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Week 1: Rhetoric as Symbolic Action

by: Brittnee Gaines

Week 1: Rhetoric as Symbolic Action comm2101

Brittnee Gaines
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About this Document

These notes covers the topics discussed during the first week of class. I've separated them into a table with the subject or subtopic on the left with details on the right. In terms of content, thi...
Intro to Rhetorical Theory
Dr. Grano
Class Notes
rhetoric, Symbolic, action, symbols, Symbolic Logic, Introduction to Rhetoric




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brittnee Gaines on Monday August 29, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to comm2101 at University of North Carolina - Charlotte taught by Dr. Grano in Summer 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Intro to Rhetorical Theory in Communications at University of North Carolina - Charlotte.

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Date Created: 08/29/16
Rhetoric: symbolic reality Key Terms ● Symbol: Arbitrary representation of a thing, thought or action ○ Represented by a word, image or artifact ○ No fixed meaning of “symbol” but “symbol” can’t mean any and everything ■ Determined by culture ● Verbal Symbol: Symbols found in either spoken or written language that stand for something other than themselves ● Visual Symbol: Pictures, images, objects, artifacts and actions with indirect meaning ○ Understanding this is vital for life in contemporary culture ● Subject Position: Thing that is formed ○ Interpellation: process that forms it Constitutive ● Subject Position: Relationship that a viewer, reader or listener Rhetoric: Subject has to a discourse ○ Ex: Cultural artifact; My feelings about a Positions and Interpellation certain genre of music versus someone else’s ● Interpellation: Process that develops a subject position ○ Process: ■ A discourse or subject “recruits” or hails your attention as a subject ■ Response to this call of attention allows a position to develop ● Any discourse is a part of a relationship between addresser and addressee ● The proposed relationship is a part of a broader network of social norms and culture ○ Ex: Popular TV show Identification ● Rhetoric and social cohesion ○ How we come together as a community (Consubstantiality) ● Rhetoric develops a community through the process of consubstantiality (Burke) ○ Con (with) + Substantiality (substance): we can share, create a shared interest and come together with substance (key parts of our lives) ○ Language, hobbies, social aspects of our lives that make us who we are as individuals ○ People are not identical but can share common substances ● Move from persuasion: Less about how one person can “deliberately design” a persuasive message and more about how rhetoric constitutes collective identity at a social, and even unconscious level Rhetoric as Civic ● Plato vs the Sophists: Universal/Relative moralities Engagement ○ Sophists were traveling teachers of rhetoric ○ Universalism: Truth exists independent of (Classic Rhetoric) human affairs (Independent of cultural and historical context) ■ Certain truths are permanent and unchanging ○ Relativism: Truth is constructed within particular cultural and historical contexts Aristotle and ● Artistic proof: Argument invented for the occasion ● Invention: Discovery of ideas and arguments Artistic Proofs ● Logos ○ Appeal to public forms of reason ● Ethos ○ Character, credibility, goodwill of the speaker ○ Often the controlling factor in persuasion ● Pathos ○ Appeal to the emotions ○ Emotion/Reason dichotomy ■ Logic has little impact without emotion ■ Emotion and reason are an oppositional pair “Emotions are those things through which, by undergoing change, people come to differ in their judgments and which are accompanied by pain and pleasure” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1378a) ● Emotions involve process of change through reasoning and dichotomy “In speaking of anger” we have to think about a person’s “state of mind” when angry, “against whom are they usually angry, and for what sorts of reasons” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1378a) Reading: ● Agency: human ability to practically affect the world ● Post-human: activity of animals and machines. The idea of expanding agency to non humans Isocrates: Rhetoric ● Focus on speech and its impact over human thought and and Civic action Education ○ Anti Doses: None of the things that we experience in everyday society would be possible if we couldn’t communicate with each other ● Focus on civic affairs and how public problems can be addressed, debated and solved ● Goal: The “complete citizen” who could make moral contributions to the community through rhetorical practice ○ Consistent with the aim of Liberal Arts educations ○ Puts communication and speech at a central place in society Constraints on and ● Culture (Rhetoric-in-Context) ○ Clifford Geertz Resources for ■ “The historically transmitted Symbolic Action pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms…” ■ There is no part of our life that isn’t represented or influenced by symbolic meaning. ■ Humans are “suspended in webs of significance” they themselves “have spun” ○ James Carey ■ As humans we “first produce the world by symbolic work and then take up residence in the world we have produced” ○ Stuart Hall ■ Fact that there are multiple meanings doesn’t mean that all of the meanings have equal cultural power or legitimacy ■ “Dominant cultural order”: a culture tends to ‘impose’ its own characteristic social, political or economic meanings ● Dominant meanings (culturally agreed upon symbols) are meanings that people are most likely to subscribe to ● Dominant cultural order is not permanent; can be, and is often contested ■ Powerful tendency to interpret events and experiences according to already-existing cultural frameworks: “common-sense” or “taken-for- granted” assumptions


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