Tag Archives: methodology

Royster, Jacqueline Jones Traces of A Stream


Methodologies:  “uses trends and practices in rhetorical criticism, discourse analysis, ethnographic analysis” and autobiography to argue for recognition of a long history of AA women rhetoricians for social justice and social action (283).


African American elite (well-respected) women used literacy “systematically as a variabl tool” to fight for social justice (5). 


Site:  AA women essayists and orators who have overcome obstacles, reconstituted themselves and left traces of stream (4) .  these women as foremothers to alice walker and bell hooks were committed and had deep level of rhetorical prowress.  These women used oral strategies from classical rhetoric in their written essays.  They used their understanding of rhetorical triad of context, ethos formation, and rhetorical triangle.  Royster examines African cultural traditions used in women’s rhetorics which lead to community action.  Example: alice walker—In search of our mother’s garden—use of narrative, storytelling, description, dialougue, poetry, powerful images, to appeal to ethos, pathos, logos. 


At end, royster reminds us to articulate our research interests and relationships to the work before writing about any project.—self reflexivity—critical awareness of need to read across cultural difference, figure out one’s subject position affects meaning making of rhetorical object,


Three major sections:

Rhetorical view—describes genre of essay, which reflects discursive flexibility and rhetorical awareness, and its significance to literacy practices and social advocacy in work of elite 19th century women—maria stewart, ana Julia cooper, Josephine st. Pierre ruffin; these women attempted to save lives through work; make sense of their experiences and the world; develop agency and authority to intervene in patriarchial and racist society—literacy and social action linked.   –link of literacy and orality create rhetorical competence—the “skill, the process, the practice of ‘reading’ and being articulate about ‘men and nations’” (61).  Rhetorical competence uses to as empowerment to take social action.  Ex.)  situated ethos and invented ethos used for mixed audiences.



Historical view—gives historical account of role of storytelling, religious beliefs, etc. and posits them as intellectually and rhetorically astute intentional reactions to poltical and social exigencies.  Also maps how these female rhetors educated themselves and postioned themselves in workplace to develop rhetorical prowress.  Black women’s club movement for instance was integral…as were national association of colored women, spelman and Oberlin colleges, African American periodicals.


  Ideological view—role of self-reflexivity in research and scholarship

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“Rhetorics of Survivance: How American Indians Use Writing” Malea Powell


Malea Powell begins this article by articulating the transformative potential of stories to construct “new histories and theories” in our discipline, which in adhering to The Rhetorical Tradition maintains a Western Eurocentric perspective and contributes, perhaps unknowingly, to the US imperial process. Powell draws on Vizenor to explain that the contemporary American Indian “situation” should be thought of in “paracolonial” terms, “ a colonialism beyond colonialism, multiple, contradictory, and with all the attendant complications of internal, neo-and post-colonialism” (399).  As part of the anti-paracolonial project, Powell listens to the language of survivance (survival + resistance) used by Winnemuca and Eastman to reimagine, and refigure the “Indian.”  Powell argues that their language use “transforms their object-status within colonial discourse into a subject status, a presence instead of an absence” (400).   To support this argument, Powell teases the ironic manners Winnemucca and Eastman use to imagine a new “Indian” in their rhetoric of Native resistance and survival—a rhetoric that uses tactics to “insinuate” themselves into the hegemonic systems in which they were caught (405).  She demonstrates how Winnemucca and Eastman use  their writing to create texts that reproduce commonly held beliefs about Indians in order to create a new kind of “Indian-ness.”  While Winnemmucca uses this “Indian-ness” to create difference in arguments for policy changes that benefit of the Norhern Paiutes, Eastman uses “Indian-ness” to create difference in arguments for the synthesis of Euroamerican and Native cultural values (405).  In demonstrating these deliberate uses of language, Powell aims to demonstrate how American Indians have used the same policies and beliefs about “the Indian” intended to “remove, reserve, assimiliate, acculturate, abrogate, and un-see” American Indians as tools through which to reconceive American Indian history, to reimagine Indian-ness, to create and re-create American Indian presence in this country (428).   In Audre Lorde’s words, Powell shows how the master’s tools can dismantle the master’s house or at least make laudable efforts in the attempt.  Powell’s hope is that rhetoric and composition scholars can learn from Winnemucca and Eastman.  We can “reimagine ourselves, our pedagogies, our scholarship, our discipline in relation to a long and sordid history of American imperialism” (428). 


Questions and Thoughts:


This text raises so many thought-provoking points that I have chosen to present this week on Native American Rhetorics in our class.  Thus rather than share all my thoughts here, I will raise just a couple of questions.


In this article, Powell creates exigency for revisionary work in our discipline.  The work of “reimagining ourselves”—reflecting, rethinking, revisting, and revising the stories that create who we are—is not only important but necessary if we want to combat American Imperialsim. Articulated in this light, Powell makes revisionary work a responsibility that we cannot ignore.  She also makes rhetorical and comp scholars complicit in the ongoing American Imperial project and urges us to begin listening not only to how American Indians have used writing in the past but also to listen to how scholarship both within and outside our field has used and continues to use writing for imperialist endeavors.

What risks does Powell take in articulating this political exigency for revisonary scholarship?  In terms of her own rhetoric, how does Powell’s political stance strengthen or weaken her recovery of Winnemucca and Eastman’s rhetoric?  Drawing on a question I asked last week, what do we learn from Powell about the role argument plays in social history? 



I am very interested in the distinction Powell emphasizes between strategies and tactics.  How useful to do you find this distinction?  What are the ways that Winnemucca’s rhetorical tactics parallel and diverge from the feminist rhetorical traditions we have been learning about?  Would you categorize Eastman’s rhetorical style within the feminist rhetorical tradition?  Why or why not?

































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“Rhetorical Sovereignty” Scott Lyons


Lyons begins his powerful essay “Rhetorical Sovereignty” with the profound claim that writing has played a major role in eradicating tribal identities and cultures and replacing them with the cultural values and beliefs of white civilization.  Because of the “duplicitous interrelationships between writing, violence, and colonization during the nineteenth century,” a distrust of the written word in English still persists.  Lyons asks then, “What do Indians want from writing?” Lyon’s answer is rhetorical sovereignty –“the inherent right and ability of peoples to determine their own communicative needs and desires in this pursuit, to decide for themselves the goals, modes, styles, and languages of public discourse” (449).  Rhetorical sovereignty, of course, demands a radical thinking of how writing is taught at levels of public education; it also demands a commitment to listening and learning from the writing of our students.


Lyons starts off the bulk of his argument by historicizing the concept of sovereignty, explaining its shifting definitions over time and culture. Today, the term is generally understood as the right of people to conduct its own affairs, including making and enforcing laws.  Sovereignty also supposedly signifies a nation’s political legitimacy and ensures international recognition, and national self-determination. Lyons then launches into a brief history of the contested, contradictory process of sovereignty between the US government and American Indian tribes, noting that between 1778 and 1868, the U.S. signed an ratified around 367 treaties with Indian nations, all of which “presumed a sense of sovereignty on the part of Indian groups” (451).  As is well documented now in the records of historic court cases, Native sovereignty as initially conceived was short lived because of what Lyons identifies as the U.S. government’s rhetorical imperialism, which reflects the American imperialist notion of recognition- from- above. Rhetorical imperialism allows the dominant powers to control the debate and, in this case, establishes the U.S. government as a political parent of over Indian nations.  Soon, “nation” was replaced by tribes, a rhetorical move that preceded the end to treaty making in the U.S., after which “treaties” became called mere “agreements” (452-3).


Lyons is quick to point out that Native sovereignty did not end.  “Varying and constantly shifting degrees of sovereignty” still exist (453) and the contemporary rhetorical battles over sovereignty constitute what Lyons calls the “colonized scene of writing:  a site of contact-zone rhetoric in its fullest sense” (453). The ensuing rhetorics of sovereignty employed by both Indian and non-Indian people reflect a clash of “ideological conflations and intertwinings of motives, beliefs, and assumptions” that make consensus difficult (453).  Much of this clash revolves around different perceptions of what “nation” entails.  While Americans in the US of enlightenment conceived of nation as a public run by the nation-state, American Indians conceived nations as representing themselves as a “people”–” a group of human beings united together by history, language, culture, or some combination therein–a community joined for common purpose:  the survival and flourishing of the people itself” (454). According to Lyons, the nation-state does not make political decisions in Indian nations; nations are made by the nation-people and adhere to the logic of the nation-people.  Reason was not contingent on individualism or the right to privacy; instead, reason was deployed for betterment of the people.

Lyons claims that Natives do not think of sovereignty solely as the “self-governance” western governmental systems think of.  Rather sovereignty is a twin pillar: “the power to self-govern and the affirmation of peoplehood” (456).  This twin pillar guides the new rhetorics of sovereignty.  Lyons represents new rhetorics of sovereignty through the rhetorical positions of Deloria, Warrior and Cook-Lynn, each of who advocate action at the community level and for individual American Indians to rebuild through association of tribal identity, culture, and power in connection to land.  This rhetoric is very different from mainstream multiculturalism; “Mainstream multiculturalism is not sovereignty per se because it abstracts its sense of culture from the people and the land” (457).  Nor does it focus on self-governance.


Worried he has digressed a bit too far, Lyons then moves to discussion of what it means for students to have rhetorical sovereignty in the classroom. Lyons claims that American Indians deserve to have “some say in the nature of their textual representations”  (459).  At the present, Lyons, claims rhetorical sovereignty is impeded by the “presentation of Indian stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and a virtual absence of discourse on sovereignty and the status of the Indian nations”–a form of rhetorical imperialism at work in our classrooms (459). Lyons cites Kennedy’s Comparative Rhetorics as a prime example of well-intentioned yet problematic examples of rhetorical imperialism.  He charges Kennedy’s book for presenting an evolutionary study of language, which positions Indians below the apex of Greeks and Romans. but also with omitting representations of 19th century American Indian writing (459). This omission, based supposedly on stereotypes of Indian as oral creature and savage, might conclude reader to think “a writing Indian is no Indian at all” (459).  Lastly, Lyons charges Kennedy with erasing “real Indians” and making ” a connecting link” between rhetoric of animals and oral humans, which Lyons claims would lead reader to compare American Indians to animals. Locating Indians early on in the “Chain of Speaking” is dehumanizing and “suggests that today’s Indian people’s are probably not real anymore” (460).  It also reifies the oral-literate binary, which Bruce Ballinger also reifies in his article “Methods of Memory:  On Native American Storytelling.” Lyons charges Ballinger with appropriating the “Indian way” of remembering in order to help the non-Indian’s quest to “Know Thyself.”  although Ballinger appropriates Indian “methods” in order to improve student writing, he does so by committing cultural imperialism.  What he needs to be doing if he is really an ally is discussing issues facing Indian people today, but “nobody wants to appropriate stuff like that” (461).


Lyons argues for a social justice pedagogy that compels us to talk about cultural injustices that American Indians face.  He argues that indigenous rights are worth talking about for American Indians are beacons of hope and inspiration in the fight against global injustices and environmental destruction.  Admitting that comp and rhetoric scholars cannot save the world, Lyons argues that we can at least play a meaningful role in fighting American imperialism and other injustices. One way we can enact social justice in the classroom is to avoid some of the mistakes that have been made in the past in terms of rhetorical imperialism.  We can also commit to rhetorical sovereignty and alter our pedagogical practices, radically if necessary, to enact post/anti-colonial pedagogy. Lyons offers several pedagogical possibilities: presenting and teaching from retrials concerning Indian sovereignty as examples of rhetorical sovereignty; working with students to rhetorically analyze the use of metaphors in the Indian Nations At Risk Task Force treaty, which advocates True native education. We need, in other words, to prioritize the study of American Indian rhetoric, especially the treaties and federal Indian laws, the ideologies of Indianness and Manifest Destiny–all of which demands that students examine their own relationship to Indian sovereignty and makes them more aware of the peoples who live on this land. 


These rhetorics should not be taught in isolation but alongside other cultural rhetorics of oppressed populations.  History and writing instruction need to be situated in context of American rhetorical struggles (465). Lyons suggests we situate our work with rhetorics of sovereignty in local contexts as much as possible-work that ethnographers and service learning theorists are taking up in community-based pedagogies. Drawing on Susan Wells work that theorizes how writing instruction can be geared toward “public literate action.” Lyons suggests that because sovereignty is a “public pursuit of recognition,” we should teach American Indian rhetorics, such as the Chippewa Treaty in Minnesota and/or the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s disrecognition of the Washington Redskins trademark, which demonstrate successes in the American Indian pursuit of soveriengty.


Lyons concludes his article by admitting that he asks a lot of teachers because what he is asking is for us to “think carefully about their positions, locations, and alignments: the differences and connections between sovereignty and solidarity” (467).    

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Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks Eds. Carol S. Lipson and Roberta A. Binkley

With the call in Octolog II to look for rhetoric in cultural locations unpreviously examined, Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks attempts to explore rhetoric before and beyond the limited scope of Athenian rhetoric in ways that do not reify Athenian rhetoric as the apex of the ancient rhetorical tradition.  As the editors note in their introduction, in order to survive over long periods of time, cultures existing before the Greeks had to use communication for significant social functions and to persuade and convince.  This collection aims to recover understanding of rhetorical use of language by early cultures—Mesopatamia, Egypt, China, ancient Israel, and other parts of Greece.  Scholars are particularly interested in recovering rhetorical genres and conventions used in particular moments in time and investigating how they might have grown and changed over time.  This work is controversial for a number of reasons.  One, ancient artifacts to study are often scarce and fragmented and the contexts in which they were produced are difficult to fully understand.  Two, the Aristotelian body of definitions, values, and practices has a strong hold on modern conceptions of rhetoric; some argue that studying rhetorical genres and conventions of other cultures threatens traditional classical notions of rhetoric.  Three, methodological concerns are raised as to how to study “alternative rhetorics” and whether or not to apply traditional Athenian concepts of rhetoric to other cultures such as George Kennedy does in Comparative Rhetoric or study other cultures use of rhetoric on their own terms and through their own analytical frameworks—an approach Xing Lu calls a hermeneutic method, which “allows the ancient Chinese texts[, for instance,] to speak for themselves without imposing assumptions or terminological equations on them” (15).  This approach also has the benefit, as Swearingen notes, of helping us “see the blind spots of our own terminology and [helping] us envision other possibilities” (19).  


“The Birth of Rhetoric”  William W. Hallo


In “The Birth of Rhetoric,” Hallo argues that rhetoric was actually birthed in Mesopatamia through the genre of cuneiform literature.  Hallo looks to the Epic of Gilgamesh to prove that Mesopatamian myths have rhetorical value and effect.  He notes, for instance, that the rhetorical devices employed in this epic include:  self-introduction of the “speaker,” invitation to the audience, hymnic apostrophe to the protagonist, partial repetition of the proemium to achieve a frame effect and closure, and mechanical addition of an extraneous addendum to arrive at a preferred length” (33). 



“The Rhetoric of Origins and the Other:  Reading the Ancient Figure of Enheduanna”  Roberta Binkley


In this important essay that attempts to disrupt the notion that ancient women had no agency and no voice, Binkley recovers the early literacy practices of the ancient figure of Enheduanna’s song writing and situates them within the long sacred tradition described by Swearingen as “Song to Speech.”  Enheduanna was a priestess, princess, poet and “consummate rhetorician” writing in 2300 B.C., yet recognition of her as an early rhetorician has been largely ignored because she is a geographically and gendered Other writing to an Other (sacred) audience.  Consequently, her “work, her documented existence, and her ethos problematizes rhetorical assumptions of origins and the Other in rhetorical historiography and in Assyriology” (47).  Binkley explains that Enheduanna was a composer of hymns intended to be sung, which contain strong elements of pathos, ethos, and logos.  Especially interesting, Binkley argues, is the articulation of Enheduanna’s invention process, which entails calling upon the goddess Inanna to assist in her creative process.  This creative process challenges Western notions of the intellect, which divorces the body from the mind, as well as notions that divorce rhetoric from the sacred.   Binkley concludes this article by stating that the acknowledgment of Enheduanna as an early rhetorician opens up future possibilities for enhancing our understanding of rhetorical consciousness, especially of the rhetorical Other, and reconfiguring the origins of rhetoric itself.


Carol Lipson  “Ancient Egyptian Rhetoric:  It All Comes Down to Maat


            In attempt to uncover an ancient Egyptian rhetorical system, Carol Lipson reveals the ways in which Egyptian rhetoric was founded to some extent on the cultural concept of Maat—also the name of a goddess often depicted in Egyptian mortuary mythology.  According to Lipson, Matt both a.) reflects “the culture’s understanding of interconnected order of the cosmic, divine, natural, and human worlds” as well as its understanding of the need to preserve that order; and b.) defines ways to conduct oneself blamelessly toward others  (81).  Maat is rhetorical then in the educational sense; by dictating behaviors appropriate for certain situations, Maat reflects and communicates certain cultural values as well as guidelines for action.  By rhetorically analyzing Egyptian conventional and ritual practices of writing letters, Lipson demonstrates how letters that perform Maat are actually epideictic in nature—letters reaffirm the social/political order of society and emphasize the roles and responsibilities of community members at various levels of society.  In these letters, Lipson explains, the communicator performs several acts simultaneously: “doing Maat, enacting ritual practices of Maat, carrying out Maat responsibilities, and showing devotion to Maat principles (90).  Communicators are also teaching Maat by articulating how to enact Maat in specific situations depending on one’s status in society.  Besides these immediate administrative functions, Lipson also explains that the rhetorical strategies employed in these letters also function for more divine purposes—to put “themselves up for and understanding by and assessment before the goddess Maat,” which Lipson correlates to what Bahktin calls any higher authority beyond the immediate audience, a “superaddressee” (93). 

            Lipson ends her article by disclaiming that the conventions she has uncovered in Egyptian autobiographies and letters are not static practices and also that a precise understanding of what it means to do Maat can never be known.  She calls for a transhistorical research to confirm Egyptian ways of reflecting and reinforcing their cultural system and ritually enacting its cultural values through the performance of Maat.  This article also illustrates that Rhetoric doesn’t always make an argument.   Rhetoric of accommodation is particular to Egypt.  Therefore, rhetoric was at work in helping people understand themselves and society. 


Rhetoric here was directed toward divine audience; hence numerous questions about audience arise:  How do they conceive this audience?  It is imagined.  Are we always writing to an imagine audience?  If so, then is it a worthy endeavor to write to an audience?  How can we truly know who we our audience is?


“The Use of Eloquence:  The Confucian Perspective”  George Q. Xu


In this essay, Xu demonstrates a general mistrust of eloquence, defined as the “skillful, artistic verbal expression for rhetorical effect,” reflected in Confucian texts (116).  As he explains, “While keenly aware of the usefulness of persuasion in political operations, they disdained ‘indulgence in argumentation with no useful purpose and flowery eloquence with no practical results’ and they even blamed the deterioration of government effectiveness on sophistry that served no practical function” (116).  Even as Confucianists employed eloquence to devalue eloquences, their devaluation of eloquence, Xu argues, has had a profound, long lasting effect on Chinese communication practices.  As Xu explains, Confucianism was the dominant controlling ideology in everyday life and the study of Confucianism was a means to climb the social ladder (which is why the study of Chinese rhetoric must focus on Confucian texts) (125).  Therefore, the devaluation of eloquence in Confucian texts is still embedded in the Chinese collective consciousness. 


“Confucian Silence and Remonstration:  A Basis for Deliberation?”  Arabella Lyon


Arabella Lyon begins this article with a rationale for why the recovery of Confucian rhetoric is so important.  As she explains, “for more than 2,500 years, his works—fragmented, edited, even written by his disciples—have been used to make a cacophony of claims about the nature of humanity, government, education, and the East” (131).   Through the lens of deliberative rhetoric, Lyon studies the relationship of Confucian rhetoric and current democratic and civil rights movements in Asia. More specifically, by exploring remonstration and silence in The Analects, Lyon  Lyon acknowledges the risk of looking through a Western lens to study Confucian rhetoric, but she does so in order to “place Confucian rhetoric within a defined rhetorical tradition and to place Confucious in twenty-first-century rhetoric” (132). 


Lyon begins by defining rhetoric as a metalinguistic awareness of language to be manipulated in the service of identity, communication, persuasion, or artifice (132).  She explains that “as Westerners after Plato conceived” rhetoric, the Chinese do not share western assumptions about “language, communication, and the individual” (132).  For instance, in ancient China there was a “great skepticism about persuasion as an ethical undertaking and even about language as revealing knowledge, action, or character” (132).  Such a difference raises the questions:  “how do you define rhetoric in a culture wituout a homologous word?  If you simply import rhetoric as a concept, what are the implications of bringing western concepts to Chinese culture?…In bringing the concepts of rhetoric and rhetorical theory to Confucian texts, are we colonizing China, or are we disrespecting rhetorical theory, a cultural perspective of the West?” (133).  What are we missing by forcing rhetorical theory upon Confucius? (133)


As she explains:

            …[T]he need to understand alternative strategies for language use, forces a conceptual form—the concepts available in the dicipline of rhetoric—upon a different conceptual system, one that values relationship over individual, conservation over experiment, and spirituality and self-cultivation over material accomplishment.  It creates a private/public distinction within a culture that has little.  China’s philosophical concern with process, cycle, and movement over Being, creation, and performance is more congenial with rhetoric, but our prior understandings of what is rhetoric may focus us on the wrong aspects of Chinese culture and filter out what is significant.  One may obscure what is uniquely there by foregrounding western assumptions and so distort and colonize.  It is the dilemma and tragedy of translation (133)


Translation, she explains, has led to controversies such as what Chinese concept most closely approximates rhetoric.  Some argue that bian (argue, debate) does, while others argue that shuo (explain, make clear) and shui (persuade) do.  Lyon asks, what about quan (urge) , jian (remonstrate), ming (naming, dialectics), yue (speaking), ci (speech), and yan (say, language).  Lyon argues for letting go of need to specify disciplined concept of rhetoric to more deeply understanding rhetorical complexity of language.  Lyon chooses to look at Confucian rhetoric through the lens of deliberation, which she extends Lani Guinier’s explanation of deliberation to define delibertion as “the process of (articulating and) framing issues to be resolved, proposing alternative solutions, examining the reasons for and against the proposed solutions, (advocating specific solutions, recognizing and responding to the concerns of others,) and settling on alternative (action)” (qtd. on 134).  Lyon studies two modes of deliberation—silence and remonstration—in The Analects to show how the process of deliberation assists Chinese citizens in becoming more human.


Worldly acts, not articulated ideas and plans, build human character according to The Analects.  Thus, the “lived character of the rhetor is more important than his speech” (137).  Therefore, The Analects identifys specific use of silence for specific rhetorical situations (138).  Remonstration is a process of persuasion that does not end in changing the audience but in audience deliberation (140).  Because the goal of remonstration is deliberation, the objective is to represent well rather than to say and sway (140).  The goal of this form of rhetoric is human connection and respect and honor of interlocuters.  As such, in this form of democracy, which is not focused on the individual or equality, the government has responsibility to learn from commoners, honor their will, and to demonstrate virtue in order to win over the mass population and sustain order (142).


 “’Nothing Can Be Accomplished If the Speech Does Not Sound Agreeable’:  Rhetoric and the Invention of Classical Chinese Discourse”   Yameng Lu


In this article, Yameng Lu begins by suggesting that rather than fret over how to studying Chinese rhetoric on its own terms, we think of rhetoric as “the effective use of symbolic resources in discursive and sociocultural practices [which] is applicable cross-culturally” in order to hone in on the abundance of Chinese textual evidence of rhetorical thinking (147).  Lu explores the genre of nan (rebuttal) to show how the deconstruction of one’s opponent’s rhetoric so as to discredit his ideology is a common rhetorical strategy found therein.  Nan, according to Lu, is just one example of the sophisticated understanding of language in Chinese rhetoric as well as the kind of depth, scope, and complexity that classical Chinese rhetoric had managed to achieve” (150).  In arguing how sophisticated and complex ancient Chinese rhetorical thinking was, Lu also draws on David Hall and Roger Ames, who in arguing that rhetoric rather than logic was main form of communication in ancient China, cite the four following observations as evidence of their claim:  a.) pathos and ethos used more than logos in Chinese texts; analogical reasoning employed; c.) no thinking/acting dichotomy in Chinese texts:  “an idea is a proposal for feeling and action”; d.) “Chinese modes of expression function imagistically and metaphorically” (150).  Thus rather than think of Confucius and others as philosophers and thinkers, we can think of them as outstanding orators who shared certain assumptions about rhetorical thinking (152).  Lu also makes clear that we need to think of Chinese rheteoric not just as produced in response to Chinese cultural crises, but as discursive practices that create social and cultural meaning that “shape the perceptions, desires, feelings, and hence behaviors of individual or institutional actors” (153).  This way of thinking meets Foucault’s challenge to not analyze the formation of discourses and the geneaology of knowledge “’in terms of types of consciousness, modes of perception and forms of ideology, but in terms of tactics and strategies of power’” (qtd. on 153).  This way of thinking also locates Chinese rhetoric as a productive art.  And finally, this way of thinking acknowledges that “the discursive practicioners of this period, regardless of their ideological affiliations, must have shared a body of terministic and conceptual resources, subscribed to the same set of basic problematics, assumptions, and norms, and functioned within the same rhetorical framework” (155) and that rhetoric and the normative discursive order would be the supplier of this shared body of resources (156).  Overall, Lu claims classical Chinese rhetoric was a “discipline/practice in its own right and what the orginators of traditional Chinese discourse were busy doing can…be described as rhetorical criticism”; and despite their differences among discourse communities,  the “various ‘schools’ or discourse communities actually shared much in their rhetorical thinking and their modes of rhetorical practice” (161).  He argues mainly for “redefining classical Chinese rhetoric as an ‘architectonic productive art,’ one that contributed vitally to the cultural and ideological production of the time by rendering possible meaningful interactions among divergent thoughts and ideologies” (161).



“The Art of Rhetoric at Rhodes:  An Eastern Rival to the Athenian Representation of Classical Rhetoric”             Richard Enos


In this article, Enos demonstrates that what we usually think of as Greek rhetoric is actually Athenian rhetoric created in response to the particular internal, civic needs of that emerging democracy.  In Rhodes, however, the first true “Greco-Roman” rhetoric that was produced was externally oriented—produced in other words to faciliate communication with other peoples (184).  Enos points out that “the thought that Aristotle’s Rhetoric may have been accounting of rhetoric that was not meant as a universal explanation but rather as a study of rhetorica indigenous to Athens is so out of harmony with our assumptions that it is not given serious consideration” (186).  We need to create knowledge of other manifestations of Greek rhetoric, Enos argues, and study them in ways that do not deem them as inferior or derivative of Athenian rhetoric (186).  Enos explains that Rhodes was artistic center of Greece.  In Rhodes, rhetoric was not just employed for civic functions for sustaining democracy (forensic and deliberative); rhetoric also had artistic and epideictic functions that facilitated cultural diversity (189).  Overall, Enos makes five important observations of rhetoric of Rhodes:  a.) Rhodes offered a rival and enduring veriosn of Greek rhetoric; b.) it stressed epideictic function that served to create cross-cultural ties; c.) it’s moderate style made it ideal for study and practice of declamation; d.)  it was inherently inclusive and made popular in Rome; e.) its rhetorical riches are yet to be discovered (194).  I would add that it illustrates that rhetoric is just not about persuasion…


“Story-List-Sanction:  A Cross-Cultural Strategy of Ancient Persuasion” James Watts


In this article, Watts demonstrates that the genre of rhetoric that entails presenting story, generating a list, and articulating a sanction is not specific to one culture but exists across cultures and time.  Because this genre at work in ancient Eastern texts can still be found today in Western settings, Watts argues that “some ancient rhetorical forms have survived alongside the arguments of theorists who rejected them, thereby institutionalizing that conflict in the social structures that shape contemporary public discourse” (210). 


“Song to Speech:  The Origins of Early Epitaphia in Ancient Near Eastern Women’s Lamentations”  Jan Swearingen


In this article, Swearingen takes both an etic and emic approach to study the women’s songs and lamentations in the ancient Near East.  In other words, Swearingen both employs a Greco-Roman rhetorical framework to study these songs and lamentations(etic) and attempts to explore these songs and lamentations on their own terms (emic).  Swearingens’s research demonstrates that “first rhetorical epitaphia in Athens bear traces of earlier song traditions, some of them composed by women, as it was traditional for women to perform the lamentations at burials” according to Ochs and Alexiou (215).  Alongside Homeric sagas and plays as well as Hebrew scriptures, Swearingen demonstrates that the women’s songs and lamentations are revealing that women in the ancient East had some agency.  These women’s roles have been largely ignored, however, because we only have fragments of their voices and, as Kinneavy has noted, because they, as performers of rituals, were often depicted as having only evoked superstitions rather than “promoting persuasive appeals to volitional beliefs and affirmation” (216).  This distinction has been used, by the way, to draw a line between “religious and secular discourse, primitive and advanced cultures, religious and rhetorical discourse” (216).  Swearingen argues that “we need to recover…the self-conscious reflections of women singers of songs, and composers of ceremonial verse whose practices, and whose beliefs about their practices, shaped the common language of the culture before the emergence of city-states and male prose rhetoric” (218).










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Bacon, Jacqueline

“Reinventing the Master’s Tools:  Nineteenth-Century African-American Literary Societies of Philadelphia and Rhetorical Education” Jacqueline Bacon and Glen McCish


In this article, Bacon and McCish analyzes six speeches delivered by African Americans at literary society meetings held in Philadelphia to promote rhetorical education in the 1820 and 30s.  Their analyses finds that traditional Anglo-American principles of 19th century university rhetorical education on theory and pratice, particularly the work by Blair, Smith, and Campbell, were “infused with new purposes, deployed for radical ends, and reinvented in ways that transform and redefine nineteenth- century rhetorical practice” (19).  Thus adaptation, revision(reinvention), and appropriation were key rhetorical strategies, which “help to emphasize that when a group gains power through the mastery of the oppressor’s discourse, lanlguage use itself—originally one of the master’s tools—becomes a weapon with which to fight oppression” (21).  Archival work allowed Bacon and McCish to stumble upon surviving, fragmented texts of these societies, which were originally published in pamphlets, African-American and anti-slavery newspaper articles.  Their work thus reaffirms Linda Ferriera-Buckley’s call for more archival research and contributes to the archival work and rhetorical analysis of Shirley Logan and JJ Royster.  It callenges others to continue to locate texts of African-American rhetors who have yet to be studied but are important pieces of 19th century African American Rhetorics. 

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Powell, Malea

Powell, Malea.  “Extending the Hand of Empire:  American Indians and the Reform Movement, a Beginning”


In this essay, Powell describes the discursive interactions of Susan LaFleche Picotte and the Women’s National Indian Association (WNIA).  In exploring this rhetorical relationship, Powell attempts to reveal the complex relationships between Indian reformers and Indians in the late 19th century.  As Powell explains, the Ponca Tours in which this interaction took place is an important rhetorical moment in the Indian Reform Movement because it was at this moment that “the Indian” moved onto the public arena of Indian reform.  Powell claims that “like the slave testimonies of the abolition movement, ‘real’ Indian voices lent credence and urgency to reformist arguments and put a human face, one that could thus be made to be an object of pity and censure, on government policy decisions” (39).  New reform organization that worked in conjunction with Indian voices attempted to reform government policies and “bring Indians into the bosum of the republic through private property, education, and Christian conversion” (39).  Powell describes the work of Helen Hunt Jackson who in the Century uses sentimental outrage and persuasive style to narrate past injustices against Indians.  Powell also describes the work of women working for the WNIA who appealed to Christian consciences to argue for native rights of citizenship and property ownership. Finally, Powell turns to the rhetoric of Susan LaFleche Picotte, who married her native desires with the objectives of WNIA to create a series of effective reform pamphlets.  Powell’s ultimate objective here is to uncover the rhetoric of Christian parenting and civic morality adopted by the WNIA to advocate for Indian reform.  Yet more so, as she deems the WNIA as an extended hand of empire more than act of effective resistance, she wants to situate Picotte’s work among other Indian activists such as Winnemucca Hopkins and Eastmen, who made possible “survivance” by using “reform to strengthen communities, to build pan-Indian awareness, and, of course, to survive…and to resist that extended hand of empire” (45).


“Down by the River, or How Susan La Flesche Picotte Can Teach Us about Alliance as a Practice of Survivance” 


Published in College English, “Down by the River” aims to demonstrate how composition and rhetoric scholars can learn from the alliance and adaptation tactics used by Susan La Fleshch to enact survivance during the Indian Reform Movement. Powell prefaces these lessons by reminding composition and rhetoric scholars that we must do more than simply include the rhetorics of American Indians in our efforts to expand the rhetorical canon.  We must also take American Indians seriously, consider their work to be critically important, and listen to the lessons they have to offer.  In order to make this happen, Powell claims, we need to “undo what Jacqueline Jones Royster and Jean C.  Williams call ‘primacy’—the status given to ‘official’ (that is: dominant) viewpoints (580).  According to them, ‘the privilege of primacy […] sets in motion a struggle’ between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ disciplinary narratives (580)” (41).   Yet, arguing that this current struggle is trapped in dichotomy of dominant/oppressed, center/margins, colonizer/colonized, Powell also argues that we need to create a new language, “one that doesn’t force us to see one another as competitors.  We need a language that allows us to imagine respectful and reciprocal relationships that acknowledge the degree to which we need one another (have needed one another) in order to survive and flourish.  We need, I would argue, an alliance based on the shared assumption that ‘surviving genocide and advocating sovereignty and survival’ has been a focus for many people now on this contintent for several centuries and, as such, should also be at the center of our scholarly and pedagogical practices enacted in the United States (Womack 7) (41). We need to be allies, Powell argues, and in order to be allies, “ we have to listen to one another, and we have to believe” (44).  


 As Powell also describes in “Extending the Hand of Empire” but in less detail than she sketches here, LaFlesche models a means of alliance that rhetoric and comp scholars can learn from.  What Powell really wants us to see is LaFlesche’s “sense of equal and shared responsibility” to both the WNIA and her own native community in Omaha.  As LaFlesche models, we can adapt to different beliefs, different practices and be willing to accept that there are more than one kind of rhetoric used to confront problems.  “If we engage in this work, as Susan La Flesche did, in order to work for our people, our community, our discipline, then maybe we should begin our negotiations toward alliance with a wholesale and meaningful questioning of the criteria by which we ‘judge’ on another’s contributions to that community as significant, rather than simply assuming the same long-practiced and dominant critical, theoretical, and pedagogical frameworks” (57).  We need to not just add onto rhetorical history by including the work of others but realize that work as always been part of that history.  We can learn to disruptive tactics from each other….

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Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

In a radical genre she calls autohistoria, which offers an innovative way to write history, Gloria Anzaldua presents a non-linear history of both the geographical and psychological landscapes of Borderlands.  Anzulda’s autohistoria is a genre of mixed media—personal narrative, testimonio, factual accounts, cuento, and poetry—that refutes stasis just as the Borderlands from which Anzaldua comes.  According to Anzaldua, the Border is a “third country” whose history as been told on Anglocentric terms, which she attempts to disrupt through feminist analysis and issues.  As one of many subaltern Indian women of the Americas working hard to overcome the traditions of silence, Anzaludua  attempts to recover the female historical presence by restorying Border history and rewriting the stories of Malinali, la Llorona and the Virgen de Guadalupe.  As Sonia Saldivar-Hull writes in the introduction to La Frontera, Anzaldua’s recovery project “leads to the political, feminist, social awareness Anzaldua calls New Mestiza Consiousness” (8).  As Anzaldua explains it, this consciousness entails  a “shift out of habitual formations: form convergent thnking, analytical reasoning that tends to use rationality to move toward a single goal (a Western mode), to divergent thinking, characterized by movement away from set patterns and goals toward a more whole perspective, on ethat includes rather than excludes” (101). 


Anzaluda’s multilingual methodology invokes what Mignolo calls “border thinking,” which embodies a double consciousness and employing multi-languaging to think from the border and offer a new epistemology.   As Anzaldua describes it, border thinking creates a new mythos—“a change in the way we perceive reality, the way we see ourselves, and the ways we behave” (102).  In essence, from the border, Anzaldua is creating another culture altogether, “ a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet” (103).  The first step in “the Mestiza way” is taking inventory of our own selves that have been constructed by traceless historical processes.  Then, we must put history “though a sieve, winnow out the lies, looks at the forces that we as a race, as women, have been part of” (104).  This process causes “conscious ruptures with all oppressive traditions of all cultures and religions.  She [then] communicates that rupture, documents the struggle, and reinterprets history, and using new symbols, she shapes new myths” (104).  Deconstruct in order to construct…


Part of this methodology that is so effective is the personal accounts that Anzaldua offers to describe the psyche of those on the border.  She explains, for instance, that she bought into Western claims that Indians are incapable of rationale thought and higher consciousness (59).  She admonishes Western intellectual thought for turning Indians into objects of study and making it shameful to speak their own language and trust their own ways of knowing–all of which are at the roots of violence.   She explains that ethnic identity is wrapped up in language; thus, those on the border attempt to create a language in which “they can create their own identity to, one capable of communicating the realities and values true to themselves—a language with terms that are neither espanol ni ingles, but both.  We speak a patois, a forked tongue, a variation of two language” (76). 


In attempt to explain the psyche of those on the border, Anzaldua explains that many on the border develop la facultad—“the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities to see the deep structure below the surface.  It is an instant “sensing,” a quick perception arrived at without conscious reasoning.  It is an acute awareness mediated by the part of the psyche that does not speak, that communicates in images and symbols which are the faces of feelings, that is behind which feelings reside/hide”  (60).  


Anzaldua also explains how important the role of art in Indian ways of life.  As she explains, art was not separated from daily life. “The writer, as shape-changer, is a nahual, a shaman” (88).   She deems her own writing as an art—an object, “an assemblage,  a montage, a beaded wrok with several leitomotifs and with a central core, now appearing, now disappearing in a crazy dance” (88).  She also considers her “stories” as “acts, encapsulated in time, ‘enacted’ everytime they are spoken aloud or read silently. [She] like[s] to think of them as performances and not as inert and ‘dead’ objects (as the aesthetic of Western culture think of art works).  Instead, the work has an identity; it is ‘who’ or a ‘what’ and contains the presences of persons, that is, incarnations of gods or ancestors or natural and cosmic powers.  The work manifests the same needs as a person, it needs to be ‘fed,’ la tengo que banar y vestir” (89).


Anzaldua argues that “western cultures behave differently toward works of art than do tribal cultures” (89).  “Ethnocentricism,” she claims, “is the tyranny of Western aesthetics” (90).  Western culture kills/conquers the power of art; it counts art as a “’dead thing’ separate from nature” (90).  “Lets stop importing Greek myths and the Western Cartesian split point of view,” she argues, “and root ourselves in the mythological soil and soul of this continent.  White America has only attended to the body of the earth in order to exploit it, never to succor it or to be nurtured by it.  [W]hites could allow themselves t shared and exchange and learn from us in a respectful way” (90). 


She explains the importance of images in Indian ways of knowing:  “An image is a bridge between evoked emotion and conscious knowledge; words are the cables that hold up the bridge.  Images are more direct, more immediate than words, and closer to the unconscious.  Picture language precedes thinking in words; the metaphorical mind precedes analytical consciousness” (90).


Anzaldua explains that her process of writing entails “picking out images from [her] soul’s eye, fishing forth the right words to recreate the images” (93).  Why is a reimaging of reality in our consciousness so important:  “nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads” (109).


Key Concepts:


Borderland—vague and undertrmined placed created by the emotional residue of an unnatural border -25


Mexican—used to describe race and ancestry

Mestizo—used to affirm both Indian and Spanish ancestry

Chicano-used to signal political awareness of people born and raised in U.S.





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Enoch, Jessica

Enoch, Jessica “’Semblances of Civilization’: Zitkala Sa’s Resistence to White Education”


In this essay, Enoch juxtaposes the autobiographical work of Zitkala Sa’s rhetoric with the Carlisle Indian Boarding School papers in order to demonstrate Zitakala’s direct rhetorical resistance to Carlisle’s educational rhetoric that legitimated, produced, and reproduced an Indian education that oppressed the very students it claimed to liberate.  Enoch claims Zitkala’s over acts of resitance against dominant educational narratives are inflected with her Indian ethnicity.  In her rhetorical analysis of Z’s counternarratives,  Enoch demonstrates how Z had to reach audience members not only across cultures but across cultural realities.  Z uses her personal experiences to flip the dominant scripts and break down false dichotomies that contributed to assymetrical power structures.  Z also embraced what Lyons would call her rhetorical sovereignty by using autobiographical stories as a means to disrupt dominant narratives that justify unjust Indian education practices.  In doing so, she changes the terms of educational debate at a time when it mattered most for Indian students…


Sites of analysis:  autobiography,

Methodology:  juxtoposition of autobiography and dominant news sources; rhetorical analysis; re—reads z’s work in original contexts—political and cultural conversations about Indian education.


“Resisting the Script of Indian Education:  Zitkala Sa and the Carlisle Indian School”


Published in College English, “Resisting the Script of Indian Education” emphasizes the pedagogical resistance Zitkala Sa enacts by publishing her autobiographical essays about the horrors of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School—an act of rhetorical sovereignty that Enoch claims scholars in composition and rhetoric can learn from.  As in “Semblances of Civilization,” in this essay, Enoch juxtopeses Zitkala autiobographical essays with the Carlisle Indian education rhetoric published in the school newspapers Indian Helper and Red Man, which Enoch describes as propoganda aimed at White readers, teachers and students presently at Carlisle and Carlisle alums.  According to Enoch, these papers had two main aims: garner continued support for Indian Education and legitimate operations of the Carlisle school and monitor Carlisle students and teachers through the figure of the Man-on-the-band-stand, which acted much like Foucault’s Panopitican.  Zitkalas essays published in the Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, and other places served to flip the dominant educational script and inscribe her own personal narratives which attacked three of the school’s educational premise:  savage must be civilized; cultural barriers of Indians must be broken in order for Indians to develop individual self; and English language is necessary for success in white civilized world.  Zitkala enacts rhetorical sovereignty by arguing that Indians should have a voice in the educational debate.

            This resistance, Enoch claims, raises an important concern for comp and rhet scholars:  “How can we, as teachers of rhetoric and composition, be political workers and ethical educators who call students to reflect critically on their worlds and revise the oppressive narratives that script their daily lives?” (137).  Enoch claims Zitkala’s work provides three answers to this question:  1.  Her work can become site of critical reflection and inquiry inside classroom about not only historical educational unjustices but contemporary ones; 2.  Include Zitkala’s work in our disciplinary history of “pedagogical resistance that recount challenges to educational narratives that silence and erase”; 3. Let Zitkala’s work serve as a model for the ways in which we as educators can be political cultural workers and activists who intervene in dominant educational narratives (139). 


Para la Mujer:  Defining a Chican Feminist Rhetoric at the Turn of the Century


In this essay, Enoch contributes to a working definition of Chicana feminist rhetoric by recovering the rhetorical strategies employed by Mexican women Maria Renteria, Sara Estela Ramirez, and Astrea, all of whom in writing for La Cronica, a Spanish-language newspaper based in Laredo, Texas, attempt to redefine the Mexican woman.  Situating these feminists’ work both in Chicana rhetorical tradition and in women’s rhetorical histories, Enoch demonstrates how these women engage in self-definition to claim a right to name and represent themselves by infusing their rhetorics with concerns of race, gender, and class (21).   Specific to Chicana feminist rhetorics, Enoch idenitifies how Reneria, Ramirez and Astrea redefine the Mexican woman not by offering a static, fixed , essentializing definition but by offering a complex and ever-shifting depiction that rejects stereotypes often relegated to Mexican womanhood.


Before describing the unique rhetorical practices of each woman, Enoch looks to Anglo writers writing at the same time as Renteria, Ramirez, and Astrea to show how Mexican women were defined as obedient, servile and passive and lacking a Mexican feminist consciousness (22).  Enoch also describes the dual ideologies at work—machismo (extreme male dominance) and hembrismo (extreme female submission)—that made it difficult for Mexican women to believe they could make active, significant, public contributions to their communities.  During this era of porfiriato, however, feminist action linked with an “emergen feminista politics” was at work in Mexico as feminists work toe better the lives of women across Mexico (24).  Renteria contributes to this work by attempting to rewrite the history of Mexican women in order to disrupt stereotypical views of who and what women could be in the present.  Ramirez, largely through her poem “Rise Up!” challenges women to redefine themselves and take an active role in their communities.  Rameriz does this by employing what Lisa Florez has called a “rhetoric of difference”—“’construct[ion] of an identity that runs counter to that created for them by either Anglos or Mexicans…[] and begin the process of carving out a space for themselves where they can break down constraints imposed by other cultures and groups’” – to encourage women to redefine themselves on their own terms (qtd. on 30).   Astrea also calls women to community action but through education and family.  Rather than use feminist action to weaken Chicana cultural and nationalistic efforts at large, Astrea urges for women to see that they can redefine their role in Mexican culture to assist the movment at large and women as well.


Overall, Enoch attempts to show that Ramirez, Renteria, and Astrea contribute to both a Chicana feminist rhetorical tradition and reevaluations of the topoi of definition.  They contribute to Chicana feminist rhetorical tradition by “creating definitions of the Mexican woman that invite disruption, change, and reconstitution” through an infusion of race, class, and gender (34).  This self-definition revises the way definition as argument is constituted; rather than embrace categorization, they revolutionize definition to create possibilities for every shifting constructions of self that break away from categorizations assigned to them (35). 


Survival Stories: Feminist Historiographic Approaches to Chicana Rhetorics of Sterilization Abuse


In this essay, Enoch analyzes the rhetorics of survival made when nine Chicana women who in a class action civil rights action suit-Madrigal v. Quilligan- argued that USC-LA Medical Center doctors violated their constitutional rights to procreate by not obtaining their informed consent for their sterilization operations.  Through this analysis, Enoch offers four historiographic approaches to study the rhetorical significance of  women’s rhetorics.  Three of these approaches are already part of the feminist historiographic toolkit; the fourth, Enoch claims, is her contribution to “add a ‘tool’ to what Ferreira-Buckley has called the ‘historian’s trade’” (pg number?).  In the first two approaches, Enoch follows the lead of JJRoyster and SWLogan while in the third she follows the suggestion of Richard Enos to contextualize the rhetorical practices in their original rhetorical context to determine their intended meaning.  In the fourth, approach, Enoch pushes the boundaries of the rhetorical situation beyond the immediate interaction of the speaker, audience, and subject to see how the Chicana women’s stories were voiced, dismissed and ultimately survived.  The specific sites Enoch studies surrounding the Madrigal v. Quilligan case are the women’s testimonies, the judge’s conclusions, and an article written by the women’s lawyer.  This work not only helps us understand the specific rhetorical situation that occurred in this case, but how these rhetorical practices can deepend our understanding of Chicana feminist rhetoric and women’s rhetorics on broader level today.

Enoch explains that at the time these women were sterilized, the rhetoric of sterilization was spirited in contemporary debates made in the name of feminism and population control.  Yet, at this same time, sterilization was being used by some doctors as welfare control, which lead to discriminatory medical practices targeting poor and minority groups all over the U.S.  Sterilization abuse, especially at UCLA Medical Center which served poor Chicanas, was a controversial issue at the time.

Enoch recovers the testimonies the Chicana women made to confront this controversy by facing numerous obstacles based on class and race to make their voices heard.  Enoch situates these testimonies in a Chicana feminist tradition because “their arguments formed a collective and unified rhetoric that stood at the intersection of the particular classed, cultured, and gendered needs of the Chicana community at that moment”  (page number?).  More specifically, these women’s rhetoric can be situated in Chicana feminist rhetorics because they “protest experiences of and crimes against the Chicana body.” As Cherríe Moraga observes in This Bridge Called my Back, “(a title which in itself highlights the physical presence of the third-world woman’s body), …many Chicanas, and other minority women, come to voice through a “theory in the flesh,” which means that “the physical realities of [their] lives-[their] skin color, the land or concrete [they] grew up on, [their] sexual longings-all fuse to create a politic oborn out of necessity” (“Entering” 23).  As Enoch claims so clearly, “the “politic born out of necessity” that the women in the Madrigal case voice illustrates one recurrence in a long history of Chicana feminist rhetoric that rails against the violent, life-threatening, and physical transgressions upon the Chicana body.”

Recovery of these women’s voices is not enough in Enoch’s eyes, however. She wants to see how they are discounted as well and thus reveals how in the Judge’s concluding remarks which sided with UCLA medical center, the judge relied on a rhetoric of normalization, which essentially argued that because these women were abnormal –chicana and Spanish speaking—they did not need accomodations.  Thus, Enoch forms two historiographic moves.  As she explains: “By contextualizing the Chicanas’ testimonies, I investigate how forces of oppression and suppression functioned inside the courtroom. My analysis of Curtis’ response shows how powerful discourses use particular rhetorical strategies to interpret and then re-write women’s stories so that they work towards much different ends. When feminist historians make this methodological turn and examine how the audience in a rhetorical situation responds to and retells women’s rhetorics, they reveal the specific ways dominant and official discourses often discount and silence women’s words.” 


Also, as she explains, “By contextualizing women’s rhetorics to investigate the ways powerful audiences interpret and revise them, historians intensify the critical work of feminist history. Through this practice, they not only acknowledge the fact that women spoke and identify the constraints they overcame, but they also examine the specific methods that silenced women’s voices at particular times and places. Such a historiographic practice highlights the ways feminist historiography does indeed enact a “commitment to the future of women,” as it sharpens the awareness of present-day feminists, enabling them to identify, expose, and resist the intricate and subtle rhetorical strategies used to discount women’s claims-especially marginalized women’s claims (Glenn 174).


Yet still Enoch’s work does not stop there.  As she says, “Scholars can continue their historical pursuit by asking, what else happened to women’s rhetorics? By asking this question, feminist scholars can begin to understand how women’s words were remembered and retold in different rhetorical situations and how they achieved different rhetorical effects. This particular historiographic practice grounds itself in the idea that just because a rhetoric has been silenced in one venue does not mean it is gone forever.”  For instance, as Enoch shows, the cases’ rhetoric survived in the article written by the women’s lawyer as she used the Madrigal case to signify the sterilization as being emblematic of many women’s experiences in and outside the Chicana community.  Other activists retold the Madrigal cases as well to build a coalition against sterilization abuse. therefore, even though the women’s rhetorics did not achieve intended results, they lived on to have significant rhetorical power.  Enoch calls this method of studying the ongoing rhetorical effects of the Madrigal case “historiographic tracking.”   Questions at hand to perform historiographic tracking are simple really:  “What else happened to

this rhetoric?  Who else was listening?  Who might have retold these stories and to whom?” And to what effect?


So overall, four methods:


  1. Recovery women’s voice
  2.  situating them within a tradition (enables us to see how women’s rhetorics change)
  3. Contextualizing in rhetorical situation; investigate women’s words in use and powerful rhetorics aims to dismiss, ignore, disempower those rhetorics
  4. Historiographic tracing—expand boundaries of rhetorical situation



  1. examining our own prejudices; re-thinking disciplinary stories
  2. reconsider historiographic methods

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Cobb, Amanda “Powerful Medicine: The Rhetoric of Comanche Activist LaDonna Harris”


In this article, “Powerful Medicine: The Rhetoric of Comanche Activist LaDonna Harris,” Amanda Cobb models a solid social history of American Indian rhetoric.  Cobb begins her article by articulating the need for social histories of contemporary American Indian rhetoric because these rhetorics are being practiced by contemporary leaders and activists which are “teaching our communities how to move through the processes of decolonization and nation building to more fully exercise our sovereignty” (63). Cobb focuses her attention on the rhetorical practices of Comanche Activist LaDonna Harris, a relatively unknown activist who played an important role in “shaping and influencing American Indian policy from “inside” the system during the Red Power era” (64). According to Cobb, Harris is a leader who does not fit within traditional Western conceptions of leadership, which typically valorizes persons in high positions of power.  Harris was uniquely Comanche in that she modeled leadership and enacted rhetoric that was based directly on her Comanche worldview and value system (65). Harris, according to Cobb, deserves to be credited for what she created through her rhetorical delivery and rhetorical tactics. 


As Cobb explains, part of Harris’s rhetorical tactics was to create “new networks and relationships, new social spaces for Native issues, and new words, ideas, and philosophies”–all of which were grounded in Comanche values. Like Winnemucca, Harris “reinvented the enemies language” in order to create a rhetoric of sovereignty that worked for the benefits of Native peoples. For instance, Cobb credits Harris for the positive connotations and implications of the words “self-determination and sovereignty” (66)  Harris also is credited for creating intellectual and philosophical spaces.   Operating from the concept of nation-people, Harris lives the Commanche way of life and makes life and rhetorical choices based on Commanche values. These values are:  the value of kinship and responsibilities; the value of equality; the value of contribution;  and the value of redistribution.


Harris’s rhetorical delivery was dependent on the circle of kinship developed through various publications, forums, and conferences as well as the collaborative efforts in creating these networks and texts, which reflect the Commanche values of sharing and redistribution. As Cobb explains, Harris’ organization AIO published various newsletters, position papers, and reports that were intended to inform and persuade audiences to support specific Indian issues, help Natives cope with internalized oppression, and  influence government understanding of Indian issues. These documents not only developed kinship but also contributed to the processes of decolonization and recovery. To more specifically analyze Harris’ rhetorical tactics, Cobb rhetorically analyzes This is What We want to Share–a publication put out by AIO, which demonstrates an adherence to many Comanche values. In this piece of intellectual work, AIO relies on collective wisdom and shared knowledge of tribal citizens to create a strong example of  rhetorical sovereignty (75).  Not only did Harris and friends decide on their own style of discourse, they also created a “communitist text,” which is formed “from a combination of the words community and activism or activist. Communitist texts promote the “healing of grief and sense of exile felt by native communities and the pained individuals in them” (76).  These texts also enact a “decolonizing methodology,” which in this case relies on four rhetorical acts or moves made in the texts:  self-assertion bearing witness, developing counter-consciousness and building community, and sharing gifts. The communitist text, which uses these four rhetorical tactics, demonstrates that while writing has been used as a tool of oppression against American Indians, writing is also used as the first step in the healing process.


 These rhetorical tactics are worth noting:  Self-definition comes from the identification of “core tribal values”–in this case, being a good relative, inclusive sharing, contributing, and noncoercive leadership–which act as both the foundation and method of analysis for the rest of the writing (77). Bearing witness entails the articulation of pain experienced by Native communities.  “The rhetorical act of making the pain of colonization explicit is what Gloria Bird (Spokane) has called an act of “bearing witness to colonization…a testimony aimed at undoing those processes that attempt to keep us in the grips of the colonizer’s mental bondage” (78). Cobb explains that Harris connects the act of bearing witness to the Comanche value of contribution; every one bears witness in order for collective healing to occur. The third rhetorical act, or tactic, is developing a counter-consciousness, which is a path developed by the collective of ways to adapt tradition to contemporary existence and a take action for building community.  In this particular case, Harris ironically calls for the recovery of Native histories. Other counter-consciousness raising practices entail finding solutions based on core cultural values to issues of economic development, which have previously been determined by imposed economic categories (80-82). The fourth rhetorical tactic is sharing gifts which is based on the values of contribution and redistribution. In this particular case, AOI publications attempt to share core cultural values with rest of the world. By using terms such as “co-creaters, which related to core value of being a good relative,” AOI demonstrates a strong sense of self determination and sovereignty. All of these tactics, Cobb argues, create a strong rhetoric of decolonization that arises from Native traditions.  

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Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things


— philosopher, historian and critic often identified as a post-structuralist interested in destabilizing meaning, undermining theoretical systems of universality, and studying ways in which knowledge is produced in particular cultural and historical moments. 


In the The Order of Things, Foucault employs his method of archaeology to demonstrate how scientific knowledge is dependent on the prevailing epistemes of a culture in particular moments of time and thus scientific knowledge shifts and changes as the dominant epistemes shift and change throughout time and space.  To illustrate this point, Foucault reveals what he calls the positive unconscious of knowledge that was part of scientific discourse in three particular moments of European culture: the Renaissance, the Classical period and the modern era. According to Foucault, in its most originary form, language was thought of as a certain and transparent sign of nature due to immediate resemblance with the designated things (36). In the Renaissance, the episteme of similitudes still prevailed to a certain extent and thus interpretation had the power to reveal the true nature of things represented in language.


During the Classical period, the episteme of representation underlied the knowledge common to natural history, economics, and grammar.  As Foucault explains, knowledge of the natural world was based on identity and difference.  Through naming things, the being of things was defined and a universal science of order was developed. In terms of language, during the Classical period, language was thought to represent thought and thus language ordered thought.  General grammar erupted during the Classical period as the new episteme, which studied the verbal order of signs, ie. Discourse.  With the development of General Grammar, a system of identities and differences that each language was thought to employ and constitute was developed.  In other words, like in natural history, a taxonomy of language was identified which made discourse possible.  Proposition became the virtue of language; the verb to be distinguished the difference between signs and language.  Discourse took on a new perceived main purpose: nomination, ie. Verbal representation.  “To speak or write is not to say things or to express oneself, it is not a matter of playing with language, it is to make one’s way toward the sovereign act of nomination, to move, through language, towards the place where things and words are conjoined in their common essence, and which makes it possible to give them a name.”  Nomination was key because in the Classical period language was a main form of knowing; “it was only by the medium of language that the things of the world could be known” (296).   Language revealed truth. Therefore, in natural history, classification made possible through language became the dominant methodology, which created taxonomies that defined and ordered the natural world.  People understood the natural world only through language which represented it and revealed its true nature.


However, in the 19th century which designates the modern era,  language is demoted as it become divorced from representation; language was no longer thought to bring someone closer to knowledge/truth.  Instead, language became an object of science itself and what was revealed was that knowledge is both governed and paralyzed by language (298).  Language came to be studied in different ways:  by philologists who asserted language was formed and deposited by history; by formalists who identified universal forms of discourse; by those interested in interpretation who revealed hidden meaning and brought it to the surface; and by literary writers who viewed language as arising for its own sake (304).  With this demotion of language,  Classical episteme virtually disappeared.  The nature of language also became fragmented and as Foucault explains, Discourse as ordered and linear disappears.  Simultaneaously, the advent of man, both as object of knowledge and subject of knowing, appears on the epistemological scene.


 He then attempts to demonstrate shifts in episteme that led to the development of biology, political economy, and philology that appear at the beginning of the 19th century.  



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