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Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric

Edited by Michelle Ballif

Publication Year: 2013

 During the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, historians of rhetoric, composition, and communication vociferously theorized historiographical motivations and methodologies for writing histories in their fields. After this fertile period of rich, contested, and impassioned theorization, scholars busily undertook the composition of numerous historical works, complicating master narratives and recovering silenced voices and rhetorical practices. Yet, though historians in these fields have gone about the business of writing histories, the discussion of theorization has been quiet. In this welcome volume, fifteen scholars consider, once again, the theory of historiography, asking difficult questions about the purposes and methodologies of writing histories of rhetoric, broadly defined, and questioning what it means, what it should mean, what it could mean to write histories of rhetoric, composition, and communication. Normal.dotm 0 0 1 264 1508 SIU Press 12 3 1851 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

The topics addressed include the privileging of the literary and the textual over material artifacts as prime sources of evidence in the study of classical rhetoric, the use of rhetorical hermeneutics as a methodology for interpreting past practices, the investigation of feminist methodologies that do not fit into the dominant modes of feminist historiographical work and the examination of archives with a queer eye to better construct nondiscriminatory narratives. Contributors also explore the value of approaching historiography through the lenses of jazz improvisation and complexity theory, and the historiographical method of writing the future in ways that refigure our relationships to time and to ourselves.           
Consistently thoughtful and carefully argued, these essays successfully revive the discussion of historiography in rhetoric, inspiring fresh avenues of exploration in the field.                                                 

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-11

I would like to acknowledge all those who have shared in this risk: Karl Kageff, editor in chief of Southern Illinois University Press, for encouraging support, along with the two anonymous reviewers of this project, who helped me better frame and conceive the collection and who provided productive feedback to the contributors...

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pp. 1-7

Although the reclamation of the ancient rhetorical tradition was of interest to scholars of rhetoric, composition, and communication during much of the latter half of the twentieth century, this interest transformed into a central preoccupation during the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, producing a plethora of publications on the history of rhetoric. More specifically, the scholarship of this time...

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1. Theory, Validity, and the Historiography of Classical Rhetoric: A Discussion of Archaeological Rhetoric

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pp. 8-24

The above epigraph—purposefully taken out of context for reasons that will become clear before this introduction is over—is John Chadwick’s observation of the contextual factors that had to be accounted for when his colleague Michael Ventris was laboring toward what would become a monumental achievement: the decipherment of one of the earliest forms of...

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2. Enactment History, Jesuit Practices, and Rhetorical Hermeneutics

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pp. 25-40

Hermeneutics is always about otherness. Hermeneutics theorizes how otherness is “overcome” through interpretation, the making of sense, the establishment of meaning. A specifically rhetorical hermeneutics claims that interpretation takes place through tropes, arguments, and narratives that persuade others to accept a way of sense making about the past, present...

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3. Writing the Other into Histories of Rhetorics: Theorizing the Art of Recontextualization

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pp. 41-57

In the past few decades, rhetoric and composition scholars have showed a collective interest in crossing borders and in studying other discursive traditions and practices. This discursive turn in part reflects a growing realization that our existing accounts of rhetorics remain partial, incomplete, and in want of expansion and revision. To broaden and rewrite histories of...

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4. Releasing Hold: Feminist Historiography without the Tradition

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pp. 58-73

To challenge and revise the rhetorical tradition—this phrase captures the prevailing exigencies for feminist historiography in rhetoric. The pervasiveness of this scholarly agenda becomes evident in a quick survey of the initial and groundbreaking work in this area, where metaphors of disruption and revision abound. For example, while Andrea Lunsford writes that the goal of feminist...

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5. Queer Archives/Archival Queers

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pp. 74-89

In 2006, Charles E. Morris III lamented that “the archive itself . . . has yet to be subjected to sustained critical-rhetorical reflection by scholars in this discipline” (“Archival Turn” 113). Recently, however, the figure of the archive has been looming increasingly large in rhetorical studies, including a number of essays published...

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6. Pan-historiography: The Challenges of Writing History across Time and Space

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pp. 90-105

What does it mean to practice “pan-historiography”? We pose this question as historians of rhetoric, each of us in the thick of researching and writing histories that spread across a vast expanse of time—one an examination of how topoi of indigeneity helped shape national identity in Ecuador over more than a century...

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7. Stitching Together Events: Of Joints, Folds, and Assemblages

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pp. 106-127

Victor J. Vitanza opens the collection Writing Histories of Rhetoric with the acknowledgement that the authors and texts gathered there are a constellation, a molecular agglomerate, a paratactic aggregate (viii). Despite all of the talk at the time (late 1980s, early 1990s) of categorizing historiographies (surely a function of the drive to categorize...

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8. Rhetoric’s Nose: What Can Rhetorical Historiography Make of It?

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pp. 128-138

The title of this essay is unusual. I open this essay, therefore, by keying in the title to a contemporary scene of rhetorical historiography. This scene serves as the deep background for understanding my motive for writing about a nose. One large facet of the historiographical scene in rhetoric is the 1980s. In “Octalog: The Politics...

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9. Historiography as Hauntology: Paranormal Investigations into the History of Rhetoric

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pp. 139-153

We begin and end this corpus/corpse of the (un)canny (un)dead by reckoning with Jacques Derrida’s claim: “There has never been a scholar who really, and as scholar, deals with ghosts. A traditional scholar does not believe in ghosts—nor in all that could be called the virtual space of spectrality...

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10. Writing Future Rhetoric

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pp. 154-171

In the preface to Elements of the Philosophy of Right, G. W. F. Hegel wrote that “when philosophy paints its grey in grey, a shape of life has grown old, and it cannot be rejuvenated, but only recognized, by the grey in grey of philosophy; the Owl of Minerva begins its flight only with the onset of dusk” (23). Minerva, for whom the owl...

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11. A Philology for a Future Anterior: An Essay-as-Seminar

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pp. 172-189

When I was in secondary school with the good nuns, I collected words. One was the word philology. But it was a roundabout way that I arrived at this word philology. It was an accidental detour, an inclination, from all other words, that began with my collecting the word Logos. This word of words, as I have

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Afterword: A Reminiscence

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pp. 190-195

In her introduction to this volume, Michelle Ballif, envisioning a sequel to Victor J. Vitanza’s 1994 Writing Histories of Rhetoric, characterizes the collection as “an attempt to re/write, re/theorize that volume, specifically by querying: Where did all the theory go? That is, what happened to the impassioned fervor generated...

Works Cited

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pp. 199-227


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pp. 229-232


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pp. 233-238

Back Cover

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p. 250-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332113
E-ISBN-10: 0809332116
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332106
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332108

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2013