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Hannah Arendt's Rhetoric of Warning and Hope
Renowned in the disciplines of political theory and philosophy, Hannah Arendt’s searing critiques of modernity continue to resonate in other fields of thought decades after she wrote them. In Communication Ethics in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt’s Rhetoric of Warning and Hope, author Ronald C. Arnett offers a groundbreaking examination of fifteen of Arendt’s major scholarly works, considering the German writer’s contributions to the areas of rhetoric and communication ethics for the first time.
Arnett focuses on Arendt’s use of the phrase “dark times” to describe the mistakes of modernity, defined by Arendt as the post-Enlightenment social conditions, discourses, and processes ruled by principles of efficiency, progress, and individual autonomy. These principles, Arendt argues, have led humanity down a path of folly, banality, and hubris. Throughout his interpretive evaluation, Arnett illuminates the implications of Arendt’s persistent metaphor of “dark times” and engages the question, How might communication ethics counter the tenets of dark times and their consequences? A compelling study of Hannah Arendt’s most noteworthy works and their connections to the fields of rhetoric and communication ethics, Communication Ethics in Dark Times provides an illuminating introduction for students and scholars of communication ethics and rhetoric, and a tool with which experts may discover new insights, connections, and applications to these fields.
Literacy, Spiritual Practice, and Women in Recovery
Drawing on interviews and an array of scholarly work, Beth Daniell maps out the relations of literacy and spirituality in A Communion of Friendship: Literacy, Spiritual Practice, and Women in Recovery. Daniell tells the story of a group of women in “Mountain City” who use reading and writing in their search for spiritual growth. Diverse in socioeconomic status, the Mountain City women are, or have been, married to alcoholics. In Al-Anon, they use literacy to practice the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in order to find spiritual solutions to their problems.
In addition, Daniell demonstrates that in the lives of these women, reading, writing, and speaking are intertwined, embedded in one another in rich and complex ways. For the women, private literate practice is of the utmost importance because it aids the development and empowerment of the self. These women engage in literate practices in order to grow spiritually and emotionally, to live more self-aware lives, to attain personal power, to find or make meaning for themselves, and to create community. By looking at the changes in the women’s reading, Daniell shows that Al-Anon doctrine, particularly its oral instruction, serves as an interpretive tool. This discussion points out the subtle but profound transformations in these women’s lives in order to call for an inclusive notion of politics.
Foregrounding the women’s voices, A Communion of Friendship addresses a number of issues important in composition studies and reading instruction. This study examines the meaning of literacy within one specific community, with implications both for pedagogy and for empirical research in composition inside and outside the academy.
While there have been several studies of writing programs at larger, baccalaureate institutions, the community college classroom has often been overlooked. Authors Howard Tinberg and Jean-Paul Nadeau fill this gap with The Community College Writer, a systematic and unique case study of first semester writing students at a community college. Drawing on surveys, interviews, and samples of classroom assignments, Tinberg and Nadeau use their research at one community college to reach out to instructors throughout the nation, fostering communication between community college faculty members in the effort to establish full-fledged writing programs geared toward student success.
At the heart of the book are the voices of the students themselves, as they discuss both their teachers’ expectations and their own. Through a series of case studies, the authors reveal the challenges students face as budding writers, and their firsthand experiences with writing programs at the community college level.
With this informative study, Tinberg and Nadeau seek not only to encourage dialogue between student and teacher or community college instructors, but to expand the conversation about program improvement to include both two- and four-year colleges, bringing composition faculty together in an effort to improve writing programs in all schools. Included in the volume are seven appendices, including surveys and interviews with faculty and students, making The Community College Writer a comprehensive and practical guide to tackling the issues facing writing programs and instructors.
Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement explores the critical practice of intercultural inquiry and rhetorical problem-solving that encourages urban writers and college mentors alike to take literate action. Author Linda Flower documents an innovative experiment in community literacy, the Community Literacy Center in Pittsburgh, and posits a powerful and distinctively rhetorical model of community engagement and pedagogy for both marginalized and privileged writers and speakers. In addition, she articulates a theory of local publics and explores the transformative potential of alternative discourses and counter-public performances.
In presenting a comprehensive pedagogy for literate action, the volume offers strategies for talking and collaborating across difference, for conducting an intercultural inquiry that draws out situated knowledge and rival interpretations of shared problems, and for writing and speaking to advocate for personal and public transformation. Flower describes the competing scripts for social engagement, empowerment, public deliberation, and agency that characterize the interdisciplinary debate over models of social engagement.
Extending the Community Literacy Center’s initial vision of community literacy first published a decade ago, Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement makes an important contribution to theoretical conversations about the nature of the public sphere while providing practical instruction in how all people can speak publicly for values and visions of change.
Notes toward a Deep Democracy
Composition and Cornel West: Notes toward a Deep Democracy identifies and explains key aspects of the work of Cornel West—the highly regarded scholar of religion, philosophy, and African American studies—as they relate to composition studies, focusing especially on three rhetorical strategies that West suggests we use in our questioning lives as scholars, teachers, students, and citizens.
In this study, author Keith Gilyard examines the strategies of Socratic Commitment (a relentless examination of received wisdom), Prophetic Witness (an abiding concern with justice and the plight of the oppressed), and Tragicomic Hope (a keep-on-pushing sensibility reflective of the African American freedom struggle). Together, these rhetorical strategies comprise an updated form of cultural criticism that West calls prophetic pragmatism.
This volume, which contains the only interview in which Cornel West directly addresses the field of composition, sketches the development of Cornel West’s theories of philosophy, political science, religion, and cultural studies and restates the link between Deweyan notions of critical intelligence and the notion of critical literacy developed by Ann Berthoff, Ira Shor, and Henry Giroux. Gilyard provides examples from the classroom to illustrate the possibilities of Socratic Commitment as part of composition pedagogy, shows the alignment of Prophetic Witness with traditional aims of critical composition, and in his chapter on Tragicomic Hope, addresses African American expressive culture with an emphasis on music and artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Kanye West.
The first book to comprehensively connect the ideas of one of America's premier scholars of religion, philosophy and African American studies with composition theory and pedagogy, Composition and Cornel West will be valuable to scholars, teachers, and students interested in race, class, critical literacy, and the teaching of writing.
Engaging the Dominant Discourse
Coming of Age during the Civil War
Confederate Daughters: Coming of Age during the Civil War explores gender, age, and Confederate identity by examining the lives of teenage daughters of Southern slaveholding, secessionist families. These young women clung tenaciously to the gender ideals that upheld marriage and motherhood as the fulfillment of female duty and to the racial order of the slaveholding South, an institution that defined their status and afforded them material privileges. Author Victoria E. Ott discusses how the loyalty of young Southern women to the fledgling nation, born out of a conservative movement to preserve the status quo, brought them into new areas of work, new types of civic activism, and new rituals of courtship during the Civil War.
Social norms for daughters of the elite, their preparation for their roles as Southern women, and their material and emotional connections to the slaveholding class changed drastically during the Civil War. When differences between the North and South proved irreconcilable, Southern daughters demonstrated extraordinary agency in seeking to protect their futures as wives, mothers, and slaveholders.
From a position of young womanhood and privilege, they threw their support behind the movement to create a Confederate identity, which was in turn shaped by their participation in the secession movement and the war effort. Their political engagement is evident from their knowledge of military battles, and was expressed through their clothing, social activities, relationships with peers, and interactions with Union soldiers.
Confederate Daughters also reveals how these young women, in an effort to sustain their families throughout the war, adjusted to new domestic duties, confronting the loss of slaves and other financial hardships by seeking paid work outside their homes.
Drawing on their personal and published recollections of the war, slavery, and the Old South, Ott argues that young women created a unique female identity different from that of older Southern women, the Confederate bellehood. This transformative female identity was an important aspect of the Lost Cause mythology—the version of the conflict that focused on Southern nationalism—and bridged the cultural gap between the antebellum and postbellum periods.
Augmented by eighteen illustrations, this book offers a generational understanding of the transitional nature of wartime and its effects on women’s self-perceptions. Confederate Daughters identifies the experiences of these teenage daughters as making a significant contribution to the new woman in the New South.
No Quarter in the Civil War
Consolation Miracle is a book of visceral, image-driven poems that search for the miraculous in the seemingly ordinary. This collection fashions art out of artless objects as a consolation, or perhaps compensation, for their smallness. Yawns and pears, cockroaches and crows resonate against historically conflated backdrops, while our own hands seem suddenly strange as they hide themselves in our pockets, balance a burning cigarette between two fingers, or grip the gun that shot Lincoln. Other poems address the destruction of empire, the end of old Hollywood, and the hyperbolic fizzling out of entire centuries. Here, consolation miracles are rarely the ones sought after, yet they radiate in their neglect. Davidson’s poems help us understand the inner life of cows, imagine the plight of a banished Kama Sutra illustrator, speculate about Cleopatra’s lingerie. With a title borrowed from Gabriel García Márquez, Consolation Miracle contains a magical realism for the twenty-first century.
In Contemporary Latina/o Theater, Jon D. Rossini explores the complex relationship between theater and the creation of ethnicity in an unprecedented examination of six Latina/o playwrights and their works: Miguel Piñero, Luis Valdez, Guillermo Reyes, Octavio Solis, José Rivera, and Cherríe Moraga. Rossini exposes how these writers use the genre as a tool to reveal and transform existing preconceptions about their culture. Through “wrighting”—the triplicate process of writing plays, righting misconceptions about ethnic identity, and creating an entirely new way of understanding Latina/o culture—these playwrights directly intervene in current conversations regarding ethnic identity, providing the tools for audiences to reexplore their previously held perspectives outside the theater.
Examining these writers and their works in both cultural and historical contexts, Rossini reveals how playwrights use the liminal space of the stage—an area on the thresholds of both theory and reality—to “wright” new insights into Latina/o identity. They use the limits of the theater itself to offer practical explorations of issues that could otherwise be discussed only in highly theoretical terms.
Rossini traces playwrights’ methods as they address some of the most challenging issues facing contemporary Latinas/os in America: from the struggles for ethnic solidarity and the dangers of a community based in fear, to stereotypes of Latino masculinity and the problematic fusion of ethnicity and politics. Rossini discusses the looming specter of the border in theater, both as a conceptual device and as a literal reality—a crucial subject for modern Latinas/os, given recent legislation and other actions. Throughout, the author draws intriguing comparisons to the cultural limbo in which many Latinas/os find themselves today.
An indispensable volume for anyone interested in drama and ethnic studies, Contemporary Latina/o Theater underscores the power of theatricality in exploring and rethinking ethnicity. Rossini provides the most in-depth analysis of these plays to date, offering a groundbreaking look at the ability of playwrights to correct misconceptions and create fresh perspectives on diversity, culture, and identity in Latina/o America.