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Compelled to Write

Alternative Rhetoric in Theory and Practice

David L. Wallace

Publication Year: 2011

David Wallace argues that any understanding of writing studies must include the conception of discourse as an embodied force with real consequences for real people. Informed in important ways by queer theory, Wallace calls to account users of dominant discourses and at the same time articulates a theory base from which to interpret "alternative rhetoric."

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. vii


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pp. 1

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1: Defining Alternative Rhetoric: Embracing Intersectionality and Owning Opacity

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pp. 3-38

Could it be that we just don’t know ourselves? That the very words we use to speak ourselves to others obscure as much as they elucidate? That we emerge only in the cracks when words fail to perform as we have come to expect them to? Could it be that we fail words by forgetting they are not/can never be disembodied but continue to exist only as ...

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Interchapter: Piano Lessons

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pp. 39-41

Mr. Elkin always wore a coat and tie as he sat on a chair turned away from the dining room table and toward the piano where I sat, banging out C-D-E, “bone sweet bone,” E-D-C, “bone sweet bone,” C-D-E-D-E, “it’s my favorite song,” using only my thumb firmly planted on middle C and my forefinger and middle finger anchored to the D and E keys right above middle C. Mr. Elkin seemed ...

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2: Sarah Grimk

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pp. 42-66

Sarah Grimké’s Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women, published in 1838, is widely recognized as the first systematic treatment of women’s rights to be published by an American woman.1 Indeed, feminist scholar and Grimké biographer Gerda Lerner argues that Grimké’s Letters “anticipated by dozens of years the main points advocates of woman’s rights would make for the next century” (1998, 26). The story ...

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Interchapter: Jumper Cables and Double Consciousness as a Habit of Mind

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pp. 67-71

“Um, I think it’s mostly a matter of confidence.” By this my brother meant that I lacked confidence. It was one of the first serious talks Dan and I ever had. I was living at home again after college and nine harrowing months at seminary; he was just eighteen. We were talking about the conversation I had with the man I rescued in the snowy parking lot of the mall by giving his car a jump start. I knew it was better ...

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3: Frederick Douglass: Taking an Ell to Claim Humanity

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pp. 72-114

Some of the most frightening kinds of arguments outsiders have been forced to make in American history and culture are claims in which they seek status as humans. Many groups have had to argue for the recognition of their full personhood: American Indians calling for the recognition of their very existence in what were seen as unsettled lands; American slaves seeking the right to literally own their own bodies, share in the fruits of their labors, and maintain their family relationships; American women seeking the right to vote, own property, and control their ability to reproduce the species; and American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and transsexual people arguing for the right to marry, to adopt children, and to have control of their partners’ medical treatment ...

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Interchapter: Pickles

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pp. 115-117

The surgeon appears at the glass door that separates the waiting room from the operating suite, clad in dark blue-green scrubs, a surgical mask untied and hanging below his chin, and a loose puffy paper hat gathered by a thin elastic band that reminds me of my mother’s shower cap clinging absurdly to his mostly bald head. We stand as a group, moving toward him, Dad in the lead. The doctor ...

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4: Gloria Anzald

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pp. 118-158

Here Gloria Anzaldúa suggests that writing is more than communicating, that it is about the creation and negotiation of identity that challenges the pejorative ways American society defined her and about filling in and filling out the gaps dominant culture created. Her words remind me that until my mother’s second cancer surgery, I did not write anything that mattered. Although there were ...

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Interchapter: The Light of the World

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pp. 159-161

I have always wanted to write about that day Dad said that I shouldn’t be split, that I should be the same person no matter where I am, that the Bible says we are to be the “light of the world.” I sorely wish I could remember his words exactly because I took them as a rebuke, a sermon but I don’t know if Dad intended them that way. The conversation happened some time during my teens when Dad and I ...

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5: David Sedaris: Expanding Epideictic—A Rhetoric of Indirection

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pp. 162-201

David Sedaris would likely be bemused to know that anyone considers him a rhetorician, much less a purveyor of alternative rhetoric. As the opening epigraph indicates, Sedaris steadfastly refuses to claim his work has any purpose other than humor. Thus, from the outset I must acknowledge that Sedaris is not compelled to speak out against injustice in the same ways as Grimk

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Interchapter: Day Four in Paris

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pp. 202-204

Vitor sleeps in the bed I rent for 155 euros a night. He’s the third man to be in that bed with me, but the first to get under the covers and the first man to sleep with me for nearly a year. He lies there, the soft Paris morning light filtering through the gap in the drapes that shade the garret window. He wants to sleep until 11:30 because couture week is incredibly hectic, and he sniffed lines twice yesterday—once to wake up ...

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6: Alternative Rhetoric and Marked Writing

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pp. 205-241

Put most simply, engaging in alternative rhetoric means, as Butler argues, risking ourselves in moments of unknowingness, loosing ourselves from the moorings of dominant culture and discourse and striking out into uncharted waters. The potential benefit is becoming more fully human, becoming something other than what has been prescribed, and having the opportunity to take up a kind of rhetorical agency that engages dominant culture and discourse rather than accepting their dictates. Doing so is a risk, as it will ...

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Interchapter: God Abhors You

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pp. 242-243

the sign read, and the first letter of each word was printed in bright yellow to insure that readers would see exactly who its bearer believed god abhors. The sign was carried by a member of group of evangelical Christians protesting the Southern Decadence Parade. I first saw them the previous Friday evening, strategically positioned between Oz and the Pub, the two big gay bars on the ...


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pp. 244-249


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pp. 250-255

About the Author

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pp. 256

E-ISBN-13: 9780874218138
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218121

Page Count: 258
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st Edition