Yet the triangle is no more than a snapshot. It arrests a moment in an
ongoing process. To stay with the geometrical metaphor, the triangle marks
points on the inner surface of a sphere that is constantly rolling along. Gregory
Clark calls a rhetorical statement a "claim to power" -- only a claim. And he
explains: "What is claimed is transformed into something real only when it is
actualized in the authorizing response of the people it addresses" -- the listeners,
who need to become speakers to respond, turning the speaker into a listener
waiting for a validating response (59).
With this tumble of the communication sphere, we should now examine
what hecklers also are sabotaging: the power of listening.
In a call-and-response model, the demarcation between response and heckling may be more
difficult to draw.
Originally, the number of listeners was limited by the acoustics of the locale and the volume of
the speaker's voice. I am leaving aside the role of modern technology in extending the reach of the
Kinneavy names the sources for the drawing on page 58. (I won't speculate on the meaning of the
fact that the two sides of the drawing on page 19 vary by a few millimeters; they are of equal length in
the rest of the book.)
I am excluding heckling in public gatherings that do not primarily involve public speaking, such
as sports events or musical performances (opera, concerts).
Carolyn Miller argues that the exigence is not simply discovered but must be defined and
negotiated and that there may be more than one exigence ("Genre as Social Action" 30). Karlyn Kohrs
Campbell also points out that there may be conflicting exigences for women speakers ( "The Rhetoric of
Women's Liberation: An Oxymoron"85).
Bourdieu is talking about "ritual discourse" uttered, for example, by representatives of the clergy
or of academia, not about speakers who lack institutional backing (113). But his discussion provides an
understanding for what it is that makes it difficult for subordinate groups to gain a public voice.
Research measuring the energy expended in speaking and listening could be done to verify this
hypothesis. The amounts may not only vary but overlap. For example, in a conversation a listener not
only listens but also plans what to say at the next turn, That kind of listening is probably more active
than listening to a public speech where the hearer has no chance of respondimg,
Graddol and Swann provide an overview of linguistic research on turn-taking in conversation,
especially between two speakers. One feature studied is interruptions. Although interruptions may be
due to lack of competence or dialectal differences in judging the moment for turn-taking, often they are
used by the speaker with higher status to regain the floor. (Adults tend to interrupt children; men,
women; higher-status males, other males [77, 79].) Another feature is length of turn. See Crawford on
man's taking "more than a 'fair share' of talk time" (42).
Bitzer Lloyd. "The Rhetorical Situation". Philosophy and Rhetoric 1 ( 1968): 1-14.
Bourdieu Pierre. Language and Symbolic Power. Ed. and Intro.
John B. Thompson. Trans.
Matthew Adamson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991.
Burke Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. 1945. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.
Campbell Karlyn Kohrs. Man Cannot Speak for Her: A Critical Study of Early Feminist Rhetoric.
Vol. 1. New York: Greenwood, 1989. 2 vols.
-----. "The Rhetoric of Women's Liberation: An Oxymoron". Quarterly Journal of Speech 59 ( 1973): 74-86.
Clark Gregory. Dialogue, Dialectic, and Conversation: A Social Perspective on the Function of
Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1990.