The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

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“Rhetoric and Ideology in the Writing Classroom” Precis September 16, 2008

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 2:27 am
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James A. Berlin

Rhetoric and ideology are inherently incorporated into each other.  Any rhetoric will include ideology of some sort or another, even if it tries not to admit to it.  Though in general hard to actually carry out, social-epistemic rhetoric is the only one that places ideology at the direct center of all that it is teaching, and yet allows students to discover the political, social, economic and cultural world around them.  

It stands out against two other rhetorics, namely cognitive psychology and expressionistic rhetoric.  The former is a rhetoric that determines to be so strongly scientifically-based as to outrule any outside ideology.  It professes to be straight facts, a sort of problem-solving process, where one thing must lead to another.  But it ignores the diversity of experiences and class structure and puts everything in too neat of a little box.  Expressionistic rhetoric takes the opposite approach, prompting writers to search within themselves.  Nothing else is important compared to the self and what that self needs.  Expressionists are about revolting against a central political power, believing that power should reside in the individual, first focusing on themselves and then considering their audience.  But by the same means, since everything is so individualistic, there is nothing to band them together and so the political power almost welcomes this rhetoric because it doesn’t make any difference.

That is where social-epistemic gets its lead.  It understands that there are outside forces that affect the individual.  They do not necessarily get to make all their decisions for themselves, because those are affected by the world around them.  It is all about the person interacting with the circles of society around him, and the communication that arises out of those interactions.  


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