Saturday, December 6, 2014

Question 1

1.  Like many academic disciplines, rhetorical studies has been challenged by a variety of voices from the “margins.”  It has also been or become a site of radical resistance.  Explore some of these challenges and/or this “resistance.”  In particular, consider the relationship between the politics of rhetorical study (for example, rhetoric and feminism, rhetoric and critical race studies, rhetoric and heteronormativity), and continuing debates over the relationship(s) between rhetoric, truth (or Truth), epistemology, and doxa.


  1. Thanks for posting these discussion posts, Mary.

    When I read this question, I think about some of the readings from the latter half of the semester and how they highlight the politics of our field. Readings such as Campbell's Man Cannot Speak for Her, Jarratt's Sophists piece, Biesecker's pieces, and others such as hooks, Powell, and Butler. For example, Campbell resisted the largely male-written rhetorical tradition, and Powell resisted a rhetorical tradition maintained by a western, colonial mindset. Furthermore, we can hear other voices and what they tell us about gender, sexuality, disabilities, and race.

    I also think about how we in the field debate about the relationship(s) between rhetoric, truth (or Truth), epistemology, and doxa. Relating this back to Brooke's Ecology piece and Hauser's summaries of the ARS proceedings, I see these concepts working together in a system within systems. That is, it's not easy to separate the concepts out from each other and discuss their effects without referring to or finding another one of these concepts implicit in the first concept. For example, I see the concept of doxa (common beliefs of a majority of people) to interact with the concept of truth (or Truth) because as it is historically and culturally shown, doxa shift according to the time and culture they exist within. Because of this, concepts of truth (or Truth) may shift as well, not always hugely, but usually minutely. Epistemology, in the same vein, is to understand how we know things. This ideas certainly intersects with doxa and truth because it can help humans understand the cultural values and beliefs held or not held by societies. Understanding epistemological bases for our educational, political, and individual practices and decisions influences greatly our visions (and manipulations) of what is truth.

    Where I see these two ideas meet is at the idea of who. Who is granted the authority to shape the episteme, the discourse? Who is denied that authority? I also see the emergence of technology (and its accessible nature) having a permanent impact on the way we construct and maintain knowledge in our discourse.

    What other ways do you all see these ideas/concepts intersecting?

  2. I think you've hit the nail on the head, Kelsey. The "who" of discourse creation and authority is at the crux of this question. I like that you've mentioned Campbell as a dissenting voice because Biesecker's arguments with Campbell's ideas are really interesting. There are so many different ways to critique the problems with the canon and the discipline that, to me, it seems like there is no Truth except that some people have purposely been held out of being subjects and discourse creators/shapers.

    The idea of doxa is a little problematic (for me) because the doxa shifts depending on where you are sitting. I've been on the wrong end of finding things I think are doxa--like racism is alive, well, and systemic--being called incorrect or untrue. Maybe I'm just out of touch with the majority?

    I don't think it's possible to necessarily examine these things as entirely separate--Patricia Hill Collins talks about the "interlocking systems of oppression," and I think she's right. The best approach to this question may be to try to hit on each critique discussed in class, rather than try to go super in-depth with one critique.

    1. Ugh. KELSIE. sorry. I will spell your name correctly on the first try one day.

  3. Scholars in critical race theory, queer theory, and feminist scholars have all challenged the dominant perspectives in rhetorical theory. McKerrow writes about how critical rhetoric encapsulates how freedom and domination can be uncovered when these systems of domination are exposed (91). Judith Butler, in her discussion of performativity, shows how embodying femininity and masculinity is related to idealizing heterosexuality (232). Performances like drag subvert this by challenging the idea that gender is inherent. bell hooks discusses how race and sex are “overlapping discourse in the United States” (57). This means that there are also overlapping patterns of domination. In order to achieve black liberation, she argues that it is necessary to do it from a standpoint of feminism, because currently it is associated with maleness (64). Without addressing sex in the struggle for racial equality, there is part of the equation missing. In terms of feminism, Campbell’s position that women should be added to the canon is a resistance against the male-dominated rhetorical canon; Biesecker’s response that female tokenism would be involved in posthumously adding women to the canon shows that there is not an easy way to rectify underrepresentation after the fact. She argues that it does not challenge the underlying logic of the canon (144). Work still needs to continue in the field of rhetorical studies to account for the underrepresentation of women, lack of racial diversity, and heteronormativity that has been in its history for as long as it has existed.

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  5. I like your thoughts here Margo, Mary, and Kelsie. I would add to that a possible approach to change (I'm not sure that's the right word) is in Glenn's notion of mapping. She argues that we need several maps to cover the edges and areas that would get missed otherwise.