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Culture and Rhetoric

Culture and Rhetoric

Ivo Strecker
Stephen Tyler
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    Culture and Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    While some scholars have said that there is no such thing as culture and have urged to abandon the concept altogether, the contributors to this volume overcome this impasse by understanding cultures and their representations for what they ultimately are - rhetorical constructs. These senior, international scholars explore the complex relationships between culture and rhetoric arguing that just as rhetoric is founded in culture, culture is founded in rhetoric. This intersection constitutes the central theme of the first part of the book, while the second is dedicated to the study of figuration as a common ground of rhetoric and anthropology. The book offers a compelling range of theoretical reflections, historical vistas, and empirical investigations, which aim to show how people talk themselves and others into particular modalities of thought and action, and how rhetoric and culture, in this way, are co-emergent. It thus turns a new page in the history of academic discourse by bringing two disciplines - anthropology and rhetoric - together in a way that has never been done before.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-929-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-ix)
    Ivo Strecker and Stephen Tyler
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Ivo Strecker and Stephen Tyler

    The history of cultural anthropology has been sketched as a set of experiments involving liaisons between two disciplines, such as anthropology and religion, anthropology and biology, anthropology and linguistics, anthropology and history (Kuper 1999). In the present book—as well as in forthcoming volumes of the Berghahn Books seriesStudies in Rhetoric and Culture—we add to this experiment by bringing rhetoric and anthropology closer to each other than they have ever been before.

    Many factors contribute to the shaping of human action, but rhetoric, we argue, is the decisive factor in the emergence of cultural diversity past and present....

  6. Part I The Chiasm of Rhetoric and Culture

    • CHAPTER 1 The Rhetoric Culture Project
      (pp. 21-30)
      Stephen Tyler and Ivo Strecker

      The Rhetoric Culture¹ project arises from a fundamental chiasmus that leads us to explore the ways in which rhetoric structures culture and culture structures rhetoric. It calls for a program of research whose basic topics are the interrelationships between cultural forms of practice, passion, and reason; and it seeks to understand the culturally generated orders of discourse—and their technologies of production.

      In a world whose imaginative processes and social structures are seemingly undergoing dramatic reconfiguration brought about by the technology of the Internet and other media, it may seem anachronistic to look for inspiration in rhetoric, which many would...

    • CHAPTER 2 Precursors of Rhetoric Culture Theory
      (pp. 31-48)
      Christian Meyer

      Rhetoric Culture theory has its roots in a long history, and in what follows I present some of the ideas that scholars—mainly rhetoricians, but also some philosophers—have developed over the centuries in order to grasp the difficult and complex relationship between rhetoric, culture, and humanity. Throughout, I have given priority to the voices of the precursors of Rhetoric Culture theory and have kept my own interpretation and comments to a minimum. At the end, I recall the work of scholars who were among the first to empirically study the constitutive role of rhetoric in non-European cultures.

      The scholarly...

    • CHAPTER 3 Homo Rhetoricus
      (pp. 49-58)
      Peter L. Oesterreich

      The last decades of the twentieth century witnessed a “renaissance of rhetoric” (cf. Plett 1994), or “rhetorical turn” (Simons, ed. 1990), that has affected not only literary studies but also law, theology, aesthetics, philosophy, economics, politics, and even the natural sciences. The idea that cultures are rhetorically constituted is, of course, not new, and there have been various earlier attempts to address the subject—for example, Plato, Nietzsche, Burke, Heidegger, Gadamer, and others. But I think that there still is much to gain by rethinking this time-honored topic, and in this paper I will explore the possibility of a more...

    • CHAPTER 4 Listening Culture
      (pp. 59-73)
      Daniel M. Gross

      Cultural history is a kind of anthropology of the past insofar as it shares a rhetoric of distance. As competent researchers of those others with whom we are ultimately consubstantial, we first must carve out our field of study aesthetically, rendering certain subsets suitable representatives of the whole by way ofsynecdoche—showing, for instance, how detailed analysis of obscure seventeenth-century British texts on the art of listening to sermons will tell us something crucial about a broader field invoked in a title “Listening Culture,” and hence something crucial about ourselves. Likewise, we must mobilize figures such as personification to...

    • CHAPTER 5 Practice of Rhetoric, Rhetoric of Practice
      (pp. 74-84)
      Vincenzo Cannada Bartoli

      The present essay grows out of this question: What is it that makes the chiasmus “practice of rhetoric, rhetoric of practice” at first so convincing but then, on second thought, so agonizingly difficult to understand? To answer, we need to reconsider the intersection of rhetoric and practice. Among the many authors dealing with this subject, Farrell (1999) has examined rhetoric in terms of practice, and practice in terms of rhetoric, and his questions are very close to those I pose below. However, we differ in our basic interests—philosophy for him, ethnography for me—and while Farrell examines the political...

    • CHAPTER 6 Chiastic Thought and Culture: A Reading of Claude Lévi-Strauss
      (pp. 85-103)
      Boris Wiseman

      This chapter entertains a special relationship with the Rhetoric Culture project as a whole in as much as the dynamic at the heart of this project is itself chiastic. One of the characteristics of Rhetoric Culture theory is the reversibility of its “critical moments” (see the introduction to this volume). In as much as all social and cultural practices are linguistically mediated, they are at least in part tributary to rhetoric. One may therefore turn to rhetoric to make sense of these practices and shed light on the dynamics that underpin them. The need to interrelate anthropology and rhetoric arises,...

    • CHAPTER 7 When Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair: Lessons from Macbeth
      (pp. 104-114)
      Anthony Paul

      Shakespeare’s interest in the ways that rhetorical discourse and culture interact is expressed in his countless references to the similarity between living and acting, and in his fascination with the figures of the actor, the hypocrite, and the king, the man most conspicuously called upon to perform a part in the drama of life. The comparison of the world with the stage is of course an ancient one, and one that runs through all of English Renaissance drama from the mid-sixteenth century to 1642, the year the theaters were closed down, not to reopen until 1660. But it is a...

  7. Part II Figuration—The Persuasive Power of Deeds and Tropes

    • CHAPTER 8 Rhetoric, Truth, and the Work of Trope
      (pp. 117-149)
      Alan Rumsey

      The main body of this chapter will consist of three parts, the second of which is an antidote to the first, and the third of which explains why. In the first part I will play the part of the gadfly, expressing certain reservations I have about the Rhetoric Culture project. I am in full agreement with what I take to be one of the project’s main aims: to overcome the limits of previous understandings of discourse that give pride of place to its truth-functional aspects and devalue others asmererhetoric. But, for reasons I will argue in the first...

    • CHAPTER 9 Figuration—a Common Ground of Rhetoric and Anthropology
      (pp. 150-165)
      Philippe-Joseph Salazar

      Rhetoric has its own definitions for terms, not to say concepts, that often crop up, as if by themselves, in other disciplines. In fact, one of the enduring features of rhetoric is, as Aristotle would have it, that it is a “technique” that cannot aspire to be a science because it does not have an object of its own. Rhetoric is by essence latitudinarian and the price to be paid is that of being pillaged by the human sciences, which own their objects, or believe that they do. Rhetoric has many Others. It is a way to preserve what has...

    • CHAPTER 10 Tropical Foundations and Foundational Tropes of Culture
      (pp. 166-181)
      James W. Fernandez

      We might first found the tropological point of view in social science inquiry in two ancient founding figures, the Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus and the Roman Rhetorician Quintillian. As with all the contributors to our common Rhetoric Culture project, “social science inquiry” is understood as investigation into the rhetoric of culture creation and social interaction. Heraclitus may be regarded as foundational, not only in his doctrine of flux and constancy of change, but in his view that for the most part, acting under the requirements of social order, cultural constancy, and personal stability, people do not understand fully what is going...

    • CHAPTER 11 Convictions: Embodied Rhetorics of Earnest Belief
      (pp. 182-206)
      Michael Herzfeld

      I begin this essay with two polemical propositions. First, I oppose the strong separation of material and symbolic that appears to be the parochial inheritance of Cartesianism in social anthropology, and regard it as an intellectual proxy for relegating certain groups of people into past time or primitive status—Fabian’s (1983) “allochronism.” However much some of our colleagues seek to avoid the problem by waggling apostrophe-like fingers every time they use the taboo word “primitive,” they do not avoid the problem by ironizing it or by seeming to bury it in a self-deprecating gesture: it is apparently as hard to...

    • CHAPTER 12 An Epistemological Query
      (pp. 207-210)
      Pierre Maranda

      This short note touches on three topics that seem to me fundamental to Rhetoric Culture theory with respect to the “cline of kinds and modes of rhetoric.” The first topic concerns the minimal audience of a speech; the second, the minimal speech or rhetorical utterance; and the third, the use of rhetoric by nonhuman animals.

      What is the minimal audience of a speech? Oneself? Are inner speech, and voiced talk to oneself, instances of rhetoric? Take Baudelaire’s first line of his famous poem:

      Sois sage, ô ma douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.

      Tu réclamais le soir, il descend, le voici....

    • CHAPTER 13 Beyond the Unsaid: Transcending Language through Language
      (pp. 211-220)
      Paul Friedrich

      Life in certain kinds of intense moments leads us to intuitions of realms that stretch or soar beyond speech and everyday realia, but these intuitions resist definition; they cannot be captured. While acknowledging that our reason and our language must always be defeated in such attempts to attain the unobtainable, we still have the deepest desire to edge near to and at least partially glimpse them. We respond to these needs with language and the use of language that, like other aesthetic resources, can give us intimations and rough outlines of the unmanifest beyond the manifest and, even further, the...

    • CHAPTER 14 Future Imperfect: Imagining Rhetorical Culture Theory
      (pp. 221-237)
      Robert Hariman

      The Rhetoric Culture project is excessive. So many books, authors, even films of the conferences, as if conferences weren’t old news. Such ambitions: the model program for a third phase of inquiry in the human sciences, uniting premodern, modern, and postmodern cultures, providing universal schemata and a new master trope. Can the unification of all knowledge be far behind?

      Excess is scandalous. It embarrasses and becomes a stumbling block to social acceptance. Too much excitement, lavish expenditures, extreme sports, comprehensive decoration, and the like all seem to be in bad taste or dangerous. Nouveau riche, eating contests, body tattoos, and...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 238-240)
  9. Index
    (pp. 241-255)