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

Listening for Legacies, or How I Began to Hear Dorothy Laigo Cordova, the Pinay Behind the Podium Known as FANHS

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

Monberg, Terese Guinsatao. “Listening for Legacies, or How I Began to Hear Dorothy Laigo Cordova, the Pinay Behind the Podium Known as FANHS.” Representations: Doing Asian American Rhetoric. LuMing Mao & Morris Young, eds. Utah State P, 2008.

In this chapter, Monberg works “toward a more culturally contingent model of feminist historiography” and develops an “alternative” methodology and theory of listening as a model for Asian American rhetorics as a subject of study. Centering on the case of Dorothy Laigo Cordova and the Filipino American National Historical society (FANHS), Monberg explains that “certain methods of listening–because they are attentive to interdependencies among rhetorical space, memory, and history–are central to the makings of an Asian Pacific American ‘feminist’ rhetoric” (86). Furthermore, she argues that “while most feminist historiographers in rhetoric use the term listening, most forms of listening have largely reseted in seeing… To go beyond what is immediately visible and documented, then, requires what Jacqueline Jones Royster calls ‘a habit of critical questioning, of speculating in order to make visible unnoticed possibilities, to pose and articulate what we see now, what’s missing, and what we might see instead’” (86-7).

Monberg uses the method of oral history interview, and she reflects on this experience to discuss oral history as a site for listening, explaining that oral history methodologies are common in Asian Pacific American studies, but less so among feminist historiographers (90). However, “oral history is not a simple solution for making new forms of rhetoric ‘visible.’ For if a ‘text’ or rhetorical space is meaningful within a larger system of beliefs, then we also need to rethink the interpretive paradigms we use when listening for/to, in this case, a Filipina/o American ‘feminist’ rhetoric” (94). In sum, Monberg concludes that certain culturally contingent rhetorical capacities may remain hidden due to a preference for visible textual evidence, and “Listening is both a method for uncovering and for making an Asian Pacific American rhetoric, which must by necessity ‘explore other modes of retrieving and spacializing [rhetorical] history’” (103).

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Conclusion to Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions

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

Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin. “Conclusion.” Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions. U of Chicago P, 2004.

In this conclusion, Tsien discusses in more detail the types of writing materials used in ancient China, explaining that “Some of them were hard and durable [e.g. bones, shells, metal, stone, jade, pottery, clay], others soft and perishable [e.g. bamboo, wood, silk, paper].” Writings on hard surfaces are generally called inscriptions, and writings on perishable materials are usually considered books (199). Tsien explains that these two types of materials served distinct purposes: “The perishable materials, which were more convenient and sometimes less expensive, were used extensively for government documents, historical records, literary compositions, personal correspondence, and other writings of daily use. The permanent materials…were used for making commemorative or other inscriptions of more lasting value. The former were intended primarily for horizontal communication among contemporaries and the latter for vertical communication across generations.” including spirits or ancestors, as well as sons and grandsons; however, there were deviations from these general norms (199-200). Tsien goes on the describe methods of writing and duplication, styles of Chinese script, and the growth of vocabulary which occurred with the evolution of Chinese writing (202-3).

Introduction to Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions

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

Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin. “Introduction.” Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions. U of Chicago P, 2004.

Tsien explains how prevailing religions and the dynasties in power influenced the production of and access to texts, and in effect, literacy and culture in Ancient China, thereby highlighting the politics of writing distribution and how sociopolitical influences affect the accumulative formation of culture, and knowledge. Tsien begins by describing the variety of materials and writing technologies used and invented by Chinese for writing, including paper, block printing, bamboo, silk, brush pen, and lamp-black ink along with their early attempts “toward the mechanical multiplication of writings” (2), which then led to an elaborate classification system of literature in China (3). In ancient China, writing was used for communication with the spirits, government documents and archives (developed extensively under the Zhou dynasty), and led to a literati class of recorders, users, and custodians (5, 7). Tsien suggests that with the Warring States period came private writings and collections, and the previously unseen notion of authorship in Chinese writing, as well as a growth in literacy among Chinese people (10-11). After the end of the feudal period in China, came the “burning of books,” a preventive measure of censorship and though control, which was meant to enforce unification. “A great many ancient books were destroyed, but certain kinds of writings were preserved for government monopoly” (12).

After the Qin empire was overthrown as result of a peasant revolution, the Han dynasty, which formed the foundation for a national culture, brought the rise of Confucianism and the restoration of ancient works (13). At this time book collecting “was engaged in by not only the government but by individuals as well,” including prices, high officials, and scholars, and the first comprehensive Chinese dictionary, Shuowen jiezi was printed (15-16). While “Books were produced and accumulated on a large scale…, great losses were suffered during the several political disturbances” (16). During the “Dark Ages” after the collapse of the Han, “Confucianism continued among the intellectual classes; Daoism emerged and developed as a religion; and Buddhism, which was first introduced to China at the beginning of the Christian era, flourished…” These developments led to the popularization of religious literature: “The introduction of Buddhism was an important milestone not only in the history of Chinese thought and religion but also in the development of Chinese scholarship and the popularization of literature” (17).

Nothing Can Be Accomplished If the Speech Does Not Sound Agreeable: Rhetoric and the Invention of Classical Chinese Discourse

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

Liu, Yameng. “Nothing Can Be Accomplished If the Speech Does Not Sound Agreeable: Rhetoric and the Invention of Classical Chinese Discourse.” Rhetoric Before and Beyond the Greeks. Lipson, Carol and Roberta A. Binkley, eds. Albany: SUNY P, 2004.

Liu discusses how the traditional predominant representation of “originators of classical Chinese discourse as primarily ‘philosophers’ or ‘thinkers’” rather than rhetorical critics in the academic literature has negatively affected subsequent research in rhetoric. By examining the rhetorical theory of Han Feizi and the concept of nan, or rebuttal, Liu explains that “rhetorical invention [in Classical China] is contingent on a primordial ambiguity or indeterminacy and is enabled only by the absence of an ultimate ‘arbitrator.’” Liu also includes Mencius as among those who “adopt[ed] the strategy of technically deconstructing the rhetoric of an opponent so as to discredit his ideology” (149). Liu additionally addresses the problematic neglect of the “textuality of history” in unilinear historical accounts of the development of classical Chinese rhetoric: such accounts treat “‘existing social or cultural conditions’ as a given and a prior order ontologically separated from discourse,” denying “discourses’ role in creating social and cultural meanings that shape the perceptions, desires, feelings, and hence behaviors of individual or institutional actors.” Ultimately, such stances “[fail] to properly to acknowledge the extent to which ‘cultural patterns and crises of ancient China”…were themselves products of discursive practices at that time (153).

Liu concludes that “the traditionally received approach to mapping [classical Chinese rhetoric] remains trapped in its own conceptual, theoretical, and interpretive myopia”. Through textual analysis, Liu discovers that “1. instead of a mere byproduct of philosophical inquiries, classical Chinese rhetoric was a discipline/practice in its own right and what the originators of traditional Chinese discourse were busy doing can better be described as rhetorical criticism; and 2. despite their differing politicoideological commitments and the fierce contention among heterogeneous “Ways” that resulted, the various ‘schools’ or discourse communities actually shared much in their rhetorical theinking and their modes of rhetorical practice.” These contending discursive communities were able to engage one another in a critical, inventive, and productive manner due to “a reservoir of shared rhetorical resources, ranging from noncontroversial assumptions about the telos and the methodology of discursive practices, agreed-upon values and criteria, to commonly employed concepts, genres, criteria, techniques, strategies” (161).

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 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.