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

The Use of Eloquence

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

Xu, George Q. “The Use of Eloquence.” Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks. Lipson, Carol and Roberta A. Binkley, eds. Albany: SUNY P, 2004.

Xu examines the notion of “eloquence”–and I think this choice of word purposeful–in the classical Chinese context, explaining, “Ironically, and perhaps uniquely, however, verbal eloquence was not valorized by classical Chinese thinkers, and on the contrary the views found in their texts reveal a general mistrust of it, a sentiment common to almost all major schools of thought despite their fundamental philosophical differences, but it is most conspicuously and extensively reflected in Confucian texts” (115). Xu goes on providing sociopolitical historical context as well as implications for the Confucian position against eloquence: “their condemnations had the effect of silencing dissident views” (116). He also contends that this attitude has had long-lasting influence in Chinese culture, for example in perpetuating certain conceptions of hierarchy and seniority, and in silencing views contrary to the government endorsed doctrine: “In contemporary China, theoretically Marxism has supplanted Confucianism for more than half a century, but the Confucian tenet remains influential…” (125) Xu refers to the silencing effects of a rhetoric of “patriotism”, as it is defined by certain groups. He concludes, saying that “Confucian antipathy toward eloquence has deeply penetrated into the collective consciousness of the Chinese people…it has been so inextricably embedded in Chinese culture that a proper understanding of Chinese rhetoric would be all but impossible without taking it into full account” (125).


Confucian Silence and Remonstration: A Basis for Deliberation?

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

Lyon, Arabella. “Confucian Silence and Remonstration: A Basis for Deliberation?” Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks. Lipson, Carol and Roberta A. Binkley, eds. Albany: SUNY P, 2004.

To “place Confucius within a defined rhetorical tradition and to place Confucius in twenty-first century rhetoric,” Lyon examines remonstration and silence in Lunyu (The Analects) as they relate to deliberation and democracy (131-2). Lyon uses deliberative rhetoric “with its historical connections to democracy… [as] a lens for understanding Confucian rhetoric and its relationship to current democratic and civil rights movements in Asia” (131).  Lyon seems to focus on positive attributes of “Confucian silence,” (at least in contrast to George Xu) which she says, “is valued as…a positive tool, for building relationships; it works through emphasizing the worth of action, the character of the silent one, and the wisdom of not engaging what cannot be changed” (137). “Here, silence is not to be viewed as a “lack,” but it rather parallels action, which is positioned in contrast to glib speech. “Silence can indicate questions, promises, denial, warning, threats, insult, requests, command, deference, and intimacy” (137).  Furthermore, Confucian silence, in pedagogical contexts, “obliges students to find their own way” (138).

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).