Tag Archives: rhetorical artifacts

“Seeing Ancient Rhetoric, Easily at a Glance” James Fredal

In this article, Fredal, utimately concerned with limiting definitions of rhetoric for our postmodern world, defines rhetoric as “the exchange of meaning within  a social system through which meaning, culture, identity, knowledge and practice are produced and circulated” (183).  In defining rhetoric in this way, Fredal hopes to create a definition broad enough to encompass non-linguistic and non-verbal symbolic acts and artifacts, yet narrow enough to isolate” culturally significant processes and products of persuasion and identification” (183).  By equating rhetoric with enculturation, Fredal hopes to maintain traditional conceptions of rhetoric yet create space for all of the ways in which cultures exchange meaning and produce and reproduce themselves. 

Fredal claims that when investigating rhetoric, we should begin by asking “What symbolic systems and what media were culturally significant in the formation of what Castioriadis calls the “civic and social imaginary”…, how were these symbolic systems used, and what values, beliefs, and practices were encouraged or discouraged by their use?” (184).

Expanding the scope of rhetoric in ways mentioned above will change historiography in the following ways:

–pluralization of rhetoric

–postponement of theory until after ethnographic, anthropological, and historical studies are conducted

–consideration of non-linguistic rhetorical artificats

–consideration of non-individual, anonymous and/or collective meaning making acts

–inclusion of the visual, and political friendships, clubs, and norms popular in Ancient Greece.  After all, Greece was rich in rhetorical monuments and theatrics and physical spaces where symbolic and rhetorical exhange occurred in various forms in public.  Fredal cites the Pnyx as an exemplar of one of the many where “rhetorical artistry” was encoded in a space, structure, or site. 

Fredal concludes by saying we would be limiting our knowledge of how meaning is made by limiting our rhetorical investigations to langauge and texts (188). 

My response:  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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