|As You Like It: Michel Meyer's Metaphor
||Which comes first, the literal or the figurative meaning of a statement? Much of twentieth-century thought was directed toward answering this question. On its answer much seemed to depend: Does the world stabilize the play of language or does the pla...
|Deliberate Invention: On the Motive to Create Novel Beliefs
||Forensic, dialectic, or scientific discourse cannot induce the desire to create novel beliefs, but deliberative discourse—a procedure for determining rules for future actions for which the interlocutors as yet have no determined rules—may induce such...
|Différence, Deference, and the Notion of Proper Reading
||The early Greeks were aware that situation, propriety, and originality comprised a unity, and they believed that this unity marked the difference between grammar and the full speech of discourse. Isocrates, for example, said in "Against the Sophists"...
|Force, Power, and Motive
|| Are laws simply orders backed by threats? Stanley Fish, in his essay "Force," affirms that they are by attacking H. L. Hart's objections to the view that laws are merely deferrals of force. According to Fish, "Hart objects that this view fails to di...
|Intrinsic Criticism and Deconstruction: Their Methods' Legacy
|| In After the New Criticism, Frank Lentricchia claims that American deconstructive criticism is "plainly an ultimate formalism, a New Criticism denied its ontological supports and cultural goals." The view has been hotly contested. Jonathan Culler, f...
|Jonathan Edwards on Rhetorical Authority
||Throughout his life Jonathan Edwards worked on a treatise entitled a "Rational Account of the Main Doctrines of the Christian Religion Attempted." He managed to finish very little of it. To get an idea of what he had intended to say, we have to recon...
|The Love of Invention: Augustine, Davidson, and the Discourse of Unifying Belief
|| Postmodernism typically questions metaphysical foundations and then assumes that because no common ground beyond linguistic and cultural codes can be discovered, discursive agreement is necessarily contingent. Questioning the efficacy of such codes,...
|Misdirected Sentiment: Conflicting Rhetorical Strategies in Uncle Tom's Cabin
||Harriet Beecher Stowe, in Uncle Tom's Cabin, used two different and conflicting rhetorical strategies in her novel's appeals to end slavery. To elicit sympathy for the slaves, she used persuasion, a process relying upon the perception of a sameness o...
|On “Getting It”: Resistance, Temporality, and the “Ethical Shifting” of Discursive Interaction
||An interactionist theory of discourse offers an explanation of why sometimes—not because they do not understand the language, not because they are unintelligent, and not because they are morally deficient—our interlocutors simply do not “get it,” and...
|Passing Theories through Topical Heuristics: Donald Davidson, Aristotle, and the Conditions of Discursive Competence
|| What are the conditions of discursive competence? In "A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs" Donald Davidson explains how it is possible that in practice we can, with little effort, understand and appropriately respond to linguistic anomalies such as the m...
|A Review of: Meaning, Language, and Time: Toward a Consequentialist Philosophy of Discourse, by Kevin J. Porter
||Kevin Porter's Meaning, Language, and Time is a fine contribution to scholarship, well worth reading, for a number of reasons. It is well worth reading if only because in the fields of rhetoric, communication, and composition, books that explore fund...
|The Self and the Sacred: Conversion and Autobiography in Early American Protestantism (review)
||Payne attempts to tackle a very difficult problem—an explanation of the relationships among the Enlightenment conception of the autonomous self, the evangelical Christian conception of self, the
experience of the individual's conversion to such a se...
|"Sinners" in the Hands of An Angry God, Saints in the Hands of Their Father
|| Jonathan Edwards sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is unquestionably his most famous and most analyzed work. It is a commonplace that "Sinners" exemplifies what is called fire and brimstone preaching designed to terrify auditors with its...
|Structuralism and the Quest for a Scientific Criticism
||The term "structuralism" can be broadly construed. It can include the thought of critics as widely diverse as Frye, Jameson, and Barthes. In one sense, to be classified as a structuralist all one has to believe is that a text should be considered as ...
|Walker Percy's Lancelot and the Critic's Original Sin
||Stanley Fish in Surprised by Sin (1987) claimed that Milton's method in Paradise Lost "is to re-create in the mind of the reader (which is, finally, the poem's scene) the drama of the Fall, to make him fall again exactly as Adam did and with Adam's t...