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Being Made Strange

Rhetoric beyond Representation

Bradford Vivian

Publication Year: 2004

By elaborating upon pivotal twentieth-century studies in language, representation, and subjectivity, Being Made Strange reorients the study of rhetoric according to the discursive formation of subjectivity. The author develops a theory of how rhetorical practices establish social, political, and ethical relations between self and other, individual and collectivity, good and evil, and past and present. He produces a novel methodology that analyzes not only what an individual says, but also the social, political, and ethical conditions that enable him or her to do so. This book also offers valuable ethical and political insights for the study of subjectivity in philosophy, cultural studies, and critical theory.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies

Front Matter

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

The title of this book is meant to convey a double meaning. On the one hand, the word being may be taken as a noun. The nature of something familiar has been altered. According to the subject matter of this book, that thing is a kind of being: human being. Presently, we understand who we are in profoundly...

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pp. 1-18

Prior to the twentieth century, the discipline of rhetoric could boast of Western culture’s most complete and integrated system for understanding the manifold uses of language in human affairs. The following synopsis documents, in the most general terms, how rhetorical scholars historically...

Part I: Beyond Representation

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Chapter 1: The Subject and Object of Representation

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pp. 21-54

To date, both philosophers and rhetoricians have only superficially explored the potentially profound significance of rhetoric to contemporary reflections on the nature of language, reason, and human being. Newton Garver posits that the philosophical study of language in the twentieth century has followed...

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Chapter 2: The Ideal of Rhetoric

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pp. 55-77

Even commonsensical notions of language and communication presuppose critical, but frequently unexamined, assumptions about their value to human affairs. In our heritage, one can trace the presumed value of language as merely a transparent conveyance of objective meaning to the influence of early Western philosophy...

Part II: Being Otherwise

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Chapter 3: Rhetoric in the Middle Voice

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pp. 81-109

Plato’s Gorgias and Phaedrus typically are linked in disciplinary narratives concerning the classical Greek origins of rhetoric. Such narratives couple these dialogues in order to present an ostensibly complete portrait of Plato’s thinking on rhetoric and his related concerns over truth, knowledge, and...

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Chapter 4: Style without Identity

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pp. 111-129

In the previous chapter, I provided a rationale for, and conceptual outline of, rhetoric in the middle voice. Not surprisingly, explorations of theoretical questions often raise subsequent methodological considerations—in this case, questions concerning how, exactly, one should analyze the ethos of a discursive...

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Part III: Rhetoric and the Politics of Self and Other

Chapters 3 and 4 demonstrated that the ethos of social, political, and ethical relations manifests a rhetoric of subjectivity in which notions of self and other, individual and community, or good and evil acquire meaning and value from changing discursive conditions. The final pairing of chapters in...

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Chapter 5: Jefferson’s Other

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pp. 133-155

In 1827, two male slaves named Madison and Eston Hemings were freed by the terms of Thomas Jefferson’s will. Within five years of their emancipation, Madison and Eston both married women who, like them, were of racially mixed heritage. In 1835, the brothers moved to southern Ohio, where, no...

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Chapter 6: The Rest Is Silence

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pp. 157-180

In the previous chapter, I showed how the ethos of the past, embodied in symbolic personae such as Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, provides the discursive conditions according to which we define our relationship to such historical figures in defining ourselves as inheritors of their troubled...

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pp. 181-192

The very idea of rhetoric, its institutional meaning and value, is based on universal notions of human being. By definition, rhetoric originally was conceived as a pedagogical, cultural, and political practice uniquely suited to the expression of essential human truths, values, and virtues. Even contemporary rhetoricians...


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pp. 193-201


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pp. 203-221


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pp. 223-229

E-ISBN-13: 9780791485392
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791460375
Print-ISBN-10: 0791460371

Page Count: 229
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: SUNY series in Communication Studies