In order to survey the existing state of research in Asian rhetorics, in this article, Bo Wang interviews top scholars in Asian rhetorics, who have recently begun to study Asian rhetorics on their own terms and in their own contexts and helped to broaden our modern conceptions of rhetoric. Included in this survey are the opinions of Vernon Johnson (pioneer of Asian rhetoric whose work led to new and more appropriate ways of inquiry), Mary Garrett (studied pathos of early Chinese rhetorical practices through non-western rhetorical lens), XiaMing Li (ethnographic studies of writing in China and U.S. and author of “Good Writing” in Cross-Cultural Context), Xing Lu, (author of Rhetoric in Ancient China, Fifth to Third Century B.C.E.), and LuMing Mao, (rhetorical and linguistic scholar who studies Confucian rhetoric and author of the important work “Reflective Encounters”). According to Bo, these scholars’ research are “mindful of the logic of Orientalism…stud[y] Asian rhetoric in its own cultural and political contexts,… appropriates Asian rhetoric for Western contexts, and…applies Asian rhetorical traditions to the study of pedagogical issues” (172-3). This survey reveals that we need: to “rewrite rhetorical theory and explore new research methodologies;” more scholars who have the tools and expertise to study Asian rhetorics in their original contexts and cultures; explore a broader scope of genres from their rhetorical perspective and encourage more interdisciplinary research in this area” (173).
Key points made by various scholars:
–analytical and definition modes of thinking create obstacles in rendereing a more nuanced and authentic understanding of rhetoric and communication in non-Western cultures.
–we need not search for single definition of Chinese rhetoric or try to find equivalence from the Western terminology
–no evolutionary trajectory and no transferrance of Western terminologies uncritically
–futher explore how those rhetorical terms influenced and affected the rhetorical behaviors of their users and how they interacted with each other at different historical moments
–broaden scope of texts to be studied beyond political and philosophical treaties
–eurocentrism still dominates rhetorical studies
–don’t overlook southeast Asia.
–look at rhetorics of contact between east and west and between asian nations
–analyze impact of mass media on individual asian nations
–explore impact of asian ancient religion and history on contemporary asian rhetoric and communication