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Rhetorical Lingo

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago

Rhetorical Lingo


Fill this page with concepts from the readings, your research, or class discussions. Feel free to add to and/or edit your classmates' entries. If you are quoting a definition, provide a brief citation--the author's name, a shortened version of the title, and the page number.


To maintain the style of the template, but sure to put a "!" before your term, hit enter, and type your definition. Doing this will keep the heading format and add the term to the table of contents. Also, be sure to put your terms in alphabetical order.




In "Rhetoric/Slash/Composition" Haynes writes "Such it is with rhetoric/composition - both doomed and/or fortunate to live with this aporetic virgule between them, listing like a slightly disfigured lightning bolt" (1). Aporia, in Wikipedia.com, is defined as "a rhetorical device where the speaker expresses a doubt - often feigned - about his position or asks the audience rhetorically how he or she should proceed." "Aporia." ''Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia''. 14 Aug 2006, 19:33 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 30 Aug. 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aporia&oldid=69643304>.


Ciceronian Humanism

According to Michael Leff, the main features of this type of humanism are: 1. being suspicious of abstract theory 2. acknowledging that discourse (especially if it allows for argument on both sides of an issue), is central to civic life 3. a valorization of eloquence and virtue 4. a strong link between virtue and political activity. Concerning agency, Cicero, like his classical forefathers, viewed the rhetor as having supreme power and agency in the rhetorical situation. It must be noted that Cicero and Isocrates, among other traditional/classical rhetors, were deeply aware of the power of audience and Cicero was said to be in awe of the audience, and fearful of speaking, when he delivered a speech. This seems to be a paradox for later Renaissance humanists, but not for Cicero. Post-moderns view classical/Ciceronian Humanism as simply placing all agency on the orator. [see Leff's "Tradition and Agency in Humanistic Rhetoric" p138-139). Ultimately, there is a "complex interaction between speaker and audience" in the humanistic conception of rhetorical agency" (Leff 141).



Doxa is a Greek term that was used by Plato and Aristotle to denote “public opinion,” and in some instances, Plato has Socrates referring to doxa as “mere opinion,” a formulation that must be distinguished from “‘true knowledge’ (episteme)” (Herrick 54-55). From this historical usage, the term developed currency in relation to belief, especially that of a particular community, but most often within the context of the public at large. It is in this way that Kenneth Burke uses the term, allying doxa most closely with theology and religion in general (249-51). By extension, the contemporary usage of the term is most closely associated with orthodoxy and heterodoxy, states indicating either adherence to the beliefs of a given discourse community, or rejection of those beliefs.


Growing from within the Western philosophical tradition, doxa may be understood most readily as a quintessentially modernist concept, one that is reliant upon notions of concrete personhood and individuality. It is also dependent upon universals such as Truth, Goodness, and Natural Law, and it is typically enmeshed within totalizing narratives that attempt to make meaning out of human existence. In this sense, doxa is an a priori notion, one that “is known to be true or false prior to experience” (Stokes 209). Such usage may be found in a variety of contexts in contemporary society, from the strictures of religious groups, to concepts such as “Intellectual Property,” sometimes theorized as “a universal human right” (Ostergard 156).


The idea of doxa is greatly complicated by a postmodern worldview, and many postmodern philosophers and theorists confront not only the notion itself, but the wider implications such a pervasive notion has upon culture, subjectivity, and agency. Perhaps the most obvious example of this type of complication occurs within the work of Lyotard, who rejects the idea of totalizing “grand narratives” (Faigley 39). By seeing doxa as a component of discourse and the dissemination of doxa through modernist meta-narratives, Lyotard attempts to delegitimate such totalizing discourse by illustrating their propensity to “deny their own historical production of first principles in their aspiration for universality” (39). Faigley also notes that “Lyotard argues that the result of discourse is not consensus but paralogy and a ‘multiplicity of finite meta-arguments’” (42). Through this postmodern notion of discourse, concepts such as doxa have difficulty maintaining legitimacy. Similarly, the work of Michael Carter challenges doxa by denying the existence of origins, destabilizing the impact of totalizing narratives (13-75). Perhaps even more pervasive than the idea of meta-narratives is the Marxist concept of “the Language of Total Administration” that was articulated by Marcuse and indicative of influence of doxa within everyday life.


The work of Michel Foucault has also been tremendously influential in examining one’s encounter with doxa in everyday life. The Archaeology of Knowledge examines another pervasive manifestation of doxa, that of tradition. He suggests that “tradition enables us to isolate the new against a background of permanence,” and that “we must question those ready-made syntheses, those groupings we normally accept before any examination, those links whose validity is recognized from the outset” (Archaeology 1-2). Similarly, he points to the use of tradition to control notions of truth and justice (“Truth and Judicial Forms”), and he discusses how doxa can become polemical, ultimately stifling thought (“Polemics, Politics, and Problematizations”). Finally, Foucault examines how doxa is closely related to the dissemination, implementation, and circulation of power within society. This argument suggests that, through the dissemination of doxa within multiple contexts (discourse of religion and state, tradition, juridical practices, etc.), human beings are not only “made subjects,” they effectively “turn themselves into [. . .] subjects” (777-78).


The circulation of doxa and its relation to power is perhaps most expressly articulated in the work of Althusser, whose conception of the “Ideological State Apparatus” (ISA) is dependent upon the explicit transmission of doxa through the more encompassing notion of ideology (144). Althusser even identifies several Ideological State Apparatuses, all of which carry their own tenets of doxa. He names “the religious ISA, the educational ISA, the family ISA, the political ISA, the trade-union ISA, the communications ISA, and the cultural ISA” (144). Althusser contends that these many ISA’s “function massively and predominantly by ideology (146),” and in doing so, he implicitly foregrounds the necessity of doxa and tradition to the continued transmission of ideology. Finally, because doxa is transmitted through discourse, Althusser’s theory of interpellation (171) adds yet another layer of complexity to the definition of term, indicating its fundamental interactivity, while also acknowledging its existence as a tool of a given ISA. James Berlin also extrapolates the ideas of Althusser and Therborn on interpellation (and the underlying implication of doxa) and applies them specifically to rhet/comp pedagogy.


There are many other postmodern theorists that similarly evoke an implicit notion of doxa as an integral component of contemporary philosophical thought. For example, Jane Jacobs illustrates the paradox that can occur when one attempts to counteract doxa by postulating a theory of “difference,” but that in doing so one must be careful that one’s theory of difference does not usher in a new form of doxa (403). Xudong Zhang aligns doxa with homogeneity, while positioning a postmodern “theoretical narrative” in the realm of multiplicity reminiscent of Lyotard (30). Despite the many ways in which postmodernism complicates the notion of doxa, it is important to realize that such a concept is grounded in discourse. Because doxa is a discursive construct, it is ultimately malleable, as Porter, et al. indicate in their discussion of “Institutional Critique.”



Works Cited


Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation).” Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. 128-83. <http://ptb.sunhost.be/marx2mao/Other/LPOE70ii.html#s5>

Berlin, James. “Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class.” College English. 50.5 (September 1988: 477-94. < http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-0994%28198809%2950%3A5%3C477%3ARAIITW%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2>

Burke, Kenneth. The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology. Berkeley: UC Press, 1970.

Carter, Michael. Where Writing Begins: A Postmodern Reconstruction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2003.

Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Routledge, 1972.

---. “Interview: Polemics, Politics and Problematizations.” The Essential Works of Focault, Vol. 1. New York: The New Press, 1997. <http://foucault.info/foucault/interview.html>

---. “Truth and Judicial Forms.” The Essential Works of Focault, Vol. 3. New York: The New Press, 1997. <http://foucault.info/documents/foucault.truthAndJudicialForms.en.html>

---. “The Subject and Power.” Critical Inquiry. 8.4 (Summer 1982): 777-95. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0093-1896%28198222%298%3A4%3C777%3ATSAP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-S>

Herrick, James A. The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

Jacobs, Jane M. “Editorial: Difference and its other.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 25.4 (2000): 403-407. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0020-2754%282000%292%3A25%3A4%3C403%3AEDAIO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-8>

Marcuse, Herbert. “The Closing of the Universe of Discourse.” One Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. <http://www.marxits.org/reference/archive/marcuse/works/one-dimensional-man/ch04.htm>

Ostergard, Robert L., Jr. “Intellectual Property: A Universal Human Right?” Human Rights Quarterly. 21.1 (1999): 156-78.

Porter, James E., et al. “Institutional Critique: A Rhetorical Methodology for Change.” College Composition and Communication. 51.4 (June 2000): 610-642. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-096X%28200006%2951%3A4%3C610%3AICARMF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-3>

Stokes, Philip. Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers. New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2002.

Zhang, Xudong. “Multiplicity or Homogeneity? The Cultural-Political Paradox of the Age of Globalization.” Cultural Critique. 58 (Fall 2004): 30-55.



Quite simply, Fordism is a “summary term for the system of mass production consolidated by Henry Ford” in the early 1900’s (Faigley 10). But Fordism is characterized by the necessity of “elaborate central planning” that ensures the standardization of the componentry of production (10). As such, Fordism required an “authoritarian hierarchical management structure to ensure that the plan was followed” (10). As Faigley further illustrates, the entire concept of Fordism “is predicated on mass consumption in order to be profitable” (10). Thus, the arrival of Fordism ushered in a new era of consumption in which mass-produced goods displaced localized craftsmanship. Fordism was also accompanied by generous economic policies, specifically in the United States, but found in other Western governments as well, which fostered the proliferation of mass-produced goods. Interestingly, Fordism was embraced by the Soviet Union, and Faigley points out that Lenin “based Soviet industrialization on the Fordist principles of central planning, hierarchical organization, and large scale production” (10). Ultimately, the Fordist model fell out of favor by the 1960’s, when niche markets began to steadily increase, and the demand for unilateral mass-produced goods fell out of favor (Faigley 11) (in its place has come the advent of mass-produced goods that cater to a given niche). Because of the large amount of capital required to maintain a Fordist model, a decrease in demand forced companies in this model to dramatically restructure.


Within a postmodern context, it is difficult to comprehend globalization without at least some recognition of the previously dominant Fordist model. In fact, globalization may be seen as fundamentally antithetical to Fordism, as our current economic model embodies what postmodern theorists have termed Post-Fordism. Manufacturers in a Post-Fordist economy “reorganized their mode of production” to take advantage of changing patterns of consumption that are far more sensitive to swift changes in demand (Faigley 11). In the process, workers began to be divided into “knowledgeable core work groups and low-paid peripheral contract workers” (11). With the advent of new technologies that helped speed methods of production and modes of operation, the production of goods came to be outsourced, and the proliferation of a global market has been initiated and entrenched in the last thirty years. Within postmodernism, these economic shifts have brought about the dominance of consumerism, and the association of the subject with the goods that he or she consumes. In the global market, the “fragmentary subject” is associated with “the desires of consumption that Daniel Bell feared would result from unrestrained capitalism” (Faigley 12).


Attempts to understand or explore globalization are thus often centered on subjectivity, for in the aftermath of Post-Fordism we have notions like Baudrillard’s simulacra. Where modernism may be reflected economically by the order and hierarchy of Fordism, postmodernism is more likely to be represented economically by the speed and innovation of the internet, and the concomitant ease and frequency with which consumers purchase goods in the hopes of overcoming “the lack of a stable identity” (Faigley 13).



Works Cited


Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1994.

Faigley, Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Press, 1992.


Funnel Approach

An approach used in the arrangement of one's argument. In the funnel approach, the rhetor begins with the larger argument (larger contextualization) then proceeds to narrow to a more specific/special point or cause. According to Shirley Logan in "We are Coming," Anna Julia Coopper uses this approch in two speeches where she first "places black women within the larger context of all women and white women" then narrows to the specific/special interests and causes of Black women (125).


Gender Critique

Next to Recovery, as explained by Kathleen J. Ryan (see below), gender critique "refers to a range of critical and theoretical approaches to reconceptualizing an area of study by questioning its gendered assumptions" (24). Ryan subdivides gender critique into critical writing and theorizing. Critical writing involves "rhetorical analyses of recovered texts and familiar texts and rhetorical criticism to challenge accepted beliefs about rhetoric" (25). And "Theorizing refers to efforts to apply theoretical perspectives to the topic of gender and rhetoric and create new rhetorical theories drawn from women's writing and speaking (including extrapolating, reconceptualizing, and extraction)" (25). Ryan notes that both acts begin with a re-reading, much like the re-visioning advocated by Adrienne Rich or the "rereading" called for by Krista Ratcliffe.


Harvardization (of Rhetoric in English Departments)


Term used Hans Kellner ("After the Fall" p32) (and others), to describe what happened to English departments in the late 1880s and early 1900s. This included driving "rhetoric from its traditional and proper home"; valuing reading over writing; and rhetoric being marginalized by belletristic, literary forces.



The glossary entry for ontology in Philip Stokes’ popular-audience handbook Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers is mercifully succinct: he notes that ontology “is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of being” (215). While this definition will suffice to provide a rudimentary understanding of the term, it cannot possibly encompass a postmodern view of ontology that is situated within a complex notion of rhetoric (language).


Philosophically, ontology is certainly the interrogation of existence, and many have attempted to posit theories and notions of what it means to be. Philosophers as diverse as Aristotle, Aquinas, Heidegger, Husserl, and Quine have all grappled with the conceptual framework of existence. Within Rhetoric and Composition, postmodern notions of ontology are informed by a variety of sources. For example, Michael Carter’s Where Writing Begins is essentially an ontological study, and examination of the relationships between origins, writing, and being. Carter’s work is informed by Derrida, who makes unequivocal arguments about the relationship between language, epistemology, and ontology.


Derrida, for example, makes it clear that writing is epistemological, that “before being its object, writing is the condition of the episteme” (1). There is a close relationship between epistemology and ontology in postmodern thought, and Derrida argues that “writing opens the field of history—of historical becoming” (2; emphasis added). This idea of becoming and its connection with language is a concept which occurs repeatedly within postmodern theory. The idea of becoming is, in Derrida’s formulation, “the constitution of subjectivity” (31), and in this sense Derrida is in conversation with a great many postmodern theorists for whom subjectivity and ontology are inescapably intertwined. Within postmodern theories of rhetoric, the act of writing, of communicating, is the continual interrogation of ontology. By extension, questions of subjectivity are questions of ontology. Similarly, questions of subjectivity are questions of language (rhetoric); therefore, questions of language are fundamentally questions of ontology.


Ontological inquiry is essential to any extended discussion of subjectivity, and since the work of Foucault was so consumed by questions of subjectivity, his theories necessarily exhibit a preoccupation with ontology. Foucault’s conception of his own subjectivity reflects the Derridean notion of becoming, as he states that he doesn’t feel “that it is necessary to know exactly what I am,” that “the main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning” (“Truth” 9). It is perhaps for this reason that Foucault says that he “prefers not to identify” himself (“Polemics” 2). In his discussion of authorship, Foucault explores this becoming further, noting the characteristics of subjectivity that change when one is deemed “author” of a given text (“Author” 120). More importantly, Foucault states that a fundamental question of discourse revolves around the “specific existence that emerges from what is said,” indicating the close relationship between ontology and language (Archaeology 7). Finally, his essay “The Subject and Power” is an extended discussion of the relationships between discourse and ontology.


Three important postmodern theorists extend the discussion of subjectivity by focusing on ideology, a concept that cannot be extricated from either rhetoric or ontology. For example, James Berlin illustrates how ideology helps to construct ontological subjectivity when he argues that “ideology provides the language to define the subject (the self), other subjects, the material world, and the relation of all of these to each other” (479). He further notes that “ideology is inscribed in language practices, entering all features of our experience” (479). Similarly, Herbert Marcuse also illustrates the capacity for language and ideology to construct ontology. Finally, Althusser’s all-encompassing notion of “Ideological State Apparatuses” cannot help but impact the ontological development of people within its systems (144).


Perhaps the most pervasive theory of the relationship between language and ontology is found in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin’s notion of “dialogism,” as Foster notes, is “fundamental to existence and all that it engenders” (“Bakhtinian” 28). Foster argues that “existence, for Bakhtin, then, is not a given or a privilege, but is rather a responsibility of the self to author itself both for itself and for and to the world” (30-31). More importantly, she notes that “existence is intrinsically dialogic” (31), that the relationship between language and ontology is inescapable. In a Bakhtinian framework, consciousness itself “is thoroughly dialogic” (37). Foster’s “Rhetorical Subjectivity” is an even more complex articulation of Bakhtinian theory applied to language and ontology, and like Derrida, she situates dialogism as a process of becoming (10). Finally, Foster’s quoting of Bakhtin epitomizes this relationship, as he says “‘I achieve self-consciousness, I become myself only by revealing myself to another’” (“Rhetorical” 15).


Many other proponents of postmodern theory explicitly address questions of ontology in the work they produce. Ontology is essential to the understanding of postmodern topics as diverse as Intellectual Property, Globalization, and Bodies, Race and Feminist theory. Because ontological questions are intrinsic to language itself, any formulation of postmodern subjectivity or agency must address issues of ontology.


Works Cited


Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation).” Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. 128-83. <http://ptb.sunhost.be/marx2mao/Other/LPOE70ii.html#s5>

Berlin, James. “Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Class.” College English. 50.5 (September 1988: 477-94. < http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-0994%28198809%2950%3A5%3C477%3ARAIITW%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2>

Bobik, Joseph. Aquinas on Being and Essence. South Bend: U of Notre Dame P, 1965.

Carter, Michael. Where Writing Begins: A Postmodern Reconstruction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2003.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1974.

Foster, Helen. "A Bakhtinian Analysis of Walker Percy's Lancelot." Master’s Thesis: The University of Texas at El Paso, May, 1994.

---. “An Institutional Critique of Writing Process." Doctoral Dissertation: Purdue University, May, 2001.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Routledge, 1972.

---. “Interview: Polemics, Politics and Problematizations.” The Essential Works of Focault, Vol. New York: The New Press, 1997. <http://foucault.info/foucault/interview.html>

---. “The Subject and Power.” Critical Inquiry. 8.4 (Summer 1982): 777-95. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0093-1896%28198222%298%3A4%3C777%3ATSAP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-S>

---. “Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault-October 25th, 1982.” Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock, 1988. 9-15. <http://www.thefoucauldian.co.uk.techne.htm>

---. “What is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. Ithaca: Cornell U P, 1997. 113-138.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. New York: Harper, 1962.

Husserl, Edmund. Formal and Transcendental Logic. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978.

Marcuse, Herbert. “The Closing of the Universe of Discourse.” One Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. <http://www.marxits.org/reference/archive/marcuse/works/one-dimensional-man/ch04.htm>

Quine, W.V. Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York: Columbia U P, 1969.

Stokes, Philip. Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers. New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2002.



Being clear in one's speaking or writing. "The clarity of language conducing to clarity of thought" (Rhet.Tradition 900). This was proposed by John Locke, especially when talking about important or philosophical matters. George Campbell was influenced by Locke and agreed. His definition states that perspicuity results from "propriety and simplicity of diction, and from accuracy of method...nothing left to be supplied, no one unnecessary word or idea introduced (RT 902).



A type of pedagogical exercise (cited in Bizzell "Editing the Rhetorical Tradition" p. 112 from Connors and Corbett)


Progymnasmata (Greek "fore-exercises", Latin praeexercitamina) are rhetorical exercises gradually leading the student to familiarity with the elements of rhetoric, in preparation for their own practice speeches (gymnasmata, "exercises") and ultimately their own orations.

Both Hermogenes of Tarsus and Aelius Festus Aphthonius wrote treatises containing progymnasmata (in the second and third century CE, respectively).


The traditional course of rhetoric gave the progymnasmata in this order:
















Defend or attack a law

Once these exercises were mastered, the student would begin preparation of a gymnasmata, a full oration on a topic given a specific context.


"Progymnasmata." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 21 Jan. 2007. http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Progymnasmata>




This term functions in conjunction with Gender Critique as an Inventive Art, according to Kathleen Ryan (Rhetoric Review 25.1, 2006). Recovery, as defined by Ryan, "specifically refers to recovering historical women rhetors, recuperating contemporary and historical women's writing and speaking not traditionally viewed as rhetoric, and analyzing recovered women's texts" (24). Recovery can be used as "an art of invention" to esplore and develop questions as to where to go to recover texts and what value judgments to make regarding selections and omissions.


Revisionist Historiography (vs Traditional Historigraphy)


Revisionist historiography is interested in re-seeing and re-constructing a history of rhetoric that is more complex and inclusive and whose aim is not objective Truth. History is seen as "histories" which are time-organized narratives as opposed to clear and specific events of the past. "THE History of Rhetoric" is changed to "Rhetorical Histories", which involve a multitude of situated histories instead of a perceived master narrative. According to Bizzell in "Feminist Methods of Research...", revisionist historiographers (in this case, feminists) share some traditional methodologies with traditional historians (using traditional tools of research; the "new" rhetorics are still working within traditional Western notions of rhetoric), BUT they are different because they employ new methods of research and attempt to be upfront about their biases, and understand that the researcher's interests and emotions are involved in their research (16).


Rhetoric of Silence

In Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence, Cheryl Glenn asks us to look at silence/silencing in a complex and rhetorical manner. Silence has been viewed as mere passivity but it can function in two major ways: as a tool of power and as a function of being oppressed by the more powerful. Among her examples, Glenn looks at how "all the president's men," referring to Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs, were silenced and how some decided to speak out but were not respected because women were expected to remain silent. Another chapter forcused on Native American's and America's steotype that all Native Americans are quiet/silent. She interviewed a number of Native Americans and got various notions of how silence plays a part in Native American culture.



Originally a botanical term, rhizome refers to a specific subterranean root structure that is characterized by “a prostrate [. . .] root-like stem” (OED 864). The main significance of such a root structure is that is distinguished from the more common vertical root structure typical to most forms of vegetation. A botanical rhizome spreads horizontally beneath the planting surface, sending out new shoots of growth from its multiple nodes. Because of the horizontal growth of a rhizomic root structure, the term has gained currency within postmodernism to distinguish contemporary critical theories from the linear, vertically envisioned genetic growth of modernism.


Ginger Rhizome (see “Rhizome”)


One of the more explicit uses of this term occurs in Ihab Hassan’s seminal 1981 essay, “The Question of Postmodernism.” In establishing the framework for a notion of the postmodern that is distinct and separate from modernism, Hassan first describes the genetic characteristic of modern philosophy (32). For example, he illustrates how literary modernism may be “rightly assimilated to Romanticism, Romanticism related to the Enlightenment, the latter to the Renaissance, and so back, if not to the Olduvai Gorge, then certainly to ancient Greece” (32). In using this literary example, Hassan points out that modernist thought is predominantly linear, that roots are vertical, reaching back in time to some original manifestation or seed. However, when he later establishes a table depicting the many differences between modernism and postmodernism, he places the modernist concept of “Root/Depth” in direct contrast to the postmodern notion of “Rhizome/Surface” (34). As such, a postmodern conception of rhizomic thought, philosophy, or discourse foregrounds the many possibilities for interaction that occur near the surface, and operate horizontally as opposed to vertically.


There are several postmodern theorists that employ rhizomic structures in both theory and methodology. Michael Carter, for example, proposes a “pluralistic theory of problem solving” that uses a continuum of problems as his conceptual framework (557). In fact, the continuum itself may be seen as a rhizomic structure, and it is one that is employed by many postmodern theorists because it illustrates the possibility of horizontal interaction in the face of the hierarchical structures that dominate modernist thought. Other theorists that implicitly employ rhizomic theories or methodologies include Jacques Derrida and Mikhail Bakhtin. Derrida breaks down hierarchies within his work, from the binaries that exist within words themselves, to the more complex relationship between writing and epistemology (“Of Grammatology”). In doing so, Derrida’s work serves as an erasure of the vertical order of language; he re-orders our conception of language into something horizontal, removing the clear hierarchical privileging that is implicit in vertical structures. Similarly, Bakhtin’s theory of “heteroglossia” is also rhizomic, for as Foster illustrates, “Bakhtin’s thought is circular rather than linear in nature” (28). While the circular nature of Bakhtin’s theory isn’t necessarily horizontal, it is explicitly rhizomic because it depends upon “dialogism,” the necessity of the here and now, as opposed to embedded hierarchical structures.



Works Cited


Carter, Michael. “Problem Solving Reconsidered: A Pluralistic Theory of Problems.” College English. 50.5 (September 1988): 551-565. < http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-0994%28198809%2950%3A5%3C551%3APSRAPT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1974.

Foster, Helen. "A Bakhtinian Analysis of Walker Percy's Lancelot." Master’s Thesis: The University of Texas at El Paso, May, 1994.

Hassan, Ihab. “The Question of Postmodernism.” Performing Arts Journal. 6.1 (1981): 30-37. <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=07358393%281981%296%3A1%3C30%3ATQOP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-O>

The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. XIII. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

“Rhizome.” Encyclopedia entry. Wikipedia, 2006. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizome>



Dominating Western European schools from the 11th to the 15th century, scholasticism originally began to reconcile the philosophy of the ancient classical philosophers with medieval Christian theology. It is not a philosophy or theology in itself, but a tool and method for learning which puts emphasis on dialectical reasoning. The primary purpose of scholasticism was to find the answer to a question or resolve a contradiction. It is most well known in its application in medieval theology, but was eventually applied to classical philosophy and many other fields of study.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism



"In place of the isolated self of modernity [highly stressed in the Enlightenment thought of Locke, Kant, etc.] (or the alienated self of some versions of post-modernity), tradition constitutes the self through social interaction and as part of an ongoing historical development. Both the individual agent and the tradition achieve and change identity through a reciprocal circulation of influence" (Leff 140). He also uses the analogy/metaphor of a jazz performance. From Leff and Pelikan (in Leff p143), "traditions surrounds and constrains the rhetorical field certain things can and cannot be said, but it also remains open to new rhetorical constructions, so that is is able to 'develop while still maintaining its identity and continuity.'" Also..."lacking the conceptual support provided by tradition, the orator would not have a platform sufficiently stable to allow for performance. But the platform is only temporarily and locally stable, since it is constantly altered by the rhetorical performances it makes possible" (Leff 144).


Traditional Tradition


The "blue chip stocks" (Bizzell) of rhetoric. The rhetors and rhetorics that have traditional made up the rhetorical canon and which are staples in rhetorical anthologies. According to Bizzell, they include Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintiian, Augustin, Erasmus, Bacon and Blair...and so on. In contrast to the "new tradition" of lesser-known rhetorician/rhetorics such as women and men and women of color. [see Bizzell's "Editing the Rhetorical Tradition" 2003 in Philosophy and Rhetoric journal]


Unidirectional Rhetoric

The view by "old", traditional rhetoric that sees the speaker as having all the agency. The audience is seen as passive. "Vesting those with authority the power to impart information to inferiors (Byham qtd. in Leff p136). Regards the speaker as a "seat of origin than a point of articulation" (Gaonkar qtd. in Leff p136). An example is Plato's "Gorgias" where he states that rhetoricians hold absolute sway in public discourse. Other examples include Isocrates and Cicero. It must be noted that audience was still a very important consideration for the classical rhetors (see Ciceronian Rhetoric entry).


l'ecriture feminine


In "The Laugh of the Medusa," Helene Cixous' presents this theoretical model which, in the words of scholar Laura Alexander, "allows feminine desire, the language of the body, to reconstitute expression as a revolutionary movement against the masculine rhetorical structure that has defined language over time". Alexander elaborates that Cixous uses Medusa to function "as a metaphor for woman's multiplicity, provides a new rhetorical landscape that opposes the hierarchical rules imposing restrictions on the female voice and body". [see Laura Alexander's "Helene Cixous and the Rhetoric of Feminine Desire: Re-Writing the Medusa" in MODE,<http://www.arts.cornell.edu/english/mode/documents/alexander.html>)

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