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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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Walter Mignolo—Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking


 In Local Histories/Global Designs:  Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking, Mignolo describes the role that colonial difference plays in contemporary conceptions of modernity and the enactment of subaltern knowledges operating on the borders of the current world system.   Mignolo calls this current world system a modern/colonial world system to signify the interdependence of modernity and coloniality, which have always been simultaneously at play.  Coloniality (of power), as Mignolo explains, occurs in and from the borders and from particular, local histories of modernity/coloniality.  It is created by what he calls gnosis knowledge, which is “knowledge from a subaltern perspective…conceived from the exterior borders of the modern/colonial world system”… that strives to a.) “foreground the force and creativity of knowledges subalternized during a long process of colonization”…and b.) counter the hegemonic knowledges that govern Western dominant thought and have been perpetuated through Occidentalism (11-14).   According to Mignolo, border thinking creates macronnarratives, which attempt to offer a new logic, for he feels that critique of western knowledge cannot effectively come from Western thinking.  Although he acknowledges the utility of postmodern theories and deconstrtuuction, he claims these ignore the colonial difference and constitute nothing more than a Eurocentric critique of Eurocentricism. (37-39).   Border thinking, on the other hand, which originates from coloniality not from ancient Greek thought, has epistemic potential to decolonize dominant intellectual thought/knowledge—logo and Eurocentric knowledges.   Border thinking is a complement to deconstruction and postmodern theories.



Border thinking entails a double critique that recovers and materialized subaltern knowledges, which make possible an “other way of thinking” (67). Border thinking not only changes content of conversation but the perspectives and terms through which conversations are had (70).  It disrupts dichotomous concepts which currently orders the world by thinking from dichotomous concepts (85).  It disrupts the epistemic hegemony deriving from post-Enlightenment reasoning that currently drives colonialism (88). 


 Interestingly, Mignolo complains that Occidentalism is of main concern to Latin American subaltern knowledges.  He acknowledges that usefulness of post colonial theory but points out the exclusion of Latin America from that theoretical lens.  Post-occidentalism, then, might better describe border thinking deriving from Latin America.  He wants us to understand “subaltern reason…as a diverse set of theoretical practices emerging from and responding to colonial legacies at the intersection of Euro/American modern history” (95).   He differentiates between postcolonial theories (academic commodities) and postcolonial theorizing (“thinking process in which people living under colonial domination had to enact in order to negotiate their life and subaltern condition”) (100).   “Post colonial theorizing as a particular enactment of the subaltern reason coexists with colonialism itself as a constant move and force toward autonomy and liberation in every order of life, from economics to religion, from language to education, from memories to spatial order, and it is not limited to the academy, even less to the U.S. academy” (100). 








Key concepts and points:


Colonial difference:  space where coloniality of power is enacted; space where subaltern knowledge and where border thinking takes place; space where global designs (globalization) meet local histories and are adapted, adopted, rejected, integrated, or ignored; physical and imaginary location where coloniality of power confronts dichotomous local cosmologies


Homogenous entities such as Latin America, the U.S. France, etc. are part of the “imaginary of the modern/colonial world system. They reveal and they occlude.  They are also the grounding of a system of geopolitical values, of racial configurations, and of hierarchical structures of meaning and knowledge” (170).  Local histories constituted of changing global designs question” all national/colonial forms of indenfication in modern/colonial world system…[ which] contribute to the imaginary and coloniality of power and knowledge implicit in the geopolitical configurations of the world” (171).


Theories travel, are transcultured, and become objects 174.  We need to “think more about when and why a theory that was produced to account for a type of question, problem, and historical situation in a geopolitical and geohistorical location within a local history becomes a global design, is desired and invited to a new locale (183).  Theories are marked with coloniality of power. 


National and cultural identities are just one kind of historical sensibility (192).


Provincializing Europe—Europe’s acquistion of adjective modern for itself….


Creoleness—mode of being, thinking and writing in subaltern language, from subaltern perspective and using and appropriating hegemonic language


Border thinking entails inhabiting language in tension with colonial language (245).  We are the words begiing writing (qtd. on 245).


Border thinking is plurilogical and plurilingual; throught billanguaging, we find and create new forms of logic.


Bilanguaging is a way of life – 264.  It engages needs and desires to eact the politics and ethics of liberation; it is way of life between languages:  a dialogical , ethic, aesthetic, and political process of social transformation rather than energeia emanating froma an isolated speaker (265).


Bilanguaging as a way of iving in languages in a transnational world, as an educational and epistemological project, rests on the critique of reason, of disciplinary structures, and cultures of scholarship complicitous with national and imperial languages ( 273).


Global designs:  transform the structure of the coloniality of power within the imperial conflict and the logic of the modern world system. 



Transdisciplinarity is effective means to decolonize knowledge….



Mignolo—The Idea of Latin America


As Mignolo so clearly explains, this book is an “excavation of the imperial/colonial foundation of the ‘idea’ of Latin America that will help us unravel the geo-politics of knowledge from the perspective of coloniality, the untold and unrecognized historical counterpart of modernity” (xi).   Important to recognize in terms of methodology is the framework in which his scholarship is situated—one Arturo Escobar has called the modernity/coloniality reseach project (xiii).  The following presumptions underlie this framework:

  • There is no modernity without coloniality; coloniality constituted of modernity
  • Modern/colonial world originated in 16th centrury; invention of America is colonial component of modernity
  • Enlightenment and industrial revolution—colonial matrix of power
  • Modernity—name for historical processs in which Europe bean its progress toward global hegemony, which carries dark side of coloniality
  • Capitalism is essence of modernity and darker side of coloniality
  • Capitalism and modernity took on new momentum at end of WWII with rise of US imperial power-xiii


The perspective of coloniality, which is very much influenced by Fanon, is situated within an-other intellectual paradigm based on both geo-political and bio-graphical location.  This intellectual paradigm, a decolonial paradigm, does not negate other knowledges; instead it strives for co-existence among other knowledges without negation—xvii.  It uses dialogue for utopistic aims—critique on past to imagine and construct future possible worlds-xix.  The theory that drives this intellectual paradigm is what Mignolo calls decolonial theory, which can be thought of as a “theory arising from the projects for decolonization of knowledge and being that will lead to the imagining of economy and politics otherwise” (xx).  Mignolo’s book employs and embodies decolonial theory as it attempts to contribute to the “decolonization of knowledge and being; an attempt to rewrite history following an-other logic, and an-other language, an-other thinking” (xx). 


Mignolo explains that the methodology of decolonization entails changing terms of conversation not content, as occurs with border thinking.  Mignolo claims that border thinking is exploding on the scene is south America right now under the title of inter-culturalad, which acknowledges that two cosmologies (indigenous and Western) can operate at once –can co-exist-9.  Again, negation is not goal; coexistence is.  Los Coracoles (Mexican economic and political orgnaziations) and Amawtay Wasi (Ecuadorian university) make use of co-existence and interaction of knowledges to create future possibilities beyond imperial paradigms.  An indigenous ethos is at work in these institutions that draw on multiple languages, memories, knowledges, ways of life, and dignities to create new paradigms of thought!  – 128 


In describing these projects, Mignolo identifies a new logic at work on both state and grassroot level in South America that draws on decolonial theory and are waging an epistemic battle with Western knowledge – 100.  New leaders are arising that draw on an-other logic in their struggle for changing the geography of knowledge and liberation – 100.  As Mignolo explains, this other knowledge requires understanding how knowledge and subjectivity are intertwined with modernity/coloniality – 106.  It also demands changing the terms as Afro-Andeans are doing when they create new theoretical concepts that allow them to conceptualize themselves differently – 112.   Lo propio for instance is a “frame for ‘appropriating’ concepts or ideas and redefining them through the colonial wound” 113. 


Such framing is key to developing new ways of thinking beyond modernity; for as Mignolo says, you “cannot envision alternative to modernity if the principles of knowledge you hold, and the structure of reasoning you follow, are molded by the hegemonic rhetoric of modernity and the hidden logic of coloniality working through it (114).  “An-other thinking requires a change in the terms, content and questions” (114). 


Mignolo demonstrates how the Zapatistas draw on decolonial critical theory and make radicals shifts in the geopolitics and body politics of knowledge (115).  One useful strategy they uses is delinking, which believes other ways of knowing are possible and necessary and the best solutions for decolonization 117.  Mignolo also makes clear that bilinigual education is so important because we think from language; therefore, new language affords us access to new logics -118  Mignolo credits Anzaldua for modeling this possibility so perfectly; he claims that while Descarte shifted intellectual paradigm from theological to egological form of knowledge (I think therefore I am), Anzaluda shifted intellectual paradigm from egological to geo-graphical and bio-graphical centered way of thinking-135


Mignolo ends by claiming that border thinking is the catalyst for an “after-America” movement that is eroding ethnic and geographic frontiers. Changing the content won’t do it.  we must form new logics 161






Key Terms:


Colonialism—refers to historical and geographical locations while coloniality refers to underlying matrix of colonial power 69


Coloniality:  attempts to unveil embedded logic that enforces control, domination, and exploitation disguised in the language of salvation, progress, modernization, and being good for everyone- 6.  Logical structure of colonial domination, which helps control and manage entire planet -7  logic of domination in modern/colonial world – 7;


Locus of enunciation—geo-politics of language; place from which knowledge is created and articulated – 8 local historical grounding of knowledge-10 


Occidentalism—from where rest of world is descriped, conceptualized, and ranked – 35  locus of enunciation, not just field of study as Said says, from which orientalism was created -42 


Colonial matrix—1.)economic: of land and control of finance; 2.) political: control of authority; 3. ) civic:  control of gender and sexuality; 4.) epistemic and subjective/personal:  control of knowledge and subjectivity


Geopolitics of epistemology:  uneven distribution of knowledge -44


Americanity—grounded in idea that there isn’t just one history of world; attempt to recover official histories


Historico-structural heterogeneity—historical processes interacting, coexisting – 48 provides theoretical anchor in the perspective of local histories and languages instead of grand narratives;  space made available for multiple and contesting perspectives and historical processes – 49









 “culture” served colonial purpose in classifying alien and inferior cultures- xvii


western hemispher produced wisdom, western Europe produced knowledge  1


border thinking consequence of colonial difference 10


the vital breath of western thought is reason; reason of ‘rectilinear time’ – 51


idea of latin America—it is land rich in raw resources and cheap labor—12


perspective vs. interpretation:  perspective based on locally situated rules and principles of knowledge while interpretation based on common and shared principle of knowledges and rules – 13


decolonial epistemic shifts understanding modernity form perspective of coloniality while postmodernity means understanding   modernity from within modernity itself-34







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Wallerstein, Immanuel European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power


In this tiny but powerful collection of essays adapted from various conference presentations, Wallerstein traces contemporary rhetorics of modernity back to the Sepulveda/Las Casas debate in the 1500s over who has the right to intervene, when, and how in the treatment of Amerindians who were forced to labor in the Spanish system of ecomienda in South America.  As Wallerstein explains, today appeals to European universalism are alive in well the rhetorics of modernity that establishes a right to intervention (including war) in defense of human rights and democracy, its authority as superior civilization based on universal values and truths, and the lack of viable alternative to neoliberal economics. Wallerstein demonstrates that the universal values of civilization, economic growth and development, and/or progress, are passed as natural law today as justifications for impeding on “noncivilized” nations.  These values, however, are not universal; in fact, they bleed of the longstanding justifications to colonize so-called “barbarians.”  For instance, the four justifications of ‘civilized” communities to intervene in “un-civilized” zones are:  barbarity of others, ending practices that violate universal values, defense of innocent among cruelity of others, and the possibility of spreading universal values.  Wallerstein cleverly demonstrates how these justifications were at work in the Sepulveda/Las Casas debate as well as the recent interventions in Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, etc.  Wallerstein wants his readers to realize that these universal values are nothing more than Eurocentric ethics and values imposed on the world and used to maintain structural power and dominance.  Even the postmodern viewpoint that we should be intellectually and politically tolerant of mulitiple views is an Eurocentric ideal. 


Wallerstein says the ultimate challenge for us is how we can create an alternative framework that allows us not to be orientalist.  “To be non-Orientalist means to accept the continuing tension between the need to universalize our perceptions, analyses, and statements of values and the need to defend their partiucularlist roots against the incursion of the particularist perceptions, analyses, and statements of values coming from others who are claiming they are forwarding universals” (49).    We need to dialogue about our need to universalize the particulars and our need to particularize the universals (49). 


He also exlains that capitalistic modernity is contingent on three elements of what he calls cultural-intellectual scaffolding:  combination of universalistic norms and racist-sexist practices; a centrist neoliberal geoculture; and epistemic knowledge that divides the world into the civilized and non-civilized-54.  Scientific universalism is, in Wallerstein’s eyes, the last and most powerful European universalism alive and well in the Western university system today.  Yet even scientific universalism is in crises today. 


So in sum:  three great European universalisms:  right of those to intervene based on ownership of universal values (moral justification to dominate); Orientalism (intellectual justification to dominate) ; scientific universalism (ideological justification to dominate).


Wallerstein says our biggest challenge is how to move beyond Eurpean universalism—to a “’universal universalism,’ which refuses essentialist characterizations of social reality, historicizes both the universal and the particular, reunifies the so-called scientific and humanistic into a single epistemology, and persmits us to look with a highly clinical and quite skeptical eyes at all justificantions for ‘intervention’ by the powerful against the weak” (79).  As intellectuals, we must operate at analyst in search of truth, moral person in search of good and beauty, and political persona seeking to unify good and beautiful (80).  The key question we must ask ourselves is how we can use our knowledge and expertise in the transitional phases we find ourselves (82).  We need to hystoricize by placing object of study in larger context/historical construct as he did with the contemporary rhetorics of power (82).  

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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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Filed under cultural rhetorics exam, historiography exam