Identifying and Mapping Issues, Theories, & Research in Asian/American Rhetoric(s): An Annotated Bibliography

A Survey of Research in Asian Rhetoric

Posted in Asian Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Wang, Bo. “A Survey of Research in Asian Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review 23.2 (2004): 171-181.

Wang surveys scholars in Asian rhetoric–Vernon Jensen, Mary Garrett, XiaoMing Li, Xing Lu, and LuMing Mao–to provide an overview of the research that’s being done in this area. According to Wang, “The important research being done in Asian rhetoric includes research that is mindful of the logic of Orientalism, that studies Asian rhetoric in its own cultural and political contexts, that appropriates Asian rhetoric for Western contexts, and that applies Asian rhetorical traditions to the study of pedagogical issues.” The scholars Wang surveyed gave most attention to the issues of “approaches scholars have been using in Asian rhetoric [and]… development of research in Asian rhetoric.” Moreover, these discussions indicated that “researchers in Asian rhetoric must challenge the fundamental assumptions about rhetoric embedded in classical Western rhetorical theories to start a conversation between East and West” and that “we need more scholars who have the tools and expertise to study Asian rhetorics in their original texts and cultures. We should explore a broader scope of genres from the rhetorical perspective and encourage more interdisciplinary research in this area” (173).

A few notable quotes:

Xing Lu: “It is important to be sensitive to the implicit, multifaceted, and sometimes paradoxical nature of rhetoric embedded in Chinese philosophical, literary, and religious texts. An effort to search for a single definition of Chinese rhetoric or to try to find an equivalence from the Western terminology may fail to uncover the richness of Chinese rhetorical tradition (or any other rhetorical traditions for that matter) and run the risk of imposing meanings of Western rhetoric onto the Chinese context” (174-5).

LuMing Mao: “We’ve heard those catch words like analytical, contextual, critical, etc., to characterize various kinds of modes of inquiry. I am more interested in studies that are historicized and that are leery of making claims or generalizations with little or flimsy evidence” (175).

Xing Lu: “Unless this body of knowledge is incorporated in the curriculum of rhetorical education, no major change will take place in the West” (177).

Vernon Jensen: “More research on conflict resolution not only between East and West, but between groups within particular Asian nations… Continue to explore the impact of Asian ancient religion and history on contemporary Asian rhetoric and communication” (178).

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Welcome!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

To identify and trace the movements of the growing body of scholarship on Asian/American rhetoric(s) as they occur in the larger field of rhetoric and composition and to create a philosophical and methodological archaeology of the field, this blog will serve as an annotated bibliography of texts on Asian/American rhetoric(s).  Stay tuned for more!

Tao Te Ching

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Lau, D.C., trans. Tao Te Ching. New York: Penguin, 1964.

This seminal work in Ancient Chinese Philosophy (and rhetoric) has much relevance for the cultural development in all of the East Asian countries. Beautifully poetic in style, Lao Tzu builds a philosophy for “the way,” communication and living that emphasizes namelessness, silence, inaction, and reciprocity. However, these concepts are oftentimes misconstrued under the lens of “the West”.

Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Yoo, Sun Young. “Embodiment of American modernity in colonial Korea.” Francis Lee Dae Hoon trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Yoo Sun-Young provides an account of the conditions that allowed for a Korean embrace of American modernity, focusing on the body as a marker of modernity. Of vital impact was the Japanese Occupation of South Korean (hereafter Korea) from 1910 to 1945. Yoo explains that at this time, Korea saw the United States as an ideal representation of modernity, and in the “imaginary/fantastic dimension, America was conceived as the richest nation in the world as well as a gentleman-like brotherly nation that had no intention to occupy, but rather help weak countries to achieve independence, as the most powerful nation in the capitalist world, as the birthplace of Modernism, and as a benefactor to Chosun” (230). “[T]he missionary work by American churches recorded an unprecedented success in colonial Korea, which further promoted the image of America as a benefactor and contributor of Korea’s modernization” (230). At this time, American modernity was inscribed on Korea’s colonial body: “The individual modernization under colonial circumstance was confined to, and carried on, the body level” (225) though heterosexual relationships, individual speech manners, and walking style and bodily movements. In the context of the modernization of the school system in Korea, students “were required to have short hair, formerly a strong taboo in Korea, as well as to replace traditional clothing and footwear with western-style uniforms, hats and shoes. In this context, bodily changes either preceded or concurred with changes in consciousness, rather than the other way around” (227).

‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture

Posted in Uncategorized by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Cho, Han Hae-Joang. “‘You are entrapped in an imaginary well’: the formation of subjectivity within compressed development – a feminist critique of modernity and Korean culture.” Michael Shin trans. The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader. Chen, Kuan-Hsing and Chua Beng Huat, ed. London: Routledge, 2007.

Cho discusses how the notion of “turbo capitalism,” originally used to describe the rapid swell of capitalism after the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, can also be used to describe the basis for Korean economic success, at the expense of what Cho considers a cultural loss. Cho contends that turbo capitalism has in effect left Korea with superficial cultures as well as an “overwhelming individual adaptability to the status quo” (294), essentially functioning as a neo-colonial ideological structure. In discussing the formation of subjectivity in Korea, Cho also argues that Korean conceptions of patriotism, as displayed in the official discourse where “the nation, the state and the people are one and the same” (Cho 300), is contrary to individualistic philosophies of the West, and is a cause for conflict between the community (nation/family) and the individual.

Rhetoric in Ancient China, Fifth to Third Century B.C.E.: A Comparison with Classical Greek Rhetoric

Posted in Asian Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Lu, Xing. Rhetoric in Ancient China, Fifth to Third Century B.C.E.: A Comparison with Classical Greek Rhetoric. Charleston: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.

Rhetoric in Ancient China takes a comparative approach to establishing ancient Chinese rhetoric, examining specifically five schools of thought: Mingjia, Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, and Legalism, alongside historical and sociopolitical contextualization. Lu also identifies seven key Chinese terms pertaining to speech, language, and argumentation: “Indeed, the ancient Chinese appear to have their own well-developed sense of rhetoric, revealed morphologically throughout primary Chinese texts in the following frequently used terms: yan 言 (language, speech); ci 辭 (mode of speech, artistic expression); jian 諫 (advising, persuasion); shui 說 (persuasion)/ shuo 說 (explanation); ming 名(naming); and bian 辯(distinction, disputation, argumentation)” (3).

Lu also deals with the issue and problem of translation, rationalizing that “Translation is considered the core of hermeneutics, as it is only through translation…that the meanings of ancient texts can be deciphered, interpreted, and understood by readers across time and space” (10).

Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie: The Making of Chinese American Rhetoric

Posted in Asian American Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Mao, LuMing. Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie: The Making of Chinese American Rhetoric. Logan: Utah State UP, 2006.

Defining rhetoric as “the systematic, organized use and study of discourse and discourse strategies in interpersonal, intercultural contexts, reflecting and reinforcing rhetoricians’ own ideology, their own norms of discourse production and discourse consumption, and their ability to persuade, to adjust, and to realign” (13), Mao takes a cross-cultural approach to rhetoric, acknowledging that “The process of differentiation, unfortunately, is never an innocent one: it always embeds a likely risk of differentiating one tradition according to or in relation to the norm of some other tradition” (13), but also explaining that “to study another rhetorical tradition for comparison or for understanding, we must start somewhere. More often than not, we begin with principles or concepts that are most familiar to our own sensibilities and to our own common sense” (89). Drawing on the work of Ien Ang, Mao focuses particularly on the notions of hybridity, “togetherness-in-difference,” and “process of becoming” as central to Asian American rhetoric.

Minor Re/Visions: Asian American Literacy Narratives as a Rhetoric of Citizenship

Posted in Asian American Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Young, Morris. Minor Re/Visions: Asian American Literacy Narratives as a Rhetoric of Citizenship. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2004.

Minor Re/Visions examines the ways literacy and race intersect in American culture, in particular, the ways the perception of a person’s citizenship is overdetermined because of competing ideological constructions about literacy and race. The processes of reading and writing literacy narratives is one means for people of color to develop and articulate their negotiation of citizenship, in particular arguing for ‘cultural citizenship’…which attends ‘not only to dominant exclusions and marginalizations, but also to subordinate aspirations for and definitions of enfranchisement…’” (7) Young considers literacy beyond skills of reading and writing, articulating it as a “power used against others to maintain systems of oppression… Not “inherently ‘good’ or even neutral…, it becomes a set of practices… used by different people for different purposes” (148). These practices are grounded in “‘both behavior and the social and cultural conceptualizations that give meaning to the uses of reading and/or writing’” (10). While literacy is oftentimes taken for granted, it “‘has proven to be a difficult and contentious topic of investigation because its place in American culture has become so complex and conflicted’” (10). (see also pp. 11, 24)

Rhetoric of the Asian American Self: Influences of Region and Social Class on Autobiographical Writing

Posted in Asian American Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Tasaka, Robyn. “Rhetoric of the Asian American Self: Influences of Region and Social Class on Autobiographical Writing.” Representations: Doing Asian American Rhetoric. LuMing Mao & Morris Young, eds. Utah State UP, 2008.

Tasaka examines “how region as well as social class affect students’ conceptions of themselves as Asian American and thus the ways in which they inscribe their racial and/or ethnic backgrounds in autobiographical writing assignments.” To provide context, she describes Hawai‘i’s historical and current racial environment, focusing specifically on Hawai‘i’s plantation history and English Standard education systems, before providing numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau to represent the current ethnic makeup of Hawai‘i, as well as statistics on the roster of the Hawai‘i State Legislature to illustrate the political presence of the various ethnicities. After briefly referencing scholarship on social class as it factors into student writing, Tasaka analyzes autobiographical writing by three students from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa through the frameworks of double-consciousness, guided tour of culture, and social statement.  She supplements this analysis with interviews with the students.

The purpose of this piece as I understand it is to enact revisionist history by re-evaluating certain accepted notions of what it means to be Asian American: Asian American identity interacts closely with social and political status so that to talk about race or ethnic identity in isolation is ultimately reductive and problematic. Tasaka does rhetorical work that endorses a more complex understanding of Asian Americans than has been available in the existing literature, thereby re-interpreting the past to help us to better understand our present and future.

Representations: Doing Asian American Rhetoric

Posted in Asian American Rhetoric(s) by Jennifer Sano-Franchini on May 7, 2009

Mao, LuMing and Morris Young, eds. Representations: Doing Asian American Rhetoric. Logan: Utah State UP, 2008.

Mao and Young “define Asian American rhetoric as the systematic, effective use and development by Asian Americans of symbolic resources, including this new American language, in social, cultural, and political contexts” (3). The use of the singular Asian American rhetoric–rather than rhetorics or rhetoric(s)–is a purposeful one according to Mao and Young, who assert that any kind of “ethnic rhetoric” is already necessarily plural, “infused with competing voices, internal contradictions, and shifting alliances at every given discursive moment.” Moreover, however, this use of the singular “rhetoric” is “an example of what Gayatri Spivak calls a ‘strategic use of positive essentialism.’” To elaborate, “Asian American rhetoric” is named as such “to contest and complicate the dominance of European American rhetoric or even the broader definition of the Rhetorical Tradition” by articulating the complexity and multiplicity of “rhetoric” (9). This tension between singular and plural is a theme that guides how the essays are divided. Furthermore, the selection and arrangement of these essays implicitly illuminate a methodology for research on Asian American rhetoric.

The first section, “Performing Asian American Rhetoric in Context,” “highlights the tension or contradictions between the desire to claim a sense of unity or homogeneity for Asian Americans” by centering on Asian American discursive practices in a number of contexts, communities, and places to gain a better understanding of “how Asian Americans invent, remember, and recover certain discursive practices to enact different forms of Asian American rhetoric” (15). The second section, “‘Translating’ and ‘Transforming’ Asian American Identities” focuses on the “issue of representation and resistance, or, more specifically, toward how Asian Americans use rhetoric to combat misrepresentations and stereotypes and to develop representations for their very own that are directly based upon their own experiences as Other and upon their own struggles for political, racial, and linguistic justice” (16). The approaches presented in this collection are particularly useful for how they at times take a longitudinal view of culture, examining immigrant/multi-generational populations and how factors of nationalism and generation influence what Asian/American rhetorics looks like: always moving, a “rhetoric of becoming.” Additionally, the various essays provide a robust collection of ideas and theories about Asian American rhetoric, pertinent to material rhetorics and rhetorical space; movement and transnationalism; memory and agency; methodologies, rhetorical listening, and oral history; the intersections of subjectivities, revisionist histories, and popular culture; and new media.