Choose two rhetorical concepts from any of the following: Foucault, Derrida, Cixous, or Anzaldua (in this week’s readings). What early rhetorical theories seem most aligned with and divergent from these concepts? What does that say about our changing assumptions about rhetoric?
Early rhetorical theories generally assign the speaker the role of presenting previously unknown truths to the audience, transferring knowledge in a way that moves them towards a particular line of thought or action. This often creates a hierarchy in rhetoric which is power heavy on the orator’s side. According to Bizzell et. al. (2020), Foucault dismantles this concept and, “To do so, he reverses the order of the relationship between discourse and what is traditionally taken to be its source: That is, he treats author, meaning, and knowledge as a function of discourse, not as its source” (p. 2896). In Foucault assessment of discourse, there is no predetermined truth to be transferred, but instead, discourse is a place where knowledge develops.
Interestingly Cixous’ experiences with the experimental dissolution of academic hierarchy at the University of Paris at Vincennes, brought her to conclusion that the, “that the professor-student hierarchy cannot really be dismantled” (Bizzel et. al., 2020, p. 3085). This however is as far as Cixous’ views align with early rhetoricians, as her work focuses on dismantling the male dominated, or phallocentric traditions, of historical rhetoric. In Cixous (1975) The Laugh of the Medusa, she argues, “Nearly the entire history of writing is confounded with the history of reason, of which it is at once the effect, the support, and one of the privileged alibis. It has been one with the phallocentric tradition. It is indeed that same self-admiring, self-stimulating, self-congratulatory phallocentrism” (Bizzel et. al., 2020, p. 3097). Cixous argues that genuine observations about the world cannot be made within the strict confines and limitations that have been historically applied to rhetoric and philosophy.
Bizzell, P., Herzberg, B.,