Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reading the Dissoi Logoi with Kenneth Burke

             Our course readings have ended with Kenneth Burke but his contributions to rhetoric constitute a new beginning for the field. Burke contributes not a reformulation, dismissal, or alteration to the classical canons, which the majority of our theorists have concerned themselves with, but an entirely original theory which answers the basic questions of the discipline in a new way. In many ways, ending with Burke returns us to the questions that we first posed when we read the Dissoi Logoi at the beginning of the semester, where we considered not just what rhetoric is “man” as a category and its relationship to language.
            The Dissoi Logoi begins with the observation that what is good for one person may be bad for another, that what one calls “seemly” another calls “shameful” (B/H 49). Burke begins with this same observation: that the words we use for values are as ambiguous as the values themselves, and that people build entire systems of words and ideologies out of ambiguous value judgments. In the same vein, the Dissoi Logoi does not fight the ambiguity of language, but notes that we make meaning out of it, so much that “the same statement is false when the false is present to it, and true when the true is present to it” (52). Similarly, Burke does not consider ambiguity one of the problems of language, as Aristotle, Locke, Bacon, and most of the theorists we have considered do, but finds in the ambiguity of language fist observations of his theory. In a way, then, we ended with Burke’s “terministic screens,” but we also began with it.
            Positioning Burke at the end of the syllabus, then, makes sense because it returns us to the questions and the texts that started our semester. In terms of historiography, returning to these questions helps us to think of the history of the discipline in non-linear terms, even disrupting the idea of a “beginning” or an “end.” It also helps us to view the development of the field as dynamic and developing, especially when we consider how much Burke departs from the other theorists we have considered.
Our positioning of Burke could be criticized on some of these same grounds, though. In a course which has dealt so much with theorists that have more or less agreed about whether ambiguity in language is a problem, Burke could seem tacked on, especially at the end. Given that the semester is almost over, we do not have time to consider for more than a couple of hours the questions that he raises, his contributions, and the different perspective on basic questions of language that he brings to the field. We pose these questions only to run out of time to discuss them.
I think the course was ultimately well-served, though, by the way Burke has been positioned. I think this was helped by beginning the course with the Dissoi Logoi, because I think it helps us to think of Burke as both an end and a return to the beginning of the course. And in returning to these questions with the knowledge of what we have done, our own reflection on how we have developed as historians of rhetoric is made richer.

Brereton and History

Question Three:
Think back to the day we composed a Brereton grid. If the only texts surviving from this era were the ones you traced for the grid, how would you view the teaching of rhetoric and composition in late 19th-century American colleges? What stories would you construct, or did you construct in your grid, that other historians might see to take up?

Looking back on the Brereton grid we composed in class, I would venture to say that the texts included would position the teaching of rhetoric and composition in terms of correctness and taste. Each scholar we looked at, many stemming from the Harvard model, spoke to the value of positioning students into the first year writing course, and the testing that positioned.

I would construct the story of how taste and correctness inform one another as well as how they position the approach to style in writing and elocution. The focus on taste and correctness raises the question of "who's taste?" "what is correct?" and "why"?  Historians could work from our grid to tease of these questions that establish the grey area of the space that on the surface appears to be black and white: correct/incorrect.

Another path of historiography this grid could cultivate is to look at the scholars presented in terms of chronology. For instance, we gridded Hill across a couple of decades. The shifts in his texts could speak to a shift in approach to the teaching of rhetoric and composition in the 19th century. These shifts could reflect a need, the challenges the model was met with, or the realization of new criteria.

If we think about the Brereton grid in connection to our mapping exercise a few weeks ago we could also map a history that speaks to teaching approaches that deviated from the Harvard model based upon the teaching population, the location, and the specific student population that would create a need for deviation.

Finally, the Brereton grid also speaks to the secondary I read by Hawhee that examines the Harbrace Handbook. This handbook, as well as others like it mirror the correctness and taste that informs the historical moment we looked at in Brereton (education in the 19th century). Finding a parallel between the scholarship and the handbook focuses could create another vein of history that could grow out of the Brereton Grid. These handbooks established what was correct, who decided it, and who needed correcting. By looking at the scholarship and the textbooks/handbooks together we could map the challenges that faced taste and correctness.

Brereton and Burke

If I were to look back over the texts that I traced for our reading of Brereton, I believe it would highlight some of my (mis)understandings concerning the current-traditional period (as such things have come to be termed). In essence, I read through these texts the narrative of a change in the focus of education. After "casting off" the robes of classical inquiry, focusing on a well-rounded knowledge of greek and latin, we began struggling with our own vernacular and its place within studies. In this moment (that of the essays included in Brereton) we are witness to a dual transition--that of the resistance toward the Harvard model of composition and a wider systemic resistance to a model of education that seems more to look backwards to the ancients rather than building upon our understanding (which I feel might be one component of the German model). Yet here it is where the conception of writing as connected to literature seems to become solidified.

These voices were mainly advocates for a better awareness of English literature as that which fills a student with knowledge. Yes, personal experience still appears to be of some consequence, but literature has been offered as a surrogate for such meaning. While written works were a source of inspiration and imitation previously in the rhetorical tradition, this moment would seem to separate logical reasoning from style, and though it begins to move away from the extremely limited perspective of rhetoric as flourish, this imitation of style implicitly fuels much of the argument. And it is in this moment that I realize I've managed to view this period largely in terms of the stereotypes I've already decided I hold concerning it.

By framing my reading in my own historical context, I find myself struggling against the combative nature of much categorizing. In much the same way a binary is flawed in its absolute separation, I see myself resorting to classification that attempts to contextualize in regard to a current set of held beliefs...or beliefs of a previous period. Instead, I want to build another narrative, one which doesn't dismiss this period as the dark ages of rhetoric, but as a moment when the goal of education comes into conflict with the goals and reasonings of society. Coupled with the advances of science, technology, and engineering, we see frequent signs of a writing instruction that tries to cater to a new mindset, one of steady acquisition, dating back to (and probably before) Ramism. Because here we have begun dividing the intellectual arts into more rigid categories and unconsciously assigning worth and value. At the time of my selections from Brereton, I can only imagine there must have been a great desire to vindicate and justify the intellectual exploration of great literature and writing while combating a trend toward efficiency, as nearly all the arguments against theme writing resolve around the efforts and energies expended by instructors in comparison to the end results achieved.

Now, I bring Burke into this consideration strictly because his terministic screens might account for some of the challenges faced throughout the entirety of our "modern" history of rhetoric. Because language can be so critical to our understanding and perception of reality, the philosophical differences between each of the authors we read compares equally to the differences in language and terminology as a matter of defining a discipline as nebulous as rhetoric and writing. And so the ways that each scholar envisages writing differs entirely depending upon this context. Ong shows us how each period of thought can be connected with contextual histories stretching beyond the sole province of rhetoric, but the veil of language might be more difficult to pierce. In much the same way a metaphor might implicitly shape a situation or color it in a particular way (intellectual battling as a violent, war-like act), the language employed might also take thought along certain paths, and while looking back at a history we might believe that we have some all-encompassing way of summarizing or positioning a particular theory or theorist, yet our own terministic screens will limit and drive us to contextualize in equally biased ways if we cannot account for how such screens limit and shape discourse. I guess I'm not sure exactly how clear (or unclear) I might be at the moment, but through the reflection and deflection that comes through language, I think it makes perfect sense to end with Burke, as the realization that language can constrain and take symbolic action should make us more attuned to the ways in which the discourse itself shaped the thought of the individuals we read.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Burke helps us make sense of methodologies from the past as well as those of the postmodernity.  For if we jump on board with Burke’s method, if we agree that “Terministic Screens” are not just an impressive idea, but represent a real-world truth about how humans make meaning of our world, and of ourselves through language, then Burke’s method is more than a mere method: it is a discovery. And if we decide it is a discovery--an uncovering or exposing of a “universal” human truth--that we are symbol using animals--then even those rhetoricians who predate him are symbol using animals, whose terministic screens reveal their worldviews which help us to understand their theories as well as their exigencies.

Of course, placing Burke at the end of our course does not make sense by the strictest, most confining measurement, that of chronology. Our “Modern” time period does not encompass Burke, and yet Burke’s ideas about language would challenge our use of the artifice of “Modern,” a terministic screen in itself. 

Conversely, many of the rhetoricians we’ve read and the methodologies and theories we have considered are constrained by cultural, social, economic, and political structures of their time (as are we all). Ida B. Wells, for example, writes about a temporal crisis, as do Margaret Fell, Maria Edgeworth, Grimke, Harper, and Cooper. Arguably, so do the Scots, Campbell and Blair. Each of these other rhetoricians write in response to an exigence, and they attempt to offer, through their theories, some resolution to a problem, or a method for approaching and understanding shifts in some social order. Granted, we can trace their rhetorical theories in their writing, and we can apply these theories to our understanding of logic, thought, style, and how these pertain to writing or addressing an audience, especially their audiences and their specific needs. Burke, on the other hand, offers a theory for understanding language and its use, a lens through which all of these other theories can be understood in ways that need not be linked to any single exigence. For Burke, it seems, the exigence is communication on all levels and for every purpose.

Perhaps if others were to view our course they might first notice the inclusion of Burke and question his inclusion because they might also look at the timeline and see the gap. With further consideration, however, his inclusion makes sense because his theories help us make sense of the ways we understand everything--not just the crises--in our world/s because we are symbol using animals.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

History/Historiography Review

Hello, Everyone:

In advance of Thursday's class session, please take some time to quickly review the following texts (and be sure to bring them to class):
  • de Certeau
  • Graff and Leff
  • Royster and Williams
  • Enoch or Campbell (depending on what you read)
  • Carr, Carr, Schultz
  • Brereton

By "review," perhaps my expectation is that you would remind yourself of the main argument and principal claims in each text, a.k.a., the text's agenda and methodology.

Also, I offer in advance some questions that may drive our discussion. Please select one question and spend some time composing a blog post in response, prior to Thursday's class. Your response need not be a full-fledged essay, but it should reflect more than a casual try. In other words, it should put us all in a good enough position to do more with these questions than we might have done earlier in the semester:

  1. How is Graff and Leff's understanding of "critical historiography" either complicated by or taken up in (or both) Royster and Williams' project? In Enoch's or Campbell's?
  2. What would we name Gertrude Buck's "noetic field" if we were challenged by other historians to do so?
  3. Think back to the day we composed a Brereton grid. If the only texts surviving from this era were the ones you traced for the grid, how would you view the teaching of rhetoric and composition in late 19th-century American colleges? What stories would you construct, or did you construct in your grid, that other historians might see to take up?
  4. If "Terministic screens" were the primary way we got to know Kenneth Burke as a rhetorical theorist, how could we justify positioning him at the (historical) "end" of our trajectory? In truth, Burke comes much later than the historical "end" of Modernity -- if we want to think of Modernity as an historical movement -- but his essay completes our syllabus nonetheless. Is this viable, or is it misguided? Having read what we have and explored the methodologies that we have, in what ways does ending with Burke make sense? In what ways doesn't it make sense? How would others viewing our course assume we were positioning Burke?
  5. Before the semester began, I invited you to read the Dissoi Logoi (B/H 47-55) for several things. If you were to return to it now, what do you know with more certainty than before about some of the issues this text takes up? What does (or what could) the Dissoi Logoi represent to you, as a seasoned historian of Modern Rhetoric?
  6.  If you were to return to de Certeau with fresh eyes (albeit tired ones), how would you explain to a novice historian any of his defining statements about "history," "historical discourse," or "historiography" on pp. 19-21, 29-49?
  7.  Where might we fall on the "Cacophony of Historiography Theories" handout? Given that the handout was a first draft of what should be a more careful taxonomy, it's possible we don't fit comfortably anywhere, but I'd be interested in knowing what you think defines our historiographic approach to rhetoric studies. What might we call its "watersheds" (see Carr, Carr, Schultz 202-204)? Alternatively, what could we offer future classes as our unique "methodology" (see Carr, Carr, Schultz 205-206)?

I'm really looking forward to this,

-Dr. Graban

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Schedule Change

Hello, everyone:

By consensus (today) we are slightly changing our reading schedule so as to allow one class day for some focused reflection. Here is what that means for us in practical terms:

R 4/4/13 (final digital research day)
  • Carr/Carr/Schultz (BB) -- Molly, Josh, and Martha reading 11-24; Logan, Christine, and Bret reading 196-204 and 205-209
  • Brereton (BR) -- all of us reading Chapter 1
  • Brereton (BR) -- Select one option from the following list to read and be ready to grid in class. We'll also think about whether/how these excerpts can help us to test Carr/Carr/Schultz's "watersheds" on pp. 202-203. (I will cover whichever option is left.)
    • Chapter 2: Hill, Briggs, Adams/Godkin/Nutter
    • Chapter 3: Yale, Stanford, Iowa, Indiana, California, Amherst, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wellesley, Minnesota
    • Chapter 3: Mead
    • Chapter 4: Cooper, Lounsbury, Phelps, Perry
    • Chapter 5: Abbott, Scott/Denney, Carson, Woolley
    • Chapter 6: Hill, Wendell, Hart 
    • Chapter 6: Illinois, Minnesota, Eight Harvard Themes, Wisconsin, Two Anonymous Themes, California, Purdue

T 4/9/13
  • Burke (B/H) -- as scheduled
  • Enoch (BB) -- as scheduled

R 4/11/13
  • no reading -- guided reflection

Looking forward to it,
-Dr. Graban

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Task One: Coherent Histories of Women's Suffrage

Christine and I thought we would take up the first task, devoted to comparing and contrasting the various histories presented through the timelines and databases listed on the prompt sheet (as well as finding a few of our own). In our preliminary investigations, we found a number of differences between the resources in terms of their organizing principles and options for filtering content. The timelines presented differed in terms of what events/texts they privileged, and in many ways were limited (most were highly focused on Eurocentric events surrounding the women's suffrage movement, while Wikipedia presented a more world-centric view of women's suffrage). The various search databases again operated in a few different ways. Project Gutenberg actually seemed to me to be a very useful tool for locating specific genres of writing related to women's suffrage. Their subject category search went beyond a single idea of women's suffrage and covered pieces occupying the realms of fiction, prose, and poetry. However, the default view for searches results in a search by popularity, indicating that it at least somewhat implicitly argues for the importance of texts that have been found useful by others.

It also had some variation on geographical location. Another broader source was Women and Social Movements in the U.S. 1600-2000 which focuses more broadly on social movements connected to women. Again, not focused primarily on women's suffrage, but interesting in that it looks at women's social movements from a more generalized perspective, not focussing (but including) suffrage. Due to some subscription issues, we couldn't readily access most of the features, but it seems like it would be a promising resource. Most of the timelines relating directly to women's suffrage ended at the implementation of the 19th amendment, acting as though that was the logical "end point." From here, we will expand our search to other resources beyond those listed to see what we might find. Just some of our preliminary thoughts so far!

- Bret & Christine

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Digital Research Day #4

Hello, Everyone:

In advance of Thursday's class, I ask that you spend (at least) 30 minutes familiarizing yourself with the fourth digital research activity sheet (in BB handouts), which focuses on different methods and tools for geo-spotting, loosely described. As usual, please work with a partner and select one of the three options, but ideally each option would be covered, so if you have the opportunity to negotiate this amongst yourselves before Thursday, that would be fine.

We will spend over half of Thursday's class on this activity in conjunction with our discussion of secondaries, but please get started on your task and see how far you can get in 30 minutes. Ideally, on Thursday you would be finishing up the task and posting to the blog so as to aid our discussion, but we'll make it work no matter how far you get.

I really look forward to this,

-Dr. Graban

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tools, Technologies, Inquiry

    After exploring the different tools and technologies listed on the assignment sheet, we determined that we would compile a bibliography using Zotero. We think that Zotero would be very useful for a larger, more focused project, because the program includes multiple kinds of documents (PDFs, websites), and the documents can be tagged according to the user’s interest. We don’t necessarily see Zotero as a technology that would invite certain inquiries (or prohibit certain inquiries for that matter) – the tool just seems to be more focused on making connections and patterns by amassing texts and musings/annotations on those texts.  

     What follows here is an assessment of the limitations and affordances of the different tools we explored during this assignment. Archive Grid would allow one to see, for example, secondary materials written about Francis Bacon (there are no primary, manuscript materials from him); however, the site does host primary materials. The INPHO project’s ontology, however, allows a user to examine the complex relationships among terms and thinkers, which would help us answer the question from Tuesday regarding the relationship between rhetoric and inquiry – INPHO seems pretty well-suited to help us see the link between those concepts and to trace them across texts. We found it much more helpful. On MONK, if a user knew of a particular researcher who had compiled bibliographic material on that site, then one could peruse that material to see the connections that have already been made (problematic because there seems to be no logical organization to the untrained user). Internet of Encyclopedia of Philosophy allows you to search rhetoricians/philosophers, topics/periods. However, instead of searching the primary texts, the user is directed to a description of the text. A search for terms is hosted through Google (linking to different spaces). We searched for rhetoric, and the search brought us to different spaces, but not to the texts. On the whole, it seems suited to aligning thinkers and terms.

     We would like to be able to trace, for example, shifts in terminologies and understandings. Specifically, when did eloquence become known as style? Being able to search a genealogy of terms would be both useful and effective in tracing our terms. Dates and figures associated with this shift would help the user notice paradigm shifts and open up new ways of understanding the rhetorical tradition through those terms. Some of the tools show clear groupings of people, which represents an intellectual network specific to time and place and specific ways of thinking about the connections that should be made across the rhetorical tradition. We think this could either be prescriptive or helpful, so it is something that we should be aware of.

Molly and Logan 

Rhetorical Historiography using Zotero

Josh Eskew
Martha McKay Canter
Dr. Graban
Digital Project #3

For our Digital Project #3, Josh and I were interested in the functionality of Zotero, so we downloaded it and began exploring. Within minutes we had begun gathering a bibliography of some of the authors we have read in our class.

Zotero is a tool that is useful to build a bibliography of a trace, or guide someone through a trace concept. Using this, it is easy to impose a structure of a text which quickly renders apparent some organizational structure. For example, we searched "Peter Ramus" on JSTOR through the FSU proxy and received 13 pertinent documents within seconds.

It is obvious that Zotero makes the standard activities of research much easier and accessible, but it also opens new pathways for analysis. Assume we took made a digital library of our traces and the texts from these courses. We could use tags within Zotero to notate different concepts and where they appear, and then we could run a search or create a library with its own structure based on the passages that we have tagged. We could also use tags to create cross-references, and so we can explore the relationships between different texts and different concepts much more readily.

Moreover, this tool is incredibly useful for graduate students who are building reading lists for prelim exams, or for dissertation research, or for that matter, for any research project. For that matter, this tool allows us to create separate folder for any variety of research projects without having to worry about storing it on our drives or locating it. Searching with Zotero is fast, word/concept specific, and simple. A search of the small library we created in a few minutes of the term "logic" produced a short bibliographic list of sources. By collecting texts for specific research projects allows the user to run a quick search across the texts collected.

There seems to be a scaffolding benefit, too. For a project on St. Valentine, for example, a wide collection of texts could be quickly accessed running an initial search of the words, “St. Valentine;” from there secondary and tertiary tags or terms searches would allow the user to swiftly narrow the term for research. What is the benefit of this, then, compared with a pre-existing database? It seems that the answer to that is that Zotero stores your collection of sources for you, not unlike a collected annotated bibliography. But it’s personal, and tailored, and taggable, and organizable in user specific ways.

Explorations of Zotero - Archival and Organization

Overview and Step One 
We looked at a number of the resources, such the Archive Grid, Zotero, and the Monk Project.

Archive Grid: We could map and locate physical archives, search by topic, and get links to the appropriate archive websites with contact information.

Zotero: Keeps track and downloads information from resources found online. Captures and collects bibliographic information and places it into user-created folders.

Monk Project: Helps identify patterns in texts, complementary to Word Hoard and pulls from The Nora Project and various databases.

The Center for History and New Media was also an interesting collection of various open-access resources available online. It had a broad listing of resources for different historical periods/categories.

Exploring Zotero 
For the second part of the assignment, Christine and I chose to work within Zotero to build a bibliography for our course. We spent a fair amount of time simply getting the program to work, but immediately began to see its utility. We learned that, based on the source, it’s going to catalogue resources in a different way (Google Books versus PDF versus Database listing) and the information will differ depending upon the kind of database accessed. We also learned that in working with the tool we can add our own information if it is not present, create notes detailing our thoughts, and tag entries for specific purposes, further enhancing the organizational utility of the program.  However, some obstacles involve where and how you access resources. We began by working off campus and, as such, were not able to collect the same kind of data by adding sources from Zotero. Even when signing in remotely, there were still some issues in getting the program to successfully archive and store PDF original documents on the individual computer. One needs to be careful about how one adds documents and whether the correct proxies are set up for user access to protected content.

I feel that Zotero could help in broad concept tracing if we were to use tags associated with different rhetorical terms. It might allow a larger purview of sources from which we could draw connections between texts that might not otherwise be readily visible. But because of the user-nature of inputting tags, it could be less useful at the beginning of research, in that the user wouldn’t necessarily be able to comprehensively tag the text. Tags can also help organize a list of search terms used to acquire the sources input into the bibliography. Essentially the cross-searching abilities—finding keywords in the content of all documents stored in your library—mean that you can easily find patterns across texts. In twenty minutes I don’t believe we can actually fully appreciate the full utility of this text.

I feel that this resource could be incredibly helpful for tracing concepts across specific individual texts, pointing to where connections might exist. Because this is a tool for organizing sources, it’s a frame for understanding whatever you’re looking at, while allowing you to see the way that your sources overlap. Once you build a library, you could search agency and all texts that have that term should appear. So it could be seen as searching history through similarity.

- Christine Maddox Martorana
- Bret Zawilski

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Campbell and Inquiry (and Other Things ...)

Hello, Everyone:

As promised, I report today's discussion questions here, in case they can be useful as you work through your trace of Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric.

  1. Reflect on the table of contents: What do you notice? Where does emphasis appear to be in the treatise? How is it organized, and what can that organization tell you about the “new rhetoric”
  2. What is the audience’s role in making knowledge, and how informed do you think Campbell thinks the audience is or needs to be?
  3. In what way do Campbell’s attitudes toward hearers affect (disrupt or complicate or destabilize) efforts to see rhetoric as inquiry?
  4. Suppose we want to present Campbell as a reformer or innovator—where do we have a case for this claim?
  5. How does Campbell approach the oral and written? To what extent does he focus on one to the harm or detriment of the other?

At this point in your tracing -- and because this is an extremely rich text in all of your trace concepts -- be prepared to have your first sense of your trace "terms" shaken up, or disrupted slightly. Feel free to rely on the questions on your heuristic and on finding new ways to answer them in this text.

Looking forward to your findings,

-Dr. Graban

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digital Research Day #2

Hello, Everyone:

In advance of Tuesday's class, I ask that you spend (at least) 20 minutes familiarizing yourself with the second digital research activity sheet, which is uploaded to Blackboard and focuses on the online Concordance. The activity invites you to search Locke and Vico, anticipating ways of bringing them into conversation, while also observing how you can do this via digital concordance. Please just get as far as you can with it and stop when you need to.

Like Locke, Vico will be very interested in language in use, which causes some revisionary historians to treat him as an early discourse theorist. So, based on the searching that Alex and Internet Archive allow you to do, I will ask you to discuss in class how you think Vico is important as a rhetorical player and how his theory diverges from Locke’s.

Here are some questions we may turn to in class on Tuesday:

1) Does Vico think that
  • sign systems are arbitrary or universal?
  • the mind precedes language or arises with language?
  • we go to language to discover “real” cultural and sociological theories about a nation or to discover ways that truths are distorted?
  • rhetoric is potentially a threat to probability and a harm to inquiry, or a help to probability and a guide to inquiry?
  • ingenuity is seen in metaphor or in imagination?
  • we should be more concerned with training youth for civic action or with the ways in which knowledge becomes incorporated into social institutions?
  • the poet is a scientist or a creationist?

2) How did the evidence from your concordance search enable you to answer one of the goal questions on your activity sheet? How did it enable you to answer any of the questions above?

3) Both tools enable the same kind of searching, although one tool was obviously built to be a concordance, while the other was not. What are the affordances and limitations of one over the other? What kinds of historical queries do you think each one would encourage? 

I really look forward to this,

-Dr. Graban

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Locke and Language

Today's discussion of John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding may bring us to this space. Editors Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg tell us that, although Locke was not widely thought of as a rhetorical theorist at the time he wrote this, his discussions of how language related to knowledge were pervasive in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thought (at least in England and Scotland, and--by way of trans-Atlantic travel--in America) (B/H 815). We are trying to figure out what makes this relationship between language and knowledge so complex for Locke. In pairs, please compose a brief post in which you note how Locke discusses, makes assumptions about, or illustrates one of the following concepts:
  • the origins of language 
  • the imperfections of language 
  • the nature of ideas

Feel free to submit your response as a comment to this post.

-Dr. Graban

Digital Research #1: Reiterating Aristotle in Hobbes

Like Aristotle, Hobbes focuses on the rhetoric of the courtroom: his opening sentence suggests a legal stance. Hobbes writes, “we see that all men are naturally able in some fore to accuse and excuse: some by chance; but some by method” (4, e-text). Here he implies that apprehension of the method, i.e., rhetoric, avoids the dependence on chance. Rhetoric is a useful tool that can be used to accuse and defend in a courtroom. Hobbes, an English philosopher, writes from a position of privilege. He is middle class, his father was a clergyman, and his foundational text, Leviathan, establishes his politics as a monarchist who argued for the absolute sovereignty of the king in a time of civil war in England.

Hobbes’ definition of rhetoric, “that faculty, by which we understand what will serve our turn, concerning any Subject to win belief in the hearer,” again harkens to Aristotle’s teachings on rhetoric as the art of persuasion. Similarly, he writes that rhetoric enables a person to speak on any subject. Even the structure of the text, which begins with a definition of rhetoric and continues by defining different types of orations, follows Aristotle. Moreover, Hobbes relies on enthymemes, legal oratory, and defines the difference between writing and speaking in his text. Hobbes is credited as the first English translator of Aristotle. Finally, Like Wilson, he is writing for lawyers and he’s English.

Historiography: there several sections missing in the electronic texts (i.e., end of chapter 21, and chapters 22 and 23 are not present); the electronic text includes a number of texts that are separate from The Art of Rhetoric; the format can influence the reading of the text for readers who do not like to read on screen, or who prefer a book or paper text;

What is rhetoric, based on this text alone? Hobbes’ text suggests that rhetoric is a professional tool for lawyers and politicians.

The Art of Rhetoric (1681)
Table of Contents

Preface: to the reader

Book I
Chapter I: The Whole Arte of Rhetorick
Chapter II: The Definition of Rhetorick
Chapter III: Of the Several kinds of Orations: and of the Principles of Rhetorick
Chapter IV: Of the Subject of Deliberatives; and the abilities that are required of him that will deliberate the business of State
Chapter V: Of the ends which the Orator in Deliberatives, propoundeth, whereby to exhort, or dehort
Chapter VI: Of the Colours or common opinions concerning Good and Evil
Chapter VIII: Of the Several Kinds of Governments
Chapter IX: Of the Colours of Honourable and Dishonourable
Chapter X: Of Accusation and Defence, with the Definition of Injury
Chapter XI: Of the Colours, or Common Opinions concerning Pleasure
Chapter XIV: Of those things which are necessary to be known for the definition of Just and Unjust
Chapter XV: Of the Colours or Common Opinions concerning Injuries, comparatively
Chapter XVI: Of Proofs Inartificial

Book II
Chapter 20 – Common Places 78 – 80
Chapter 21 - Example, Similitude, and Fables – 81 - ? (missing section of scan)
Chapter 22 – 23 missing
Chapter 24 – Offensive Enthymemes – 87 – 91
Chapter 25 – Enthymemes and Possibility - 92 – 93
Chapter 26 – Places of Seeming Enthymemes – 94 – 96
Chapter 27 – Answering the Arguments of the Adversary – 96 – 98
Chapter 28 – Amplification and Extenuation – 98 – 99

Book III
Chapter 1 – Elocution and Pronunciation – 101 – 103
Chapter 2 – Words and Epithets – 103 – 105
Chapter 3 –Flat Oration – 105 – 106
Chapter 4 – Similitude – 106
Chapter 5 – Purity of Language – 106 – 108
Chapter 6 – Amplitude and Tenuity – 108
Chapter 7 – Convenience and Decency of Elocution – 108 – 110
Chapter 8 – Two Forts of Styles? – 110 – 112
Chapter 9 – Delightful Oration – 113 – 115
Chapter 10 – Things Aforesaid - 115 – 117
Chapter 11 – Style in Writing, Style in Pleading – 117 – 119
Chapter 12 – Parts and Order of an Oration – 119 – 120
Chapter 13 – The Proem – 120 – 123
Chapter 14 –Places of Crimination and Purgation – 123 – 125
Chapter 15 – Narration – 125 – 128
Chapter 16 –Proof, Confirmation, and Refutation – 128 – 132
Chapter 17 – Interrogations, Answers, and Jests – 132 -134

--Josh and Martha