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The Rhetorical Emergence of Culture

The Rhetorical Emergence of Culture

Christian Meyer
Felix Girke
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 342
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  • Book Info
    The Rhetorical Emergence of Culture
    Book Description:

    "Just as rhetoric is founded in culture, culture is founded in rhetoric" - the first half of this central statement from the International Rhetoric Culture Project is abundantly evidenced. It is the latter half that this volume explores: how does culture emerge out of rhetorical action, out of seemingly dispersed individual actions and interactions? The contributors do not rely on rhetorical "text" alone but engage the situational, bodily, and often antagonistic character of cultural and communicative practices. The social situation itself is argued to be the fundamental site of cultural creation, as will-driven social processes are shaped by cognitive dispositions and shape them in turn. Drawing on expertise in a variety of disciplines and regions, the contributors critically engage dialogical approaches in their emphasis on how a view from rhetoric changes our perception of people's intersubjective and conjoint creation of culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-113-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Christian Meyer and Felix Girke
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)
    Felix Girke and Christian Meyer

    The International Rhetoric Culture Project has stated in its theoretical outline that “just as rhetoric is founded in culture, culture is founded in rhetoric.” The first part of this chiasmus can readily be accepted, since cross-cultural research on speaker performance, memory techniques, social expression of emotion, practical reasoning, and the interrelation between speaking styles and political organization have provided abundant evidence that rhetoric is culture-specific. Extensive research in folklore studies, the ethnography of speaking, and linguistic anthropology have also proved this claim over and over again, the most spectacular cases being the use of parallelism and metaphor (e.g., Fox 1988,...

  6. Part 1 Intersubjectivity

    • CHAPTER 1 The Dance of Rhetoric: Dialogic Selves and Spontaneously Responsive Expressions
      (pp. 35-51)
      John Shotter

      A central theme of the Rhetoric Culture project is an exploration of the constitutive interplay occurring between culture and rhetoric—to retrieve, explore, and to make full use of “the ancient insight thatjust as rhetoric is founded in culture, culture is founded in rhetoric” (Strecker, Meyer & Tyler 2003). I will attempt to do just that below, take this theme out of the seminar room and conference hall and resituate it—as is clearly required—out in the dynamic movements occurring in ordinary people’s everyday activities.

      Giambattista Vico saw the necessity of this shift long ago, and his work has...

    • CHAPTER 2 Co-Opting Intersubjectivity: Dialogic Rhetoric of the Self
      (pp. 52-83)
      John W. Du Bois

      Just as the role of subjectivity in language is attracting increasing attention from an array of disciplines ranging across linguistics, communication, anthropology, history, philosophy, and others, the thrust of this interest appears to be headed in the opposite direction from an agenda that would place rhetoric at center stage. Rhetoric in its conventional guise has been deemed a quintessentially public enterprise, oriented to the marketplace of propositions projected to appeal to others. In the market square of civil discourse, sellers of ideas invite prospective buyers to critically test the proffered wares for plausibility and persuasiveness. In contrast, subjectivity as popularly...

    • CHAPTER 3 Echo Chambers and Rhetoric: Sketch of a Model of Resonance Theory
      (pp. 84-100)
      Pierre Maranda

      This chapter sketches a resonance model that bears on rhetoric culture theory in that it deals with “echo chambers” as the substrata on which rhetoric operates. Culture-specific semantic fields reverberate on each other. They bounce back and forth in the minds and feelings of people that share homologous representational backgrounds pre-stressed along probabilistic vectors, i.e., along expectations stemming from previous experiences. Indeed cultures and sub-cultures make available to, and impose to a certain degree upon, their carriers the lexicons and semantic grammars without which they cannot communicate, without which people cannot feel that they belong together. Thus, both constraints and...

    • CHAPTER 4 Discourse Beyond Language: Cultural Rhetoric, Revelatory Insight, and Nature
      (pp. 101-118)
      Donal Carbaugh and David Boromisza-Habashi

      On a beautiful fall day in Cody, Wyoming, Scott Frazier, a member of the Native American Crow Nation, was discussing water and wind. As an educator, he had been invited to speak on these matters at a conference on Native Land and the People of the Great Plains. Mr. Frazier spoke energetically to his mostly Native audience about the importance traditional people place on watching and observing one’s surroundings. He summarized his point through a slowly paced, highly reflective, measured tone, in these words:

      Listen to the wind or water

      If we quit listening

      The spirits quit talking

      Then we...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Spellbinding Aura of Culture: Tracing its Anthropological Discovery
      (pp. 119-136)
      Bernhard Streck

      This blow by the “philosopher with the hammer” (Nietzsche himself) strikes at least two thousand five hundred years in which, after the discovery of the “naked” truth, it was contrasted with merely fictional worlds—and with the consequential demand that they should disappear. Jacob Taubes dubbed this programAbendländische Eschatologie(1991) and spoke in his last work of the prophetic dictate to replace “speaking” with “saying” (1995: 109)—the Yiddish “tachles,” or the truth of the word standing here in contrast to the Zarathustra as a parody of the Bible and other works of art. “Poets lie,” say intellectuals since...

    • CHAPTER 6 Tenor in Culture
      (pp. 137-154)
      Ivo Strecker

      When we reflect upon the role of tenor in culture, we probably think first of tenor as indicating some kind of communicative mood and content that eludes univocal definition. For example, when we witness a heated conflict between persons, and later are asked what their debate was about, our answer could well be: “I did not precisely understand the different arguments, but their general tenor was such and such.” The present chapter takes off from this observation.

      The dictionaries definetenoras “general tendency, general drift of thought; purpose.” They also say what most of us know from school: it...

  7. Part 2 Emergence

    • CHAPTER 7 Attending the Vernacular: A Plea for an Ethnographical Rhetoric
      (pp. 157-172)
      Gerard A. Hauser

      In 1923, Charles K. Ogden and Ivor A. Richard publishedThe Meaning of Meaning, in which they advanced a daring challenge to the philological orthodoxy of how words mean. It included, as a supplement, a paper by Bronislaw Malinowski dealing with Trobriand Islanders’ uses of language. Malinowski discussed his efforts to understand the Trobrianders’ language by asking them what a word meant, which he then entered into his homemade dictionary. To his surprise, however, his systematic effort was defied by everyday uses in which the Islanders’ language served pragmatic communal functions, such as gathering women and the elderly to shore...

    • CHAPTER 8 Enhoused Speech: The Rhetoric of Foi Territoriality
      (pp. 173-190)
      James F. Weiner

      A recent fruitful direction in anthropological linguistics has been the resurrection of interest in language’s deictic features, its constant function of anchoring itself in time and space by way of grammatical markers that “gesture” toward reference points in the world (see, for example, Hanks 1990; Senft 1997). We have ample evidence, especially from Papuan and Austronesian languages, of the high proportion of spatial indices in speech. In this chapter, however, I would like to argue from the opposite direction: that it is also spatial and architectural practices that themselves contour and elicit certain forms of speech; that, rather than language...

    • CHAPTER 9 Transcultural Rhetoric and Cyberspace
      (pp. 191-209)
      Filipp Sapienza

      In 1908, the most popular play on Broadway was Israel Zangwill’s “The Melting Pot.” This play portrayed America as a place where different ethnicities are mixed into one kind of “American person,” and when one considers the time period, one understands the source of the play’s popularity. Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, America welcomed more immigrants to its shores than at any other period in its history. As the nation incorporated the new groups, artists and writers responded in ways to help the nation address the changing character and identity of the country. To the present day, the...

    • CHAPTER 10 Jesuit Rhetorics: Translation Versus Conversion in Early-Modern Goa
      (pp. 210-224)
      Alexander Henn

      In this chapter, I shall analyze a body of literature produced by Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Goa, India, in the sixteenth century as part of the early Portuguese expansion to the East. Determined to convert thegentios¹ to Christianity, the missionary pioneers’ first and greatest challenge was to make the Christian message comprehensible to the local population. Apart from the use of images, music, theater, and rituals, therefore, all of which played a significant role in contemporary proselytizing strategies, great attention was paid to the ability to communicate with Indian people in their own languages. Thus, the Jesuits made...

    • CHAPTER 11 Evoking Peace and Arguing Harmony: An Example of Transcultural Rhetoric in Southern Ethiopia
      (pp. 225-250)
      Felix Girke and Alula Pankhurst

      This blessing, led by Nakwa Dald’o of Bashada, and joined by a chorus of elders from several other ethnic groups, was part of a peace ceremony that took place in March 1993 in Arbore, South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.

      It is exemplary of what happened at this event; this brief recital sets the stage for a rhetorical analysis of a meeting where the discussions were always framed by chanting, and manifold expressions of the will to coordinate, cooperate, and commit abounded. Through the ritual at Arbore this chapter explores the persuasive aspect of ritual and its use of symbols, which enabled...

  8. Part 3 Agency

    • CHAPTER 12 In Defense of the Orator: A Classicist Outlook on Rhetoric Culture
      (pp. 253-263)
      Franz-Hubert Robling

      The following chapter presents the main results of a work in progress intended to reconstruct the ideal of the orator in classical rhetoric.¹ Classical rhetoric, or school rhetoric, is a theory that is mainly based on rhetorical handbooks from Greek and Roman antiquity, and more recent ones written up until the end of the eighteenth century. I shall give here only an outline without detailed references of the sources. My aim is not just the reconstruction of the concept of the orator, but also its application to problems in modern rhetorical research. In many scientific fields today, scholars speak of...

    • CHAPTER 13 Rhetoric, Anti-Structure, and the Social Formation of Authorship
      (pp. 264-281)
      James Thomas Zebroski

      We live in an age of ambiguity. At one and the same time, the cultures that we inherit at the start of the twenty-first century in Western Europe and North America are committed toandskeptical of Enlightenment discourses. The Enlightenment values of neutrality and objectivity in scholarship, of methodological rigor and purity, of scientific method, of disciplinarity, of professionalism, of progress narratives, of grand narrative and grand theory, but also of a static, clearly demarcated, and bounded subject, who acts as a kind of atom of a similarly static, clearly demarcated, and bounded nation-state—all are in question. But...

    • CHAPTER 14 Attention and Rhetoric: Prolepsis and the Problem of Meaning
      (pp. 282-303)
      Todd Oakley

      One day in the final months of 1999 as I was passing a law office on my way to my favorite cafe, I spied in their window a poster of a large mail-in questionnaire with the Census 2000 logo above it and a superimposed pen poised to fill it out. In large black letters just below the image read the following message:

      This is your future. Don’t leave it blank.

      This was the first of many times I saw or heard this exhortation during the last few months of 1999 and the first six months of the year 2000. The...

    • CHAPTER 15 Emergence, Agency, and the Middle Ground of Culture: A Meditation on Mediation
      (pp. 304-318)
      Stephen A. Tyler

      When we speak of rhetoric/culture, anthropologists and rhetoricians might well ask, “What kind of rhetoric do you have in mind—the rhetoric of inquiry (Megill 1987), the rhetoric of argument (Perleman 1969), or perhaps the rhetoric of theingenium(Grassi 1980), or some version of Burke’s dramatism (1966)?” Then, too, it might be reasonable to inquire about the parts of rhetoric that capture our interest. Do we focus on such concepts asinventio, topic, and memory, or are we concerned with issues of arrangement, style, and figuration? Are we focusing on the structure of our own textual production as in...

  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 319-320)
  10. Index
    (pp. 321-326)