Rhetoric and Irony: Western Literacy and Western Lies

Hardcover | May 1, 1995

byC. Jan Swearingen

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This pathbreaking study integrates the histories of rhetoric, literacy, and literary aesthetics up to the time of Augustine, focusing on Western concepts of rhetoric as dissembling and of language as deceptive that Swearingen argues have received curiously prominent emphasis in Westernaesthetics and language theory. Swearingen reverses the traditional focus on rhetoric as an oral agonistic genre and examines it instead as a paradigm for literate discourse. She proposes that rhetoric and literacy have in the West disseminated the interrelated notions that through learning rhetoricindividuals can learn to manipulate language and others; that language is an unreliable, manipulable, and contingent vehicle of thought, meaning, and communication; and that literature is a body of pretty lies and beguiling fictions. In a bold concluding chapter Swearingen aligns her thesisconcerning early Western literacy and rhetoric with contemporary critical and rhetorical theory; with feminist studies in language, psychology, and culture; and with studies of literacy in multi- and cross-cultural settings.

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This pathbreaking study integrates the histories of rhetoric, literacy, and literary aesthetics up to the time of Augustine, focusing on Western concepts of rhetoric as dissembling and of language as deceptive that Swearingen argues have received curiously prominent emphasis in Westernaesthetics and language theory. Swearingen reverses...

C. Jan Swearingen is at University of Texas at Arlington.

other books by C. Jan Swearingen

Format:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 8.54 × 5.87 × 1.22 inPublished:May 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195063627

ISBN - 13:9780195063622

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"This is an ambitious book....This is a book one want to have on the shelf to consult repeatedly..."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion