University of Wisconsin Press

Rhetoric of the Human Sciences

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Rhetoric of the Human Sciences

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Language and Historical Representation

Getting the Story Crooked

“This may well be the most important contribution to the linguistically informed study of historiography since Hayden White’s Metahistory. Looking at historical texts, Kellner is able to show us that they are more complex, and bear a more complicated relationship to reality, than we think. His scholarship is not only sound but is on the cutting edge or recent reflection on historiography. . . . The insights, not rarely, are stunning.”—Allan Megill, University of Iowa

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The Rhetoric of Economics

Deirdre N. McCloskey

A classic in its field, this pathbreaking book humanized the scientific rhetoric of economics to reveal its literary soul. In this completely revised second edition, Deirdre N. McCloskey demonstrates how economic discourse employs metaphor, authority, symmetry, and other rhetorical means of persuasion. The Rhetoric of Economics shows economists to be human persuaders, poets of the marketplace, even in their most technical and mathematical moods.

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The Rhetoric of Reason

Writing and the Attractions of Argument

James Crosswhite

Responding to skeptics within higher education and critics without, James Crosswhite argues powerfully that the core of a college education should be learning to write a reasoned argument. A trained philosopher and director of a university-wide composition program, Crosswhite challenges his readers—teachers of writing and communication, philosophers, critical theorists, and educational administrators—to reestablish the traditional role of rhetoric in education.
    To those who have lost faith in the abilities of people to reach reasoned mutual agreements, and to others who have attacked the right-or-wrong model of formal logic, this book offers the reminder that the rhetorical tradition has always viewed argumentation as a dialogue, a response to changing situations, an exchange of persuading, listening, and understanding. Crosswhite’s aim is to give new purpose to writing instruction and to students’ writing, to reinvest both with the deep ethical interests of the rhetorical tradition. In laying out the elements of argumentation, for example, he shows that claiming, questioning, and giving reasons are not simple elements of formal logic, but communicative acts with complicated ethical features. Students must learn not only how to construct an argument, but the purposes, responsibilities, and consequences of engaging in one.
    Crosswhite supports his aims through a rhetorical reconstruction of reason, offering new interpretations of Plato and Aristotle and of the concepts of reflection and dialogue from early modernity through Hegel to Gadamer. And, in his conclusion, he ties these theoretical and historical underpinnings to current problems of higher education, the definition of the liberal arts, and, especially, the teaching of written communication.

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Tropes of Politics

Science, Theory, Rhetoric, Action

John S. Nelson

Talk is of central importance to politics of almost every kind—it’s no accident that when the ancient Greeks first attempted to examine politics systematically, they developed the study of rhetoric. In Tropes of Politics, John Nelson applies rhetorical analysis first to political theory, and then to politics in practice. He offers a full and deep critical examination of political science and political theory as fields of study, and then undertakes a series of creative examinations of political rhetoric, including a deconstruction of deliberation and debate by the U.S. Senate prior to the Gulf War.
    Using the neglected arts of argument refined by the rhetoric of inquiry, Nelson traces how everyday words like consent and debate construct politics in much the same way that poets such as Mamet and Shakespeare construct plays, and he shows how we are remaking our politics even as we speak. Tropes of Politics explores how politicians take stands and political scientists probe representation, how experts become informed even as citizens become authorities, how students actually reinvent government while professors merely model politics, how senators wage war yet keep comity among themselves.
    The action, Nelson shows, is in the tropes: these figures of speech and images of deed can persuade us to turn from ideologies like liberalism toward spectacles about democracy or movements into environmentalism and feminism. His argument is that inventive attention to tropes can mean better participation in politics. And the argument is in the tropes—evidence itself as sights or citations, governments as machines or men, politics as hardball or softball, deliberations as freedoms or constraints, borders as fringes or friends.

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