Response to Evocative Objects: Things we Think With

In Evocative Objects, Sherry Turkle edits a delightful, moving anthology that puts objects and their human relations front and center. In this book, 34 authors (scientists, scholars, artists, architects) describe their relations to evocative objects–objects that are both companions to our emotional lives and provocations of thought (Turkle 5). As many of the author’s autiobiographical accounts testify, “objects have life roles that are multiple and fluid” (6). Objects also exert their holding power, as Turkle puts it (8), for different reasons. Some objects are evocative because they are uncanny, familiar yet somehow off and therefore creepy (8). Other objects evoke strong memories and/or represent part of our identities that some of us, like Henry Jenkins, can’t just seem to shake. No matter what meaning they come to take on in our lives, objects, Turkle argues, are our life companions. As such, they deserve more philosophical and theoretical attention.

I like this book because from a rhetorical perspective, the chapters resonate. The stories authors tell, the epigraphs Turkle chose to accompany each chapter, and the insights Turkle draws from these stories are provocative and filled with many one-liners worth thinking more about.

  • Evocative objects bring philosophy down to earth”– when we focus on objects, we are able to “find common ground in everyday experiences” (Turkle 8).
  • Objects are able to catalyze self-creation (Turkle 9).
  • Thought does not take place in a vacuum—it takes places in various media of expression (Garner 50).
  • The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims…for all of us, in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend its significance….We can never look directly at them, for they are bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other things by their means, and in handling the real world we should be stricken with helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these mental objects (James 127).
  • Taken individually, consumer objects have no meaning—that comes from their participation in a system of objects. In this framework we don’t consume individual objects; we consume the social order that they belong to. We by the vacuum; we consume assumptions about gender, households, families, and social status (Greenslit 139).
  • Objects speak in a way that destroys any simply stories we might tell about our relations to nature, history, and the inanimate; they destroy any simple sense we might have about progress and our passage through time (Turkle paraphrasing Latour 313)
  • Words become part of a thing (Vygotsky 47)

I also appreciate how Turkle and the authors give name to many different kinds of objects:

Reflective objects (Jenkins)

Deep objects—something that guides and disciplines curiosity and fascination into interaction and self-transformation (Crease 294)

Object-to-think-with (Keller)

Objects of design and play

Objects of Discipline and Desire

Objects of History and Exchange

Objects of Transition and Passage

Objects of Mourning and Memory

Objects of Mediation and New Vision

Yet, I can’t help but notice that in this renaming, in this making sense of what objects do for, Turkle is consumed with what objects do for our inner lives. Turkle, of course, is interested in psychoanalysis, identity formation, cognition, etc. It is thus only natural she would think and produce theories about objects with these functions in mind. As the reader, however, I can’t help but ask what else do objects do? How do objects make contributions to collective life besides bringing forth feelings and thoughts to mind?

In this book, meanings about objects are all made from a reflective standpoint. As such, the focus of the object is not so much on the object itself but on what humans get from their relations with objects or more specifically what humans learned from objects, how humans played with objects, how humans were transformed by objects. What might we learn about objects if we work harder to actually put objects at the center of our studies? While difficult, I think we can learn a lot more about objects and ourselves if we can work toward this goal.


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Lunsford, Andrea, ed. — Rhetorica Reclaimed,

Rhetorica Reclaimed, Andrea Lunsford, editor (1995)


Aimed to disrupt the “seamless narrative” of the rhetorical tradition and create space for other rhetorics, Rhetorica Reclaimed offers a series of rhetorical studies of women’s rhetorics, which both reread classical texts and recover and theorize a plethora of rhetorical forms, strategies, and goals not previously considered in the rhetorical tradition.   To recover this body of rhetorics, rhetorical scholars take a historical approach to rhetorically analyze a wide variety of women’s rhetorics from antiquity through medieval times to the 20th century.  In their recovery of rhetorics employed by figures such as Aspasia, Diotima, Margery Kempe, Mary Astell, Margaret Fuller, Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth, and Julia Kristeva, feminist historiographers also rely heavily on gender analysis, genre analysis and draw on feminist and postcolonial theories.  As these scholars demonstrate, recovery of women’s rhetorics demand a turn toward alternative sites of oral and written persuasion used both in the public and private domain.  The wide range of sites include:  speeches, autobiographies, letters, fragments of classical texts, syllabi and other teaching materials, articles, lectures, scholarly work, and pamphlets.  Common strategies identified in women’s rhetorics across time and cultures include rhetorical strategies such as breaking silence; subverting traditional genres; naming in personal terms or truth telling; employing dialogics, recognizing and using the power of conversation; and valuing collaboration.  As well as diversity in terms of sites and strategies, studies of women’s rhetorics reveal that multiple purposes were achieved in women’s rhetorical practices that include but are not limited to:  empowerment of self and audience, inspiration, motivation, theoretical enlightenment, survival, self-expression, conversation, self-definition, articulation of fears, and promotion of action. 


Included in this anthology is Susan Jarrat and Rory Ong’s article “Rhetoric, Gender and Colonial Ideology,” which along with Cheryl Glenn’s work on Aspasia stimulated a series of debates about truth, evidence, and history.  In Jarrat and Ong’s article, the authors attend to questions of whether or not Aspasia existed, how we can come to know Aspasia, and what kinds of historiographical tasks are required to read Aspasia–as rhetorician–into the rhetorical tradition.  Jarrat and Ong argue that the recovery of Aspasia in classical texts such as Menexenus reveal that Aspasia “marks the intersection of discourses on gender and colonialism, production and reproduction, rhetoric and philosophy[ which] makes her a rich site for interpretative work” (10).  Jarratt and Ong employ their imagination in recovering what roles Aspasia might have played in sophistic rhetorics by analyzing the ways in which Plato gave voice to Aspasia.  It is this use of imagination, perhaps, that lead Gale to raise concerns about historiographical recovery work.  



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Glenn, Cheryl — Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance

In this important text, Cherly Glenn studies the ways in which women from antiquity through the Renaissance contributed to rhetorical history and theory and performed gender through rhetorical practices.  Questions that arise in this study do not just attend to an identification of rhetorical strategies employed to achieve various rhetorical purposes at particular moments in time, but also what strategies were used to become visible in their particular communities and take an active role in public life.  Thus, this work studies the ways women enacted both resistance and negotiation to break through social and educational boundaries that confined women in silence, chastity, and domestic confinement.  In doing so, Glenn helps break through the silence in our own field that has contributed to a gendered landscape of rhetorical history that excludes the ways in which women across time and culture have employed rhetoric to construct culture.  By remapping rhetorical territory through a gender analysis of women’s rhetorics, Glenn attempts to rewrite rhetorical history, regender rhetorical theory, and remap the rhetorical tradition.  To do so, Glenn models a performative historiography that both looks back to and interrogates the never previously questioned rhetorical scholarship produced in our field. In addition, she recovers new rhetorical practitioners and practices that have been excluded in the rhetorical tradition and thus redraws the traditional boundaries of rhetoric.  Glenn concludes by offering four strategies to continue regendering the rhetorical tradition:  devise new methodologies that allow feminist historiographers to hear the women rhetoricans speak; engage in collaboration; investigate silence as a feminine rhetorical site; and expand our studies beyond famous historical women who have refused to be forgotten and silenced.  Glenn reminds us in her final words that there are endless possibilities to recover women’s rhetorics; we simply need to listen.


In Rhetoric Retold, Glenn locates Sappho Aspasia, , Diotima, Hortensia, Fluvian, Julian of Norwhich, Margery Kempe, Margaret More Roper, Anne Askew and Elizabeth I.   While some of these women left written poetry, speeches, letters, and books, some women such as Aspasia, and Diotima exist only in secondary texts written by men. 

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Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs — Man Cannot Speak for Her

Man Cannot Speak for Her  Karlyn Kohrs Campbell


In this seminal text in feminist historiography, Campbell attempts to write the early women’s feminist movement that primary focused on suffrage from the 1830s through the the mid-1920s into rhetorical history.  Working from a definition of rhetoric as the available means symbols can be used to persuade, Campell specifically recovers the rhetorics employed by women rights advocates and suffragists, who also used rhetoric in many cases for abolition and temperance efforts.   While Volume I of Man Cannot Speak for Her anthologizes the rhetorics used in the woman’s suffrage movement, Volume II offers a collection and annotation of the key rhetorical documents from this movement.  Together these offer an incomplete but important effort to recover early feminist rhetoric in the United States and write women into the rhetorical canon.  In addition to revising rhetorical history through these efforts, Campbell also attempts to broaden conceptions of rhetoric itself.  As she notes, many early feminists struggled for the right to speak by subverting concepts of “true womanhood,” venturing onto the public rhetorical platform, “masculanizing” their speech, and defying sexist biological assumptions.  Therefore, early feminist met much resistance and had to use rhetoric creatively to confront this resistance and be heard.  While women such as the Grimke sisters, Elizabeth Cady Canton, and Susan B. Anthony took a more assertive and less “feminine” approach to gain rights for women, social feminists such as Frances Willard took a more traditional “feminine” approach. In addition to difference in approaches, early feminist’s rhetorical style varied as well as their uses of evidence and appeals.  Man Cannnot Speak for Her documents not only these creative, rhetorical  approaches but the tensions inside the suffrage, temperance, and abolition movements that arose as early feminists disagreed on rhetorical strategies, goals, and ideals.  The end product is a useful documentary of the rhetorical diversity used in the struggle for woman’s advancement. 

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DeCerteau’s “The Historiographical Operation”

DeCerteau’s “The Historiographical Operation”  came out of French school in 1920s.


What historians fabricate when they “make history” is the central focus of DeCerteau’s “The Historiographical Operation.”  DeCerteau claims when we envision history as an operation, we understand its relation between a place (institution), analytical procedures (discipline), and the construction of a text (a literature) -57.  Thus the historical operation refers to a social place, “scientific” practices, and writing -57.  What we need to know is that writing history is a function of an institution, which naturally demands both obeyance of rules and an interrogation of those rules -57. 


The institution of knowledge, which marks the beginning of modern science, stemmed from the fear that subjects too readily fill the gaps in history through analysis, which makes writing of history too subjective – 57.  One consequence stemming from the time of Bacon and Descartes is the “depoliticalization” of intellectuals and the rise of specialization.  – 58.  Yet, this does not mean that the scientific process should be alienated from the social “body” -62   In fact, as Habermas has argued,  not only is a “repoliticalization necessary, but historical discourse must be never analyzed as independent from its discipline -63  The historical texts always reveals its ties to the institution.  For the members of a discipline dictate the value of history; they are the laws of the milieu -63.  They accredit and police the historical project and text.  Thus the historical texts is always a product of a discipline and “expresses an operation which is situated within a totality of practices” -64. 


What is the valued historical text?  The one that is recognized by peers, can be situated within an operative set, represents some progress in the contemporary status of historical “objects” and methods, and one that makes new research possible (64).

As such, the historical text is both  “a result and a symptom” of the discipline itself.  “It is the product and the place” – 64  It is both authoritative and produces scientific research – 65


Methods, as Kuhn points out as well, define institutional behavior and the laws of mileu.  Science is not autonomous;  it is a practice connected to and relative to societal structure- 66.   The claim of neutrality is nothing more than a reference to the “metamorphosis of the convictions into ideologies, in a technochractic and antonomously  productivist society that can no longer either designate its choices or keep track of its powers” – 68 (Nietzsche says as much too). 


DeCerteau writes “before knowing what history says of a society, we have to analyze how history functions within it” – 68.   The institution both censors and permits historical research depending on the current social, economic, and political state of affairs.  History is thus “shaped by the system within which it is developed” – 69.  As such, no historical anlaysis should be conducted without a consideration of the connection between history and the institution from which it stems – 69 History without this analysis is ideology, which forbids history from being history – 69.


DeCerteau reminds us that history does not divorce the social from the natural.  In fact, history connects a socialization of nature and a “naturalization” of social relations because historical work “participates in the movement through which a society transforms it relation to nature by changing the “natural” into the utilitarian, or into the esthetic, or by making a social institution shift from one status to another  – 71.  In a sense, historical work “civilizes” nature, or if you will, colonizes and changes it – 72.  [Historians are alchemists – eileeen]


When history changes its own discipline, then it is considered scientific – 72


Doing history begins with setting things aside, or collecting them, and documenting them.   Archives are “gigantic machines” that make possible different histories -74.  Archives became an obsession for scholars who wanted to create a totalizing taxonomy and “create universal instruments proportioned to their passion for comprehensiveness” – 74.  Through this attempt, not only was language constructed, but methods and appropriate objects for historical work were defined -74.  Archives then contribute to history as science because it “produces a redistribution of space and when it consists, first of all, in ascribing a place for itself through the establishment of sources—that is to say , through an institutionalizing action and through transformational techniques” – 75

Archives and libaries play the role of the “erudite machine” that Nietzsche so detested in the 1870s.  As an apparatus of the institution, they monumentalize and organize “the locus where from now on all scientific research circulates” (77).  [Eileen-archives are theatre where history is staged.  Who is setting the stage?]


 In the past, DeCereau explains, making history was achieved by collecting limited evidence from which it “sponged” diversity in attempt to “unify everything into coherent comprehension” -78  Totalization resulted from the scientific need to replace philosophy as the leader in epistemology.  Today, historical research is conducted by uncovering deviations found in the unlikeliest of places (outside the archives).  These deviations, these differences, demythologize and demystify through historical criticism -82


DeCerteau discusses three aspects of the historical practice:


a.)   the mutation of meaning or of the “real” in the production of significant deviations


            in past, history presented as an evolution of successive, coexisting figures of same             meaning—an orientation.  Today, history is measure of deviations, differences.              “in times past, life was not the way it is today…” – 83  Through distancing,             meaning is eliminated while being established.  Meaning is revealed through             forging of pertinent differences  – 84. 

b.)   particular events of historical research limit what can be thought.  Making history means identifying the already explained but also naming that which has previously been explained and identifies it as fact.- 84.  Particularities “signify by referring back to acts, to persons, and to everything that remains outside of both knowledge and discourse” – 85.

c.)   Creation of place that established within present time the ambivalent figuration of the past and future.  “it necessitates clarification of the relation of dominant forms of reasoning to a proper place which, in opposition to a “past,” becomes the present; differentiation of past and present is engendered” yet also, “the figure of the past keeps its primary value of representing what is lacking. “  – 85  thus “history is always ambivalent: the locus that it careves for the past is equally a fashio of making a place for a future” -85   history is representation of difference 86


Writing History:


Writing history can be thought of as a servitude according to Marou because in effect, the foundation of textual space is a series of distoritions in respect to analytical procedure – 86


Discourse has several constraints which lead to distoritions of history:

a.)   prescribes for beginning what is in reality a point of arrival; oldest is taken as beginning.

b.)   Closure of book or article contradicts unending nature of research; text is organized by need to finish the text

c.)   Fills gaps in research, which is contradictory to very principle of research that research is sharpened through lack; substitutes meaining in gaps. – 87


Writing then is inverted image of practice – 87.  Writing history is mirror writing—it traces signs of silence through the inversion of a normative practices and its social coding.  They hide their relations to the political and commercial, but they also set apareft something foreign to current relations—they produce secretes within language -87.  History writing –historiography—teaches lessons.  It is didactic yet at same time it both reveals and hides lack—it confesses a “prescence of death amidst the living like cemeteries in city  – 87 


Discourse is located outside the experience that gives it credibility; discourse which is chronological and puts forth a discursive time betrays research – 88  it manipulates time and thus allows for play. 


Creating this chronological referential time (temporalization) provides three services to history:

a.)   makes oppositions compatible through narrative and thus pretends to provide reasoning and thus preserve possibility of science or philosophy, yet in reality hides their absence; 89-90

b.)   allows classification by history; creates forward movement in time when research actually moves backward; it creates a non-place; myth is transformed into chronological postulate; “in order for narrative to come down present time, it must be authorized by this higher “nothing” –non-place- which has already been constructed through historiography; “ a ghost insinuates itself into historiography and determines its organization; it is the law of the other -91

c.)   by creating imaginary beginning and filling meaning in with narrative, discourse establishes a position for the reader.  Text holds together contradictions of unstable time; it restores ambivalence; it makes room for a labor.  -92  (that labor is to create in present time a place to be filled)




Read 92 – 96 on your own.  don’t have enough grasp to articulate clearly. Here he develops typology of discourse…


DeCerteau essentially claims that historical texts have double quality of combining semantization with a selection, and directing an intelligibility toward a normativity. -92


Historical writing as all discourse is performative -96. 


“The ruse of historiography consists of creating what Barthes describes as a “fake performative discourse in which the apparent declarative element is in fact no more thean the signifier of the speech-act taken to be an act of authority” – 96


history is based on events which permit intelligibility by supporting ordering on chronological axis and making condition of classification 96 


historiography exorcizes what is not understood in order to make of it a means of comprehension  – 96


Comprehension is achieve through semantic choices:   articulation of historical categories—century, social class, nation,etc.—codes which provides narrative with logic.  

And organization, which cements the foundation of textual system-97  As a result, a “reason” of history becomes thinkable: “the facts enunciate this semanticization by accrediting it with a referential language; the event obfuscates its gaps with a proper name what is added to the continous narrative and masks its ruptures -98. 



DeCerteau concludes by explaining role of the dead in history:  on one level, writing plays role of burial rite—it exorcizes death by insterting it into discourse. On the other hand, writing posseses a symbolizing function—it allows a society to situate itself by giving itself a past through language, and thus opens the present a space of its own” – 100


historical narrative uses death to articulate a law of the present.  It teaches by filling in gaps.  Narrativity, the metaphor of performance discourse, is both a discourse of law and a realistic illusion.  it produces history and tells story at same time; objectivity is thus questionable….”historical discourse is the favored representation in Jacques Lacan’s words, of a ‘science of the subject,’ and of the subject ‘taken in a constituent division’ –but with a staging of the relations that a social body keeps with its language” –the end.- 102.



















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AFRICAN AMERICAN RHETORIC(S) Edited by Elaine Richardson and Ronald Jackson

African American Rhetorics—study of culturally and discursively developed knowledge-forms, communicative practices, and persuasive strategies rooted in freedom struggles by people of African ancestory in America.


Essays in this book attempt to:

a.)   broaden contemporary conceptionalization of AAR

b.)   dileneate debates within our field, African American lit and crit, and African American studies

c.)   explore the development, meaning, themes, strategies, and arguments of AAR as well as their connections to culture, rhetoric, poetics, comp, and literacy.


Introduction by Keith Gilyard:


In this introduction, Gilyard sketches a particlar body of rhetorical scholarship beginning with Carter G. Woodson’s (1925) documentation and catalog of African American oratory, of which Christian pulpit oratory played a major part alongside abolition oratory, slave narratives, progressive oratory.  Religious oratory was so important from the outset of African American rhetorical tradition because it was the “primary channel by which millions of Blacks came to comprehend and speculate about the social world of which they were part” (4).  From there, Gilyard describes the work of Lowell Mooseberry who analyzed a broader array of black oratory and identified the African American rhetorical tendancy to move away from the use of induction, deduction, casual reasoning  and instead what Mooseberry identifies jubilee rhetoric, which ocillates between tragedy and jubilant responses.  Gilyard then introduces the work of Boulware, who was the first to treat AAR in 20th century.  Boulware identifies 6 goals of black oratory during this period:

1.)   protest grievances

2.)   state complaints

3.)   demand rights

4.)   advocate racial cooperation

5.)   mold racial consciousness

6.)   stimulate racial pride.


The work of the Basmajians as well as Scott and Brockriede was also important Gilyard claims because they framed their analyses of AAR within the rhetorical and historical campaigns of the civil rights movements.  Smith’s work was especially important as it provided the most in-depth work in AAR and focused on what Smith called “agitational rhetoric”.  Smith identifies a four part strategic structure of long term agitation campaigns:

1.)   vilification—create antihero by attacking ideas, actions, and being of opposition, dominant group

2.)   Objectification—blame specific, but ill-defined group

3.)   Mythication—suggest “supranational” forces and employ religious symbolism to convey proof of spirital support  in collective efforts

4.)   Legitimation—justify one’s own actions or fellow activist’s actions by reversing blame an citing the oprressor’s “original  sin”


Smith also identifies four part thematic structure of secular agitational rhetorics:

1.)   all blacks face a common enemy

2.)   conspiracy exists to violate black manhood

3.)   pervasive American hypocrisy exists

4.)   black unity is requisite for Black liberation


Smith and Robb were also first to identify Nommo—african belief in pervasive, mystical, transformative, even life-giving power of the Word.  


Gilyard next points to the work of Golden and Rieke, who identified various poltical goals and rhetorical issues in AAR, and the work of Geneva Smitherman, who popularized Black modes of discourse of signification, call-response, tonal semantics, and narrative sequencing as well as conceptualized AAVE, which encompasses signification, personalization, tonal semantics, and sermonice tone. 


Gilyard touches on the work of others such as Shirly Logan and JJRoyster and then explains Jackson’s Afrocentric model in which Nommo is posited as center revolved around by eight other elements:  rhythm, soundin’, stylin’, improvisation, storytelling, lyrical code, image making, and call and response (17-18). 


Noted is Geneva Smitherman’s Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black American (1977/1986).  “Although primarily considered a linguist, Smitherman is perhaps most responsible for popularizing the “Black Modes of Discourse,” vernacular conceptions that are invaluable with respect to rhetorical analysis” (14).  The modes are (1) call-response, a series of spontaneous interactions between speaker and listener; (2) signification, the art of humorous put downs; (3) tonal semantics, the conveying of meanings in Black discourse through specifically ethnic kinds of voice rhythms and vocal inflections; and (4) narrative sequencing, the habitual use of stories to explain and/or persuade.  “Smitherman (1995) alternately conceptualizes an African American Verbal Tradition (AAVT) the encompasses (1) signification, (2) personalization, (3) tonal semantics, and (4) sermonic tone” (15).  For example, Smitherman suggests that AAVT was at play during the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill incident, and it made Thomas a “more sympathetic figure.”


Keith Gilyard presented an array of African American rhetorical accomplishments, strategies, methods, publications, and cultural style that shows the richness of the rhetoric field.  “. . . Stylin’ is the notion that a speaker has combined rhythm, excitement, and enthusiasm which propel a message and the audience. . . . Improvisation is a stylistic device which is a verbal interplay, and strategic catharsis often resulting from the hostility and frustration of a white-dominated society.  It is spontaneity. . . . Storytelling . . . is often used by a rhetor to arouse epic memory. . . . Lyrical Code is the preservation of the word through a highly codified system of lexicality.  It is the very dynamic lyrical quality which provides youth to the community usage of standard and Black English” (17).   Elaine B. Richardson and Ronald L. Jackson, II’s African American Rhetoric(s) continues the tradition and conversation.




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American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance: Word Medicine, Word Magic Edited by Ernest Stromberg

In his introduction to this collection, Stromberg offers rich insight into American Indian rhetorics, beginning with the point that the exclusion of American Indians voices and practices from the Western rhetorical tradition is part of what Stephen Riggins calls the longstanding “rhetoric of othering” within our field (3).  This collection, demonstrates, however, that American Indians do have a rhetorical history, which when directed at a white audience, often involve “bridging communication divisions while maintaining an insistence on difference” (3).  In most of these insistences, Stromberg reminds us, American Indians must face the rhetorical task of “discovering and applying another’s “available means of persuasion” (3).  For this collection, Stromberg defines rhetoric as the “use of language or other forms of symbolic action to produce texts (in the broadest possible sense) that affect changes in attitudes, beliefs, or actions of the audience” (4).  He draws on Bitzer to describe the rhetorics of contact, which American Indians have been enacting since the Europeans arrived on U.S. soil, as “an unending chain of rhetorical situations, replete with ‘exigence, audience, [and often overwhelming] constraints’” (5).  Much of this process has also involved revising, replacing, or tearing down the terministic screens through which whites have viewed and communicated with American Indians.  Although American Indians certainly have rich and complex rhetorical traditions enacted within their own cultures surrounding ceremony and internal decision-making processes, the majority of this collection focus on post-contact rhetorical acts used to bridge communication between American Indians and European and American colonizers (5).  These acts demonstrate an acute awareness of audience, appropriation of language, style, and beliefs on American Indian rhetor’s part.  As Stromberg eloquently puts it, “this study confirms the truism that in situations of extreme opposition, the oppressed of necessity know more of the oppressor’s ways than the oppressors understand the ways of those whom they oppress” (6). In essence, both the American Indian rhetors who are being written about and the rhetors producing this scholarship provide evidence that American Indians “demonstrate not only a mastery of the available Western means of persuasion, they also enlarge conceptions of rhetoric itself” (7).  It is through this demonstration that this collection contributes to the Native intellectual tradition that Robert Allen Warrior advocates we begin to understand.


Craig Womack and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn make it clear that part of the American Indian intellectual, rhetorical tradition is literature, which often functions rhetorically to aid Native communities in their defense of sovereignty.  Jace Weaver identifies such rhetoric—rhetorics committed to Native community—as “communitist” (qtd. on 7).  Recognizing contemporary literature as important rhetorical acts gives presence and acknowledgement to American Indian rhetorics, for which Scott Lyon advocates and is in desperate need thanks to text such as George Kennedy’s Comparative Rhetorics, which reinscribes the “vanishing Indian” narrative. 


This text is organized in three sections, the first of which is devoted to uncovering the effective rhetorical strategy of appropriation. Matthew Dennis, for instance, demonstrates how as an Indian rhetor, Seneca leader Red Jacket appropriates elements of Christian discourse, sentimentalism, and nationalism to make sophisticated arguments on behalf of Seneca sovereign rights when white America itself was groping with an emerging sense of national identity.  Patricia Bizzell, on the other hand, demonstrates how Pequot author and Methodist minister William Apes appropriates the rhetorical elements of the “American jeremiad” to invoke “the audience’s cherished values and prophes[y] dire consequences for the [white, Puritan, American] community if these values are not served” (36).  The appropriation of this genre’s elements is an example of what Powell call’s the rhetoric of ‘survivance.’  Another instance of American Indian rhetoric that uses appropriation as a rhetorical strategy is Elias Boudinot’s editorials in the Cherokee Phoenix, which appropriates democratic discourse from the Constitution to argue against the removal of Cherokees from their land. 


In the second section of this text called “Rhetorical Self-Refashioning”—a term borrowed from James Clifford’s concept of ethnographic self-fashioning—rhetorical scholars recover the autobiographies of Indian rhetors to demonstrate how storytelling and construction of self act rhetorically to help Indian rhetors obtain assistance and right for their own peoples.  Powell shows, for instance, how reform movement advocate Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins employs tactics of representation and tropes and figures of “savagery” and “civilization” to authenticate and authorize her self as a civilized Indian woman in order to establish a credible ethos in the eyes of her audience and help make connections with them in order to persuade them of reform (80).  Ernest Stromberg himself discusses how native writers Francis LaFlesche and Zitkala-Sa use narrative to confront the dominant assimiliation discourses of their time that claim American Indians need “civilizing,” which entails  a process, in their eyes, of cultural abandonment.  Stromberg shows how through the use of identification and appeals to sentimentality in  their narratives, LaFlesche and Zitkala develop consubstantiality of Indian peoples or in other words develop a share commonality of humanity with white audience. Yet, through irony, these native writers simultaneously critique and persuade their audience of the injustices of Indian education (108).  Lastly, in this section, Janna Knittel, demonstrates how in his life story Prison Writings:  My Life is My Sundance, political prisoner Leonard Peltier employs historical parallels (Native issues to holocaust and Vietnam)  metaphorical references (sundance) and features of oral storytelling (repition) to advocate for his own freedom and articulate native spirituality. 


In the third section,  authors reveals the role that autobiography and storytelling play in American Indian rhetorics.  Holly Baumgartner, for instance,  analyzes autobiographies across time and tribal cultures through the conceptual lens of Baktin’s heteroglossia to show how cultural appropriation and code switching played major rhetorical roles in individual autobiographies that had commmunitist objectives.  Baumgarter notes, for instance, how Charles Eastmen code switched and used autobiography as a site of rhetorical resistance.  Baumgarter also makes clear that autobiographies are sites of negotiating various identities created by forced assimilation.  Autobiographies, according to Baumgarter, were intended to generate a response; they served as an opportunity to reconstruct their lives and thus signified a coming to consciousness that was necessary for de-assimiliation ( 141).   Karen Redfield, on the other hand, looks at the role of storytelling in Native newspapers and television shows, which she claims functions similarly to oral storytellers.  She reminds us that “radio and television stations, movies, and newspapers are all forms of contemporary Native communication that exemplifies ‘internal rhetoric’” (157).  Internal rhetoric, she argues, is contemporary resistance enacted to a great degree through stories told for their own people  and through parody (159).  Redfield concludes by stating three reasons for why non-Indian researchers and teachers need to be aware of American Indian rhetorics:  a.) to facilitate success of American Indian students in college; b.) we have much to learn about rhetoric from American Indian rhetors; and c.) because we are living in a constant contact zone, studying American Indian rhetorics can lead to deeper cultural understanding (162). 


In the final section of this book, authorize theorize American Indian rhetorics to show how American Indians rewrite history through fiction and trickster stories, disrupt Cartesian understandings of the world, fight for self-determination, and self-definition. 



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cintron, Ralph — Angel’s Town


Ethnographers situate their studies differently.  History is contextualized and politicized. 


Field sites are frozen in time in ethnographies.  In Cintron, however, site is not frozen.  The site is constructed through his eyes.  The site is created through his ethos.


Historicizes his work, his site, the everyday rhetorics.


Cintron acknowledges that he is contributed to meaning making at the same time he acknowledge ethnography is fiction to a certain extent.  We write what we see, which is influenced by our own histories.  Our ethos influences logos as logos influence ethos.


Cintron says ethos works like logos.  You develop your ethos through interactions with people in or at your fieldsite.  Most researchers situate ethnography on autobiographical plane.  Ethnographers always connect study with earlier point in life.  Therefore, their ethos constitutes their logos and avice versa.  Fieldsites can be understood as objects of knowledge and as extensions of a life-pattern or ethos-8.


The fieldsite mediated in text created by ethnographer is different then the actual fieldsite as experienced by subject and/or ethnographers.  He includes his own autobiography in this ethnography.


Read  The practices of everyday life-De Certeau


Rhetorics of Everyday Life:


He focus on rhetorics of daily life and treats everything has having meaning that can be connected to everything else.


In order to make a claim, you need to perform a claim.  You need to explain your process, how you see the world.   On page 10,


He’s conducting a metaethnography.  He’s deconstructing ethnography while he his conducting it. 


My question:  Why is he adopting rhetorics of everyday life and divorcing himself from everyday litearcies?


Is that move necessary?  Why is literacy not part of this text????


Techne of doing fieldwork and techne of writing ethnography is a reasoned habit of mind in making something: 


The ethics of naming:  Pretend town name give community power.  Why did he change name?  It symbolizes ambiguity he experienced in Angeltown.  Pseudonym a is a larger trope that helps him understand problem with fieldwork, the difficulty of finding the truth inside the lie, the lie inside the truth (xiii).


Ethnography is a social construct!  Ethnography has multiple fictions.


Writing is a means of the state to order society and keep it stable.  (52 – 55).


“De-composition” —McCruer


poetry and the language of revolution—kristeva—


Don Angel—performance and stylistic markers–



Inheritance of Lust




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Yagleski, Robert “A Rhetoric of Contact: Tecumseh and the Native American Confederacy”


In this essay (1995), Yagleski draws on the work of Mary Louise Pratt to define rhetoric as a “site of contact and social struggle between Native Americans and white Americans iin the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” (66).  As a specific site of contact and social struggle, Yagleski explores the rhetoric used by Tecumseh in which, as a self-proclaimed representative of all native peoples rather than his Shawnee tribe, he attempts to unite Native Americans in opposition to colonial expansionism as he simultaneously rebukes a signed treaty giving Native American land in central Indiana to the U.S. government.  Yalgleski argues that this particular site is important for understanding “new” rhetorical strategies used to preserve native cultures and ways of life in the face of white colonialism, which differ from traditional uses of oratory and public discourse enacted within Native societies (65).  To highlight this difference, Yagleski explores traditional forms of rhetoric used with various native cultures to show that oral rhetoric played in integral role in the social and political lives of Native Americans and “reflected their particular social, cultural, political and historical circumstances” (69).  Yagleski argues that the rhetorical strategies used in council meetings within tribal communities “differed from the ways in which whites negotiated” (70) and that the new rhetorical strategies used in points of contact with whites reflected Native leaders’ rhetorical awareness to deal effectively with their white audience.  As an example, Yagleksi identifies two connected rhetorical strategies used by Tecumseh that are “new” rather than traditional:  adopting a nativist ethos to argue for racial unity and  adopting the ethos of  native leader representing all native communities, both of which grew out “the emerging new sense of Native American idenitity that Dowd labels polygenesis” (74).   This new rhetoric, Yagleski argues, “represents a point of contact between two cultures with different political systems and differing conceptions of cultural identity (74).  It served as a tool for cultural and political survival and evolved as a result of contact with whites; therefore, it represents that rhetorics of contact that Pratt claims we ought to be investigating.





Key quotes:


Pratt:  argues that when describing “speech of ‘dominated’ groups has been portrayed by linguistic scholars,” many scholars “conceive of such groups as ‘separate speech communities with their own boundaries, sovereignty, fraternity, and authenticity’ (56) [and] mispresent the speech of these groups so that ‘social difference is seen as constituted by distance and separation rather than by ongoing contact and structured relations in a shard social space.  Language is seen as a nexus of social identity, but not as a site of social struggle or a producer of social relations” (56).  Pratt further argues that “such a limited perspective ‘ignores the extent to which dominant and dominated groups are not comprehensible apart from each other, wot which their speech practices are organized to enact their difference and their hierarchy’” (59). “ In place of  ‘linguistic of community,’ Pratt proposes a ‘linguistics that decenter[s] community, that place[s] at is centre the operation of language across  lines of social difference, a linguistics that [is] focues on modes and zones of contact between dominant and dominated groups (all of this qtd on 66). 


Critique:  talks of Native Americans in past tense; also what is negative implication of  focusing on rhetorics of contact?  Does that contribute to the denial of coevalness???

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Lu, Xing. “Studies and Development of Comparative Rhetoric in the U.S. A.: Chinese and Western Rhetoric in Focus”

In this article, Xing Lu describes the evolution of comparative rhetoric in rhetorical studies between Chinese rhetoric and Western rhetoric as has having occurred in four stages:  deficiency stage, recognition/emergence stage, the native/emic stage, and the appreciation/appropriation stage.  According to Lu, the during the deficiency stage, arguments about Chinese rhetorics are premised on the lack of logical thinking and rational arguments supposedly inherent in Chinese languages and tradition.  Robert Oliver, for instance, in his early study of ancient eastern rhetorics declares the “ancient East has not been much interested in logic…nor has it favored either definition and classification as aids to clear thought”  (Communication and Culture in Ancient Indian and China 10).  Other scholars have noted that Chinese rhetoric lacks logics of the West due to inability to make fine distinctions and abstractions.  Whatever the reason, during this stage, Chinese rhetorical practices are compared and deemed inferior to the logical, abstract, and definable practices of rhetoric of the West.  During the recognition/emergence stage, the stage in which Kennedy’s comparative Rhetoric was published, rhetorical scholars fully acknowledged and validated the value of non-Western rhetorics, identifying both similarities and differences between rhetorics of the East and West.  Still problems arose during this state of recognition. With Kennedy’s attempt to identify a “general theory” of rhetoric applicable to all societies and to develop a universal discourse with which to describe all rhetorical practices cross-culturally, for instance, Kennedy falls victim to creating an evolutionary model of rhetoric among other problems. Longings for a universal rhetoric also tend to erase difference all together.

            In the native/emic stage, rhetorical schlolars attempt to define non-western rhetorical practices on its own terms and in consideration of the social/political/cultural contexts in which they were produced.  Mao’s work on Confucian rhetoric is exemplary here as he shows that while Western conceptions of rhetoric emphasize causal and rational ideologies, Confucian rhetorics reveals a “participatory mode of discourse interested in transmitting knowledge, performing reciprosity,and acting in accordance with rituals” (114).  According to Lu, this state encourages rhetorical scholars to pay attention to the material realities in which these rhetorics were produced and acknowledge the recontextualization that always occurs as we represent rhetorical practices from other cultures and/or our own cultures from other points in time.  During the appreciation/appropriation stage, the shift focuses from emphasis of difference to emphasis on incorporating differences in respective rhetorical systems, or in other words, to borrowing rhetorical concepts from one culture to address problems and limitations in say Western rhetoric (115).  Stephen Comb’s article analyzing Sun Zi’s The Art of War, for instance, demonstrates how Daoist argumentation styles can provide western argumentation with a more flexible, critical approach (115).  Despite the improvement of comparative rhetoric from one that deemed Chinese rhetoric illogical, inadequate, and inferior to Western rhetoric to one that valued the unique qualities of Chinese rhetorical traditions, Lu claims that current challenges relating to translation, methodological research, and continued biases still exist.  Lu advocates continued research in comparative rhetoric as a means to develop intercultural understanding and communication.  The ideal approach, she says, is collaborative research by American and native scholars to address limitations in language competency, disciplinary training and misunderstandings that result in cross-cultural research.  

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