Special Issue "Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric"
A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018).
Interests: English Renaissance literature (Shakespeare, Donne, Milton); the history of rhetoric; rhetorical and critical theory
Interests: modern and classical rhetoric; disability studies; rhetoric and composition; creative writing
Once upon a time, Western Enlightenment dreamed of a logos-based discourse whose speaker was “universal,” presumably neutral in gender, ethnicity, and social status. In dreaming this naïve dream, Enlightenment philosophy embraced a classical-Aristotelian model of persuasion, in which logos—logical argument or, more broadly, “good reasons”—ruled over pathos and ethos. Our movement into late-modernism brings us to an age of “expert systems,” disciplinary specialization, and information overload, in which logos has been largely displaced in public discourse. Reliant upon others’ expertise, audiences are left perilously to take speakers’ claims “on trust.”
The essays in this special issue aim to waken contemporary discussions of ethos (and of rhetoric generally) from their Western, classical-Aristotelian slumbers. Western rhetoric was never univocal in its theory or practice of ethos: essays in this collection give the proof. Contributors aim to shake rhetoric out of its Eurocentrism: the traditions of South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia sustain their own models of ethos and lead us to reconsider rhetoric in its rich variety—what ethos was, is, and will become. This collection is groundbreaking in its attempt to outline the diversity of argument, trust, and authority beyond a singular, dominant perspective.
This collection offers readers a choice of itineraries: thematic, geographic, historical. Essays may be read individually or cumulatively, as exercises in comparative rhetoric. In taking a world perspective, Histories of Ethos will prove a seminal discussion. Its comparative approach will help readers appreciate the commonalities and the distinctions in competing cultural-discursive practices—in what brings us together and what drives us apart as communities. And it is the editors’ hope that, out of this historical, multicultural dialogue, some new perspectives on ethos may come forward to broaden our discussion and our breadth of understanding. No fee will be charged to contributors in this special issue.
Dr. James S. Baumlin
Dr. Craig A. Meyer
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- comparative rhetoric