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Maverick Ethos: The Principles and Practice of PostIdentification Rhetoric

by McKenzie, Charles.

Abstract (Summary)
Of all the boundaries that are discussed and argued in critical and rhetorical theory, one of the most central and persistently controversial is the boundary line in the binary Self/other. The dominant rhetorical theories since Aristotle tend to claim that it is by reducing the division in this most fundamental binary that the most efficacious rhetoric is effected; that is, that bringing parties Self and other closer together before argument (or whatever serves as symbol-exchange within the larger act of rhetorical exchange) is most likely to establish the best preconditions for immediately-following symbol-exchange: This act of getting-together is known as Identification. This dissertation introduces the theory of postidentification (postID), which suggests that recognizing, valorizing, and using the division between the partiesin rhetorical exchange—not attempting to find, create, and use similarities—often makes for the most efficacious rhetoric, especially when efficacious means transformative. All extant rhetorical theory continues to be based on various interpretations and iterations of the enthymeme and the syllogism that require various levels of Identification and continue to privilege the dominant party in the exchange, that is, Self (or Same or Selfsame, as they appear and act in different contexts). These Identification rhetorics include rhetorics of resistance emerging from feminist, postcolonial, and queer critical theory. All of these extant theories are dependent on some form of Identification, which 6 means that the more Self and other have in common before the symbol exchange—that is, the more like Selfsame other is forced to be—the likelier some one will be persuaded to change a belief or attitude or to cause action. The new rhetorical theory of postidentification uses differences instead of similarities to establish the preconditions for rhetorical exchange. In short, what postID does is push queer theory or GLBT theory to its logical end: If we can have GLBT theory, why not GLBTYUM < < RTOD##55zxto, etc. ad infinitum . . . theory? The theory of postidentification suggests that the more differences there are, or are made to seem to be, between Selfsame and other—up to a reasonable point—the better for rhetorical (ex)change, the better at least for persuasion to significant change. This significant change is represented by the I-will-go or I-will-sacrifice response and is contrasted to mere indexing. Mere indexing simply means that the I-get-your-point response has happened, and this would be phatic rhetoric. Under conditions of postidentification, rhetoric is parsed into several categories— (1) phatic, (2) reinforcement, (3) resistant, and (4) real or transformative. PostID theory is not opposed to phatic, reinforcement, or resistance rhetorics per se but is set over against these traditional rhetorics as an alternative. The primary focus of this dissertation is to understand better how distancing moves—which are represented in texts as Maverick ethos (M.e.)—can be seen to lead to more real or transformative rhetoric(s); furthermore, this work discusses some of the implications of this radical new rhetorical theory as a practical hermeneutic for use in rhetorical analyses and in teaching of composition. 7
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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