Bill Gates COMM 461
Spring 2013

 

A Glossary of Terms

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  • American Exceptionalism:  An articulation that the United States is exceptionoal among all nations for various reasons that have varied across American rhetorical history. American exceptionalism is based in puritan rhetoric that proclaimed New England's god-given specialness over other places on earth and charged New Englanders with the responsibility to live up to god's charge to make it an example for the world.  But it has taken other forms since, both religious and secular.

  • Arousal: See Cycle of Arousal and Quiescence.

  • Authority: Having the power to be listened to and followed. A leader has authority when the community listens and follows the leader.

  • Bipolar Rhetoric.  A rhetorical strategy that starkly divides.  The strategy depends on drawing very sharp distinctions and typically associating them with good and evil.  Thus it creates stark evil that threatens the good.  Also designated as "polemic rhetoric" and "two valued" rhetoric.

  • Cold War.  The period of total war between the United States and the Soviet Union occurring between shortly after the end of World War II and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990.  Violent military action was spasmodic during the period, but true to total war the two societies were diverted into the pursuit of military arms and dedicated to martial opposition to the other. A strong motivational rhetoric supported that diversion.

  • Conservative Movement: A political movement with intellectual development in the 1950s and became politically powerful in the 1960s and 1970s, taking control of American government in 1980. Also known as the "New Right" movement.

  • Co-optation:  A strategy through which the dominate social order responds to a movement.  The strategy grants some of the demands of the movement, thus undercutting it by draining off its power through the Cycle of Arousal and Quiescence.

  • Cultural Movement:  A type of movement, the objective of which is to bring about change(s) in the culture.

  • Cycle of Arousal and Quiescence.  A fact of movements.  Once aroused to participate in movements, the movement may begin to succeed as the broader society begins to respond to its demands.  Such successes, however, form the basis for diminished energetic engagement with the movement.  Thus, the seeds of the destruction of the movement (entropy) are implied in the movements limited success.  See co-optation.
  • Detente:  The period of diminished intesity in the Cold War during the 1970s.  Ronald Reagan reversed detente when assuming office, thus reigniting the Cold War to its conclusion in the demise of the Soviet Union.

  • Dialectic:  Two things that seem to be disparate or even in tension that feed off each other or overlap in a way that strengthens both.  For example, the dialectic of permanence and change takes two seemingly opposite things and gives to rhetoric the task of merging them in a way that promotes both. Rhetoric merges the familiar and the novel in defining the moment.

  • Dialectic of permanence and change: To accept change a community must be able to relate it to something with which they are familiar.  To accept that no change is needed a community must have the sense that they can successfully adjust to an altered world without having to change.  One of the tasks of rhetoric is to negotiate this paradox.  Thus, one of the things that rhetoric typically does is express both permanence and change in how it constructs an understanding of a historical moment. It names both the novel and the familiar as it constructs interpretation.

  • Dissociation: A strategy that works by taking a concept and dividing it so that it will not be applied generally but by specific characteristics. Typically, this strategy is used to take something that is considered good and separate it into what is good and about and what is bad; or conversely to take something that is bad and point out an aspect of it that is in fact good. Theodore Roosevelt uses this strategy in "Man with a Muckrake" to separate out the discourse of non-governmental progessives into the "true" and "honest" attacks, and those that are "exaggerations" and "false charges."

  • Entropy:  The natural tendency of movements toward distintegration over time.  Entropy necessitates the use of rhetoric to maintain a movement.  A term originally borrowed from thermodynamics it came to be used to understand movements through its centrality to general systems theory's treatment of open social systems.  See negative entropy.

  • Ethical:  Judgments pertaining to character.  Ethical behavior is behavior that indicates a person of high character.

  • Exigence: The characteristic of the moment which demands response.

  • The Fourteen Points:  Woodrow Wilson's formula for peace after World War I.

  • Give voice: When a leader is able through his/her rhetoric to capture the thoughts and emotions of the community.

  • Governmental Sphere:  That portion of the public sphere that operates within the governmental structure. Those in government often attempt to augment their power by portraying the governmental sphere as the place in which public business is conducted.  This is just a strategy of those in the government sphere, not the necessary definition of the public sphere.  See public sphere.

  • Historical moment:  To experience the facts and emotions of particular earlier time.  It is more than knowing what happened.  It requires the experiencing of the ways in which people at a different time/place experienced the particularity of that time.

  • Historicizing:  One of the dimensions of political will.  It takes an isolated fact and puts it into the stream of the community's experience.

  • Identity Movement: A type of movement, the objective of which is to provide social acknowledgement, psychological affirmation, and a place for its members to exercise public voice.

  • Ideographs: Words or phrases that are invoked in discourse to capture commitments of a social community. Such notions as <democracy>, <liberty>, <freedom>, or <rights> are created in social contracts and social practices and exist because of the commitment of the social community to them. Words like these are employed in rhetoric to invoke those commitments motivationally. Note that ideographs are denoted in rhetorical analysis by use of brackets.
  • Integrative Movement.  A type of movement, the objective of which is to bring its members and those they represent into the privileges and responsibilities of the dominant public sphere.

  • Internationalism:  A diplomatic doctrine that cooperation with other nations will better achieve a peaceful and prosperous world, and/or better achieve national goals.  Internationalism has been a theme of American rhetoric since the American Revolution when the revolution was motivated by the idea that the nation was a model for the world.  It is often in rhetorical tension with isolationism.

  • Isolationism:  A belief that the United States is safest and most prosperous when it leaves others alone and insists that others leave it alone. Isolationism has been characteristic of American rhetoric since Washington's Farewell Address, and draws on puritan notions of the impurity of the world beyond and the need to protect the society from the spread of this impurity. It is often in rhetorical tension with internationalism.

  • Just War Doctrine: An informal diplomatic code that sets forth the principles upon which a nation can legitimately declare war on another.

  • Justification for War: The requirement that the leader of a nation rhetorically ground war in the Just War Doctrine.  Rhetorically, the justification is an argument applying the criteria specified in the Just War Doctrine to the circumstances preceeding the Declaration of War.  One of two rhetorical obligations on a war time leader.  See motivating war.

  • League of Nations Debate:  The debate between President Woodrow Wilson and the leaders of the Senate, notably Henry Cabot Lodge, on ratification of the Versailles Treaty ending World War I.  Ultimately the debate came down to whether the United States should participate in the League of Nations.

  • Legitimacy: The power to attract followers from the sense that actions are the "right" thing to do.

  • Mass Communication: A technology for communicating marked by its one-directional quality and its disempowerment of receivers. Typically a few persons communicate with many people through the technology. Contrasts to public communication.

  • Moral Leadership:  The use of the voice to participate in the crafting of morality.

  • Morality: A set of judgments about values and proper behavior based in the approval or disapproval of our social group.

  • Motivating War:  The obligation of the leader of a nation going to war to stir the citizens to support or participate in the war.  Along with justification it is one of two rhetorical obligations of a successful wartime leader.  See also justification for war.

  • Motivation: The strategy activating concern and action in the community. Achieving the support and participation of the community in pursuit of some action requires that speakers motivate the action in terms that the community recognizes as legitimate. When a public situation occurs in the community, discourse describes the situation in such a way that we can deal with it. This understanding becomes the grounds for the legitimacy of action in response to the situation. We can study these motivations to understand the strategies that succeed in the public life of the community and those that fail. See symboliic motivation.

  • Movement:  A rhetorically created and maintained social form in which people join together to alter the overall social order. A evolving rhetoric is at the heart of movements, and thus a movement develops a characteristic rhetorical character. Sometimes called "social movement" or "rhetorical movement."

  • Myth: A fundamental and popularly recognized narrative form in which people believe and which shapes historical experience. The faith of the public in the power of individual initiative to conquer problems was invoked by Ronald Reagan through the mass media's fascination in his time with the historically based cowboy myth. Reagan himself had been a film cowboy. Reagan also called upon the myth of the market. Note that myth does not necessarily mean it is false. The question is not true of false but its power to structure understanding.

  • Naming:  One of the communication dimensions of political will.  To apply a particular choice of vocabulary and rhetorical form to construct an understanding of the referent.  It places a fact into a context.

  • Narrative:  A general rhetorical form that tells a story.  Narratives are generally described by noting the shaping of the story into the character of those whose actions are laid out in the setting of the plot.

  • Nationalism:  Nationalist rhetoric is marked by three characteristics: (1) An orientation to the nation state for one's identity; (2) A assertion of the superiority of one's own nation over all others; and (3) A diplomatic doctrine that nations should independently pursue their own national interests.  American nationalism is based in American exceptionalism.

  • Negative entropy.  Rhetoric is necessary in movements to achieve negative entropy.  Negative entropy is the use of rhetoric to counteract the principle of entropy to prolong the life of a movement. See entropy.

  • New Deal Motive: The rhetorical framework that dominated motivation of governmental action from Roosevelt until the power to motivate was destroyed by Reagan. The rhetorical form of the motive featured the economically and socially dispossesed as the central chararcters and attributed their distress to the failures of the "money changers." Thus, government needed to respond to their needs by exercising power over the economic structure.

  • "New Right" movement: See conservative movement.

  • The Paranoid Style:  A characteristic of rhetoric in the United States in which rhetors portray themselves (or their community or the United States) under attack by enemies seeking to destroy them. The expert on this style is Richard Hofstadter.  The paranoid style becomes characteristic at a time when politics is polarized in the United States or when presidents seek to motivate war.

  • Permanence and change: See Dialectic of Permanence and Change

  • Polemic Rhetoric.  See Bipolar rhetoric.

  • Policy Network:  The complex of communication and influence that is involved in enacting policy within the government.

  • Policy Rhetoric:  The use of communication to influence the adoption of governmental policy.  Policy rhetoric is evaluated using six dimensions: Perceptual Dimensions: descriptive and responsibility; Political dimensions: activating and normalizing; and Psychological dimensions: catharsis and legitimacy.

  • Political Leadership:  to motivate and organize pubic concern to guide the political system to acting in relationship to the community's commitments.

  • Political Movement:  A type of movement, the objective of which is to provide those in the movement or those for whom they agitate access to the power of the political institutions of a society.

  • Politicizing. Converting a situation into a concern that the community can address through the political system.

  • Private Matters: Things a community judges to be the concern of each individual.  Not a public concern.  Whether things are private matters or public matters is, in fact, discursively contested.  And the answer differs in different situations and different times. And each position -- private or public -- has a typical pattern of rationale.  So a full understanding tracks the texture of the dispute.   Compare to public matters.

  • Progressivism: A political movement that grew at the turn of the 20th century designed to respond to the conditions of the time.

  • Public: This complex term lies at the root of our study. The key to understanding it is to: (1) understand the contested line between public and private concerns ; (2) understand the difference between public communication and mass communication; and (3) understand how the term then serves in concepts like public address, public life, public sphere, public situation, public space, public place, etc. The term does not mean "outing," the process of revealing some lewd or private matter for mass consumption.

  • Public Address: Speaking about public matters. The term is often defined merely as a speech that many hear, a speech in public. Our meaning is much more precise.

  • Public Communication:  Communication marked by qualities of interchange and mutual power.  Typically, those engaged in public communication talk back and forth and have the power to influence each other.  Contrasts with mass communication.

  • Public Economy:  The values and standard behaviors with which our society organizes its economic life.  These are passed to new generations and altered in a kind of public morality that guides the strength of the economy.

  • Public Life: That part of everyday activity which is conducted with other people concerning matters that we believe are properly addressed in conjunction with others. Contrasts with our private life and our family life.

  • Public Matters: Things that a community accepts as concerns that they will address as a community.  NOT things that are known by everyone.    Whether things are private matters or public matters is, in fact, discursively contested.  And the answer differs in different situations and different times. And each position -- private or public -- has a typical pattern of rationale.  So a full understanding tracks the texture of the dispute.  Compare to private matters.

  • Public Memory: The facts and stories with which a public remembers its past. Public memory is a mix of true and false recollections. Importantly, it is constructed with rhetoric, and invoked in rhetoric to place the current moment into the flow of the community's history. Specific memories have a life: they are born; they mature and remain; then they pass from memory, they are forgotten and no longer available to the rhetor.

  • Public Morality: What we believe in as a community. Our values, judgements about our behavior, commitments that we believe in enacting, the direction that we are willing to pursue. Public morality is what defines our bonds as a community.

  • Public Situation: In every culture there are situations that are considered situations that involve the public. Some situations are almost invariantly considered public situations regardless of culture. For example, killing another human being is seldom considered a private matter. Respect for life characterizes nearly every society and the taking of a life is defined as a public concern. Other situations will vary from culture to culture in whether they are a public situation. Planting time is a public situation in New England, a private one in Virginia.

  • Public Sphere: The place where a community can conduct communication about matters the community considers of common interest rather than private interest. Not to be confused with the political sphere nor the governmental sphere. Governments may justify their power by claiming to be the public sphere, and in some cases the political or governmental may be the place where such communication is conducted, but a public sphere is generally much broader than either the political or the governmental.

  • Quiescence:  See Cycle of Arousal and Quiescence.

  • Rhetoric: A broad enough term that we view it several different ways. What all definitions have in common is they involve humans using symbols instrumentally.  But a full understanding of the concept should involve understanding all three modes of definition: negotiating community response, arriving at understanding, and exercising discursive choice.

  • Rhetoric of American Anti-Communism:  A characteristic rhetorical form that motivated opposition to Communism in the United States during the 20th Century.

  • Rhetoric of Crime:  A rhetorical form that gives shape to the rhetoric of the United States' court system. As a form, it invokes a logic of investigation, trial, and punishment focusing on individual violators of law.

  • Rhetoric of Materialism: A characteristic rhetorical form of the culture of the United States and the Western world in the 20th century that attributed happiness in life to material well being. One of the underlying rhetorics to which the movements of the 1960s responded.

  • Rhetoric of War:  A rhetorical form that gives shape to military action.  As a form it invokes a logic of defense from an enemy who would irreparably harm the nation.  Used to frame military response. The rhetoric of war has also been evoked as a framework for motivating action beyond war including the war on poverty and the war on drugs.

  • Rhetoric of Social Engineering.  A characteristic rhetorical form of the culture of the United States and the Western world that stimulated response by movements during the 1960s.

  • Rhetoric of the Cold War:  A characteristic rhetorical form that motivated the participation of the United States in the Cold War.   See also Rhetoric of American Anti-Communism.

  • Rhetorical Form: A pattern through which rhetoric interprets events.  The form shapes the public understanding and through that the rhetorical response.  The New Deal motive is an example.  See symbolic motive.

  • Rhetorical Movement.  See Movement.

  • Rhetorical Strategies: Choices of language (words or symbols plus how they are arrayed) that shape the impact of discourse.  The choices might be in subjects to address, in vocabulary to use, in organizing a discourse, in the cultural and linguisitic patterns drawn upon, in figures of speech, in conceptualizing an audience, in formulating a pattern of argument, or in modes of vocal delivery. Such complex and multiple choices come together in the strategy of the speech.  Strategy pairs with a rhetorical goal or impact to provide a sense that the choices make a difference in how a community responds to the message.

  • Social Movement: See Movement.

  • Strategies: Paired with goal or objective. A choice of how to accomplish a rhetorical goal. A speech contains many strategies. Any rhetorical characteristic of the speech may be a result of the speaker thinking through what s/he wants to accomplish in the speech and what the best way of accomplishing it is. The term may also apply to a community who responds to its moment with a particular choice of the appropriate thing to do.
  • Symbolic Motivation:  Public reaction of an event or problem involves understanding the situation, recognizing it as something that is a public concern, and responding as a community.  A symbolic motive is the framework of language that guides this process.  Thus, the rhetoric with which events are understood in the community, and the rhetoric with which the community responds is performed in the language of the symbolic motive.  See motivation

  • Two-valued rhetoric.  See bipolar rhetoric.

  • Valuing:  One of the communication dimensions of political will.  Using language to place things or events into the context of a community's values. Communication that we find something attractive or deplorable or somewhere in between.  Associating a community's commitments and sensitivities to things or events. It converts a material fact into a concern.