Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Through" these hegemonic eyes...

I tried to italicize "through," so you'd all know I wasn't misquoting Kelly Clarkson. I mean, come on, we all know the song is "Behind These Hegemonic  Eyes."


As I was working on my index card at the Heorot last night (you know, in celebration of turning in that Classical Rhet paper), I was in deep conversation with a friend about both of our religious/spiritual upbringings. My friend recounted growing up mostly nonreligious, remembering how classmates in school would make her feel strange for being indifferent to matters of religion.

I told her I was a little bit envious of her ability to separate herself more easily from the religious constructs/discourse/beliefs that I--being raised in a conservative, religious environment--have such a difficult time separating from my academic identity.

What I was really meant was I wish I could more easily distinguish the hegemonic ideals that are so engrained in our political/academic/social discourse, but sometimes, when you are raised in a particular hegemony, it's hard to see (through my hazel eyes :) the forest for the forests, so to speak. Especially when everything seems like one big forest.

Crowley defines this well: "Hegemonic discourses construct and inform community experiences to such an extent that their assumptions seem natural, 'just the way things are.' The very inarticulateness of hegemonic belief is source of its power" (p. 12). 

I find Crowley's argument encouraging, especially when she recognizes that the very foundations upon which liberalism and apocalyptic Christianity rest don't actually jive with each other or value the similar ways/strategies to argue/contest ideas, which is largely why these two discourses don't seem to communicate with each other or move towards consensus on political/social topics.

While it seems so easy to buy into Crowley's idea about rhetoric (as well as Perelman and Olbrecht-Tyteca's New Rhetoric), how do we make these ideas accessible and mobile to the public? How do we effectively promote argument as a necessary facet of language (and democracy)?

Is Toulmin's method useful for only particular discourse communities, e.g. the academy?

1 comment:

  1. Who is Kelly Clarkson, again? Lol. I totally didn't get the reference. Thanks for explaining.

    I think it would be really difficult to make Crowley's ideas accessible to the public sometimes, but it's probably not the ideas that are the problem. I think the public may reject Crowley's ideologies because it would violate their belief systems--I think they'd refuse to recognize that their belief systems are a part of a foundation that they subscribe to, not Truth (capital T), because many people see their foundations as Truth. Therefore, they don't need to be analyzed.

    As for promoting argument, we all argue, but using rhetorically-styled arguments might be hard, too. Again, it goes back to people societally not wanting to recognize foundations as key to beliefs.

    Were you able to come up with any ways to do either of these things?