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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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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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Inderpal Grewel and Caren Kaplan — Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices


Introduction:  Transnational Feminist Practices and Questions of Postmodernity


thoughts on rhetoric:


the way terms get co-opted constitutes a form of practice, just as the way that they contain possibilities for critical use is also an oppositional practice.  Specific terms lose their political usefulness when they are disciplined by academia or liberal/conservative agendas.


One of main questions their compilation hopes to address is:

How do we understand the production and reception of diverse feminisms within a framework of transnational social/cultural/economic movements? (3)


they claim very often, feminist poststructuralist or psychoanalytic theorists do not utilize a transnational frame or consider colonial discourse or discourses of race.  –3


also claim, some feminst practices continue to use coloinial discourse critiques in order to equate the “colonized” with “woman,” creating essentialist and monolithic categories that suppress issues of diversity, conflict, and multiplicity within categories—3


G and K believe postmodernity is an immensely powerful and useful conception that gives us an opportunity to analyze the way that a culture of modernity is produced in diverse locations and how these cultural productions are circulated, distributed, received, and even commodified (5). 



Interested in rearticulating histories of how people in different locations and circumstances are linked by the spread of and resistance to modern capitalist social formations even as theair experiences of these phenomena are not at all the same or equal.  3









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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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Powell, Malea

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


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


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


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


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

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Gloria Anzaldua Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Key Concepts:


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


Mexican—used to describe race and ancestry

Mestizo—used to affirm both Indian and Spanish ancestry

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





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