The University of Alabama Press

Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique

John Louis Lucaites

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

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Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique

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Global Memoryscapes

Contesting Remembrance in a Transnational Age

Edited by Kendall R. Phillips and G. Mitchell Reyes

 
The transnational movement of people and ideas has led scholars throughout the humanities to reconsider many core concepts. Among them is the notion of public memory and how it changes when collective memories are no longer grounded within the confines of the traditional nation-state. An introduction by coeditors Kendall Phillips and Mitchell Reyes provides a context for examining the challenges of remembrance in a globalized world. In their essay they posit the idea of the “global memoryscape,” a sphere in which memories circulate among increasingly complex and diffused networks of remembrance.

The essays contained within the volume--by scholars from a wide range of disciplines including American studies, art history, political science, psychology, and sociology--each engage a particular instance of the practices of memory as they are complicated by globalization.

Subjects include the place of nostalgia in post-Yugoslavia Serbian national memory, Russian identity after the collapse of the Soviet Union, political remembrance in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, the role of Chilean mass media in forging national identity following the arrest of Augusto Pinochet, American debates over memorializing Japanese internment camps, and how the debate over the Iraq war is framed by memories of opposition to the Vietnam War.

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In the Name of Necessity

Military Tribunals and the Loss of American Civil Liberties

Analyses the ways American leaders have justified the use of military tribunals, the suspension of due process, and the elimination of habeas corpus.


Though the war on terrorism is said to have generated unprecedented military situations, arguments for the Patriot Act and military tribunals following 9/11 resemble many historical claims for restricting civil liberties, more often than not in the name of necessity.

Marouf Hasian Jr. examines the major legal cases that show how various generations have represented the need for military tribunals, and how officials historically have applied the term “necessity.” George Washington cited the necessity of martial discipline in executing the British operative Major André. Tribunals tried and convicted more than 200 Sioux warriors during the Dakota Wars. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for many civilian and military prisoners during the Civil War. Twentieth Century military and civilian leaders selectively drafted their own codes, leading to the execution of German saboteurs during World War II. Further, General MacArthur’s tribunal to investigate the wartime activities of Japanese General Yamashita raised the specter of “victor’s justice,” anticipating the outcry that attended the Nuremberg trials.
          
In those cases as in current debates about the prosecution of terrorists, Hasian argues that the past is often cited selectively, neglecting historical contexts and the controversies these cases engendered.
 

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Lacan in Public

Psychoanalysis and the Science of Rhetoric

Christian Lundberg

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Poets Beyond the Barricade

Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960

Dale M. Smith

Since the cultural conflicts over the Vietnam War and civil rights protests, poets and poetry have consistently raised questions surrounding public address, social relations, friction between global policies and democratic institutions, and the interpretation of political events and ideas. In Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960, Dale Smith makes meaningful links among rhetoric, literature, and cultural studies, illustrating how poetry and discussions of it shaped public consciousness from the socially volatile era of the 1960s to the War on Terror of today.
 
The book begins by inspecting the correspondence and poetry of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, which embodies competing perspectives on the role of writers in the Vietnam War and in the peace movement. The work addresses the rational-critical mode of public discourse initiated by Jürgen Habermas and the relevance of rhetorical studies to literary practice. Smith also analyses letters and poetry by Charles Olson that appeared in a New England newspaper in the 1960sand drew attention to city management conflicts, land-use issues, and architectural preservation. Public identity and U.S. social practice are explored in the 1970s and ‘80s poetry of Lorenzo Thomas and Edward Dorn, whose poems articulate tensions between private and public life. The book concludes by examining more recent attempts by poets to influence public reflection on crucial events that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By using digital media, public performance, and civic encounters mediated by texts, these poetic initiatives play a critical role in the formation of cultural identity today.

 

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Reclaiming Queer

Activist and Academic Rhetorics of Resistance

Erin J. Rand

Reclaiming Queer is an examination of the rhetorical linkage of queer theory in the academy with street-level queer activism in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a defining historical moment for both queer activism and queer theory in the United States. LGBT communities, confronted with the alarming violence and homophobia of the AIDS crisis, often responded with angry, militant forms of activism designed not merely to promote acceptance or tolerance, but to forge identity and strength from victimization and assert loudly and forcefully their rights to safety and humanity. The activist reclamation of the word “queer” is one marker of this shift in ideology and practice, and it was mirrored in academic circles by the concurrent emergence of the new field of “queer theory.” That is, as queer activists were mobilizing in the streets, queer theorists were producing a similar foment in the halls and publications of academia, questioning regulatory categories of gender and sexuality, and attempting to illuminate the heteronormative foundations of Western thought. Notably, the narrative of queer theory’s development often describes it as arising from or being inspired by queer activism.

In Reclaiming Queer, Erin J. Rand examines both queer activist and academic practices during this period, taking as her primary object the rhetorical linkage of queer theory in the academy with street-level queer activism. Through this strategic conjuncture of activism and academia, Rand grapples with the specific conditions for and constraints on rhetorical agency in each context. She examines the early texts that inaugurated the field of queer theory, Queer Nation’s infamous “Queers Read This” manifesto, Larry Kramer’s polemic speeches and editorials, the Lesbian Avengers’ humorous and outrageous antics, the history of ACT UP, and the more recent appearance of Gay Shame activism. From these activist and academic discourses, Rand builds a theory of rhetorical agency that posits queerness as the very condition from which agency emerges.

Reclaiming Queer thus offers a critical look at the rhetoric of queer activism, engages the history of queer theory’s institutionalization and the politics of its proliferation, suggests a radically contextual understanding of rhetorical agency and form, and argues for the centrality of queerness to all rhetorical action.

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Rhetorical Secrets

Mapping Gay Identity and Queer Resistance in Contemporary America

Davin Allen Grindstaff, through a series of close textual analyses examining public discourse, uncovers the rhetorical modes of persuasion surrounding the construction of gay male sexual identity. In Part One, Grindstaff establishes his notion of the "rhetorical secret" central to constructions of gay male identity: the practice of sexual identity as a secret, its promise of a coherent sexual self, and the perpetuation of secrecy as a product and strategy of heteronormative discourse.
 
Grindstaff continues in Part Two to examine major issues related to contemporary conceptions of gay male identity: overturning sodomy laws; public debates over same-sex marriages; medical and social responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis; the rhetorical power of hyper-masculine body images and homoeroticism to creative communities; and, finally, what Grindstaff considers to be the most mysterious and significant rhetorical practice of all: coming out of the closet.
 
By investigating the public discourse--texts and images that circulate, produce knowledge, and become means of persuasion--surrounding the constructions of sexual identity, Grindstaff challenges heteronormative concepts of sexuality itself, thus creating new maps of social power and new paths of resistance.
 

 
 

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Soapbox Rebellion

The Hobo Orator Union and the Free Speech Fights of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1909-1916

Soapbox Rebellion, a new critical history of the free speech fights of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), illustrates how the lively and colorful soapbox culture of the “Wobblies” generated novel forms of class struggle.
 
From 1909 to 1916, thousands of IWW members engaged in dozens of fights for freedom of speech throughout the American West. The volatile spread and circulation of hobo agitation during these fights amounted to nothing less than a soapbox rebellion in which public speech became the principal site of the struggle of the few to exploit the many. While the fights were not always successful, they did produce a novel form of fluid union organization that offers historians, labor activists, and social movement scholars a window into an alternative approach to what it means to belong to a union. Matthew May coins the phrase “Hobo Orator Union” to characterize these collectives.
 
Soapbox Rebellion highlights the methodological obstacles to recovering a workers’ history of public address; closely analyzes the impact of hobo oratorical performances; and discusses the implications of the Wobblies’ free speech fights for understanding grassroots resistance and class struggle today—in an era of the decline of the institutional business union model and workplace contractualism.
 

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What Are Stem Cells?

Definitions at the Intersection of Science and Politics

John Alexander Lynch

In recent years political, religious, and scientific communities have engaged in an ethical debate regarding the development of and research on embryonic stem cells. Does the manipulation of embryonic stem cells destroy human life? Or do limitations imposed on stem cell research harm patients who might otherwise benefit?
 
John Lynch’s What Are Stem Cells? identifies the moral stalemate between the rights of the embryo and the rights of the patient and uses it as the framework for a larger discussion about the role of definitions as a key rhetorical strategy in the debate. In the case of stem cells, the controversy arises from the manner in which stem cells are defined--in particular, whether they are defined with an appeal to their original source or to their future application. Definitions such as these, Lynch argues, are far more than convenient expository references; they determine the realities of any given social discourse.
 
Lynch addresses definitions conceptually--their stability in the face of continual technological innovation, their versatility at the crossroads of scientific and public forums, and their translations and retranslations through politics. Most importantly, his work recognizes definitions as central to issues, not only within the topic of stem cell research, but also in all argumentation.

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