Dialectical Rhetoric

Dialectical Rhetoric

BRUCE McCOMISKEY
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15hvzjc
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  • Book Info
    Dialectical Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    InDialectical Rhetoric, Bruce McComiskey argues that the historical conflict between rhetoric and dialectic can be overcome in ways useful to both composition theory and the composition classroom.Historically, dialectic has taken two forms in relation to rhetoric. First, it has been the logical development of linear propositions leading to necessary conclusions, a one-dimensional form that was the counterpart of rhetorics in which philosophical, metaphysical, and scientific truths were conveyed with as little cognitive interference from language as possible. Second, dialectic has been the topical development of opposed arguments on controversial issues and the judgment of their relative strengths and weaknesses, usually in political and legal contexts, a two-dimensional form that was the counterpart of rhetorics in which verbal battles over competing probabilities in public institutions revealed distinct winners and losers.The discipline of writing studies is on the brink of developing a new relationship between dialectic and rhetoric, one in which dialectics and rhetorics mediate and negotiate different arguments and orientations that are engaged in any rhetorical situation. This new relationship consists of a three-dimensional hybrid art called "dialectical rhetoric," whose method is based on five topoi: deconstruction, dialogue, identification, critique, and juxtaposition. Three-dimensional dialectical rhetorics function effectively in a wide variety of discursive contexts, including digital environments, since they can invoke contrasts in stagnant contexts and promote associations in chaotic contexts.Dialectical Rhetoricfocuses more attention on three-dimensional rhetorics from the rhetoric and composition community.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-982-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Historically, dialectic has taken two general forms in relation to rhetoric, both sometimes existing side by side. First, dialectic has been the topical development of opposed arguments on controversial issues and the judgment of their relative strengths and weaknesses. This form of dialectic was the counterpart of rhetorics in which verbal battles over competing probabilities in public institutions (primarily politics and law) revealed distinct winners and losers. Second, dialectic has been the logical development of linear propositions leading to necessary conclusions, usually in scientific and academic contexts. This form of dialectic was the counterpart of rhetorics in which philosophical, metaphysical,...

  5. 1 HISTORICAL TRAJECTORIES OF DIALECTIC AND RHETORIC
    (pp. 13-43)

    Throughout their history together, dialectic and rhetoric have been engaged in an uncertain and sometimes difficult relationship.¹ At its best, dialectic has been the counterpart of rhetoric, the fullest development of argumentative knowledge on any given subject; and at its worst, dialectic has been the useless claptrap of academic disputation. At its best, rhetoric has been the counterpart of dialectic, a means to construct new knowledge and convey it to public audiences following dialectical deliberation; and at its worst, rhetoric has been the aesthetic dress of dialectical thought or the clear transmission of dialectical truth. Throughout their relationship, the meanings...

  6. 2 DIALECTIC IN (AND OUT OF) RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION
    (pp. 44-76)

    What we now know as the discipline of English emerged during the late nineteenth century in the fertile ground of German-style research universities that were rapidly being established throughout the United States with money and land granted through the Morrill Act of 1862. At these new state universities, the existing discipline of rhetoric and oratory merged with new academic interests in literary studies, philology, and written composition, forming the first modern departments of English. During this transitional period in the late nineteenth century, two shifts in particular occurred that caused teachers of rhetoric and oratory to question English as their...

  7. 3 THE DIMENSIONS OF RHETORIC
    (pp. 77-104)

    In the introduction, I explained that rhetoric is a dimensional art, and rhetoric’s dimensionality is based on the number and functions of orientations engaged in any rhetorical act. In this chapter, I expand my earlier discussion of the three dimensions of rhetoric. Here I return briefly to Herbert Marcuse’s (1964)One-Dimensional Man,drawing a more detailed picture of rhetoric’s dimensions than I provided earlier. Since any theory of dimensionality (whether of societies or of rhetorics) requires a clear sense of both identity and difference, I then turn to Kenneth Burke’s (1954; 1961) description of orientations inPermanence and Changeand...

  8. 4 THREE-DIMENSIONAL DIALECTICAL RHETORICS
    (pp. 105-146)

    In chapter 3, I described three dimensions of rhetoric (unifying, critical, and mediative) and how dialectic functions, or does not function, in each dimension. There I treated all three dimensions of rhetoric relatively equally with a brief theoretical characterization and at least one example each. In this chapter, however, I shift to a more detailed treatment of three-dimensional (mediative) dialectical rhetorics, not because they are better than the other varieties but because they have received less attention in rhetoric and composition scholarship. Three-dimensional dialectical rhetoric is the strategic art of mediating among different orientations in specific rhetorical situations and discursive...

  9. 5 THREE-DIMENSIONAL DIALECTICAL RHETORICS IN DIGITAL CONTEXTS
    (pp. 147-168)

    In chapter 4, I argued that three-dimensional dialectical rhetorics are increasingly influencing the larger communication landscape, including even the conservative discourses of academic argumentation, and I illustrated this argument through discussions of five essays written by students who adopted three-dimensional approaches to their essays about communities and contact zones. The assignment to which these students responded (see Appendix A) eliminates the possibility of a one-dimensional response, but it leaves the choice between two-dimensional and three-dimensional responses completely open. I am always surprised at how many of my students choose to approach their contact-zone topics from the three-dimensional perspective of dialectical...

  10. Appendix A: Assignment Sheet
    (pp. 169-170)
  11. Appendix B: The Grass Is Greener
    (pp. 171-175)
  12. Appendix C: Infiltrating Our Home with Love
    (pp. 176-181)
  13. Appendix D: The Constant Power Struggle
    (pp. 182-187)
  14. Appendix E: Jumping in the Car
    (pp. 188-194)
  15. Appendix F: The Journey to Motherhood
    (pp. 195-200)
  16. REFERENCES
    (pp. 201-214)
  17. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 215-215)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 216-222)