Making and Unmaking the Prospects for Rhetoric: Selected Papers from the 1996 Rhetoric Society of America Conference

By Theresa Enos; Richard McNabb et al. | Go to book overview

Note
1
Becker focuses on electronic media of communication, emphasizing "the complexities of this communication environment" that bombard the individual with "an immense number of fragments or bits of information on an immense number of topics" (26, 33). This perspective gives him a decentered, almost postmodern view of communicative interaction between people. Using media coverage of the Vietnam war as a prime example, he says:

The message to which a receiver is exposed is scattered through time and space, disorganized, has large gaps; he is exposed to parts of it again and again; and there is great variance with the message to which other receivers are exposed. Many of the new arts provide a paradigm of the contemporary message. . . . The traditional director in the theatre has been much like the traditional critic or theorist of rhetoric. In studying a script for ideas on its direction, he looks for "through lines of action" -- for an organizing principle-so that his conception and direction are relatively linear, a "meaningful" succession of images. In the new theatre, directors arrange random multiple images and whatever meaningful organization is given to these images is given by the individual member of the audience. Thus it is with the Vietnam message and the rest of our communication environment. (31-32)

This begins to sound like a postmodern world view. We even get an almost Jameson-like analysis of the emergence of postmodern fragmentation in contemporary art. However, even in Becker, we still have the unitary individual who can give "meaningful organization" to the barrage. In fact, Becker can still characterize this individual from a limited perspective, as a "man in a modern . . . society," one of whose annoyingly ubiquitous information sources is his wife (26).


Works Cited

Bizzell Patricia. "Arguing about Literacy". 1988. Rpt. in Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992. 238-55.

Bizzell Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. Negotiating Difference: Cultural Cases for Composition. Boston: Bedford, 1996.

Black Edwin, and Lloyd F. Bitzer, eds. The Prospect of Rhetoric. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice, 1971.

Faigley Lester. Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P. 1992.

-42-

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