The rhetorican as agent of social change

The rhetorican as agent of social change - The Rhetorician...

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The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change Author(s): Ellen Cushman Source: CollegeCompositionandCommunication, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 7-28 Published by: National Council of Teachers of English Stable URL: . Accessed: 17/08/2011 10:12 . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact National Council of Teachers of English is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to College Composition and Communication.
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Ellen Cushman The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change n his "Afterthoughts on Rhetoric and Public Discourse," S. Michael Halloran finds that "the efforts of citizens to shape the fate of their community. .. would surely have been of interest to American neo- classical rhetoricians of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries" (2). Unfortunately, he sees an "apparent lack of interest in such 'Public Discourse' among new rhetoricians of late twentieth-century English de- partments" (2). One way to increase our participation in public discourse is to bridge the university and community through activism. Given the role rhetoricians have historically played in the politics of their communi- ties, I believe modern rhetoric and composition scholars can be agents of social change outside the university. Some critical theorists believe that the primary means of affecting social change is to translate activism into liberatory classroom pedagogies. This paper seeks to address other ways in which we can affect social change, something more along the lines of civic participation. As Edward Schiappa suggests, "pedagogy that enacts cultural critique is important but it is not enough. ... We should not allow ourselves the easy out of believing that being 'political' in the classroom is a substitute for our direct civic partici- pation" (22). I agree. I hope here to suggest ways we can empower people in our communities, establish networks of reciprocity with them, and create solidarity with them. Using a self-reflexive rhetoric, I'll describe the limitations of my own role as a participant observer in a predominately Black (their term) neighborhood in a city in upstate New York. I hope to reveal a tentative model of civic participation in our neighborhoods Ellen Cushman is a PhD candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research focuses on the languages people use to negotiate social borderlands, and she is currently writing an eth- nography entitled, "The Struggle and the Tools: Oral and Literate Strategies in an Inner City Community." CCC 47.1/February 1996 7
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The rhetorican as agent of social change - The Rhetorician...

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