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)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. James S. Baumlin

Department of English, Missouri State University, Springfield MO 65897, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: English Renaissance literature (Shakespeare, Donne, Milton); the history of rhetoric; rhetorical and critical theory
Guest Editor
Dr. Craig A. Meyer

Language and Literature, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: modern and classical rhetoric; disability studies; rhetoric and composition; creative writing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

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
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Rhetoric
  • comparative rhetoric
  • ethos
  • logos
  • pathos
  • character
  • persona
  • selfhood
  • Aristotle
  • Cicero
  • classicism
  • modernism
  • trust
  • authority
  • communication

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Positioning Ethos in/for the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to Histories of Ethos
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030078
Received: 3 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
The aim of this essay is to introduce, contextualize, and provide rationale for texts published in the Humanities special issue, Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric. It surveys theories of ethos and selfhood that have evolved since the mid-twentieth century, in
[...] Read more.
The aim of this essay is to introduce, contextualize, and provide rationale for texts published in the Humanities special issue, Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric. It surveys theories of ethos and selfhood that have evolved since the mid-twentieth century, in order to identify trends in discourse of the new millennium. It outlines the dominant theories—existentialist, neo-Aristotelian, social-constructionist, and poststructuralist—while summarizing major theorists of language and culture (Archer, Bourdieu, Foucault, Geertz, Giddens, Gusdorf, Heidegger). It argues for a perspectivist/dialectical approach, given that no one theory comprehends the rich diversity of living discourse. While outlining the “current state of theory,” this essay also seeks to predict, and promote, discursive practices that will carry ethos into a hopeful future. (We seek, not simply to study ethos, but to do ethos.) With respect to twenty-first century praxis, this introduction aims at the following: to acknowledge the expressive core of discourse spoken or written, in ways that reaffirm and restore an epideictic function to ethos/rhetoric; to demonstrate the positionality of discourse, whereby speakers and writers “out themselves” ethotically (that is, responsively and responsibly); to explore ethos as a mode of cultural and embodied personal narrative; to encourage an ethotic “scholarship of the personal,” expressive of one’s identification/participation with/in the subject of research; to argue on behalf of an iatrological ethos/rhetoric based in empathy, care, healing (of the past) and liberation/empowerment (toward the future); to foster interdisciplinarity in the study/exploration/performance of ethos, establishing a conversation among scholars across the humanities; and to promote new versions and hybridizations of ethos/rhetoric. Each of the essays gathered in the abovementioned special issue achieves one or more of these aims. Most are “cultural histories” told within the culture being surveyed: while they invite criticism as scholarship, they ask readers to serve as witnesses to their stories. Most of the authors are themselves “positioned” in ways that turn their texts into “outings” or performances of gender, ethnicity, “race,” or ability. And most affirm the expressive, epideictic function of ethos/rhetoric: that is, they aim to display, affirm, and celebrate those “markers of identity/difference” that distinguish, even as they humanize, each individual and cultural storytelling. These assertions and assumptions lead us to declare that Histories of Ethos, as a collection, presents a whole greater than its essay-parts. We conceive it, finally, as a conversation among theories, histories, analyses, praxes, and performances. Some of this, we know, goes against the grain of modern (Western) scholarship, which privileges analysis over narrative and judges texts against its own logocentric commitments. By means of this introduction and collection, we invite our colleagues in, across, and beyond the academy “to see differently.” Should we fall short, we will at least have affirmed that some of us “see the world and self”—and talk about the world and self—through different lenses and within different cultural vocabularies and positions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Haunt or Home? Ethos and African American Literature
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030080
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 25 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 10 August 2018
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Abstract
The African American rhetorical tradition could be described as a shelter in an alien environment or as a way station on a long journey. A focus on ethos suggests that such a narrow approach to African American literature cannot do justice to these
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The African American rhetorical tradition could be described as a shelter in an alien environment or as a way station on a long journey. A focus on ethos suggests that such a narrow approach to African American literature cannot do justice to these literary texts: how these writers employ images and symbols, craft and deploy examine identities, blend, criticize, and create traditions, explore contemporary issues, and create community. Because of cultural and racist narratives, African Americans could not simply use either the pre-Socratic or Aristotelian approaches to ethos in their fight for social justice. This essay demonstrates how a postclassical approach to ethos that draws on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and is focused on community-building and self-healing is central to the African American literature and rhetoric. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Histories of Ethos: World Perspectives on Rhetoric)
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