Classical Rhetoric, Oralism, and a New Literacy
240 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: July 16, 1999
- Published: July 6, 1999
Kathleen E. Welch explores the profound changes in writing and discourse brought about by electronic forms of communication.
"We are commonly not aware of the complex history of orality and literacy and of the effects of this history on the depths of human consciousness, where electronic communication is now having its deep and as yet not understood effects. Professor Welchs work can give us some of the in-depth understanding we need to be aware of where we really are."—from the foreword by Walter J. Ong.
Computer screens now dominate many workplaces, and televisions are ubiquitous in our homes, waiting rooms, and many public spaces. In Electric Rhetoric, Kathleen E. Welch explores the profound changes in writing and discourse brought about by electronic forms of communication. To this end, she integrates three related strands: the redeployment of Sophistic classical rhetoric; current literacy theories within rhetoric and composition studies, including gender and race issues; and the inherently rhetorical nature of "screens" in relationship to writing and other communication technologies. Throughout the book Welch deals extensively with women's issues, which have played a particularly important role in the history of oralism. Welch's ultimate aim is to help build a movement to change, partly through critical pedagogy, the actions people take in their daily writing and speaking lives.
Kathleen Welch's elegant, incisive, and quirky intelligence is everywhere apparent in Electric Rhetoric. In it, she re-theorizes (and re-races, re-genders, and re-performs) Pre-Aristotelian rhetoric and then uses it to explore posthumanist literacy and rhetoric in a range of electronic spaces. In its insistent rejection of what Welch calls the 'worst' of Enlightenment, Modernist, and Postmodernist values—and in its bold program for change—this book is going to make a lot of people nervous. A must read!
Andrea A. Lunsford, Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Writing, Ohio State University