Rhetoric And Public Controversy


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Research presentation delivered to undergraduate students enrolled in a persuasion course.

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Rhetoric And Public Controversy

  1. 1. Rhetoric and Public Controversy: Studying a Pragmatic Art
  2. 2. Definitions of rhetoric <ul><li>Aristotle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Available means of persuasion in a democracy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ramus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The superfluous interests of style and delivery </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Burke </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Symbolic action understood as drama </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Postmodern </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rhetoric as the foundation of reality/ever-present </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Types of Communication Theory <ul><li>Psychological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mental process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“I” speak to “you” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Channels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clarity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>rapport </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Noise </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Distraction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different mental sets </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Sociological </li></ul><ul><ul><li>interaction process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>core human phenomenon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Groups not individuals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired Outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reproduction of order </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tacit or implicit rules </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Competing values </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Situational focus </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Pragmatic Communication <ul><li>Goal oriented or strategic communication </li></ul><ul><li>Reality described as a game of interlocking moves (e.g., chess or War) </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict requires resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Drawbacks include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Us versus them mentality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sophistication of skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requirements for recognizance </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Rhetoric as a Pragmatic Social Art <ul><li>Agreed upon rules establish strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monopoly—free parking or the bank </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decorum—fitness to occasion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goal oriented while respecting opposition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maxim: What goes around comes around </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Incremental change preserving identities and social order </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Desired changes rarely re-work fundamental assumptions </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Methodological Interests <ul><li>Criticism of rhetorical artifacts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 1968, Edwin Black questioned the fundamental sufficiency of neo-classical rhetorical criticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By 1985, rhetorical criticism ceased to be a methodology and emerged as a collection of methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Burke-based criticism—clusters, pentad, representative anecdote </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fantasy theme </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Feminist </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generative </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Methodological Rigor: Objectivity <ul><li>The Scientific Method demands objectivity, precision, and being replicable </li></ul><ul><li>The Scientific Assumption in Rhetorical Criticism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone similarly trained should be able to redo your study and find the same results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Careful definitions and explanations facilitate these scientific goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone doing a forensic analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird should come to the same conclusion </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Methodological Rigor: Subjectivity <ul><li>Subjective research presumes the researcher has unique training and insight </li></ul><ul><li>The goal of subjective rhetorical criticism is to clarify the researcher’s unique perspective in shared theoretical and methodological terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore, nobody but Brad Gangnon could write the Building for Women controversy </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Research Presumptions <ul><li>Phenomenological Basis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflection on lived experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Insider Access </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent Textual Themes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Directing attention toward the text </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic—seeing patterns within artifacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge of theory leads to question about organic patterns </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Position of Research in Project <ul><li>Relationship to Tina Welsh and Rosemary Rocco </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tina—friend and hero </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rosie—hero and friend </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Relationship to Women’s Health Center </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer training Operation Rescue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overnight at Arrowhead Place </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Relationship to Building for Women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Security guard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Janitor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Historian </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Procedures <ul><li>Photocopied Duluth News-Tribune articles from Dec 1993-Oct 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Identification of recurring themes (organic), including abortion, pro-life, neutrality </li></ul><ul><li>Addition of feminist themes, including “their women”, violence against women </li></ul><ul><li>Separation of artifacts by genre based on Gowler editorial (news, opinion, advertising) </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Pragmatic Problem <ul><li>The Building for Women (BFW) represents a unique partnership among not-for-profit agencies providing services to women </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s Health Center, Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, and Young Women’s Christian Association </li></ul>
  13. 13. Women’s Health Center <ul><li>Provider of numerous health services to women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mammography, STDs, pap smears, birth control </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provider of first trimester aspiration abortions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physicians travel to Duluth, including Dr. George Miks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Due to protesting and interference with other tenants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Medical Arts Building; Arrowhead Place </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Timeline as historical context <ul><li>May 1993, WHC lease not renewed at Arrowhead Place </li></ul><ul><li>Welsh calls all women’s organization together same month </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Partnership formed Aug 1993, PAVSA as agent </li></ul><ul><li>Building purchased and renovations begun </li></ul><ul><li>Jan Pilon learns of BFW and informs Bishop </li></ul>
  15. 15. What can be done? <ul><li>The BFW is purchased, undergoing remodeling, and ready for move in by Dec 15 </li></ul><ul><li>Bishop Schwietz and pro-life community KNOW they cannot stop BFW </li></ul><ul><li>Public Relations/grassroots campaign to slow progress and block grants </li></ul>