Re-inventing Discourse

It’s the long weekend and I’m at the old job: clearing out papers from my university days.
Here’s a pamphlet from the University of Waterloo, dated August 2003, advertising a conference on The Rhetorical Tradition. Scholars in English, Philosophy, Film Studies, and Communication Studies are invited.
The objective is to “explore the transfiguration of the rhetorical tradition taking place across the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences.” To “create new methods of reading the historical archive, to invent new narratives of the history of rhetoric, and discover new sites of rhetorical inquiry.” Hmm.
Narratives about “narrative.” Talk about talk. Well, why not?
I note that the participants were not merely proposing to recover the rhetorical tradition; they were “re-inventing” it. So they were not just talking about talking. They were out to discover new ways of talking about talking. New ways of discoursing about discourse.
Sounds like fun. Why weren’t the lawyers and political scientists invited?

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5 Responses to “Re-inventing Discourse”


  1. 1 oonae August 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    We pomos had to leave you guys out of the revolution because you might have said something rational — you know, based in historical fact or something.

  2. 2 janetajzenstat August 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Right. Political scientists are a stodgy lot. Earnest. No room for them at a conference on creative rhetoric. But lawyers know about creatively interpreting texts for political purposes. The Supreme Courts of the U.S. and Canada excel in this area. The lawyers might have been invited.

  3. 3 janetajzenstat August 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Right. Political scientists are a stodgy lot. Serious and not hopelss. No room for them at a conference on creative rhetoric. But lawyers know about creatively interpreting texts for political purposes. The Supreme Courts of the U.S. and Canada excel in this area. The lawyers might have been invited.

  4. 4 janetajzenstat August 6, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Spelling is defeating me. New computer.

  5. 5 oonae August 11, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Leaving out the lawyers was an oversight that’s now being rectified. My mentor, Bob Gibbs, has a big pomo philosophy and law project on the go, for the purposes of which he is both studying law (of many countries and many periods, including here and now) and collaborating with lawyers.


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