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

Unabomber Manifesto. Kaczynski languishes in jail because he insisted on putting his discourse in "conversation with others." Is the real moral in this parable that if women insist on entering the public domain, it will get them in trouble with "the law"?

Irigaray argues that if relations between men and women are to change, intellectuals must take seriously corporeality and sexual differentiation of bodies; they must begin a conversation about how discourse constructs those relations. Of these tasks Black has convinced me that the last will be the most difficult for rhetorical studies, for its most prominent scholars have never taken the history of their own theory production to be a proper object of study. It is not now, nor has it ever been, in their interest to do so. And given the history of Black's oracular insistence that binarism is a given, I do not immediately get a picture of men clamoring to change that, especially once the most profound consequence of accepting sexual difference becomes clear. Such an identity, says Irigaray, "rules out all forms of totality as well as the self-substituting subject" (106). To give up being a god for a limited human existence, to accept the body of the other as a threshhold that cannot be violated, not even discursively, will require a new ethics for rhetoric, an ethics of sexual difference. I urge Professor Black to take seriously his own exhortation and "occupy" himself with the real, rhetorical "phenomenon" of his own discursive strategy, a strategy that guarantees an institutional identity for rhetoric at the expense of the perpetuation of women's suffering under the regime of the binary that he takes to be so empirically "given."


Works Cited

Atwill Janet. "Instituting the Art of Rhetoric: Theory, Practice, and Productive Knowledge in Interpretations of Aristotle's Rhetoric". Rethinking the History of Rhetoric: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Rhetorical Tradition. Ed. Takis Poulakos. Boulder: Westview, 1993. 91-117.

Baskerville Barnet. "Must We All Be 'Rhetorical Critics'?" Quarterly Journal of Speech 63 ( 1977): 107-16.

Burke Kenneth. Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.

-----. Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.

Campbell Karlyn K. "Proactive Strategies to Address the Devaluing of Women and Their Work". Panel. Eightieth Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association. New Orleans, 1994.

Irigaray Luce. I Love to You: Sketch of a Possible Felicity in History. Trans. Alison Martin. New York: Routledge, 1996.

McKerrow Raymie. "Critical Rhetoric: Theory and Praxis". Communication Monographs 56 ( 1989): 91-111.

Norton Janice. "Rhetorical Criticism as Ethical Action: Cherchez la Femme". Southern Communication Journal 61 ( 1995): 29-45.

Whitford Margaret, ed. The Irigaray Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

-----. Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine. London: Routledge, 1991.

-163-

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