Eminent Rhetoric: Language, Gender, and Cultural Tropes

Eminent Rhetoric: Language, Gender, and Cultural Tropes

Eminent Rhetoric: Language, Gender, and Cultural Tropes

Eminent Rhetoric: Language, Gender, and Cultural Tropes

Synopsis

Fay examines the unacknowledged political uses of language in modern culture that engender and effectuate power imbalances among speakers and listeners. She locates six strategies in which women are particularly targeted by politicized rhetoric and shows how they are used in a variety of language-informed social arenas. Using bell hooks' pedagogy of "talking back," Eminent Rhetoric argues that women need not only to learn how to recognize victimizing rhetoric, but also to start to challenge it and its rhetors. Women must be shown how the everyday language of politicians, educators, and newscasters is not natural but is marked--designed for manipulative purposes that put women at risk.

Excerpt

One of the oldest rhetorical insights has it that, in the domain of the uncertain, things overlap and shade into one another and that to commence and deploy a discourse bearing on that domain is, consequently, a radically contingent act. Moreover, such contingency is unavoidable.

Bender and Wellbery, viii

Eminent domain: a right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1984)

Eminent Rhetoric is a direct response to a phenomenon that recurs among the students, friends, women's groups, and colleagues I converse with: the appearances of sudden and inexplicable walls when the conversation turns to politics, feminism, human rights, or theories of subjectivity and consciousness. in other words, when we touch on issues that verge on both the private individual and the public institution, we get into trouble, instantly. These are issues that take personal loyalty to a high point, leaving logical argument far afield.

Although initiated by it, this book is not precisely concerned with this phenomenon, which is more complicated than the simple contentiousness between a staunch liberal and a staunch conservative. the book focuses instead on where these deep loyalties come from, especially in woman; how they are created; and why we cling to them when so often we are their victims. These are questions regarding ideology, about which we have some very clear . . .

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