Saturday, December 6, 2014

Question 2

2.         “. . . for nearly forty years—from the 1920s through the 1960s—rhetorical theory was  treated largely as an exercise in intellectual history. . . .  By the mid- to late-1960s dissatisfaction with this approach to rhetoric began to grow. It became increasingly clear that however important the intellectual history of rhetorical theory was to our understanding of rhetoric as a discipline, the pressing need was to develop ‘new’ rhetorical theories that would adapt our understanding of rhetoric to the changing conditions of the new era” (Lucaites and Condit, “Introduction” to Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader 8).

Given the list of theorists and works we’ve read (or referred to) this semester, how would you characterize the “intellectual history” of rhetorical studies in the 20th century?  Sketch out that history with reference to specific theorists and works, as well as the “changing conditions of the new era.” [see attached “Timeline”]

1 comment:

  1. I guess I must be the only one that chose this topic. So here are my thoughts:

    I think that one of the biggest changes in rhetoric throughout the 20th century is the shift in how we model the field. At the beginning of the century there was a tendency toward using more linear models. People like Richards, Toulmin, and Bitzer stuck to more stringent ideas about how to view rhetoric. They were more formulaic in the use and depended on things like cause and effect models. As we've moved through the century and into the next scholars are starting to use more dynamic models to explore rhetoric. A comparison between Bitzer and Biesecker shows a large shift over the 20+ years. As I previously stated Bitzer relied on a very linear concept of cause (the situation) and effect (an appropriate rhetorical response). Biesecker on the other hand has thrown all of that out the window and has taken the approach that nothing in the rhetorical situation is fixed. Not the situation, not the audience, not even the identities. In her model each aspect of the rhetorical situation effects all of the other aspects, which then effects all the other aspects, and over and over, again. All the parts rely on each other, but no one part is solely responsible for the shifts in the situation. This type of change, form linear to dynamic, models has reached into every facet of the field throughout the 20th century.