Revolution Lullabye

February 6, 2009

Covino, Rhetorical Pedagogy

William A. Covino. “Rhetorical Pedagogy.” 36-53.

Rhetorical pedagogy, which developed in the 1980s after the process and expressivism movements, looks to rhetoric to form a foundation for writing instruction. Advocates of rhetorical pedagogy define rhetoric as both dynamic and interested (48): dependent on context and attending to the needs and desires of writers and audiences. Rhetorical pedagogy draws on the entire history of rhetoric, from ancient Roman and Greek rhetoric to twentieth century rhetoricians, who expand rhetoric from the truncated empirical study of style that defined the discipline in the 18th and 19th cenutry to a more social, psychological, context-driven understanding of how rhetoric functions. Later twentieth-century rhetoricians argue that rhetoric is about finding shared values (Perelman), that even reality is rhetorical (Bakhtin), and that rhetoric can be found in non-human nature (Kennedy.) Modern historians of rhetoric are focused on recovering the rhetorical traditions of marginalized groups (women, African-Americans, etc.)

Quotable Quotes

Rhetorical pedagogy “consists in both more deliberate attention to the history of rhetoric and the acknowledgment that ‘rhetoric’ names a complex set of factors that affect the production and interpretation of texts” (39).

Notable Notes

Kinneavy’s theory of discourse increases the range of discourses available for students, a turn to the rhetorical tradition.

Expressivism encouraged a turn to classic invention heuristics.

1980s: emphasis on classical rhetoric (Aristotle, Cicero) 1990s: complicate it with other rhetorical traditions.

Sourcebooks for students and teachers: Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student; Lunsford, Reclaiming Rhetorica; Kennedy, Comparative Rhetoric; Murphy, A Short History of Writing Instruction; Crowley, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students; Knoblauch/Brannon, Rhetorical Traditions; Winterowd, Contemporary Rhetoric; Bizzell/Herzberg, The Rhetorical Tradition; Jarratt, Reading the Sophists; Covino, The Art of Wondering; Kitzhaber; Crowley, Methodical; Berlin, Writing Instruction; Bitzer, “The Rhetorical Situation”, Olson/Worsham, Race, Rhetoric, and the Postcolonial

Important figures: Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Plato (Phaedus and Gorgias), Ramus (Arguments in Rhetoric), Hugh Blair, George Campbell, I.A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, Perelman, Derrida, Fish, Rorty, Chomsky, Belenky, Feyerabend, Kuhn (rhetoric of science), Bakhtin

Important 20th century: I.A. Richards (The Philosophy of Rhetoric) and Kenneth Burke (A Rhetoric of Motives)

January 1, 2009

Hodge and Kress, Social Semiotics

Hodge, Robert and Gunther Kress. Social Semiotics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1988.

The authors, who developed a theory of usable (or critical) linguistics in their 1979 book Language as Ideology, wrote Social Semiotics to address two limitations in their linguistic theory: the lack of focus on “the primacy of the social dimension in understanding language structures and processes” and the inattention to the meanings inherent in non-verbal messages (such as in aural, behavioral, and visual codes.) Their study, which begins with an overview of twentieth-century linguistic theory, explaining the structuralist foundations of Saussure and Peirce, highlights the importance of social context in the meaning-making process. That context includes ideology, the current logonomic system, history, and social relationships. Drawing from Durkheim (and Marx), Hodge and Kress point out that there are two parts of every social message – power and solidarity – and show, through examples ranging from sub-population accents and antilanguages to the Biblical debate over the pronounciation of “shibboleth” and from classic Davy Crockett and Two-Gun Lil cartoons to the traditional Greek familial relationships showcased in Sophocles’ plays, that every meaning-making act is a social strategy to position one person or group in power and authority over another, who confirms their power through by going along and acting in solidarity with the rest of society. For both social control and an understanding of truth and reality, there is an interdependence between those in power and those being controlled.

There is a good appendix with definitions of Hodge and Kress’s key terms and concepts from pages 261-268.

Quotable Quotes

“Meaning is produced and reproduced under specific social conditions, through specific material forms and agencies. It exists in relationship to concrete subjects and objects, and is inexplicable except in terms of this set of relationships” (viii).

“Genres only exist in so far as a social group declares and enforces the rules that constitute them” (7). What is captured in genres is the relationship between the participants.

“Meaning is always negotiated in the semiotic process, never simply imposed inexorably from above by an omnipotent author through an absolute code” (12). Social semiotics is interested in what happens (expected and not) in the action between participants.

“Every semiotic act has an ideological content” (40).

“Every semiotic structure inevitably exists in space and time” (163). You cannot ignore the temporal dimension, for with history, you can understand large-scale structures that inform the meaning of small, individual semiotic acts.

Notable Notes

Jokes are a reversal of the logonomic code – they are broken rules, subversive, oppoistional discourse, drawing from Halliday’s antilanguageĀ (78)

Logonomic code – a set of rules about meaning-making and communication, based on an entire system of thought, which orders society by explaining who may make and receive messages and knowledge under what circumstances and with what behaviors (4)

Key words: formality, informality, constraint, energy, open, close, accents, T form/V form, truth, reality, modality, genre, logonomic, ideology, message, semiotic, act, participants, power, solidarity, social construction, system, history, context, control, style, grammar, metasign, group, cohesion

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