William Carroll, Abilene Christian University
“‘Hey, Are You Talking to Me?’ Fictions of Audience in the American Rhetorical Situation”
teach primarily British literature, teaching grad students and poetry
public discourse in the US
bi-furcated paper, as I finished up my paper I found some research
Prime Ministerâ€™s Questions: 1x week PM fields questions from others, including Opposition, first question is always â€œWhat is your schedule today?â€ because it is required to submit the first question. Occasionally it comes to fisticuffs. A really good rhetorical moment.
Although many watch the BBCâ€™s PM?s because people who radically disagree are still talking. The format is a stark contrast to American political debates, where they donâ€™t answer questions or respond to their others. Or the CNN empty-room lecture of the senator.
We have perfected speaking to ourselves.
Anyone who thinks differently than us is not an adequate audience. If we speak with only those who agree with us, is it still persuasion?
Failure of rhetoric in our public sphereâ€¦
(Johnathan Hayesâ€™ research)
dialogue on abortion
Protestant church sermon delivered to teach the lost to those who have chased the lost from the building.
Sportsâ€¦ Reality of show is that sustained argument is never good. Loses points for a presentation of an evidenced argument. Gains points for sound bites with alliteration.
Fail to model what I know about appealing to our audience. Often we are not honest about who our audiences are. We do not deal with their attitudes and beliefs.
John Stewart of Comedy Show, interview showed 10M times, Stewart begs hosts to â€œstop hurting Americaâ€
S: â€œhere to confront you, because we need help from the mediaâ€
V: â€œblack/whiteâ€¦ Weâ€™re a debate show.
S: â€œNo. I would love to see a debate show.â€
S: â€œyou are doing theater, when you should be doing debate.â€
V: â€œWe do.â€
C: â€œYou need to teach at a journalism school.â€
S: â€œYou need to go to one.â€
S: â€œSomeone who watched your show and cannot take it anymoreâ€
Honest exchange of ideasâ€¦ watching our elected leaders deliver a well-written, well-presented speech to an empty room.
Cicero: good citizen speaking well
Rogerian idea of
Advocates of rhetoric have influence.
As teachers of rhetoric, we need to
1. be more self-critical as we evaluate our classrooms
2. be critical of our failings of rhetorical discourse
3. develop more rhetorical focus of audience
We assume what persuades us persuades everyone.
Johnathan Heyt, psychologist, The Emotional Dog and His Rational Tailâ€¦
Central thesis is that though the mind response is reasoning and then rational thought, instead we have an affective response and only use rational thought if we are called on to discuss our ideas
This is counterintuitive to how we go about.
The data indicates this is the way humans make judgments.
Intuitive and social.
Moral discourse, in its natural experience, is persuasion.
Failure of moral argument is misconception of audience. We assume they are moved by moral reasoning rather than emotions.
â€œwag the dog illusionâ€ Reasoning about the facts convinces. (But really it is emotional.)
â€œwag the other dogâ€™s tail illusionâ€ Rational argument will convince other guy.
Heyt: moral reasoning naturally occurs in a social setting.
Once morality is located in a group setting, people must use communityâ€™s language in order to convince.
Emphasize the audience for persuasion.
1. Persuasion works by triggering new affective bailiffs.
2. Persuasion by social group.
3. Role-taking is common way to make new moral decisions.
4. In an exchange when both parties begin with strong emotional basis, argument can lead to greater distance between the two parties.
We must recognize that social conditioning and emotional ties influence argument.
â€œPeople should take advantage of social argumentâ€¦ talking about â€¦ conflicting intuitions triggeredâ€¦ final judgment more nuancedâ€¦â€
Classical theory did not privilege logos. Perhaps because they had a better idea of decision-making process.
3rd year PhD student
going into this, I thought this was going to be a hodgepodge group, but our pieces dovetail pretty closely
Last yearâ€¦ panel on Christianity in the classroomâ€¦ shifts in position, head nodding, jerking elbows, noise in the room, whispered conversationsâ€¦. A lot of people were pissed. The desire to just leave became strongerâ€¦ Christianity is embodied social phenomenon. Rational discussions may not be able to discussâ€¦
Not rational, but sensibility.
What happens if we make sensibility the focus?
Christian practices can make sense, if they donâ€™t answer the questions of others.
Christian practices may create
Xian practices are social, response to circumstance.
Shared sensory mode
Historical bodies= habits, materialized language, media- form and transmit religious social networks
Premise that through the social relationship, Christians develop a relationship with God.
Lermen says: hallucinations, psych characteristics that create propensity for seeing and hearing God, real = felt reality of the experience, the real is a feeling
Kean calls it a â€œsocial factâ€ = institutions, songs,
Bruno Latournâ€™s argument= all facts create new realities. Impossible to see what the plural universe could create, even miraculous
New relationships bring up the option of in whatever sense it is used, Christianity is real.
Declaring it real allows a conversation. Saying otherwise ends discourse.
Crowleyâ€™s approach is differentâ€”textualized on official religious discourse, she elects not to complicate with individual use of media
Focus on media = focus on materialism, which shows differences and interferences
Left Behind series about the apocalypse-> in what ways were they read and used by the readers?
All of them had read the books. No one cited them. No one talked about the apocalypse. So just having read the book does not inform their experience.
Remember my own church-going experiences growing up.
Lining up on white carpeted hallways hundreds of small children singing â€œJesus loves meâ€ before Bible classâ€¦
I am not going to singâ€¦ but the lyrics are important.
Those were the earliest dogmas taught in my evangelical childhood.
They instilled and informed a relationship with Jesus. Lyric expressions of this love relationship were more developed and became more fervent. We would sing the song and the same verses and the same choruses, to think more, to feel more, and the idea was to get to where I felt Godâ€™s presence or I felt grateful or I felt loved. It was work every week to get to that point.
Interjections of prayersâ€¦ teaching us how to do that and training us to feel that relationship
â€œfor the Bible tells me soâ€ offers a different way to look at Bible, itâ€™s a guarantor of love
I still feel the force of that loving relationship with God. I spend the hours working on that. Tears and sweat. Begging God to help me believe in him. Cognitive belief and practical belief. I may not have believed in God, but I talked to God.
Listened to high level sermons.
Weeks of youth group worksâ€”praying, solitude, working
Books, Bibles, bracelets
Reading, journaling, texts
Christian music, music festivals, week-long mission trips, energetic leaders motivated and guilted usâ€¦ convinced my dad to write a witnessing letter to his own father, who mowed the lawn at his own congregation
Witnessed a lot in high school. (No definition of this. Assumes everyone understands.)
Homeless man went to church with me, if I would buy him a pack of cigarettes, so he did. And my dad and I wheeled him in while 2000 people in suits turned around and stared.
Personal statement to groups for scholarships.
Choice I made to use the letter as a witnessing experience.
National Merit Scholarship letter = witness
Never heard anything about this letter.
A few reflections on that letter:
Witnessing culture was built into my life, my body. Walking through Central Park with fake questionnaires. â€œBigger or betterâ€ and competeâ€¦ get something like a dead car and we would smash the hell out of it in the parking lotâ€¦
â€œBigger or betterâ€ were a regular exercise of overcoming shyness.
Negative affective built upâ€¦ just like after CCCCs.
Memory of interrupting vacationing adults at the vending machines.
I felt negatively compelled to witness. But if I felt compelled and I didnâ€™t do it, how could I survive? God put them in my life and they might go to Hell.
Having passed the test again. Being faithful to the cause. Restful, because it wasnâ€™t going to happen at the time.
National Meritâ€¦ knew this was a bad idea. It wasnâ€™t an academic act. It was a specifically religious act. I was going to look like a fool and I was risking big money. If it succeeded, God had been good to me. If it did not, I had made a commitment.
Perhaps, consider that our students are using our classes for other things rather than what we have suggestedâ€¦
Acts of witness can acquire a certain social standing. Right to share that. HS student sharing with adults. Idea was to share the gospel while he ate the dinner I purchased. I didnâ€™t know what to do. An African American businessman dragged the homeless man out of the Burger King while the food was left on the table.
Because they always occur in a world of social context, we must consider the multiplicity of the facets that are part of Christian witnessing.
Bill, presentation focused on how to work with students, teachers of rhetoricâ€¦ What is our responsibility to not just limit our work to the classroom but to social action?
I was telling Mark that my paper focused on my practicalities, but Heyt helped shift my paper. My assumptions about audience, when I teach strategies that I think are really good, it is often to impress the rhetoric, on my campus,
–students arenâ€™t what they were ten years ago. Canâ€™t read long things. Etc.
But a lot of times we make judgments about our students. We make assumptions about their choices. They work more, so they care less about their schooling. Whereas, perhaps, they work more because they care so much about their schooling. Without the work, they would not be in my classroom.
Students want what they learn to be relevant.
Rhetoric is relevant. We need to show them the relevance.
We need to be more self-critical of our practices. We need to know our students. We need to be in community with our students. It was delightful to me (Oxford). I think that getting to know my students, in classical and medieval models, is a good one. The questions I get are better when they can ask me off the cuff. I can see where the questions are coming from.
Three years ago, I got up on a Sunday morning, got ready for church, when students came over, there was a student on my couch when I got up in the morning, it was a female student, so I asked Laura to do that. I think I can ask my students to do a lot moreâ€¦
In an age when I am on a bunch of committees, must publish, and 4/4, that is tough.
Community in a different way?
Encourage the students to engage in public discourse in some way.
Article I use, Dan Kahan, study on â€œprotective cognition,â€ cultural cognition, same phenomenon you are talking about, priority not to rational engagement but to social engagement. Nature published the article. Excellent argument for science studentsâ€¦ Public cannot seem to take in science messages as anything except political. Related to students engagingâ€¦
Mark: Maybe a loose connection, Delouse has a book on Foucault, he says, I canâ€™t forget it, he said that the solution to political problems is not in thought and wonâ€™t arise spontaneously, but will arise from organization. It is a matter of associations and we can read that so many different ways.
They hear scienceâ€¦
One of the techniques Kahan recommends to share information, is to have representatives of the information to scramble the political message. So bearded guy with a pony tail versus guy in a suit give the same message. When they gave a message about the environment that had a strong political valence, the people who would have disagreed, were more likely to agree based on whether or not the person giving the talk looked like what they would expect to be someone they agreed with.
Mark: One more analogy, my mom works at a crisis pregnancy center; she is a prolife advocate and holds a strong position for sexuality. But as I, her son, whom she loves, have moved farther and farther left, she has been forced to deal with the dissonance. She and I are able to talk and come to agreements that you would never have thought we would agree. I donâ€™t think she has compromised herself, but our relationship has changed her.
I doubt that very many people who have homosexual children donâ€™t change.
Bill, you talk about the Rogerian argument, specific activities? Thesis is about modeling civil dialogic. Rogerian argument, rather than typical arguing one side, students basically choose something within their field of study and find all the voices, more than two sides. Their job is not to solve the issue, but to direct the discussion in new directions, to find agreement among the various voices.
Christa Tibbit, â€œThe Civil Conversations Projectâ€ online audio
Bill: Try to make my classroom a safe place to be wrong. â€œYour students almost came to fisticuffs.â€ No, they didnâ€™t. In order to have an exchange, you have to really say what you think. There wonâ€™t be real discussion, if folks donâ€™t feel safe to say what they believe. Gender is a big issue on our campus. Students donâ€™t see that. One of the specific activities I do, when we start studying rhetoric. Bring in advertising that depicts females from magazines they read (males) and vice versa. Then the males have to take the physical stance of the position of the females in the ads. Male posturing have become more like female posturing over the yearsâ€¦ it is changingâ€¦ The students start to understand that there are gendered arguments being made, as they have to start embodying them.
Mark, curious about the music use. Music as rhetorical strategy to create specific responses. Why music?
Mark: TR Johnsonâ€™s work, he teaches at Tulane, rhet/comp, Rhetoric and Pleasure. He has a whole thing about how sound impacts the body. Takes a really strong position. Takes risks in his scholarship. He wants to say that music is more immediate. Music, even in the womb, is the rhythm of the motherâ€™s heart, so beat and rhythm is part of life. Music is embodied in particular ways. â€¦ I think that needs a lot of unpacking. Sometimes it privileges voice as more immediate.
Bodily Arts music and rhythms part of rhetorical training in Greeceâ€¦ female authorâ€¦
I have lucked into a class that is on sports and sports culture and the whole phenomenon of Tim Tebow. How others are viewing that witnessing. Either through the lens of his quarterback quality. What the kids are going to do, is to find some ways that the witnessing is aboutâ€¦ connecting to how they feel, what they think of the sport itselfâ€¦
I donâ€™t know anything about sports. I am hoping that sports might be a place where I can show civil discourse that offers hope, that isnâ€™t clearly divisive. Comment about your motherâ€™s changing views, Mark, and your suggestion that parents change their thinking because of familyâ€¦ That is one place that I might like to turn my attention. One place where I have thought about places with different views: organic local farming, homeschooling.
Where do you find hope for the discourse we are talking about?
Mark: Creative nonfiction, literature, short storiesâ€”how much beautiful, famous, critically acclaimed literature addresses religion in ways that we would laugh out of a lecture hall
Other: after doing the whole you may not write about xâ€¦ Then make a list of the things they want to talk about and say what they want toâ€¦ Then I make them write the other side. What I wind up with is that students say I â€œdid see this.â€
Other: bringing it out to the community, Progressive Media Project, started with assumption that we have to stop screaming at each otherâ€¦ Intentional about what would be the most supportive, accessible format to engender civic and civil discourse and take it out of the silo. We came to the conclusion that Op Ed pages are a potent force for discussion. We get people who are great on this and then ask them to talk to the person who disagrees with youâ€¦ Audience very specific but not your groupâ€¦ Teach folks how to smarten up their ideas by focusing on civic conventions. Opinion and attitude of author is the first statement in the op ed. Going to be doing something on this tomorrow on immigration. Students do Op Eds in the classroom. Take strongly held positions in a genre that has conventions, donâ€™t use inflammatory languageâ€¦
Other: Ted Talks:
William Ury â€œThe Walk from No to Yesâ€
â€œOn Being Wrongâ€ Katheryn Schulz â€“sheâ€™s a wrongologist
Bill: One of the things is past the cultural moment â€œA Purple State of Mindâ€ â€¦ red and blueâ€¦ Represented two different groups (blue and red) and then conversations back and forthâ€¦ They both are really disenchanted with the nature of discourse. Show that they are good friends and had a website and blogâ€¦ Local food movement is interesting. Red state locovorismâ€¦ ours are blue state local food movement. John Birch society is the red state local food Abilene group.