Bizzell and Herzberg: Modern and Postmodern Rhetoric Introduction

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, eds. Modern and Postmodern Rhetoric: Introduction. The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin''s, 2001. 1183-1205. Print.






At beginning of 20th C, rhetoric appeared in decline. Discarded in some European universities; not England, where debate was a competitive sport. Rediued in US. Specialization and departmentalization of modern university dispersed rhetoric into other disciplines. Rediscovered by philosophers and lit critics; reinvented as "discourse" or "dialogism." "


Grown to encompass a theory of language as a form of social behavior, of intention and interpretation as the determinants of meaning, of the way that knowledge is created by argument, and of the way that ideology and power are extended through language...rhetoric has become a comprehensive theory of language as effective discourse" (1183).


Bizzell and Herzberg claim that the chronological stages for 20th C rhetoric are arbitrary. Look to interconnection of ideas.


Rhetoric and Composition


College rhetoric in US became English 101. Invention rarely studied."Current-traditional"-- expository writing, modes, prescriptive grammar, usage, and style. Communication theory/ modernist. Short-lived but precursor to later methods. Mostly rhetoric focused on technical. Some interest in rhetoric as historical and theoretical discipline in 50s and 60s. But in 60s and 70s move to self-expression. Expressivism in social context (Vietnam; increased college admissions, civil rights) One''s "voice" was assertion against Establishment (1185). Process model emerges during 1970s. Professionalization of composition (development of graduate programs).


Speech Communication


"The speech course." Public speech course continues to be Aristotelian in form... traditional categories of invention (or research), arrangement, style, memory (or practice) and delivery, and by the traditional forms of appeal to reason, emotion, and authority (1186). In 20s, speech departments/ graduate curriculum, turned to psych and soc study of speech (Midwestern School) and history of rhetoric (Cornell school). Midwesterners-- base in science/ behavioral psych. Cornell -- rhet theory, oratory.


Academic Rhetoric in Europe and the United States


European: Toulmin, Foucault, Derrida--rhetoric is limited and moribund. Perelman or Richards speak in terms of rediscovery and rehabilitation.


US: Burke wishes to "rediscover" rhetoric. "The story of rhetorical theory in the twentieth century is, to a considerable extent, the story of how the philosophy of language on the one hand and literary criticism on the other moved to consolidate once again the richness of rhetoric as a theory of language in use" (1187-88).


Philosophy of Language Versus Rhetoric


Garver argues medieval trivium (grammar/logic/rhetoric) sounder approach to study of language and better framework for understanding philosophy of language. Language and knowledge as socially constructed: what does it mean to speak of a concept, to define the terms that identify concepts (1188).


Semantics and Semiotics


Semantics: focus on language as meaning, synonymy, polysemy, ambiguity, literal vs. figurative expression, distinctions between types of meaning (e.g. expressive vs emotive) (1189).


Peirce (American): semiotics as heir to trivium: grammar becomes study of the conditions of meaning; logic becomes the study of the conditions of truth; and rhetoric becomes the study of the relations among signs. A sign works by calling up an interpretant in interpreter''s mind. Mental sign has a referent in the world. Called study of meaning pragmatism. Later philosophers refer to trivium as syntactics, semantics, pragmatics and ignore connections to rhetoric and medieval trivium.


de Saussure (Swiss) developed semiology independent of Pierce. System of language (langue) makes possible and gives meaning to utterances (parole). Langue is a type of social contract; has two aspects-- diachronic (history) and the synchronic (the system at a given moment) (1189).  Meaning is psychological.


Peirce influenced mainly Americans, de Saussure mainly Continental. Major influence on Ango-American philosophy of language are Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.


Russell-- logical atomism-- "reducing lang to a form that would allow philosophers to determing how reality was constituted by making a linguistic analysis of propositional statements (assertions about reality)" (1189).


Analytic Philosophy that follows-- philosophy meaningless b/c philosophers misused ordinary language. From this, two conclusions: neopositivism-- language is inherently confusing and illogical and should be purified; "ordinary language" philosophers-- use determines meaning (Wittgenstein''s view).


The Meaning of Meaning in Philosophy and Literature


I A Richards and Ogden "illustrate Peirce''s theory of signs with a communication triangle, in which the linguistic sign directly calls up the mental sign or reference and only indirectly stands for the extramental and extralinguistic ''referent'' out in the world of things or ideas" (1190). Meaning "not in words themselves but in the remembered contexts in which they have appeared to the interpreter" (1190).


New Criticism and Formalism > break from historical/biographical; instead to reader''s experience of text. Defines literary language as "complex and metaphoric" and ordinary language "sought clarity in simplicity" (1190). Richards founder of formalist criticism but argues that the meaning foundation of literary and ordinary language the same: sign systems. Richards not interested in actual readers'' experiences as form of lit crit-- in fact uses psychology to argue how readers inappropriately decode poetry. Correct readings focus on the poem itself, not the reader''s feelings. Richard characterizes language as emotive rather than expressive.


Meaning and Dialogism


Bakhtin (1895-1975) influenced by Peirce and de Saussure. Accepts fundamental principle of semiotics (signs, arbitrary, refer to other signs); rejects psychological processing of signs. Language can only be understood as dialogue because other systems don''t factor in intention, interpretation, social context, and historical circumstance in making meaning.  Bakhtin believes "the logic of consciousness is the logic of ideological communication, of the semiotic interaction of a social group" (qtd. in Bizzell and Herzberg 1192). Rejects literary / ordinary language distinction. Sees literature as merely a genre of discourse, a strategy for producing effects in particular situations. Suggests "extending rhetorical analysis to every kind of speech, recognizing that genres are the means of adapting an utterance to a complex situation, a situation that includes a history of previous speech acts as well as an immediate context involving socially situated speakers" (1192).


Literature, Logic, Rhetoric, and Ethics


Pendulum with rhetoric / literature relationship. At end of 19th C, critics claimed poetry contemplative/ rhetoric action.


Burke: Motives = distinctly linguistic products. Literature is an attempt to understand motivation.


Booth would argue all literature is discourse addressed to a reader.


Ong-- reading is a negotiation between reader and role author projects for reader. Reader has active role in producing meaning.


Reader-response (Fish and Iser) > therefore, readers must be "informed" / educated. Consider themselves context-sensitive, not rhetorical.


Weaver-- similar to Richards and Burke. "Human utterances reflect a set of values and aim to move others to accept the image of the world in which those values apply" (1194). Weaver "conscious Platonist." Glossary Link Dialectic is discourse that leads to knowledge of nature, though not necessarily trustworthy for conveying knowledge ethically.


Rhetoric Versus Logic


Toulmin-- extend rigor of formal logic to arguments of greater uncertainty. Avoids mentioning rhetoric. "''Truth'' is a social phenomenon, dependent on the criteria developed by a community for determining what it will believe" (1195).


Similar to Perelman. Perelman argues science may be within realm of certainty, but most of human affairs judgments that aren''t self-evident. Knowledge is based upon argument; ethical and logical danger to claim rest on immutable truth (1196).


Discourse, Knowledge, and Ideology


Foucault and Derrida "champion[s] of postmodern opposition to philosophy''s quest for universals and absolutes" (1196). Foucault: knowledge is created by discourse. We accept things as true because of relationships of communication and power among social institutions that use and control knowledge. Institutions!


Derrida claims there is no knowledge without language. Focuses on writing, which through Glossary Link deconstruction, shows distance from apparent reference. Derrida: "rhetoric is epistemic... knowledge not a function of logic and...language is not a medium for knowledge; rather, knowledge is made by language, though for Derrida, the chief characteristic of knowledge may be that it is an elaborate self-deception" (1197). All language is metaphor.


Fish-- literary vs. ordinary language. Argues no such thing as ordinary language (transparent in no need of context). Later chooses rhetoric as discipline best for meaning and interpretation.


Derrida, Fish, and de Man focus on how texts undermine their own apparent meaning. Rhetoric refers to tropes as symbols of epistemological dilemma but not to larger issues of discourse and its construction of knowledge (1198).


Terry Eagleton (1983) argues no such thing as literature if mean that it''s a text linguistically different from ordinary texts.


All of these guys-- all forms of communication are rhetorical.


Rhetorics of Gender, Race, and Culture in the Twentieth Century


Greater education for women. Past women used same rhetorical practices as men. New kind of theorizing ca 19th C: "women''s rhetoric" (1200). Intensified in 20th C. Woolf (non-linear style; uses experience and reflections for authority). Cixous "écriture feminine." Gloria Anzaldúa-- mestiza rhetoric (1201). African-American men-- transmission via oral tradition. Black English as dialect. Gates "analyzes tropes of black discourse in terms of the epistemic notion of tropes developed by deconstructionist critics. Gates thus brings the analysis of a part of black discourse into line with a significant element of the language theory shared by literary criticism and rhetoric" (1202).


The Reach of Rhetoric


relationships between language and knowledge/ rhetoric becomes every instance of language use. Although Vico, Nietzsche, Isocrates believed rhetoric should encompass all language acts, usually overtly persuasive and deliberately stylized forms. 20th C = rhetoric is foundations of knowledge and ideology in discourse. "Rhetoric at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not only a field of historical investigation, systematic analysis, pedagogical practice, political change, and theoretical speculation, but an intellectual project that extends beyond disciplinary boundaries" (1202).