic situation. Neither Kuhn nor Rorty un
derstand incommensurability as a strictly linguistic problem. For Rorty the
ories are commensurable when there is a certain procedure for making
decisions rather than a situation of exact point-by-point translation between
competing theories:
By "commensurable" I mean able to be brought under a set of rules
which will tell us how rational agreement can be reached on what
would settle the issue on every point where statements seem in con
flict. (316)
Similarly, in his reading of Kuhn, Richard Bernstein argues that incommen
surability only means that there is nothing which "is permanent and deter
minate that stays the same in cross-paradigmatic comparisons," a neutral
observation language or a set of rules and procedures for resolving theoreti
cal disputes (85). Bernstein argues that incommensurability has been mis
takenly interpreted as a "theory of meaning" when in fact Kuhn and others
use it to indicate stark differences in the standards and problems different
groups find engaging and persuasive. Communities of scientists do not
speak different languages. Their differences are not matters of epistemol
ogy. And, as Donald Davidson and Barbara Hernstein Smith have demon
strated, their arguments are not untranslatable in any final sense. As Smith
writes, incommensurability,
[i]s neither a logically scandalous relation between theories, nor an
ontologically immutable relation between systems of thought, nor a
morally unhappy relationship between sets of people, but a contin
gent, experiential relation between historically and institutionally situated
conceptual/discursive practices. (152 italics added)

Rhetoric of Science as Non-Modern Practice


Smith's argument for institutionally situated, historical practices picks up the

material and practical implications of Bernstein's argument that proponents of
competing theories most often differ about the relevant standards and problems.
In what follows, I suggest a new way to formulate the rhetorical problems in
volved in scientific disputes. I want to address Walzer and Gross's criticism by
moving beyond the dilemmas presented by the incommensurability thesis when
it is understood through the linguistic metaphor of translation. And I want to
offer, however briefly, a model of science and scientific argument that integrates
the social and material with the discursive, but which does not abandon the real.
To do this I turn to Bruno Latour's actor-network theory and his notion of the
non-modern. In these theories, Latour formalizes the theoretical position he de
velops throughout his earlier empirical work in books like Laboratory Life, Science
in Action, and The Pasteurization of France. Latour studies "science in the making"
by documenting the daily practices of laboratory scientists and the way their de
bates reach "closure." And I turn to Donna Haraway's most recent book, Modest
Witness @ Second Millennium. FemaleMan Meets OncoMouse, where she de
scribes the products of technoscience as "material-semiotic" events. In elaborat
ing this notion, Haraway explores the leaky boundaries between the machine,
the animal, and the human, and she traces the networks about which Latour
theorizes. Latour and Haraway offer concrete studies of scientific practice that
successfully move beyond the stalemate between objectivism and relativism
that Bernstein, Rorty, and Smith have described as both unproductive and un
necessary. The understanding of scientific practice Latour and Haraway provide
takes up the material and institutional sense of incommensurability nascent in
Bernstein and Smith. Together Latour and Haraway sketch a rhetorical situa
tion in which argument between scientists is indeed "fundamentally contin
gent, dependent on perspective and purpose," but which also makes possible
argument and disciplinary change (Smith 144).
Latour argues that modern science always involves two complementary sets
of practices which operate simultaneously and largely invisibly. The first set of
practices involve the work of "translation" and "create mixtures between en
tirely new types of beings," what Latour calls hybrids (10). (And to anticipate
Haraway, Latour's hybrids are cousins of Haraway's cyborgs.) Latour offers the
growing hole in the ozone layer as an example. This hybrid links refrigerators,
the food industry, the chemistry of chlorofluorocarbons, the upper atmosphere,
the auto industry, skin diseases, the terrestrial ecology, scientific and industrial
strategies, economic calculations and investments, national and international
policy, the anxiety of ecologists, recreational habits, and meteorology. Hybrids
are produced by networks which connect these seemingly disparate elements
like threads. Or, in a nicely suggestive metaphor, Latour asks us to think about
networks like sewer lines or gas lines, crossing a space but not filling it, connect
ing the material, the discursive, the political, the economic, and the real sites of
production. One attribute of modern science is the remarkable rate at which
such hybrids proliferate and the length to which networks extend.


Professing Rhetoric

This first set of productive practices is always accompanied by a second set of

practices Latour calls the work of purification. Purification distributes hybrids
into two distinct ontological zones, the human and the non-human, the natural
world and the social world. Purification establishes the dichotomy of the natural
from the social and protects that distinction by allocating phenomena to one or
another category. Purification distributes differences into distinct discursive
fields in much the way Foucault described the regulatory work of discursive re
gimes. Purification also erases the translation process which produces hybrids,
making the process of scientific work disappear into the stabilized final product
of science. Purification also cleans up the messy ontological miscegenation of
Latour defines the modern by these two interlocked practices. He plots the
practice of purification with its dichotomy between Nature and Society on a hor
izontal axis and the practice of translation with its networks on a vertical axis.
Purification generates the distinction between the natural and the social and
makes the invisible proliferation of hybrids possible. Without the proliferating
work of translation, however, purification would be pointless.
On this model, nature and society are the results of purification practices op
erating on the hybrids produced by translation practices. Nature and society are
the remainders when the networks are severed and we distribute the differences.
For Latour, modern science involves the play of these two practices but with the
caveat that they always be thought separately. The separation of the two prac
tices is the subject of his earlier books Laboratory Life and Science in Action. In both
books, Latour follows the production of scientific facts and the way the process
of producing facts disappears from the final, stabilized fact.
The "non-modern" dimension Latour describes begins with the "quasi-objects" and "quasi-subjects" that inhabit the center of Fig. 1. Latour borrows the
term quasi-object from Michel Serres, and uses it to designate the non-modern ar
tifacts which reside below the modern poles of nature and culture.
Quasi-objects are much more social, much more fabricated, much
more collective than the "hard" parts of nature, but they are in no

Fig. 1. Adapted from Bruno Latour. We Have Never Been Modern.

Rhetoric of Science as Non-Modern Practice


way the arbitrary receptacles of a full fledged society. On the other

hand, they are much more real, nonhuman and objective than those
shapeless screens on which societyfor unknown reasonsneeded
to be projected. (Latour 55)
Neither natural nor cultural, quasi-objects are artifacts of nature-culture.
Latour builds a theory of what he calls "symmetrical history" around his
model of quasi-objects and the practices of purification and translation. Latour's
symmetrical history explains the failures of naive positivism and of an equally
naive social constructionism in science studies. It also returns us to the very simi
lar dichotomy Walzer and Gross constructed to critique rhetorical analysis of
science. Latour describes the positivist notion of science as asymmetrical because
it begins with a transcendent nature and explains scientific truth by reference to
nature, scientific falsehood by reference to society. The dominant forms of social
constructionist theory are equally asymmetrical. They begin with a naive notion
of a transcendent society and explain both truth and falsehood by reference to
society and an unelaborated notion of power. Symmetrical history begins with
quasi-objects, with the abundant but invisible hybrids and their networks. It ex
plains nature and society through the work of purification that stabilizes
quasi-objects, distributing them as objects of external reality on the one hand or
subjects of society on the other, as nonhuman or human. Latour's radical refor
mulation suggests that Walzer and Gross's rhetorical model is a failed modern
formulation that never adequately escapes the play back and forth between the
two results of purification practices. Despite Walzer and Gross's rejection of the
positivist and postmodernist alternatives, they silently accept the ontological
terms of the dichotomy. I return to this issue and the question of
incommensurability it invokes shortly. But I want to look first at Donna
Haraway's work because it demonstrates in slightly different terms Latour's ar
gument about networks and quasi-objects.
In Modest Witness Haraway practices a "cyborg anthropology" similar to
Latour's symmetrical history. Cyborg anthropology draws, of course, on her fa
mous figure of the cyborg, the boundary transgressing being who queers the bor
ders between male and female, human and nonhuman. In Modest Witness,
Haraway regards technoscience through the "mutated murine eyes" of
OncoMouse. The most obvious and extraordinary cyborg in her discussion,
OncoMouse is a hybrid, a quasi-object of Latour's nonmodern realm. OncoMouse
is a laboratory mouse genetically engineered to contract breast cancer. It is also the
first patented animal in the world. OncoMouse is also an ordinary commodity cir
culating in transnational capital. It is owned and distributed by Du Pont who
market OncoMouse under their slogan "Available to researchers only from Du
Pont where better things for better living come to life." Finally, OncoMouse is a
figure in the Christian salvation narrative that promises a cure for cancer.
Haraway's OncoMouse epitomizes her cyborg: "a fusion of the organic and the
technical forged in particular, historical, cultural practices" (51).


Professing Rhetoric

Where Latour refers to his quasi-objects as elements of nature-culture,

Haraway talks of the nature-of-no-nature. OncoMouse implodes the modern
distinctions between nature and culture, human and nonhuman. Like the other
technoscience hybrids Haraway traces, OncoMouse is a material-semiotic
event. It is "an articulation of high-technology capitol, [trademark and intellec
tual property law,] diverse skills, interdisciplinary negotiations, bodily organic
structures, marketing strategies, personal and symbolic codes, medical doc
trines, transnational economics, scientific industry's labor systems, and patient-consumer hopes and fears" (1). The term material-semiotic here tries to
capture the cyborg as made but not made up, as participating in the natural, the
social, and the discursive all at once, as collapsing the founding categories of the
modern. In the chapter in which she discusses OncoMouse, Haraway connects
the development of transuranic elements during the Cold War, the science fic
tion novels of Johanna Russ, the periodic table of elements, patent law, research
funding patterns, and the marketing images for OncoMouse and other geneti
cally engineered corporate products. The controlling metaphor of this chapter
and of large parts of the book is that of kinship as a technology for producing the
material and semiotic effect of natural relationships and differences. Thus, kin
ship can work like Latour's purification to distribute cyborgs into closed catego
ries, or it can work as it does in Haraway's hands to queer these distinctions by
tracing out the networks which cyborg quasi-objects and quasi-subjects like
OncoMouse both inhabit and constitute.
Lest I collapse Haraway's project into Latour's I should point out that
Haraway pursues a more active political agenda than Latour. Working from
feminist science studies, she echoes Sandra Harding's question "Whose science?
Whose Knowledge?" and continually asks in whose interests these hybrids
work. Haraway struggles to make an opening through which to change
technoscience into a more egalitarian and just practice. Having traced the gene
alogy of technoscientific networks, she writes: "The relations among the techni
cal, mythic, economic, political, formal, textual, historical, and organic are not
causal. But articulations are consequential; they matter" (68-69).
Haraway's observation that articulations matter leads me back, finally, to the
rhetoric of science, persuasion, and the modern dilemma of incommensurability.
Latour's theory of networks and Haraway's demonstration of the kinship rela
tions that her cyborgs inhabit suggest that rhetorical studies of science might
profitably examine the rhetorical production involved in the work of purifica
tion. How do the quasi-objects of "science in the making" become stabilized as
facts? What discursive practices dismember networks and distribute artifacts
into sutured categories, constructing scientific authority along the way? More
importantly, Latour's model and Haraway's cyborg anthropology suggest that
we consider scientific debates and the difficulties of persuasion as struggles over
defining quasi-objects. And they suggest that we think of disputes in terms of
divergent networks rather than as translation problems. Incommensurable the
ories then might emerge from different networks and stabilize their quasi-ob-

Rhetoric of Science as Non-Modern Practice


jects through different techniques. Disputes between theories are certainly

discursive, and they are certainly social. They certainly involve different material
and ideological investments, and they are tied to the real. Latour urges us to
think all four at once. And Haraway's insight that the relations between ele
ments of networks are not determinate and that articulation matters suggests
that we think about persuasion and scientific debates as struggles to extend net
works. On this model, rhetoric articulates and rearticulates networks, building
broader, more extended networks by enrolling powerful actants from the mate
rial, the social, the discursive and the real.
Works Cited
Bernstein, Richard. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermenetttics, and Praxis. Philadelphia: U
Pennsylvania P, 1983.
Davidson, Donald. Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1984.
Haraway, Donna J. Modest Witness @ Second Millennium. PemaleMan Meets OncoMouse. New York:
Routledge, 1997.
Harding, Sandra. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking From Women's Lives. Ithaca: Cornell UP,
Herndl, Carl G., Barbara A. Fennell, and Carolyn R. Miller. "Understanding Failures in Organiza
tional Discourse: The Accident at Three Mile Island and the Shuttle Challenger Disaster." Textual
Dynamics of the Professions: Historical and Contemporary Studies of Writing in Professional Communities.
Ed. Charles Bazerman and James Paradis. Madison: U Wisconsin P, 1991. 279-305.
Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd Ed. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1970.
Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993.
Popper, Karl. "Normal Science and Its Dangers." Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Ed. Imre
Lakatos and Alan Musgrave. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1970. 51-58.
Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979
Smith, Barbara Hernstein. Belief and Resistance: The Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy.
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997.
Walzer, Arthur, and Alan Gross. "Positivists, Postmodernists, Aristotelians, and the Challenger Di
saster." College English 56.4 (1994): 420-33.

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WAYNE C. BOOTH, Professor of English Emeritus

The University of Chicago

Ending the War between Science and Religion:

Can Rhetorology Do the Job?1

Every effort to relate science and religion can be described as overly ambi
tious, even dangerous. But the topic deserves, and has been receiving, many
books, with astonishingly different titles and approaches.2 Wherever we look on
the public scene, we see quarrels between defenders of religion or science (some
times called "reason" or "secular humanism"), the combatants making little or
no effort to understand one another, aiming their clever ripostes at targets that
are not really there. And our books and journals are full of advice, useful and use
less, about how to turn the warfare into dialogue.3
The battles are not likely to end soon. Whether the conflict is labeled as rea
son versus superstition, blind dogmatic rationalism versus genuine human val
ues, secular humanism versus religious fundamentalism, atheism versus
theismno matter what the terms, the conflict between hard thought about
natural law and hard thought about the source and grounds of nature and value
will outlive you and me and our grandchildren.
Approaches to the conflict are overwhelmingly diverse. Some authors still
take the extremist line that the enemy of reason, sometimes called religion, of
ten called superstition, will finally die. Some of them, like Michio Kaku in his Vi
sions: How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century, aggressively claim, or
at least imply, that science will solve all religious problems, including how to
achieve immortality. At the other extreme, John Polkinghorne, a particle physi
cist and priest, brilliantly argues for complete harmony between his version of
hard science and his particular version of Christianity. The more cautious prob
ers, like Ian Barbour in his books that won the Temple Foundation prize, dig
deeply into scientific method and theological arguments, claiming to find, in the
tradition of Whitehead and Hartshorne (process theology), a meeting ground
between some versions of science and some theologies.
In all this literature one finds, predictably, the three traditional ways of deal
ing with intellectual warfare: diplomacy, tolerance, or sheer relativism. In effect
some say: "if you'll grant us our genuinely deserved territory, we won't impose
on yours." An extreme version of such diplomacy denies any common ground.
Stephen Jay Gould, perhaps the most popular of all biological rhetoricians, has


Professing Rhetoric

recently claimed total validity for both religion and science, but with absolutely
no overlap: he invents the acronym NOMA, for Non-Overlapping MAgesteria.
His approach is in effect an analogy for what two nations do if they decide to quit
fighting and say, "You go your way, legitimately, as I go mine, legitimately."
Toleration is a bit different: "I know that my views are the only correct ones,
but I'll not interfere with yoursprovided you don't attack me too strongly."
Most serious scientists spend no time at all attacking religion; probably a larger
percentage of religious believers do attack science, especially evolutionary the
ory, but my hunch is, with no statistical evidence to back it, that most take the
tolerant line: let those folks pursue their narrow bits of truth, while we deal with
the more important stuff. Let them work on the fossils and dinosaurs, while we
work on the soul. And vice versa.
The extreme form of accommodation, complete relativism, is not just toler
ance but indifference. There is no real truth in either direction, no ultimate real
ity, or, even if there is, the differences don't matter. So let's just stop arguing. If
it's all mere guesswork, or dogmatism, why argue about it?4 Whichever of these
lines is taken, the results seem about the same: You go your way, on your mental
territory, and I'll go my way on mine, and if we encounter conflict over the bor
derlines, all we can do is either bargain, tolerate, or just scoff.
Diplomacy, toleration, and skeptical relativism at least diminish the open
warfare, but they simply ignore the plain fact that when one examines the rheto
ric of scientists and religious thinkers, one inevitably finds lots of overlap in the
deepest convictions of the combatants. Science and religion are not totally sepa
rate enterprises, even when they seem to clash. Whenever the deepest of human
interests are engaged, and seem to clash, especially when the clashing is not about
mere physical territory but about ideas and human values, deep rhetorical analy
sis is invited. Even diplomacy gets us nowhere when the quarrel offers no bar
gaining chips, nothing to "give up" in exchange except the very ideas we care
most about; it gets us nowhere if we are discussing whether Plato's Ideas really
exist, or whether God is really dead, or whether pursuers of scientific truth and
pursuers of religious truth can ever discover that they are on the same path, or
whether, contrary to the relativists, truth of any kind really exists, or whether, as
many like Steven Weinberg and Kaku argue, hard science will ultimately arrive
at a final theory that explains everything, and may leave life itself pointless.
What we obviously most need is a sharpening and deepening of a version of
rhetorical study usually at best hinted at: not mere persuasion, and not merely
the more responsible kinds of persuasion, and not the study of how this or that
author has persuaded, but the probing of the deepest convictions underlying
both sides in any conflict, to see where they might join. We need to push the pur
suit of understanding, of genuine listening to the opponent, to its furthest possi
ble limits: to the depths where our ultimate commitments, our "religions," or

Ending the War between Science and Religion


"faiths," or "ultimate passions" may still seem to clash, but perhaps do not. And
because the usual terms in rhetorical studies carry narrower implications than
that pursuit, I propose that we label this kind of rhetorical inquiry with the ugly
neologism, rhetorology: the probing for shared grounds underlying any two ri
val rhetorics.5
Such a quest is itself based on a prejudice: the assumption that there is, after all,
some ground that is shared. I am a passionate believer in scienceof most kinds. I
am also a lifetime pursuer of religious truth. Even though some believers consider
me dodgy, as I use terms like metaphorical, symbolic, or mythological, I still con
sider myself genuinely religious. And I have found that some secularists who think
they are not religious reveal their bias by becoming religiously furious when I claim
that, according to the shared ground I pursue here, they really are.6
What are the rhetorological paths for plowing through this mess? I like to fall
back on a very rough parallel with Aristotle's four causes, which too many
scientismists (see note 4 above) reduce to one or two, efficient and material
causes; they leave out final and formal causes, especially when they are in the
laboratory. If we want to find out where the differences and similarities lie, we
have to ask not just Aristotle's four kinds of questions but at least five.
First, "What are the rival goals or ends of this or that project?" Then, "What
are the rival methods for pursuing the goals?" Then, "What are the rival definitions
of the subject-matter that is being quarreled about?," and then "What are the rival
general principles, or deepest assumptions, underlying the arguments?"what John
Gage at the Rhetorical Society of America (RSA) conference this year called "an
entire belief structure," of both speaker and audience. And finally, borrowing
the word "scene" from Kenneth Burke's dramatistic pentad, which was actually
based on Aristotle's four, we who are living in the time of cultural studies must
add a fifth: the scene of any disputes is the range of cultural influences playing
upon the disputants.
For full rhetorological treatment, one would move through all five variables,
providing examples. For this essay I will just concentrate on the one "cause" that
is most significant in the search for common ground: the definition of the sub
ject, religion.
My definition of genuine religion is: any belief system that reveals the following
seven marks, ortopoi.7 In concentrating on this special kind of definition the other
four rhetorical categories will of course be implicit all along, most obviously the
search for shared general principles. But for now, the question is whether we can
find that all religionists and at least some scientistsand rationalists, and secu
lar humanists, and atheistsin some sense share the marksthe beliefs and experienceseven when they don't know it.
Can anyone think of any terms more polymorphous, even perverse, than "re
ligion," "religious," and "religiously," let alone "spiritual" or "devout" or "be


Professing Rhetoric

lief"? "She practiced the violin religiously for five years, and then quit."
Scientists are often said to reveal "religious fervor" in their pursuit of truth. "I
watch '60 Minutes' religiously," said a letter to The New Yorker recently. "Spiri
tual" was the word that TV star Rosanne thought best fit her experience when
she was offended by the sexism of "Saturday Night Live"! After three frustrating
tries hosting the show, she said, she "got really spiritual" and wrote her protest
letter. We could go on to crazy varieties of use of "faith," "devotion," "believer,"
and so on.
Some who consider themselves religious will not qualify in my definition of
genuine religion. They reduce everything to the question of whether their church
gives them moments of feeling high, whether it serves their private souls. For me
that is at best only one of the seven marks to be found in all genuine religions.
For such reductionists we need some other labelperhaps gee-ligion, with an
exclamation point, or dis-ligion. Some of these, the ones who offer little more
than a self-praising cheering up before Sunday brunch"I'm OK, you're OK!,
the world's OK!"we might call me-ligionsor, in the extreme forms, narcis
sism or even "spiritual autism."8
But there I go already, rejecting one belief system, me-ligions, as a non-religion, when the whole point of my project is to produce more and better
rhetorology among rivals. My judgment dramatizes the fact that no matter
what definition of religion we settle on, we ourselves will be committing, by the
very act of defining, problematic evaluations of the kind I just committed. If our
definition is accepted, that means that a new friend has earned our badge of ap
proval: we join in the "religious community." If our definition is rejected, it will
be because this "outsider" is sure that it was chosen in order to eliminate his or
her absolutely religious religion.
The three standard ways of dealing with this near-chaos of both overlapping
and contradictory definitions are, first, avoid definition entirely, since "religion"
is nothing more than a catchall termwhat I've even heard called a garbage-bag. Richard Rorty has claimed that whenever religion enters the discus
sion, any sensible person will just withdraw because real conversation has been
blocked. Secondly, one can do what I would have done if asked to define religion,
at the age of fourteen or so as an officially devout Mormon: just proclaim the one
true definition that best fits my one true church. Finally, one can attempt an ecu
menical definition, as William James did in his wonderful Varieties: one that un
covers the psychological analogies among seemingly contrasting believers,
without becoming so broad as to be meaningless. Obviously whether or how one
uses the label "religion" in referring to any or all of the movements that I'll touch
on here will depend on which of these paths we choose.9
On the one hand are those who believe you have not in any real sense defined
a religion as genuine until you have described it in its full particularity, including
the precise details of its unique foundation story and its unique rituals. A genu
inely religious believer under this definition, whom we might call a uniquist, is
one who is certain about the unique validity of his or her particular foundation

Ending the War between Science and Religion


story and about most or all of the details of doctrine which that story is claimed
to embody. Like the devout young Mormon Wayne Booth, such uniquists take
for granted that religious inquiry consists mainly in the pursuit of what some
one true story has to say about our origins and how we should live our lives.
Other religions can be tolerated, even respected, but you cannot fit them under
any umbrella that covers you. The best they deserve is something like "mis
guided religions" or "partial religions." In other words, religion for them is not
to be found in any ecumenical or pluralistic definition of common characteristics
but in the full, intra-textual, thick description of the details of one faith, one rit
ual, one communal practice, and one scriptural embeddedness. Can you imag
ine how shocked that young Mormon was when he learned that some of the
benighted churches actually used wine instead of water in the sacrament? Can
you imagine how miserable he felt when a favorite scoutmaster, when on a tour
with the boys, sinfully ordered a cup of coffee?
Any one detail of that kind can seem enough to credit or discredit any religion
as sinful: my religion bans pork, while your fake religion bans alcohol; mine of
fers a sacrament consisting literally of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ, while
yours is so silly as to call such sacrament only metaphorical. And so on. Even
when an ecumenicist like me attempts to do full justice to particularity, the re
sult will always look a bit "thin" from the perspective of such uniquists, since it is
still bound into a project that puts aside superficial differences and the diverse
blessings and rewards they provide, while pursuing the common core. We'll
have a few words about such particularist blessings toward the end here.
Though ecumenicists who are explicitly religious will usually at some point
succumb to making judgments about relative worth, what is at their center is
what is shared, not what makes the different religions peculiar. And if they make
value judgments against some professions of religion, as I have already revealed
that I do, they are still likely to leave not a single one clearly at the top of the hi
erarchy but rather a plurality of the "great religions," contrasted with the not so
great or utterly defective.
Throwing all caution to the winds, I now shall suggest not a quotable defini
tion but seven absolutely essential marks of genuine religion, not only the emo
tional experience but the beliefs underlying those experiencesbeliefs,
assumptions, principles, that I think are found in all who believe in, and practice,
some sort of religion. My list of marks, or topoi, is sure to leave out one or more of
the blessings we come to later. But remember, we're not here defining "good" or
"complete" or "best" religion: its just genuine religion.10
Mark One: Insistence that the world as we experience it is somehow flawed, as
compared with what would be better. Something is wrong, deficient, broken,
inadequate, lacking. Something is rotten not only in the state of Denmark, but
everywhere. As the popular license plate puts it, Shit Happens. (I recently saw a
plate that said "Defecatory Disasters Inevitable").
No one can ever deny that everybody in the world believes in this mark, and
actually experiences it except in those rare moments when all is bliss or ecstatic


Professing Rhetoric

oblivion. Discussing it always reminds me of an experience of my colleague Da

vid Tracy, Catholic theologian, as he met for several years with leaders of other
"great religions" hoping to find common ground. Meeting annually with Bud
dhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Hindusno Mormons, of courseTracy
would return looking discouraged. "We found little or nothing this year." But
one year not long ago he came back much buoyed up, looking positively opti
mistic. When asked what they had agreed on, he said, as I remember it, "We all
agreed that something is radically wrong with creation."11
Mark Two: There is obviously implicit in the notion of wrongness a value
judgment: if something is judged to be wrong, there has to be a notion of some
thing righter: the flaws must be seen in the light of the Unflawed, some truth,
some notion of justice, or "goodness," or of some possible purging of ugliness.
You can't say that something is wrong without implying that some standard for
the judgment exists somewhere other than just in your own preferences. Again
it's obvious that all or almost all scientists would join us here: they have the stan
dard of scientific truth and personal integrity in the pursuit of science. Which
leads us to ...
Mark Three: Insistence that there is some supreme order or cosmos or reality,
something about the whole of things that provides the standard according to
which I make the judgments of Marks One and Two. In other words, when
marks two and threethe "tightness" and the cosmic source of that rightnessdisappear, there is no genuine religion. Some me-ligionists fall off the
boat here, but most scientists do not. They are publishing many books about the
quest for a final theory that will explain everything (Weinberg, Final Theory].
Most of them, even the most ardent atheists, believe in Mark Three: there is a
cosmos. As Matthew Arnold's truncated definition puts it, religion is belief in
some power "greater than ourselves, making for righteousness." The word
"righteous" will put some people off these days, meaning something like dog
matic or arrogant. But what Arnold meant was "something righter than wrong
ness," and every scientist has to believe in that or else give up the quest for truth.
These three marks, intertwined, are nicely revealed by the David Tracy anec
dote: "Something is radically wrong with creation." His report of the discovery
was not just that "something is unpleasant about the world," or "there's a lot of
stuff in the world that I personally disapprove of or grieve over." Everybody be
lieves that: not just devout Muslims and Catholics and Calvinists and Mormons
but also the me-ligionists and atheists and drug addicts and serial killers: every
body thinks that something could and should be better about the worldeven
if it is only that "I ought to have more drugs available" or "I don't have enough
corpses yet buried in my cellar" or "Why can't I get every day the feelings I get in
that new entertainment church on Sunday morning?"
No, to repeat: to qualify as a religion, a belief system has to relate the first
mark to the second and third: it must at least imply a story, some sort of master-narrative that says things like, "Something went wrong with creation," or
"Something ought to have been righter," or at least "I can see what would have

Ending the War between Science and Religion


been better." It's not just "I don't like some things about it," but rather, "Some
things are wrong when judged by what would be right, by what a full rightness
would demand, by what the whole of creation as I see itmy cosmos, my God,
my view of natureimplies as the way things should be but are not."
In more traditional language, there was, and in some sense there still is, a fall.
It is a brokenness, a decline from what would have been better to what is in fact
at best a combination of the bettersome idealand the worse.12
Lamentation thus moves toward religion only when it is linked with the sec
ond and third marksonly when the lamenter realizes not just that shit hap
pens but that shit's happening, and its definition in relation to what is not shit
but genuine nourishment, is somehow built into the very structure of things:
some cosmos. Shit has always happened, from the beginning (or, for some, al
most from the beginning), but there was/is a place from which the fall can be
judged as fall. It is defined by an elusive notion of its opposite, an order or cosmos
which in some sense judges the happening as wrong.
Mark Four, emerging from the first three: All who are genuinely religious (not
just complaining or reveling) will somehow see themselves as in some inescap
able sense a part of the brokenness.
It's not just other peoplethose terrorists out there, saywho are out of
joint. 7 am. I'm not as good or kind or effective or smart or learned or organized
or courteous or alert or wise as I ought to be. Even the best of us, even the stron
gest, the purist, the humblest, are inherently lacking, deficient, in need of fur
ther repair, or if you prefer the words, we are sinful or guilty. I am an inseparable
part of a cosmos that produced this flawed fraction of itself, me, including in that
fraction a sense of regret about my flaws. (I may or may not feel deep gratitude
to my "creator" for creating me, individually: that mark, prominent in many re
ligions, belongs in the list of non-universal "blessings" below.)
As we see in all honest scientists, mark four for them is revealed as lamenta
tion about personal ignorance: what I don't know and ought to know! Why am
I not closer to scientific perfection?
Mark Five, following inescapably from the first four: The cosmos I believe in,
the cosmos I may or may not feel gratitude toward for its gift of my very exis
tence, the cosmos that is in its manifestations in my world in some degree brokenmy cosmos calls upon me to do something about the brokenness.
I must do what I can in the repair job, working to heal both my own deficien
cies and to aid my fellow creatures in healing theirs. In some scientific religions
that I discuss elsewhere, this sometimes means no more than "I have a duty to
work at removing my own ignorance." More often even for scientists it becomes
a moral command to remove the world's ignorance. For some official religions,
as in versions of Judaism and in the Mormonism still naggingly active in my
soul, it produces floods of daily self-reproach: that which I have done I should
not have done, and that which I have not done I should have done. In many de
nominations, perhaps especially Mormonism, it produces missionary work. But
regardless of our various feelings, we are granted, by any genuine religion, a


Professing Rhetoric

sense of at least this one indisputable meaning of life: a purpose that transcends,
while often overlapping and reinforcing, our particular feelings of the moment.
I've never met a genuine scientist who does not share this sense of a passionate
purpose for improvementof something.13
Mark Six, an inescapable corollary of the other five: Whenever my notion of
what my cosmos requires of me conflicts with my immediate wishes or impulses,
I ought to surrender to its commandments. Rather than pursuing what is easiest
or most pleasant or most reassuring to my present sensations or wishes, I obey or
pursue It. Our impulses, our immediate wishes, ought to be overridden when
ever they conflict with responsibility to cosmic commandments. We have obli
gations not just to others but to the Other. Religious talk dwells on this; for
scientists it is often only implicit. But next time you meet a scientist who is furi
ous about a colleague who has cheated, ask him or her why cheating is really
wrong. For example, if I am a scientist, and I am tempted to make a reputation
or fortune by falsifying my results, I have an absolute command, not just from
my conscience but from my cosmos, to combat the temptation.
Finally, Mark Seven, a mark that must have been on every reader's mind: the
psychological or emotionalfeelings connected with all of this: specifically, all gen
uine religions either openly or subtly offer spiritual highs that result from con
tact with the ultimate, the cosmos, the whole of things. I could fill the rest of this
talk with quotations from scientists about how thrilled they are when they make
full contact with what they consider reality or scientific truth or the challenge of
the ultimate mysteries or beauty.14
Most religions have offered in their myths, unlike the truncated stories told
by many sciences, explicit acknowledgment of finally irresolvable mystery, since
the wholeness of the invisible cosmos is beyond total rational demonstration.
The supreme order was always some kind of numinous mysterium tremendum.
(Otto 130.) Some contemporary scientists have captured something of this
mysterious wonder, admitting that no human being will ever grasp the "incom
prehensible" whole. But many like Kaku aggressively claim that "in principle"
our "religion" will capture it all. Even they usually reveal, however, a spiritual
sense of awe or glory or gratitude for that "all."
Non-Essential Blessings or Rewards
It's obvious that many religionists will feel impatient about all that I've left
out here: this or that reward or blessing that their religion considers essential.
Even among common groundists who might happily accept my seven marks,
there would be striking differences as soon as we turn to the relative value of var
ious psychological or emotional or ethical rewards in addition to the spiritual
highs. The shared marks leave out what many see as something essential, or
even the one true definitional mark:
my sense of gratitude for Jesus's love;

Ending the War between Science and Religion


my joy when wearing the holy shroud;

my passion for the blessed sacraments;
my gratitude for the rules of behavior my Church provides, the
character-guidance: courage, hope, love, charity, humility;
my love of the sacred text, my Bible, my Book of Mormon;
my bliss when joining a congregation in ritual or song.
The most decisive omission is of the "blessing" that is perhaps the most
off-putting for most scientists: the comfort of belief in a God who intervenes in
human affairs, willing and able to violate natural laws. A great majority of
Americans believe that if and when we pray in the right way, God hears us and
intervenes, allocating good fortune, Providence, to us according to what we de
serve, while punishing or ignoring those who don't pray. For many this is not
only one of the blessings but absolutely the number one mark of religious belief:
if you believe in the Divine Intervener, you are religious; if you don't believe in a
Meddler, you're an atheist.
A full rhetorological probing would ask just what both sides in this dispute
mean by the notion of Providence, or Meddling. What ground is shared by those
whose Cosmos, God, intervenes, and those whose Cosmos, Nature, does not?
To grapple with this conflict would require a whole book. I can only suggest,
in concluding, that we should all do some tough rhetorological thinking about
just what is meant by Providence and Intervention. All of us in the long run will,
I hope, give up the notion that if I pray to God, as the hurricane approaches, He
will save me while killing all of my neighbors just because they didn't con
sciously pray to Him. But should not the true scientist be grateful for the fact
that some power "greater than ourselves," some Cosmos,provided the conditions
of his or her research, and stillprovides, daily, the whole range of possibilities that
life itself yields? If I'm saved in the hurricane, my Godthe range of blessed
possibilitiesprovided the circumstances. If I prayed for a condition of soul
suitable for dealing with disasters, my God provided the condition of my soul en
abling me to utter that prayer.15
Escaping such roiling waters, can we not at least hope that by practicing
rhetorology of some kind, pursued more skillfully than I've done here, we can di
minish the pointless demonizing that diverse "sides" commit, as they attempt to
destroy the other "sides"?
1. This is a shortened version of a talk given at the Rhetorical Society of America (RSA) confer
ence in May 2000. Another version was delivered at a conference on religious rivalries, at Notre
Dame in June; it will appear next year in a collection edited by James Boyd White. One version is in
the South African Journal for the Study of Religion, Vol. 14(1), 2001. Other versions, especially of my
attempt at a definition of religion, have appeared elsewhere, and will continue to appearperhaps
finally in book form.


Professing Rhetoric

2. See my Works Cited list, which refers to some works not relied on here.
3. I have a shelf eight feet long containing books and articles on the subject, some from earlier cen
turies but most of them published since Capra's The Tao of Physics, in 1975. The wealthy Temple Foun
dation is now giving $100,000 prizes for the best books relating science and religion; for example,
4. For a splendid questioning of utter cultural relativism, probing the religious issues it raises, see
5. Maybe you can think of a better word, but I can't: "dialogue" is too narrow, "dialogology" even
uglier, "discourse analysis" totally uninformative and unchallenging: "rhetoristics," a failed effort.
"Dialectics" or "dialecticalism" are perhaps the best rivals, but they seem to leave rhetoric behind.
And so on to through hermeneutics, or what Steven Mailloux has called cultural hermeneutics: still
misleading. So why not rhetorology.
6. I don't like that word religionist, but it's hard to find a better one: call them the believers? well,
scientists are believers? the faithful? Well, scientists are pursuing their faith. The devout? Sounds pe
jorative. The theologians? Sounds too exclusive. So it will have to be religionistseven though one of
my dictionaries says that that word sometimes means simply bigots. For those who want the term reli
gionist to mean "bigot" I would like to revive a term I invented decades ago, scientismist, for bigoted sci
entists. Greg Wilson, in his talk at the 2000 RSA conference, referred to one current branch of
statisticians as sometimes called "religious bigots."
7. If the word topics had not been corrupted by history, it would go well here.
8. Jacques Derrida, in The Gift of Death, uses the term irresponsible orgiasts for the me-ligionists,
those who have no sense of responsibility to "the other."
9. One of the very best discussions of the ambiguities in all religious languagea kind of "decons
truction" and "reconstruction"is in Matthew Arnold's Literature and Dogma, a book that William
James knew well.
10. As soon as you begin to add the various "blessings" that this or that denomination claims to
grant, you move closer to uniquism, and then Wittgenstein's notion of "family resemblances" must
take over: this handful overlaps with that handful, which in turn overlaps with a further handful, but
none share all qualities with all the others.
11. I can be quite sure that Tracy would by now report this experience rather differently. After all,
he did not witness his own face on his return from the two different experiences. And I wonder how
Leibnitz would respond, as he worked out his theory of "the best of all possible worlds." But his whole
project was based on the acknowledgment that when judged from the human perspective, a very
great deal "went wrong" in creation.
12. Some Buddhists, I gather, would reverse this temporal scheme: not a "fall" but a "rise." But to
do that does not destroy the real meaning of "something went wrong": it either was or could have been
better. (My hints of a kind of temporality hereechoing the Bible storyof the Fall, needn't be taken
literally: as Kenneth Burke makes clear in The Rhetoric of Religion, stories about temporal rising and
falling can always be translated into non-temporal, vertical ladders: temporally, we were up there and
now we're down here trying to climb back up; non-temporally we're standing on that ladder, in a
fixed, "eternal" moment.
13. The particle physicist Steven Weinberg has expressed the fear that the sense of purpose in life
may well disappear, for him and other devout scientists, once they have obtained the full "final theory"once the scientific quest is completed. His religion may die once its goal is reached. Many cos
mologists, however, disagree with this qualification of Mark Five (see Lightman).
14. Both words, mystery, and beauty fill Steven Weinberg's book, Dreams of a Final Theory.
15. We have to admit that God also provided the conditions that led to the hurricanewhich
lands us back in the old messy waters of theodicyhow to pardon God for creating evil.
Works Cited
Arnold, Matthew. Literature and Dogma: An Essay Towards A Better Apprehension of the Bible. London:
Smith, 1873. Popular ed., 1883.
Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. Rev. and expanded edition of
Gifford Lectures. San Francisco: Harper, 1997.

Ending the War between Science and Religion


. Religion in an Age of Science. The Gifford Lectures. San Francisco: Harper, 1990.
Burke, Kenneth. The Rhetoric of Religion. Boston: Beacon, 1961.
Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. Trans. David Wills. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1995. Trans. of Donner
la mort, 1992.
Gage, John. "Why Rhetoricians Should Teach Dialectic." Unpublished talk at RSA Conf., Washington,
D.C., 2000.
Gould, Stephen Jay. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New "York: Ballantine, 1999.
James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. The Gifford Lectures. New York: Longmans,
1902. Scholarly edition published in The Works of WilliamJames, Frederick Burkhardt, ed. (Cam
bridge: Harvard U, 1985), v. 13.
Kaku, Michio. Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the Twenty-First Century. New York: Anchor, 1997.
Lightman, Alan, and Roberta Brawer. Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists. Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 1990.
Otto, Rudolf. The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Re
lation to the Rational. Trans. John W. Harvey. Oxford U, 1923. Orig. Das Heilige, 1917.
Polkinghorne, John. The Faith of a Physicist. Reflections of a Bottom-up Thinker. Princeton UP, 1994.
(Gifford Lectures, 1993-94.)
. Belief in God in an Age of Science. New Haven: Yale U, 1998.
Rorty, Richard. "Religion as Conversation Stopper." Common Knowledge 3:1, Spring, 1994. 1-6.
Shweder, Richard. "Post-Nietzschian Anthropology: The Idea of Multiple Objective Worlds." In
Krausz, Michael, ed. Relativism: Interpretation and Confrontation. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame,
1989. 99-139Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory. New York: Pantheon, 1992.
. The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe. New York: Basic, 1976.
Suggested Readings
Anyone who knows anything about this subject is sure to object to the omission of some important work hereespecially of diverse "enlightenment" works that portrayed the relation as essentially a war, with science always win
Attfield, Robin. God and the Secular: A Philosophical Assessment of Secular Reasoning from Bacon to Kant.
Cardiff, Wales: Salisbury, 1978.
Bonnor, William. The Mystery of the Expanding Universe. New York: Macmillan, 1964.
Bowler, Peter J. Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain. Chicago:
U of Chicago P, 2001.
Bronowski, Jacob. Science and Human Values. Rev. ed. New York: Harper, 1965.
Capra, Fritjof. The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysti
cism. New York: Random, 1975.
Davis, Paul. God and the New Physics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983
Dewey, John. A Common Faith. New Haven: Yale U, 1934.
. "Religion, Science, and Philosophy." Problems of Men. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.
Draper, John William. History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. New York: D. Appleton, 1974.
Drees, C. Willem. Religion, Science, and Naturalism. Cambridge U, 1996.
Einstein, Albert. "Science and Religion." In Ferris, 828-35.
Ferrarotti, Franco. Faith Without Dogma: The Place of Religion in Postmodern Societies. London: Transac
tion, 1993.
Ferris, Timothy, ed. The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics. Boston, Little Brown,
Gilkey, Langdon. Naming the Whirlwind: The Renewal of God-Language. Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill,
Gross, Alan G. The Rhetoric of Science. Cambridge: Harvard U, 1990.
Inchausti, Robert. Thomas Merton's American Prophecy. Albany: State U of New York P, 1998.
Jaki, Stanley L. Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe. Rev. ed. Edinburgh:
Scottish Academic P, 1986.


Professing Rhetoric

Jones, William Powell. The Rhetoric of Science: A Study of Scientific Ideas and Imagery in Eighteenth-Century
English Poetry. Berkeley: U of California P, 1966.
Kant, Immanuel. Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. Available in innumerable translations.
Orig: Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft, 2nd ed. 1794.
Murdock, Iris. The Sovereignty of God. London, Routledge, 1969
Polanyi. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. London: Routledge, 1958.
Pratt, Vernon. Religion and Secularisation. New York: Macmillan, 1970.
Richardson, Mark W., and Wildman, Wesley J., eds. Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue.
New York: Routledge, 1996.
Wright, Robert. Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information. New York:
Harper, 1988.

University of Houston

The Open Question of the Conversation

Between Science and Religion:
A Response to Wayne Booth's

I begin with two short answers to Wayne's final questions. First, "Must the
true scientist give up the notion that some power, greater than ourselves, pro
vided the conditions of his or her research and provides, daily, the whole range
of possibilities that life itself yields?" No, I don't see any incompatibility with a
scientist both believing in this power and rigorously pursuing his or her empir
ical or theoretical inquiries into some aspect of our world. Two, "Is not the sci
entist who believes that a given science can solve all of our questions exhibiting
rank superstition, over-belief,uberglaube?" Yes. Both of these questions engage
a common theme, which is the hubris behind the belief in the self-sufficiency of
science. Both are traditional yet postmodern concerns with recognizing the
limits of science or, by expansion, the limits of any human enterprise. Both
questions, in the terms that Wayne has just developed, are religious. And, for
me, both point to an ancient text, Oepidus Tyranus. I have always read that play
as a tragedy exploring the pollution that followed inexorably on an overconfi
dence in a human intelligence to be adequate to the world that we inherit and
inhabit. It is Oedipus's overvaluing, however well-intentioned, of human rea
soning that lies at the center of that tragedy. He assumes that all problems that
we confront are similar in kind to the riddle that the Sphinx poses and that we
are the answer to our problem. He assumes, in effect, that all problems are rid
dles, and it is his inability to distinguish between that which is mysterious and
that which is puzzling that creates the difficulties that ultimately undo him.
And like so many of Sophocles's great protagonists Oedipus prides himself on
his unwillingness to yield, to listen to another. And, as is so often the case in
Sophoclean tragedy, the resistance of the protagonist to persuasion raises seri
ous questions for rhetoric. How does one talk to Oedipus? Wayne has offered
one possibility. I would like in my response to explore how his answer suggests
an important role for rhetoric in the controversies between science and reli


Professing Rhetoric

gion, and then I would like to explore one difficulty that his search for a com
mon ground encounters.
Before I begin, however, I wanted to mention that when I was first ap
proached by Fred to be a respondent, I was reluctant and said quite frankly that I
did not consider myself particularly qualified to speak about either science or re
ligion. My only claim to expertise in these areas is that I am a lapsed Catholic and
that I failed miserably as a biology-chemistry pre-med major. My last contact
with science, some thirty or so years ago, was an organic chemistry lab in which I
worked for two weeks on an experiment only to throw away the distillate that I
was supposed to have produced and to save the water that I was supposed to
have discarded. So to state the obvious, I bring dubious credentials. Not that my
less than wonderful credentials create any qualms that would necessarily stop
me from making any pronouncements, but I just wanted to be up front with my
own limitations.
I finally agreed to be a respondent because I find Wayne's larger and on-going intellectual project of determining common ground for important discus
sions on topics that divide us to be one absolutely essential for a democracy, and I
hold a belief that I suspect many of you share, which is that rhetoric as both a
theoretical and a practical discipline has much to offer in the resituation of con
flicts from the unproductive paradigms in which they are often placed to ones
more amenable to serious exchanges.
It is not that I have a simple faith in rhetoric or human reason. In fact, I am
skeptical about any large scale advance in understanding. (It is not an accident
that I read Sophocles.) I believe that Aristotle's definition of rhetoric not as the
art of persuasion but as the art that seeks "the available means of persuasion in
each case"in its recognition that there are cases in which, for a variety of rea
sons, persuasion is not possibleis a crucial starting point for anyone who is se
rious about rhetoric. But this definition cuts two ways. If it warns us to be
cautious or realistic about the possibilities for reasoned exchange, it also sets us
the task of vigilantly looking for ways to open serious conversations.
One of our tasks as rhetors is to see if we can locate these available means, to
see if we can create conditions for genuine discourse. For in such moments of
genuine discourse we surprise ourselves and, if we are lucky, we see the world dif
ferently. One of the mysteries of logos is that in can transform disagreement into
commonality, that it can, on occasion, allow otherness to enter our lives and
make demands on us that we account for ourselves. So even if I don't feel quali
fied to speak as an expert on either science or religion, I am engaged philosophi
cally by the reach and purpose of Wayne's project, and I deeply admire his
courage or possibly hubris in undertaking this project.
One aspect of Wayne's project that engages me is his willingness to push be
yond the immediately available responses to the seemingly unbridgeable gap
between the concerns of religion and those of science. When disagreement cuts
so deep, it is initially appealing to move toward stances of enlightened tolerance
or a cautious diplomacy. But the problem with both these responses, as Wayne

The Open Question of the Conversation Between Science and Religion


points out, is that they preclude serious discursive exchange. When we find that
our solution to disagreement or misunderstanding is to either tacitly or overtly
agree to disagree, we, in effect, acknowledge an anxiety that maybe we do not
share a world and that we would prefer not to have to deal with that fact. And al
though there are many times that such a cautious suspension of conversation is a
good solution (only the most obtuse bore would insist that all disagreements be
talked through), when the disagreement involves those beliefs around which
people organize their lives, then a silence of compromise can easily become unhealthythat which is not voiced does not go away but is repressed only to
emerge anew in some disguised form as a social analogue to a personal neurosis.
So, if it is at all possible, we need to figure out ways for respectful but serious conversationconversation that explores what is genuinely held in common while
it respects fully the differences. The conflicts between religion and science are
conflicts that those interested in rhetoric should address, and one of the contri
butions of rhetoric is to see if these controversies can be relocated through an in
vestigation of the necessary conditions for their voicing.
Wayne's solutionto go beyond a consideration of persuasion to locate ways
in which we can collectively probe "the deepest convictions underlying both
sides in any conflict"leads him to move past the concerns that structure the
ordinary practices of rhetoric and seek a meta-position in an effort at what he has
labeled "rhetorology." As I understand it, what separates rhetorology from rhet
oric is that rhetorologist cannot assume the existence of a set of topoi that could
structure a conversation but must, instead, discover or create those topoi. The
rhetorologist does not give instruction on how to function better or more artisti
cally within the confines of normal discourse but invites us to reflect upon the
conditions that are necessary if we are to risk understandings essential to who we
are in order to try to understand better both others and ourselves. I might add
that such a project seems to me to be very much within the tradition of Kenneth
Burke, and I am led to think immediately of Burke's monumental work in the
Grammar and Rhetoric of Motives in which he sought to influence, by creative relo
cation, the major global political controversy of the mid-twentieth century
(namely the Cold War) by redefining war as a "special case of peace" as a perver
sion of peace. This is the magic of rhetoric: where those who are unrhetorical
would attribute aggression to the human race as an essential and natural part of
our collective psychology, Burke simply reverses this move (defining aggression
as inextricably involved in cooperation) and defines war in terms of peace. I see
Wayne operating in this tradition: where others see primarily conflict and disso
nance, Wayne looks for what is or can be held in common. And like Burke,
Wayne is ever mindful of the recalcitrance within the situation, ever mindful
that however skillful the rhetorologist may be, he or she cannot simply will a
new reality, even if it holds the promise of being a superior one, but must deal
with us in our full complexity.
So Wayne begins with two terms: science and religion. One of these terms, science,
seems less controversial and hence receives less of his attention. In his search for


Professing Rhetoric

common ground, Wayne does not look so much for what science and religion hold
in common as he attempts to establish that many (sometimes he seems to want to
argue that all) serious scientists, in fact, have conducted their very pursuit of sci
ence within a set of experiences that are religious. What science and religion share,
then, is religious experiencethat is their common ground. Needless to say, this is
a claim that Wayne reasonably assumes will generate opposition both from many
scientists and from practitioners of religion. As rhetorologist, what he must do is
encourage both groups to look at religious experience with eyes that are new and
to test what they see against the felt experience that structures their involvement
in the world.
Wayne's solution is to avoid the trap of providing yet another definition of re
ligion which itself would simply beg the question of shared experience and
equally to avoid framing his discussion of religion in terms of the emotional con
tent of personal experience or in terms of the blessings that follow from certain
religious practices or beliefs. Instead, he will develop something that I would
like to call an analytic of religious experience. He sets forth seven topics that es
tablish the conditions necessary for religious experiences and that form the basis
for a larger master narrative that informs religious understanding. In effect,
Wayne locates the conditions for a religious conversation.
I don't want simply to recapitulate his discussion; rather, I want just to focus
briefly on its master narrative. In this narrative, religious thought arises from an
experience of the world as broken, flawed, or incomplete. This brokenness ex
tends to ourselves and presents itself as a task. Each of us, at some level, feels a
need to address this brokennesswe feel this as, to borrow from Kant, a cate
gorical imperative. To feel this brokenness as a demand that needs to be ad
dressed is to participate in a religious experience.
However, if we all (or most of us) feel such a demand, what then distinguishes
science from religion? Here Wayne is less explicit, but he clearly implies that sci
ence feels the need to address the categorical imperative to respond to our
brokenness by attempting to know the world. Thus, science becomes a particu
lar mode of response within the universal category of response that is religion.
Religion marks our need to respond to creation. Again I am reminded of Burke,
who once claimed that it makes all the difference if one reads creation as a past
participle or as a present participle. If we read creation to mean a created, then
we assume that the creation is complete and that if we are to become actors in
such a universe, our task is to understand the laws that structure its creation. We
become scientists. If, on the other hand, we read creation as a present participle,
we see the universe as a creating and assume that the universe is not yet com
plete. If we view the universe this way, then we naturally seek to influence at
least the direction of the creating. For Burke, that means we become creators
ourselves; that is, we become poets. In the vocabulary that Wayne has been de
veloping, however, it means that we respond to the world religiously. Does this
then mean (and I ask this as a genuine question) that we can distinguish science
and religion as two different responses to a commonly felt demand to address

The Open Question of the Conversation Between Science and Religion


brokenness? Does science see its task as to respond to this condition by render
ing the world knowable, while religion understands that it must respond to this
demand through action? Can we talk about science and religion in terms of
knowledge and action? There seems much that is promising here.
Even as I attempt to get clear on what Wayne is exploring and on how I am to
understand that, I come back to an issue that has been haunting me. If we create
the conditions for a meaningful discussion between those with deep commit
ments to science and those with equally deep commitments to religion by estab
lishing the universality of a set of experiences that we see as generically or
formally the grounds for any religious experience, do we so generalize our ac
count of religious experience that we appear to many who are deeply religious to
eviscerate their understanding of what is special and unique about their religious
experience? Wayne explicitly addresses this problem. He sees two broad yet dif
fering approaches to the discussion of religion. There are those, like himself, who
seek to locate the common ground and those that he labels as uniquist or
particularist, those for whom religion is inescapably grounded in a set of per
sonal experiences that do not generalize. Their religious experiences are not seen
or felt as instances of some larger formal condition.
I find myself returning to this divide quite simply because it inevitably leads
us back to a major, probably the major, difference between some practitioners of
science and some practitioners of religion. Being a skillful rhetor, let alone a
skillful rhetorologist, Wayne has created ways of promoting talk about our
shared religious experience of the world by carefully not mentioning the role of a
personal god. However, as always, Wayne is scrupulous in his development of
the full complexity of what he seeks to address, and, as such, he acknowledges
the explosiveness that surrounds the issue of providential intervention. He ac
knowledges further that it is the issue of providential intervention (the action of
a personal God who is willing at times to intervene to help those who believe)
that has created "the most pointless battles in the destructive warfare between
the religious and those who think they are not religious." So the question be
comes: how do we address this issue? Is this simply a difference that needs to be
respected? Is it a difference that will ultimately doom conversation between
those who are religious and those who do not see themselves as religious?
Even though I raise the question, I am not going to propose any immediate
answer. I hope this is not simply evasion on my part. Rather, I think that what
Wayne has accomplished is to make that an open question. What I mean by that
is that we don't know the answer in advance. What Wayne has offered us is a
way to open the conversation. But those of us who are students of rhetoric can
assume that the outcome of the conversation cannot be known to us in advance.
This takes us back to the issue of risk. What Wayne is doing, as I see it, is creat
ing a set of circumstances in which it becomes reasonable to risk ourselves, to
risk understandings that are crucial to how we see ourselves. What he is allow
ing us to do is to find out with whom we can talk. He does not and cannot tell us
where those conversations will lead. That is why the title to his talk must end


Professing Rhetoric

with a question mark. We are returned the sagacity of Aristotle defining rhetoric
not in terms of persuasion but in terms of the search for the available means of
persuasion. It is this search that rhetoric can offer to those who advocate science
and those who structure their lives according to the beliefs of a particular reli
gion. It is this search that Wayne has opened.
I had originally ended here, but I woke up at five this morning and realized
that I had not yet said exactly what I wanted to say. I realized that I had in some
half-conscious way left the content of Wayne's open question. But in that
strange combination of early morning haze and lucidity, my unconscious al
lowed me to finally hear the question that Wayne addressed to me. It was, in
deed, a high risk question, maybe even an impertinent one. Wayne was asking:
What in your life do you hold sacred? He was proposing that we take this ques
tion seriously, and he was offering us a way to attend to this question with an ap
propriate rigor and generosity. I realized that, in fact, he had just begun that

Author Index

Adams, Timothy Dow, 138

AdlerKassner, Linda, 177
AguileraHellweg, Max, 96
Ahrentzen, Sherry, 104, 105
Alcorn.John D., 68
Andersen, Kristi, 52
Anderson, Ray Lynn, 96
Anson, Chris M., 121, 177
Antczak, Frederick J., 146
Anthony, Kathryn, 104
Aristotle, 34,76, 138,205
Arnold, Matthew, 232
Aronowitz, Stanley, 18
Ashin, Mark, 18
Atwill, Janet M., 28
Augst, Thomas, 5360
Aune, James Arnt, 110, 11

Bacon, Jacqueline, 43
Balir, Hugh, 96
Bancroft, George, 44
Barber, Jonathan, 82, 84
Barbour, Ian, 232
Barthes, Roland, 153
Bartkevicius, Joselyn, 153
Bastionelli, Pierre, 96
Battersby, Christine, 105
Baudrillard, Jean, 169
Baumlin, Tita French, 121

Bell, Alexander Melville, 82, 84

Benjamin, Walter, 153
Benn, Alvin, 68
Bennett, Beth S., 2934
Benson, Thomas W., 146
Bercovitch, Sacvan, 44
Bergson, Henri, 153
Berkhofer, Robert F., 44
Berkon, Susan Fondiler, 105
Berlant, Lauren, 44
Berlin, Isaiah, 213
Bernstein, Melviee, 84
Bernstein, Richard, 221
Bieder, Robert E., 44
Biesecker, Barbara, 28
Bilsky, Manuel, 18
Birmingham, Elizabeth, 97104
Birrell, James, 105
Bitzer, Lloyd F., 146
Bizzell, Patricia, 84, 138, 192
Blair, Hugh, 79, 84
Blanchot, Maurice, 169
Blassingame, John, 60
Blight, David W., 68
Blitefield, Jerry, 6976
Bloomer, Jennifer, 97, 105
Bolinger, Dwight, 84
Bolter, Jay David, 35
Bonner, Ethan, 192
Booth, Wayne C., 146, 223231
Bowdon, Melody, 171177
Branch, Taylor, 68
Brawer, Roberta, 232

Author Index


Brooke, Robert, 121

Brooks, H. Allen, 105

Burgh, John, 79, 84

Burke, Kenneth, 19, 35, 232

Butler, Charles, 78, 84

Butler, Judith, 114, 169

Cahn, Michael, 205

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs, 44, 96

Garden, Maren, 114

Carlacio, Jami, 155162

Carroll, Lewis, 153

Catt, Carrie Chapman, 52

Caudill, Sally, 205

Chapman, James, 84

Chappell, Eve, 52

Chaput, Catherine, 179186

Chesebrough, David, 60

Child, Lydia Maria, 37, 44

ChiseriStrater, Elizabeth, 192

Cicero, 84, 138

Clark, Gregory, 35

Clover, Carl, 96

Cmiel, Kenneth, 60

Code, Lorraine, 114

Collins, James, 192

Collins, Patricia Hill, 129

Colm, Alan, 68

Comfort, Juanita Rodgers, 123129

Comstock, Andrew, 82, 84, 85

Condit, Carl, 105

Condit, Celeste Michelle, 162, 205

Congleton, J.E., 19

Conrad, Charles, 146

Corbett, Edward P.J., 11, 138

Corbin, Juliet, 121

Coulter, E. Merton, 68

Crowley, Sharon, 28, 68, 177

Cuff, Dana, 105

Dare, Lane, 121

Darley, John M., 138

Davidson, Donald, 221

Davie, Donald, 153

Davis, Robert Gorham, 19

Denton, Robert E., Jr., 146

Derrida, Jaques, 232

Dewey, John, 52

Dickson, Barbara, 96

Didion, Joan, 153

Dillard, Annie, 153

Dobson, Eric John, 78, 80, 85

Douglass, Frederick, 60

Dykema, Karl W., 19

Eadie, William, 28

Eberly, Rosa A., 11

Edmundson, Mark, 192

Ellis, Carolyn, 129

Elsasser, Nan, 192

Ely, Mary, 52

Emery, Daniel L., 207213

Enos, Theresa, 28

Faigley, Lester, 192

Faulkner, William, 153

Feenberg, Andrew, 121

Fennel, Barbara A., 221

Fisher Walter R., 146

Fishman, Stephen, 52

Flaherty, Michael G., 129

Flannery, Kathryn T., 107113

Fleming, David, 162

Fletty, Valborg, 52

Foucault, Michel, 186

Frederickson, Mark, 105

Gage, John, 232

Gaines, Robert, 205

Garver, Eugene, 146

Gass, William, 153

Gates, Bill, 11

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., 44, 162


Author Index
Gee, James Paul, 192

Geere, Anne Ruggles, 177

Genentte, Gerard, 138

Gill, Brendan, 105

Gillam, Alice, 155162

Giroux, Henry, 18

Glair, Carole, 68

Glaser, Barney G., 121

Glejzer, Richard, 163169

Glen, Cheryl, 105

Glynn, Anne, 105

Goggin, Maureen Daly, 28

Gorgias, 96

Gose, Ben, 186

Gould, Stephen Jay, 232

Graff, Gerald, 11, 19,60

Grimaldi, William, 205

Groat, Linda, 105

Gross, Alan, 221

Grossman, Elizabeth, 105

Gussman, Deborah, 3743, 44

Habermas, Jiirgen, 11, 192

Halloran, S. Michael, 35

Hankins, S.R., 146

Haraway, Donna J., 221

Harding, Sandra, 221

Hariman, Robert, 35, 205

Harkin, Patricia, 192

Harris, Wendell V., 129

Harrison, Peter, 105

Hart, John, 78, 79, 85

Hart, Roderick P., 35

Haskins, Ekaterina V, 199205

Havelock, Eric A., 35, 205

Hayden, Dawn, 121

Hazlitt, McCrea, 18

Heilbrun, Carolyn G., 114

Herndl, Carl G., 215221, 221

Herzberg, Bruce, 84, 138, 177

Hibbert, Christopher, 138

hooks, bell, 114, 192

Horwitz, Tony, 68

HowardPitney, David, 44

Howell, Wilbur Samuel, 85

Howells, Helen Elizabeth, 131137

Hughes, Francesca, 105

Irvine, Patricia, 192

Isocrates, 205

Ives, Sumner, 19

Jackson, R. Michael, 8795

Jameson, Frederic, 11

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, 96, 146

Jarratt, Susan C., 121, 138

Jasinski, James, 146

Jeppeson, Marsha S., 68

Johannesen, Richard L., 146

Johnson, Donald Leslie, 105

Johnson, Grace A., 52

Johnson, Nan, 60

Jones, James Pickett, 68

Jordan, June, 129

Baku, Ichiro, 232

Archer, Carolyn L., 44

Basely, James L., 235240

Kay, Jane Holt, 105

Kelly, George, 19

Demode, Frank, 76

King, Stephen, 96

Kings ley, Karen, 105

Kinneavy, James L., 76

Kipnis, Laura, 96

Klaus, Carl H., 129, 153

Klien, Stephen A., 139145, 146

Kuhn, Thomas, 221

Lacan, Jacques, 169

Lampe, Gregory, 61

Langer, Susanne I., 153

Lanham, Richard A., 138, 162


Author Index

Larsen, Anne R., 138

Larson, Paul, 105

Latour, Bruno, 221

Lauer, Janice M., 28

Leff, Michael, 35

Lewis, William F., 146

Lightman, Alan, 232

Lilla, Mark, 213

Lloyd, Donald, 19

Lorde, Audre, 129

Lu, Minzhan, 192

Lucaites, John L., 205

Lyotard, JeanFranois, 169, 192

Mailloux, Steven, 28, 35

Marx, Karl, 10, 186

Mastin, Frank, J.r, 68

May, James M., 138

McCarthy, Lucille, 52

McCoy, Robert T., 105

McGee, Michael C., 146

McKoski, Nancy, 1318

McMillan, James B., 19

Metzger, David, 169

Miller, Carolyn, 28, 96, 221

Miller, Susan, 28, 192

Mitchell, W.J.T., 96

Mooney, Michael, 213

Moran, Charles, 121

Moten, Derryn E., 6368

Mouffe, Chantal, 162

Murphy, John M., 146

Nash, Gary B., 44

Nash, George H., 19

Neff, Joyce Magnotto, 105120, 121

Nelson, Gary, 28

Nelson, Francis W, 19

Nelson, Norman E., 19

Nespor, Jan, 192

Norton, Janice, 2128

Ober, Josiah, 205

Ohmann, Richard, 192

Ong, Walter, 35

Orwell, George, 153

Otto, Rudolf, 232

Park, Maud Wood, 52

Pearce, Roy Harvey, 44

Percy, Walker, 153

Polkinghorne, John, 232

Popper, Karl, 221

Porter, Carolyn, 60

Porter, James E., 35

Porter, Rev. E., 84

Postman, Neil, 192

Poulakos, John, 76

Poulakos, Takis, 206

Pratt, Mary Louise, 192

Priestley, Joseph, 79, 85

Pucci, Enrico, Jr., 68

Purcell, Edward A., Jr., 19

Puttenham, George, 78, 85

Queen Victoria, 132, 138

Quintilian, 85, 138

Ratcliffe, Krista, 162

Readings, Bill, 192

Reitzes, Lisa, 105

Reynolds, John Frederick, 35

Reynolds, Nedra, 114, 121, 138

Rich, Adrienne, 114

Ringer, Fritz I., 11

Robert, K.B., 96

Roberts, Chas. W., 19

Robinson, Robert, 80

Robinson, Sidney I., 105


Author Index
Rogers, William, Jr., 68

Roochnik, David, 206

Roof, Judith, 114

Root, Robert, Jr., 153

Rorty, Richard, 221,232

Rosenfield, Lawrence W., 96

Rosier, Martha, 96

Royster, Jacqueline Jones, 52

Rubbo, Anna, 105

Rummel, Erika, 206

Rush, James, 82, 85

Russell, William, 84, 85

Ryan, Alan, 19

Sarton, May, 11
Scaff, Lawrence A., 11

SchellJohnR, 138

Scher, Steven J., 138

Schiappa, Edward, 162

Schilb, John, 192

Schroeder, Christopher, 187192

Schryer, Catherine, 96

Schutz, Aaron, 177

Scollon, Ron, 192

Scollon, Suzanne B., 192

Scott, Donald, 60

Scott, Robert L., 162

Scully, Vincent, 105

Shank, Wesley I., 105

Sharer, Wendy B., 4551

Sheehan, Bernard W., 44

Sheridan, Thomas, 79, 81, 85

Shweder, Richard, 232

Sloane, Thomas O., 11

Smith, Barbara Hernstein, 221

Smith, Craig R., 35

Soley, Lawrence, 11

Solmsen, Friedrich, 206

Solomon, Martha, 146

Soskis, Benjamin, 11

Sprague, Paul E., 105

Sprague, Rosamond Kent, 76

Stanley, Lawrence I., 147153

Stewart, Charles J., 35

Strauss, Anselm, L., 121

Streeter, Robert E., 18

Sullivan, Dale, 76

Sutton, Jane, 162

Tagliacozzo, Giorgio, 213

Thelwall, John, 81,82, 85

Thorpe, Clarence D., 19

Timmerman, David M., 206

Tomlinson.J.D.W, 96

Too, Yun Lee, 206

Trimbur, John, 192

Twitchell, James B., 96

Twombly, Robert C, 105

Vanzanten, David T, 105

Vico, Giambattista, 213

Vivian, Bradford, 193197

Walker, Alice, 129

Walker, John, 79, 81,85

Wallace, Karl, 85

Walzer, Arthur, 221

Warnick, Barbara, 35

Warren, Robert Penn, 68

Weaver, Richard, 18, 19

Weber, Max, 10

Webster, Noah, 60

Weiler, Kathleen, 114

Weinberg, Steven, 232

Weirick, James, 105

Welch, Kathleen, 35

Wells, June Murry, 68

Wertheimer, Linda, 96

Wesley, John, 85

West, Temple, 121

Weston, Anthony, 162

White, HaydenV, 213


White, James Boyd, 11, 146

Wichelns, Herbert A., 35
Wiegman, Robyn, 114
Williams, Linda, 96
Williams, Patricia, 114
Williamson, Roxanne Kuter, 105
Wilson, Richard Guy, 105

Author Index
Wolff, Robert Paul, 10
Woodward, Gary, 44
Woolf, Virginia, 138

zanola Macola, Annalisa, 7784, 79, 85

Subject Index
and Frederick Douglass rhetorical careei

and Maria Stewart rhetoric, 157

Abolitionist rhetoric, 37

Academic vocation, 1,4, 10

compared to Jewish people, 5

Accommodation, 224

Actio, 79

Active listening
compared to rhetorical listening, 160

Activism education
and changes in rhetoric education,
League of Women Voters efforts in, 50

Actor-network theory, 217

Adams, Timothy Dow (Morley), 132

Adaptory rhetoric, 37, 38

AdlerKassner, Linda, 173

Adornment, 32, 33

Advisory rhetoric, 37

African Americans, 54. Seealso Douglass,

Montgomery saved by, 65

and Signifying, 157158

Against the Sophists, 200, 201

and construction, 165

ethical, 69

rhetorical, 70

and sexual identity, 166

AguileraHellweg, Max, 88, 92, 95

Ahrentzen, Sherry, 98

American Elocutionists' manuals, 84

American Enterprise Institute, 6

American Indians
Child's rhetorical treatment of, 3839
19th cent, portrayal of, 40

American Studies Association (ASA), 183

An Apology for Poetry, 136

A Nation Calls, 45

"And," 150

Andersen, Kristi, 46

"Angel of the House," 132

V Woolfon, 133

Anson, Chris, 115, 174

Antidosis, 158

Apology form
classical origins of, 136

female Renaissance speech, 135

prefacewriting, 131139
30, 32

Arcades Project, 149

Architectural studies
gendered discourse in, 97104
Architecture and the Text: The (S) crypts of Joyce
and Piranesi, 97

Aristotle, 30, 32, 71, 134,225

techne question in, 199202

Aronowitz, Stanley, 14

Arrangement canon, 134

Artist vs. scholar, 3

The Art of Pronunciation, 80

Art of Rhetoric, 201

As I Lay Dying, 147

Associationist psychology, 5 5

Atwill, Janet, 24




Subject Index

apology for, 131

and disclosure, 107, 110

and distance education, 119

and ITV, 120

regaining, through apology, 134

Bacon, Jacqueline, 37

Bancroft, George, 38

Barbour, Ian, 223

Barthes, Roland, 152

Bartkevicius, Joselyn, 147, 148

Bastionelli, Pierre, 90

Battersby, Christine, 101

Baumlin, Tita, 115, 135

Beale, Francis, 123

Beecher, Henry Ward, 50

The Bell Curve, 6

Bellow, Saul, 1

Benjamin, Walter, 149, 151

Bennett, William, 1

Bentley College tutoring project, 174

Bergson, Henri, 152

Berlant, Lauren, 40

Berlin, Isaiah, 207213

Berlin, James, 24

Bernstein, Richard, 216

"Beruf" (vocation of scholarship), 4

Big T rhetoric, 157

Bilingual educational model

Hillcrest model, 175

Bingham, Caleb, 55, 56

Bird, Isabelle, 132, 136

Bizzell, Pat, 191

Black feminist writers

and ethos of essay rhetoric, 123129
Blair, Hugh, 92

Blanchot, Maurice, 168

Blassingame, John, 54, 60

Bloomer, Jennifer, 97

Bodies that Matter, 166

Bolinger, Dwight, 83

Bolter, Jay David, 30

Bork, Robert, 6

The British Elocutionary Movement, 80

British women writers/18th & 19th centu

prefacewriting by, 131137
Brodkey, Linda, 25

Bryant, Rev. William, 83

Burke, Kenneth, 14, 31, 237

Bush, George W., 6, 7

Bushjeb, 176

Butler, Judith, 164, 165167

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs, 40, 88

Campus novels, 1, 10

Carey, James, 1

Catt, Carrie Chapman, 4546, 50

Causality question, 163164, 168

Chapman, Maria Weston, 59

Chapman, Rev. James, 83

Character. See public character

Chemical Warfare Service/US. War Dept.,

Chesebrough, David, 54, 57, 58

Chronicle of Higher Education, 1

Cicero, 9, 56, 59, 69, 79, 134

"Citizen critics," 9

Citizenship schools, 48

City of God, 149

Civic discourse
and nineteenth century reform, 54

and service learning, 172

Civic space, politics of

and disciplinary boundaries, 27

Claremont McKenna University, 5

Class and literacy, 189

Classical colleges
role of, 16

Classical education, 16

1930s revival of, 17

Classical rhetoric
Douglass' effect on, 5859
expansion upon, 156

fifth canon of, 79, 83

second canon of, 134

sophistry revisited, 193197

Vico's role, 207213
Clinton, William J., 7, 171


Subject Index
The Closing of the American Mind, 1

Code, Lorraine, 108

"Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Epi

sode, Segment," 149

Collins, Patricia Hill, 125

Columbian Orator, 54, 55, 56

Communications studies. See also political

WWII era evolution of, 17

Communication studies
and study of rhetoric, 30

Communication technology
and role of graduate student apprentice,

and role of rhetoric, 30

The Communist Manifesto, 1

Community, ideal of
and gender, 133

and service learning, 174

"Community Service and Critical Teaching,'


Competency skills, 33

'real audience' servicebased, 176177
Composition and communication discipline;
and rhetoric, 13, 18, 155162

Composition instruction
pedagogical emphasis of, 30

vs. rhetorical education, 25

Composition in the University, 171

Composition pedagogy, 1415

Composition textbooks
and critical thought, 189

Condit, Celeste Michelle, 159160

The Confederacy
connection to Montgomery, Alabama, 6

Conference on College Composition and

Communications (CCCC), 13, 18

Confrontational relationships
and heroism myth, 145

science and religion, 223231

scientific rhetoric, 215221
Construction and agency, 165

'Contact zone' (Pratt), 191

Containment (Aristotle), 7172

Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, 24

Contending with Words, 187

Context of use

and literacy instruction, 188

Controversy and rhetoric, 9

Cook, Eliza, 132, 133

and university influence, 7, 182, 184

Counterenlightenment politics
and The New Science, 207213
Covington, Sally, 5

"Crafting Virtue: The Rhetorical Construc

tion of Morality," 159

Creative nonfiction, 147153

Crisis of meaning, 188

Critical inquiry
and disciplinary boundaries, 27

the 'critical' standard, 189

Critical thinking skills, 31

Crowley, Sharon, 24, 25, 26, 67, 171172

Cuff, Dana, 98

Cultural memory, 67

Cultural plurality
and rhetoric pedagogy, 156

Culture and literacy, 187192

'Cyborg anthropology' (Haraway), 219

Dallas Morning News, 6

Davidson, Donald, 216

Davie, Donald, 151

Davis, Angela, 123

Debate clubs (19th cent.), 56

The Decline of the German Mandarins, 3

Decorum. See propriety in rhetorical practice

principles of, 7981
Democracy and Education, 48

Democratic ideals
and Dewey's influence, 48

and progressive education, 13

Democratic systems. Seealso political rhetoric

and civic culture, 140

elementary school example of, 171

and rhetoric learning, 156

Denton, Robert E., Jr., 140

Departmental relationships, 23

Detraction Displayed, 131


Subject Index

Dewey, John, 13, 15

Deweyian ideas, 51

influence on League of Women Voters,


Douglass, as described by Garrison,

expanded definition of, 5859
19th cent. Webster definition of, 56

Didion, Joan, 148, 151

and humanistic scholarship, 15

Dillard, Annie, 148, 149

Employment opportunity in rhetoric, 2223

Disciplinary boundaries, 18, 2128

diminishment of, 27

The Englishwoman in America, 132

"Entzauberung" (disenchantment), 3

Disclosure and authority. See authority

Essay rhetoric
black feminist ethos in, 123129
Essays on Various Subjects, 132

Disguise of location, 108

Distance education
and mediated ethos, 115120
also undergraduate rhetoric educa

Ethical action
three guidelines for, 159

Ethical agency, 69


Ethical dilemmas, 161

Doctoral programs in rhetoric, 22, 23. See

Doctorow, E.L., 149

Ethic of ends, 4, 155

in 19th cent, rhetoric, 41

of women, Victorian, 132

Ethic of public character, 140

Douglass, Frederick, 68

rhetorical career, 5 360

Dropout rate (college), 187

D'Souza, Dinesh, 6

Eadie, William, 22, 26

Eberly, Rosa, 9

Ebonics controversy (Oakland), 161

and classical colleges, 16

Editor and Publisher, 7

Edmundson, Mark, 187

purpose of, 187188
and revised literacy understanding, 191

Ethic of responsibility, 4, 9

Aristotle, 3031, 32

and essaywriting, 125

teaching virtue, 158162

Ethics and rhetoric
particularity of speaker's position,
Ethics and service
public school example, 171177
and black feminist essay rhetors,
and the politics of disclosure, 107113
as possibility, 113

and prefacewriting, 135

and virtual teaching, 115120

Experiential learning
Garland School curriculum in, 50

Edwards, George, 7

Faulkner, William, 63

Eisenhower, Dwight, 13, 18

Election campaigns
and romantic hero myth, 142143
Elizabeth I, 135

roots of, 81

Female rhetoric (19th cent.), 38

Feminist theory
and disciplinary boundaries, 27

The First Settlers of New England, 37

Elocutionists, 78

Eloquence ideal, 5 3

competing standards of, 5 5

First Things, 6

Firstyear requirement (composition), 22, 25

argument against, 171172

and Rhet/Comp's security, 24

S. Crowley on, 26

Subject Index
staffing, and unionization, 183

Fisher, Walter R., 142

Globalization, 8

Fishman, Stephen, 48

Globalization rhetoric
and local events, 179186

Flneur concept
paranarrative, 151152

'God' terms, 142

Goggin, Maureen, 24, 25

Fleming, David, 155

Golden Chersonese, 136

Fletty, Valborg, 48

Good versus Evil

and performative tradition, 142

Forrest, Nathan Bedford, 65

For the Time Being, 149

Foucault, Michel, 164, 179

Gore, Al
campaign rhetoric of, 143144

the four causes, 225

Gorgias, 32, 69, 87, 158, 162

Free market rhetoric, 8

as principle of scientific naturalism, 15

Gould, Stephen Jay, 223

Graduate student labor, 179186

Graff, Gerald, 9, 16

Grammar of Motives (Burke), 237

Gramsci, Antonio, 5

Griffin, Marion Mahoney, 97, 99100

Gage, John, 225

Griffin, Walter Burley, 98

Garland School for Homemaking, 49

Groat, Linda, 98

Garrison, William Lloyd, 55, 5657

Gross, Alan, 215

Gates, Henry Louis, 157

Grounded theory, 117

and academic practice, 9

and the architectural canon, 97104

and essay rhetoric, 123129
ideal woman, literary, 133

and imagination, 136

and prefacewriting, 132

and the professoriat, 27

Guthrie, WK.C, 195, 196

Gender Trouble, 165

Hankins, S.R., 142

General Feder
ation of Women's Clubs, 49

Haraway, Donna, 113, 217

General Semantics movement, 17

Gennette, Gerard, 137

Genre in rhetoric, 87

essay, 123129
historical markers, 6368
horror, 90

preface, 131139
George Bush School of Government and
Public Service, 6

Habermas, Jrgen, 7

"The Habitation of Rhetoric" (Leff), 29

Halloran, Michael, 56

Hariman, Robert, 32

Harkin, Patricia, 187

Harmony in language, 79

Harris, Wendell, 124

Harvard University, 5

Havelock, Eric A., 33

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 132

Hayek, 8

Heartland Institute, 6

George Mason University, 5

Heidegger, Martin, 5

Gere, Ann Ruggles, 174

Herald of Freedom, 58

Gesture in language, 78

historical treatises on, 79

Gildersleeve, Virginia, 48

Giroux, Henry, 14

Hernstein, Richard, 6

Glenn, Cheryl, 99

Heritage Foundation, 6

Heroism. Seealso romantic heroism

and American public character, 142

and civic relationships, 145


Subject Index

as ideological worldview, 144

Herzberg, Bruce, 174

Hesiod, 69

Heterosexual matrix, 165

The Higham Patriot, 54

Hillcrest School project, 175177

Historical markers (southern)
as rhetoric, 6368
History of rhetoric, 157

History of Sexuality, 179

Hobbes, Thomas, 210

Holt Street Baptist Church, 63

hooks, bell, 109, 112, 123, 188

Horror as genre, 90

and classical rhetoric, 134

'Hybrids' theory (Latour), 217

Hypertext, 30

Ideal writer/reader, 189

Ideas Have Consequences (Weaver), 17

Illustration of Lying, 131

gendering of, 136

Incommensurability thesis, 215, 216, 220

Indian Removal Act of 1830, 43

Individuals and society, 179

Institutes of Oratory, 134

Instructor credibility, 115120

Interactive television. See media and instruc
as example of government planning, 8

Internetworked writing, 30

Intonation in language, 78

historical treatises on, 79

Introduction to Metaphysics, 152

Isocrates, 158, 162

performative conception of, 199205

techne question in, 202205

Jameson, Frederic, 4

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, 88

Jasinski, James, 141

Jefferson, Thomas, 66

American, 3738
Johnson, Donald Leslie, 103

Johnson, Grace, 4950

Johnson, Nan, 58

Jordan, June, 128

Journal of Architectural Education, 98

Juvenile Miscellany (Child), 43

Kairos and the rhetorical place, 6976

Kairotic ethics, 31

Baku, Ichiro, 223

Archer, Caroline, 43

Kaufer, David, 25

Kennedy, John F., 142

Demode, Frank, 7071

King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., 63

King, Stephen, 91

Kinneavy, James, 69

Kipness, Laura, 91

Kirsch, John, 7

Klaus, Carl, 124, 149

Knowledge and utterance, 163164, 167

Kreick, Ernest, 4

Kuhn, Thomas, 215,216

Labor. See graduate student labor
Labor market, 8

Laine, Dale, 7

Lampe, Gregory, 54, 55, 59

Land grant universities

and open enrollment, 13

Langer, Susanne, 151

Language and scientism, 18

Language and truth, 67

Language of emotions, 78

Language of ideas, 78

Language study
20th century, 193

Lanham, Richard, 158

Larsen, Anne, 135

Subject Index
Latour, Bruno, 217

Lauer, Janice, 23

League of the South, 66

League of Women Voters

and 1920s rhetorical education, 4552
Leff, Michael, 29, 31

Leftwing ideology, 5

Lilla, Mark, 207213

Lingua Franca, 1

Linguistic metaphor of translation, 217

Linguistics movement, 17

Bentley College tutoring project, 174

and League of Women Voters, 4552

need rates of, 188

Literacy crisis
cultural roots of, 187192
revised understanding of, 190

Literary clubs (19th cent.), 56

Lloyd, Donald, 18

and the politics of disclosure, 107113
and sophist nomadic, 194

Logic and grammar

and scientism, 17

Logon paideia, 199

Lorde, Audre, 126

Lyotard, Jean Franois, 163169, 188

Magazine publishing
19th century, 55

The Magic of America, 99, 100

Mailloux, Steven, 26

Market ideology, 5. Seealso corporations

and government intervention, 8

and modern universities, 188

and academia, 9

and mass public, 8

Market regulation
and the democratic left, 9

Mason City, Iowa architecture, 98

Massachusetts AntiSlavery Convention

(Nantucket), 53

Mass public
and marketization, 8


Mauro, Gerry, 6

McCarthy, Lucille, 48

McGee, Michael, 23

crisis of, 188

and legitimacy, 189, 190

Media and instruction

ethos mediated by, 115120
Metaphysics and sophistry, 193197
Metzger, David, 169

Miantonimo, 39

Middleclass standards of literacy, 189

Miller, Carolyn, 21,87, 88

Miller, Keith, 24

Miller, Susan, 25, 188

Minorities on campus
growth of, 14, 15

von Mises, 8

Mitchell, W.J.T., 93

in historical scholarship context, 208,


Modern Language Association (MLA), 183

Modern university
growth of, 16

Modest Witness, 219

Montanari, Marcello, 209

Montgomery, Alabama
historical markers in, 6368
Montgomery Bus Boycott, 63

Mooney, Michael, 210

Moral suasion
universal potential realized, 5758
More, Hannah, 132, 133, 136

Mouffe, Chantal, 156

"Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Stra

tegic Philanthropy of Conserva
tive Foundations, 5

"Moving Wall," 73

Murray, Charles, 6

My Bondage and My Freedom (Douglass), 55,


The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, 55, 57

Nash, George, 17


Subject Index

National American Woman Suffrage Associ

ation (NAWSA), 45, 49

The National Antislavery Standard, 53

National Committee for Responsive Philan

thropy, 5

National Communications Association

(NCA), 22

National Council of Teachers of English, 23

National Institute of Literacy, 188

National Institutes of Health (NIH), 7

National Labor Relations Board, 7

National Women's Political Caucus, 112

Native Americans. See American Indians

Nelson, Gary, 26

NeoAristotelianThomistic movement, 16

NeoHumanism, 16

Nesporjan, 188

The New Criterion, 6

New Criticism, 16

New Deal era, 13, 16, 18

The New Science, 208, 210, 211

and counterenlightenment politics,

Newspaper publishing
19th century, 54

Noddings, Nel, 174

Norick, Ron, 74

North Star, 60

"Notes Towards a Politics of Location," 107

Oakland School Board debate/Ebonics, 161

as principle of scientific naturalism, 15

Oedipus Tyranus, 235

Of Oratory, 134

Oklahoma City bombing and memorial,

Olin Foundation, 5

OncoMouse (Haraway), 219220

Ong, Walter, 33

On the Contrary, 9

Open enrollment, 14

Opie, Amelia, 131

Oral language, 11. See also public speech

forgotten appeal of, 32

Johnson's "Spoken English" course,

Oratory (19th century)
Frederick Douglass effect on, 5360
Origins of rhetoric, 157

Orwell, George, 150

Paradigm debates, 215

Park, Maud Wood, 50

Parks, Rosa, 63

as principle of scientific naturalism, 15

Passage to Juneau, 149

Pedagogy of rhetoric
finding common ground, 2934
League of Women Voters, 4752
preparing ethical citizens, 155162
relevance of concepts, 30

and service learning, 172

Pequot tribe, 39

Performative traditions, 141144. Seealso

sexuality as performance
in Isocrates, 202205
Perkins, Dwight Heald, 99

Personal disclosure
and black feminist essayists, 123129
and essaywriting, 125126
examples, 126129
Philosophy of language (20th cent.), 193

Physicality and public speech, 5859,

Physics, 71

Place. See also location

and kairos, 7176
techne question in, 199202
Platonic idealism, 58

Platonic thought
and sophistry revisited, 193197
Poems (E. Cook), 132

Poetic form
and rhetoric, 3233
Polinghorne, John, 223

Political communication


Subject Index
and League of Women Voters, 4748
Political rhetoric
and romantic heroism, 139145
Politics and teaching of rhetoric, 25

Politics and the academician, 3

Politics and the university, 2

Popper, Karl, 216

Pornography as genre, 90

Porter, James, 30, 31, 32

Porter, Rev. Ebenezer, 83

and 'symmetrical history' theory
(Latour), 219

Posner, 8

Publishers role in literacy ideal, 189

'Purification' theory (Latour), 218

Child's rhetorical treatment of, 3839

The Q question, 158

Quasiobjects, 220

Quintilian, 56, 79, 134, 135, 159

Raban, Jonathan, 149

Postman, Neil, 188

Racist assumptions
and early antislavery movement, 54

Poststructuralism, 212

Ratcliffe, Krista, 160

Poulakos, John, 70, 194

Prairie School
vs. Sullivan School, 103n.l

Rational choice theory, 8

Pratt, Louis, 191

history of, 132, 134

rhetoric of, 131139

Prior, E. Marion, 63

Private Enterprise Research Center, 6

Professoriat, 27

Progressive education
reactions to, 13, 17

Pronuntiatio, 79

Propriety in rhetorical practice, 31, 32

Protagoras, 9, 158

The Public and Its Problems, 47, 51

Public character
definition, 141

and political discourse, 140

Public discourse. See political rhetoric

Public lecture
Douglass' perception of, 60

19th cent, growth of, 55

Public rhetoric
and place, 72

and rhetorical morality, 159

Public speech
and elocution movement, 83

evolving standards for, 59

19th cent. AngloEuropean standards

for, 54

19th cent, growth of, 56

Readings, Bill, 188, 190

Reagan, Ronald, 142

'Real audience' student composition, 177

Reformist rhetorics. See revisionist rhetorics

Regulation of speech, attempted, 7

"Rektoratsrede" (Heidegger), 5

Relativism, 224

seven marks of, 225230
reply to, 238

Religion and science

rhetorology effect on, 223231
reply to, 235240
Remedial writing, 14

in 19th cent, rhetoric, 4142
Rescuing the Subject, 25

and graduate student labor, 180187
The Return of the Political Mind, 156

Return to Me, 88

Revisionist rhetorics, 37

Re-words, 142

Reynolds, John Frederick, 33

Reynolds, Nedra, 107

Rhetoric, 134

academic evolution of, 1318
and classical education, 16

egalitarian evolution of, 5758

as evaluative discipline (1950s), 18

and northsouth issues, 66

Rhetorica ad Herennium, 81

exordium, 134

Rhetorical agency, 70

Rhetorical criticism
pedagogical emphasis of, 2930
Rhetorical education
Isocrates, 199205
League of Women Voters' early ap
proach, 49

Rhetorical hybrids, 88

Rhetorical listening, 160

Rhetorical place, and kairos, 6976

Rhetorical scholarship
20th century changes in, 29

Rhetorical spaces. See location

Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on Gendered Locations,

Rhetorical studies
recoupling with rhetoric and composi
tion, 2128
sophistry revisited, 193197
threats to, 26

vs. composition instruction, 25

Rhetoric and composition

ethics and service, 171177
recoupling with rhetorical studies, 2128
return to, 14

role of, 9, 29

Rhetoric of Motives (Burke) 14, 237

Rhetoric of science, 215221

and religion, 223231
Rhetoric reclamation, 15

Rhetoric Society of America Conference, 21

Rhetorology, 224

and the war between science and reli

gion, 223231
reply to, 237

Rich, Adrienne, 107

Rightwing ideology, 5

and CCCC, 13

Ringer, Fritz, 3

Roberts, Charles W., 14

La Rochefoucauld, Franois, 77

Romantic heroism
and political rhetoric, 139145
Roochnik, David, 201

Subject Index

Root, Robert, 149

Rorty, Richard, 215, 226

Rosier, Martha, 93

Royster, Jacqueline Jones, 46

The Sacred Heart, 88, 89, 90, 93

Sallis.John, 197

Sarton, May, 10
Scaife Foundation, 5

Schilb, John, 187

Scholar vs. artist, 3

Schryer, Catherine, 88

Schutz, Aaron, 174

Science and religion

rhetorology effect on, 223231
reply to, 235240
Science journalism
as rhetorical genre, 88

Scientific naturalism
principles of, 15

Scientific rhetoric, 215221. See also science

and religion
Scientism, 15

reactions to, 1617

Scott, Robert, 159

Secondary orality, 31, 33

Second language acquisition

Hillcrest model, 175

Selfrevelation. See personal disclosure

Selzer, Richard, 90

revision of notion of, 171177
"ServiceLearning and English Studies: Re
thinking 'Public' Service," 174

Sexual harassment
in architectural studies, 98

Sexuality as performance, 164

Shaftesbury psychology, 55

Sheridan, Thomas, 77

Signifying, 157

Slavery issue
and rhetorical perceptions, 6667
Sloane, Thomas, 9

The Small Room, 10

Smith, Adam, 210


Subject Index
Smith, Barbara Hernstein, 216

Teacher as philosopher, 17

Smith, Craig R., 32

Teacher ethos. See ethos

Social sciences, 13

rhetorical elements in, 14, 15

1930s pervasiveness of, 16

Techne versus paideia, 199205

Technologies of the Self, 179

Socrates, 196

Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), 65

Technology. See also communication technol

boundary exploration of, 217

Sophistry, 20th century refiguring, 193197

Temperance movement, 54

and temporal dimension of speech, 70

and fiction reading, 7071
and kairos, 6971
assault on, 7

Sophocles, 235

Southern historical markers

planning and writing for, 66

as rhetoric, 6368

Texas A & M University, 6

Speaker's position
and causality theory, 169

Speaking and knowing, 163

Theatre circuit
and elocution movement, 83

Speech Communication Association. See Na

Thomas, Carey, 48

Textbooks in composition, 189

tional Communications Associa

Toleration, 224


Toward Better Problems, 161

Spider Web Chart, 51

Stasis inquiry
and teaching virtue, 160

Stewart, Maria, 157

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 57

Strictures, 136

Studentfocused research, 14

Student population
Rhet/Comp, 22

Rhetorical Studies, 22

shifts, and progressive ideals, 13, 14

on purpose of college, 187

and rhetorical studies, 30, 171172

role of, 13

Sturken, Marita, 67

"To Write the Truth" (Weaver), 17

Trail of Tears (Cherokees), 43

Trembling in public, 5760

Truth and rhetoric, 67

Twitchell, James, 92

Twoparty system
and League of Women Voters, 4552

Undergraduate rhetoric education, 155162
University of Arizona student labor,

Style in rhetorical practice, 31

and the democratic left, 9

Sullivan, Dale, 70

United Daughters of Confederacy (UDC),

Summers, Christina Hoff, 6


Universal requirement. See firstyear require

Sutton, Jane, 157

'Symmetrical history' theory (Latour), 219

University and politics, 2. Seealso graduate

student labor
Talking Back, 188

Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, The Aids

Epidemic, and the Politics of Remem
bering, 67

The University in Ruins, 188

University of Arizona student labor,

University of California at Los Angeles, 6


Subject Index

University of Chicago, 5

University of Illinois, 14

University of WisconsinMilwaukee, 155

Van zanten, David, 102

Vico, Giambattista, 207213

Vico in the Tradition of Rhetoric, 210

Viet Nam Memorial, 73

Virtual education. See media and instruction

Virtue (The Q question)
teaching, 158162
Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st
Century, 223

Vitanza, Victor, 24, 26, 194

Vocation of scholarship. See academic vocation

Voucher system (Florida schools), 176

Walker,'Alice, 123, 127

Walter Burley Griffin: Selected Designs, 102

Walzer, Art, 215

Walzer, Michael, 140

Warnick, Barbara, 29

Warren, Robert Penn, 64

Ways of Reading approach

in composition classroom, 14

Weaver, Richard, 17

Weber, Max, 2

ethic of responsibility of, 10

Weiler, Kathleen, 112

Weirick, James, 100

Welfare state
and the democratic left, 9

"Wertfreibeit" (value freedom), 3, 8

"Western heritage"
and academia, 5, 9

Weston, Anthony, 161

Wheelock School, 49

White, James Boyd, 2

The White Album, 148

Whitman, Walt, 132

Who Stole Feminism? (Hoff), 6

"Why We Crave Horror Movies" (S. King),


Williams, Linda, 90, 91

Wilson, James Harrison, 65

Montgomery marker honoring, 64

Wingspread "Prospects for Rhetoric" confer

ence, 21

"Wissenschaft als Beruf" (Weber), 2

Berlant's 'female complaint,' 40

as candidates for architectural studies, 98

Child's rhetorical treatment of, 39

Women's Christian Temperance Union, 50

Women's colleges
and citizenship schools, 48

Women's Joint Congressional Committee

(WJCC), 5051
Women's rights, 54. Seealso League of
Women Voters
in 19th cent, rhetoric, 42

Women voters
political education of, 4552
Women writers
and prefacewriting, 131137
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foun
dation, 184

Words and logic, 15

Wordsworth, William, 132

Workshop #13/Women's Political Caucus,

Wright, Frank Lloyd, 99

Writing the Community: Concepts and Models for

Service Learning in Composition, 173

Writing the Disaster, 168

Yale University, 5