Mardi Gras: laissez les bons temps rouler!!!
Plan for the Day
- Mini-Rhetorical Analysis Due Thursday, 3/3, 11:00 pm on Canvas
- Cy Knoblauch’s Discursive Ideologies
- Spring Break next week
- Mask Mandate Ends 3/7
- You won’t be required to wear a mask when we return from Spring Break
- I will continue to wear one through this semester
I have quotations below, but I’d like us to think about arguments and try to use examples outside of Knoblauch’s book to think broadly about commitments to truth. Rhetorical analysis, in my definition, means explaining how meaning is embedded in a text (I would also extend that to “discourse” very broadly). However, I privilege a critical lens that requires cultural awareness to understand motivations for believing something. How does Knoblauch help us consider not just the structure of arguments but one’s commitment to a conclusion?
Consider this passage (which is the same passage for your weekly reflection):
Reading different accounts of the nature and value of discourse doesn’t in itself make us better language users….But it can enlarge our knowledge of discursive ideologies–those political no less than intellectual commitments that motivate people, including ourselves, to use language in particular ways, react differently to the language uses of others, and draw different conclusions about the authority, value, or significance of language acts.Knoblauch, Cy. Discursive Ideologies: Reading Western Rhetoric. Utah State University Press, 2014.
Ch. 1: The Meaning of Meaning
I have a feeling this was his “Introduction” and it got longer and longer with revision, so it became chapter 1. It sets up the book’s argument and previews the six (6) rhetorical stories we use for meaning making. On the first page, Knoblauch refers to Edward Sapir, so it might be helpful to revisit the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: one’s language conditions one’s perception of reality.
On George and Louise (how might Thelma & Louise react to their experience of the world?)
- p. 4: Metacognition—”…they probably find just thinking to be challenging enough without also consciously thinking about thinking.”
- “…their practical experience in the world, an experience that has been preshaped…by their cultural background.”
- “…language enables people to name, experience, organize, manage, and interact with realities that are different from and “outside” of language…”
- p. 5: Relativity is assumptions—”Louise exploits the clever graphics in her desktop publishing program, but she believes that her PR language is substantial, not mere rhetoric, because it offers real information; it is user-friendly but not misleading or manipulative.”
- Of course, this is important for technical communication, which often thinks language is a clean instrument for conveying truth.
- “…what people say must always be evaluated by reference to what is ‘actually’ the case.”
- Consider these statements:
Expires 3/1/2022 (milk, pasta, can of beans, vehicle registration)
“Of course I love you…I’m just not in love with you.”
“Make America Great Again”
“Hope and Change”
- p. 6: “Most of the time, words need to be interpreted, not just taken at face value, depending on how much we know about the speaker’s intentions and about the communicative context.”
- p. 7: “…consequence of rationalized self-interest….Beliefs about language, whether Louise’s or George’s or our own, do not have to be philosophically consistent with each other, or consistently applied, and they are always modified by other complexities of human motive and behavior.”
- p. 10: “discursive ideologies—those political no less than intellectual commitments that motivate people, including ourselves, to use language in particular ways, react differently to the language uses of others, and draw different conclusions about the authority, value, or significance of language acts.”
- p. 11: “Naming—or representation—is one of the most familiar and important acts that language enables us to perform, and it is usually routine since most names enjoy broad social agreement.”
- “…words point to worlds outside of language, sometimes contending that words constitute worlds inside the mind.”
- Let’s consider contested names
- freedom fighter
- p. 16: On framers’ intent—”identifying original, and stable, meanings across time and space, presuming that the meanings are lodged in the text itself, accessible to careful scrutiny.”
- Or…”meaning is always located in the interpretive transactions between readers and texts in specific cultural and historical circumstances.”
- p. 17: “…one’s views about discourse….play a variety of influential roles within still larger states of belief, affect the ways in which beliefs lead to actions, and condition our judgments about the views and actions of others.”
- p. 18: “The contention that meanings are infinitely variable is neither more nor less evidently reliable than the contention that meanings are stable across time.”
- p. 19: “…texts do not so readily resolve to universal meanings.”
- p. 21: “By the word rhetoric I mean the theory and practice of public discourse, the arts of communication, argument, narrative, and persuasion.”
- “Discourse can refer either to language use in general or to a specific set of conventions, those governing legal discourse, for example, as opposed to medical or scientific discourse.”
- p. 24: “Wherever there is language, there is culture, and wherever there is culture, there is rhetoric—practices of discourse.”
Perhaps we ought to consider “situational rhetoric” or “teleological rhetoric” as a necessary 7th story that captures the different ways one might use the variety of rhetorical meaning making examples to justify one’s conclusion.
Ch. 2: Magical Rhetoric
- p. 26: “Magical rhetoric…refers to the discourse of the sacred, a theory and practice of language conditioned by the assumption that the world is” created by a divine being.
- p. 28: “prophecy, for instance, which is a species of magical rhetoric, is not foretelling the future but rather witnessing an eternal present.”
- p. 29: “In magical rhetoric the ground of meaningfulness is the intrinsic power of utterance…where words do not merely correspond to some independent reality but rather fuse with it so completely that the enunciation of names is equivalent to the control of things and the influencing of events.”
- p. 30: “language does not merely name preexisting things but instead creates them through the divine act of naming.”
- p. 32: “a magical theory of language: that things do not actually become things until they are named. The word constitutes the thing in the process of calling it forth.”
- p. 33: The supposed divine blessing of words “suggest[s] that language not only names but also evaluates, stamping things with judgments.”
- p. 34: “God gives language to human beings, not only as a means of controlling the world but also as a means of alleviating isolation, that is, creating kinship and social bonding.”
- p. 37: Moses was articulate…but his brother was!
- p. 39: Teresa of Avila–praying and comprehending divine presence.
- p. 41: “Teresa reassures her confessors that the soul both recognizes and resists the devil’s tricks by appeal to the felt sense of the truths of sacred scripture, where conformity to or deviation from scripture makes evident the source of the speech.”
- Might this be the enthymemes…
Conforming speech: Truths that come to one’s soul from the divine conform to sacred scripture.
Deviating interventions: Diabolical and self-deceptions deviate from the scripture.
- Might this be the syllogisms…
Major Premise: Divine interventions and speech conform to sacred scripture.
Minor Premise: Your revelation conforms to sacred scripture.
Conclusion: Therefore,* it was divinely inspired.
- I wonder who decides what conforms to sacred scriptures…
- Might this be the enthymemes…
- p. 42: “The function of myth is not primarily to differentiate but to interanimate human experience.”
- p. 44: “In word magic, the immediacy of the name merges with the immediacy of what is named…”
- “it is not language that constitutes the domain of the sacred, but rather the sacred that conveys power to appropriately specialized uses of language.”
Distinguishing Rational vs Mythic Thought…and Poetry
- p. 45: “The tendency of rational thought, Cassirer  explains, is to create analytical distance between the mind and its objects of attention by a process of differentiating and classifying…”
- “The tendency of mythic thought is precisely opposite…mind and object are unified through the mediation of symbol, while the immediacy of the ‘objective form’ captivates attention and resists logical placement within a system of conceptual differences.”
- p. 46: “Literary language, like mythic language, evokes ‘the magic of analogy’ to transform experience into a responsive, humanized symbolic representation.”
- “Poets, in other words, also create worlds when, metaphorically speaking, they borrow the divine power of the Word for human purposes.”
- “Plato’s Ion, where the ability of the poet, the prophet, and the “pronouncer of oracles” is a gift from the gods, enabling them to conjure divine truths in pleasing artistic forms and move audiences with magical verbal powers.”
- Let’s not forget what Aristotle tells us about oracles and generalities…
- p. 47: “Plato appears to fear the power of an art that speaks with the voice of God while yet exalting uncontrolled emotion, the whirling Bacchic maidens, over logic.”
- Speaking of Bacchus…
- p. 48: “If there is a modern, secular legacy of magical rhetoric beyond the special conditions of religious experience, it may plausibly lie…with the aesthetic effects that theorists like Cassirer attribute to the metaphorical language of poetry.”
- Via Cassirer (1946): “myth and word magic…now create psychological rather than supernatural realities…substituting aesthetic excitement for reverential awe.”
*”Therefore…over 119 times”: Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris 1981).
Then she opened up a book of poems / And handed it to me / Written by an Italian poet /
From the thirteenth century / And every one of them words rang true / And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page / Like it was written in my soul from me to you / Tangled up in blueDylan, Bob. “Tangled Up in Blue.” Blood on the Tracks. 1975.
- Richard Weaver claims that a god term is “that expression about which all other expressions are ranked as subordinate and serving dominations and powers” (212).
- By using god terms to describe a topic, the audience feels that the topic has all the (good) qualities commonly associated with a god term. God terms can change from generation to generation, and several may exist at one time. Weaver claims that the god term of his day was progress (212). The term had the power to fill an audience with the feeling that someone or something was good and beneficial for society if it was labeled progressive.
- Weaver believes that there is a collective stance particular to a time period, which constructs the god term. Humans define themselves by “[revolving] around some concept of value” or else they “[suffer] an almost intolerable sense of being lost” (Weaver 213). According to Weaver, it is human nature to want to figure out what beliefs one wants to live for or to know where one “exists in the ideological cosmos” (213). Therefore, humans construct their reality around what they feel is valuable, which is an individual revelation but a socially constructed position.
Weaver, Richard M. The Ethics of Rhetoric. South Bend: Regnery, 1953
Your Mini-Rhetorical Analyses are due this Thursday, 3/03, 11:00 pm. Remember, aim to be more thorough on a smaller piece (therefore, select a shorter passage or segment) than to gloss over a larger piece. When we return after spring break, we’ll leave the ancient world and get modern with Descartes’ Discourse on Method. Descartes was French, so je pense, donc je suis (I think; therefore, I am) is related to laissez les bons temps rouler…in that it’s also French.
Don’t forget to read the Les Miserables passages.