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Tropes of Politics
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Talk is of central importance to politics of almost every kind—it’s no accident that when the ancient Greeks first attempted to examine politics systematically, they developed the study of rhetoric. In Tropes of Politics, John Nelson applies rhetorical analysis first to political theory, and then to politics in practice. He offers a full and deep critical examination of political science and political theory as fields of study, and then undertakes a series of creative examinations of political rhetoric, including a deconstruction of deliberation and debate by the U.S. Senate prior to the Gulf War.
    Using the neglected arts of argument refined by the rhetoric of inquiry, Nelson traces how everyday words like consent and debate construct politics in much the same way that poets such as Mamet and Shakespeare construct plays, and he shows how we are remaking our politics even as we speak. Tropes of Politics explores how politicians take stands and political scientists probe representation, how experts become informed even as citizens become authorities, how students actually reinvent government while professors merely model politics, how senators wage war yet keep comity among themselves.
    The action, Nelson shows, is in the tropes: these figures of speech and images of deed can persuade us to turn from ideologies like liberalism toward spectacles about democracy or movements into environmentalism and feminism. His argument is that inventive attention to tropes can mean better participation in politics. And the argument is in the tropes—evidence itself as sights or citations, governments as machines or men, politics as hardball or softball, deliberations as freedoms or constraints, borders as fringes or friends.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Introduction: Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre
  2. pp. xi-xviii
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  1. Part One: From Figures of Inquiry
  2. pp. 1-114
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  1. 1. Returning Pluralism to Political Science: A Programmatic Manifesto for Rhetoric of Political Inquiry
  2. pp. 3-33
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  1. 2. Returning History to Political Science: A Disciplinary Archaeology of Amnesia in Political Argument
  2. pp. 34-46
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  1. 3. Turning Underground into Approved Rhetorics: A Partial Confession from a Scientizing Discipline
  2. pp. 47-71
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  1. 4. Overturning Argument in Political Science: An Apostate Meditation on Disappointments of Political Theory
  2. pp. 72-98
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  1. 5. Returning Argument to Political Inquiry: A Mythic Narration of Models, Statistics, and other Tropes
  2. pp. 99-114
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  1. Part Two: To Myths of Action
  2. pp. 115-230
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  1. 6. Turning Politics into Words: A Rhetorical Invention of Evidence and Argument
  2. pp. 117-134
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  1. 7. Turning Ideologists into Myths: A Postmodern Essay in Political and Rhetorical Analysis
  2. pp. 135-149
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  1. 8. Turning Governments Every Which Way but Loose: A Poetic Experiment in Politics and Communication
  2. pp. 150-179
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  1. 9. Turning Deliberations into Debates: A Dialogical Deconstruction of Senate Rituals of Comity
  2. pp. 180-204
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  1. 10. Turning Stands into Stances: A Figural Argument about Forms of Political Action
  2. pp. 205-230
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  1. Notes / Index
  2. pp. 231-291
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 233-279
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 281-291
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  1. Rhetoric of the Human Sciences
  2. pp. 293-294
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