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923RE: No market for English majors?

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  • alex_c_parrish
    Dec 27, 2013
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      It can, Michael, and sometimes does. If I take your meaning regarding "real world reasoning," then a lot of the current work on embodied rhetoric or material rhetorics is what you're looking for. But rhetoric is rarely an exercise in pure abstraction, like some semioticians claim their field is. It has been argued that Aristotle meant for his rhetoric and biology to be part of a consistent system, mutually informing one another. What I would call 'scientific' approaches to rhetoric have continued through every era of its history, with greater or lesser success. (Campbell, for instance, employed the cutting edge science of his time to explain persuasive behavior -- that science was the now-defunct faculty psychology, but it was the best knowledge he had available at the time.) Even Kenneth Burke's dramatism is an attempt to explain an organism's interaction with a dynamic environment through a stage heuristic stressing the concepts of: agent, scene, act, agency, and purpose. Most Marxist scholars (and Burke called himself a Marxian) don't realize, however, that Burke was heavily influenced by the theories of Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Paget (the latter on gesture-speech theory).

      Back to the point, rhetoric is a growing field, and highly interdisciplinary, so there are a lot of very different approaches being employed. I'm sure there is plenty of rhetorical scholarship being produced today that members of this listserv would find interesting and plenty they would not. The point of my response to Zach is that we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater, because it's a very large baby surrounded by a small (and recently added) puddle of bathwater.
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