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Ambient Rhetoric

The Attunements of Rhetorical Being

Thomas Rickert

In Ambient Rhetoric, Thomas Rickert seeks to dissolve the boundaries of the rhetorical tradition and its basic dichotomy of subject and object. With the advent of new technologies, new media, and the dispersion of human agency through external information sources, rhetoric can no longer remain tied to the autonomy of human will and cognition as the sole determinants in the discursive act. Rickert develops the concept of ambience in order to engage all of the elements that comprise the ecologies in which we exist. Culling from Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutical phenomenology in Being and Time, Rickert finds the basis for ambience in Heidegger’s assertion that humans do not exist in a vacuum; there is a constant and fluid relation to the material, informational, and emotional spaces in which they dwell. Hence, humans are not the exclusive actors in the rhetorical equation; agency can be found in innumerable things, objects, and spaces. As Rickert asserts, it is only after we become attuned to these influences that rhetoric can make a first step toward sufficiency. Rickert also recalls the foundational Greek philosophical concepts of kairos (time), chōra (space/place), and periechon (surroundings) and cites their repurposing by modern and postmodern thinkers as “informational scaffolding” for how we reason, feel, and act. He discusses contemporary theory in cognitive science, rhetoric, and object-oriented philosophy to expand his argument for the essentiality of ambience to the field of rhetoric. Rickert then examines works of ambient music that incorporate natural and artificial sound, spaces, and technologies, finding them to be exemplary of a more fully resonant and experiential media. In his preface, Rickert compares ambience to the fermenting of wine—how it’s distinctive flavor can be traced to innumerable factors, including sun, soil, water, region, and grape variety. The environment and company with whom it’s consumed further enhance the taste experience. And so it should be with rhetoric—to be considered among all of its influences. As Rickert demonstrates, the larger world that we inhabit (and that inhabits us) must be fully embraced if we are to advance as beings and rhetors within it.

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American Indian English

American Indian English documents and examines the diversity of English in American Indian speech communities. It presents a convincing case for the fundamental influence of ancestral Native American languages on respective modern Indian English codes.

A distillation of over twenty years’ experience, William Leap’s pioneering work on the varieties of American Indian English explores the linguistic and sociolinguistic characteristics of language use among Navajo, Hopi, Mojave, Ute, Tsimshian, Kotzebue, Ponca, Chilcotin, Seminole, Cherokee, and other American Indian tribes.

Unlike contemporary studies on schooling, ethnicity, empowerment, and educational failure, American Indian English avoids postmodernist jargon and discourse strategies in favor of direct description and commentary. Data are derived from real-life conditions faced by speakers of Indian English in various English-speaking settings. This practical focus enhances the book’s accessibility to Indian educators and community-based teachers, as well as non-Indian academics.

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American Indian Rhetorics of Survivance

Word Medicine, Word Magic

Edited by Ernest Stromberg

This volume presents an original critical and theoretical analysis of American Indian rhetorical practices in both canonical and previously overlooked texts: autobiographies, memoirs, prophecies, and oral storytelling traditions. Ernest Stromberg assembles essays from a range of academic disciplines that investigate the rhetorical strategies of Native American orators, writers, activists, leaders, and intellectuals. The contributors consider rhetoric in broad terms, ranging from Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as “the faculty . . . of discovering in the particular case what are the available means of persuasion,” to the ways in which Native Americans assimilated and revised Western rhetorical concepts and language to form their own discourse with European and American colonists. They relate the power and use of rhetoric in treaty negotiations, written accounts of historic conflicts and events, and ongoing relations between American Indian governments and the United States. This is a groundbreaking collection for readers interested in Native American issues and the study of language. In presenting an examination of past and present Native American rhetoric, it emphasizes the need for an improved understanding of multicultural perspectives.

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The American Sign Language Starter

A Beginner's Guide

Richard A. Tennant and Marianne Gluszak Brown, Illustrations by Valerie Nelson-Metlay

Beginning signers now can improve their recognition of the most commonly used signs with this easy-to-follow handbook based upon the revolutionary dictionary. The American Sign Language Handshape Starter illustrates 800 of the most frequently used signs, arranging them by the 40 standard handshapes used in American Sign Language (ASL). Carefully chosen for their common use, the signs also have been organized by day-to-day topics, including food, travel, family, sports, clothing, school terms, time, nature and animals, and many others from everyday conversation.

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American Speech

Vol. 74, no. 3 (1999); Vol. 75 (2000) - vol. 79 (2004)

American Speech is concerned principally with the English language in the Western Hemisphere, although articles dealing with English in other parts of the world, the influence of other languages by or on English, and linguistic theory are also published. The journal is not committed to any particular theoretical framework, and issues often contain contributions that appeal to a readership wider than the linguistic-studies community.

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An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

An Introduction

Anatoly Liberman

This work introduces renowned linguistics scholar Anatoly Liberman’s comprehensive dictionary and bibliography of the etymology of English words. The English etymological dictionaries published in the past claim to have solved the mysteries of word origins even when those origins have been widely disputed. An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology by contrast, discusses all of the existing derivations of English words and proposes the best one.

 

In the inaugural volume, Liberman addresses fifty-five words traditionally dismissed as being of unknown etymology. Some of the entries are among the most commonly used words in English, including man, boy, girl, bird, brain, understand, key, ever, and yet. Others are slang: mooch, nudge, pimp, filch, gawk, and skedaddle. Many, such as beacon, oat, hemlock, ivy, and toad, have existed for centuries, whereas some have appeared more recently, for example, slang, kitty-corner, and Jeep. They are all united by their etymological obscurity.

 

This unique resource book discusses the main problems in the methodology of etymological research and contains indexes of subjects, names, and all of the root words. Each entry is a full-fledged article, shedding light for the first time on the source of some of the most widely disputed word origins in the English language.

 

“Anatoly Liberman is one of the leading scholars in the field of English etymology. Undoubtedly his work will be an indispensable tool for the ongoing revision of the etymological component of the entries in the Oxford English Dictionary.” —Bernhard Diensberg, OED consultant, French etymologies

 

Anatoly Liberman is professor of Germanic philology at the University of Minnesota. He has published many works, including 16 books, most recently Word Origins . . . and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone.

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Angelina Grimké

rhetoric, identity, and the radical imagination

Stephen H. Browne

Abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer, Angelina Grimké (1805-79) was among the first women in American history to seize the public stage in pursuit of radical social reform. "I will lift up my voice like a trumpet," she proclaimed, "and show this people their transgressions." And when she did lift her voice in public, on behalf of the public, she found that, in creating herself, she might transform the world. In the process, Grimké crossed the wires of race, gender, and power, and produced explosions that lit up the world of antebellum reform. Among the most remarkable features of Angelina Grimké's rhetorical career was her ability to stage public contests for the soul of America—bringing opposing ideas together to give them voice, depth, and range to create new and more compelling visions of social change. 
     Angelina Grimké: Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination is the first full-length study to explore the rhetorical legacy of this most unusual advocate for human rights. Stephen Browne examines her epistolary and oratorical art and argues that rhetoric gave Grimké a means to fashion not only her message but her very identity as a moral force.

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Anglo-American Feminist Challenges to the Rhetorical Traditions

Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich

Krista Ratcliffe

One of the few authors to define and focus on feminist theories of rhetoric, Krista Ratcliffe takes Bathsheba’s dilemma as her controlling metaphor: "I have the feelings of a woman," says Bathsheba Everdene in Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, "but only the language of men."

Although women and men have different relationships to language and to each other, traditional theories of rhetoric do not foreground such gender differences, Ratcliffe notes. She argues that feminist theories of rhetoric are needed if we are to recognize, validate, and address Bathsheba’s dilemma.

Ratcliffe argues that because feminists generally have not conceptualized their language theories from the perspective of rhetoric and composition studies, rhetoric and composition scholars must construct feminist theories of rhetoric by employing a variety of interwoven strategies: recovering lost or marginalized texts; rereading traditional rhetoric texts; extrapolating rhetorical theories from such nonrhetoric texts as letters, diaries, essays, cookbooks, and other sources; and constructing their own theories of rhetoric.

Focusing on the third option, Ratcliffe explores ways in which the rhetorical theories of Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, and Adrienne Rich may be extrapolated from their Anglo-American feminist texts through examination of the interrelationship between what these authors write and how they write. In other words, she extrapolates feminist theories of rhetoric from interwoven claims and textual strategies.

By inviting Woolf, Daly, and Rich into the rhetorical traditions and by modeling the extrapolation strategy/methodology on their writings, Ratcliffe shows how feminist texts about women, language, and culture may be reread from the vantage point of rhetoric to construct feminist theories of rhetoric. She rereads Anglo-American feminist texts both to expose their white privilege and to rescue them from charges of naïveté and essentialism. She also outlines the pedagogical implications of these three feminist theories of rhetoric, thus contributing to ongoing discussions of feminist pedagogies.

Traditional rhetorical theories are gender-blind, ignoring the reality that women and men occupy different cultural spaces and that these spaces are further complicated by race and class, Ratcliffe explains. Arguing that issues such as who can talk, where one can talk, and how one can talk emerge in daily life but are often disregarded in rhetorical theories, Ratcliffe rereads Roland Barthes’ "The Old Rhetoric" to show the limitations of classical rhetorical theories for women and feminists. Discovering spaces for feminist theories of rhetoric in the rhetorical traditions, Ratcliffe invites readers not only to question how women have been located as a part of— and apart from—these traditions but also to explore the implications for rhetorical history, theory, and pedagogy.

In extrapolating rhetorical theories from three feminist writers not generally considered rhetoricians, Ratcliffe creates a new model for examining women’s work. She situates the rhetorical theories of Woolf, Daly, and Rich within current discussions about feminist pedagogy, particularly the interweavings of critical thinking, reading, and writing. Ratcliffe concludes with an application to teaching.

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