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Literature, Rhetoric and Politics Seminar (LRP)
This SELCS interdisciplinary seminar is open to students and colleagues in SELCS, SSEES and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Its focus is literature and politics, with particular emphasis on the role of rhetoric in shaping social identities and political processes, and on the contested status of rhetoric itself as a discipline and practice from classical antiquity right through to the present day. It will meet six or seven times per year with a view to an eventual joint, thematically coherent publication. Organisers are Tim Beasley-Murray (SSEES), Stephen M. Hart (Spanish & Latin American), Kevin Inston (French) and Ernest Schonfield (German).
The first two meetings will be:
- Tuesday 5 March 2013, 6pm-8pm
Tim Beasley-Murray, ‘Thoughts on Rhetoric in Hobbes, Arendt and Bakhtin’
Kevin Inston, ‘Politics, Rhetoric and Language in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’
- Tuesday 7 May, 2013, 6pm-8pm
Stephen M. Hart, ‘The Rhetoric of Politics in Latin American Literature’
Ernest Schonfield, ‘Rhetoric in Goethe, Nietzsche and Thomas Mann’
Both of these meetings will take place in the FIGS Graduate Common Room, Room G3 in the German Department, 16-18 Gordon Square (ground floor, go past the student pigeonholes).
CALL FOR PAPERS
Rhetoric, ‘the art of using language to persuade or influence others’ (OED), is understood as an essential aspect of politics from Greek and Roman antiquity (Demosthenes, Cicero and Quintilian) to the present day. The status of rhetoric has been contested ever since its inception (Plato, Thucydides), and particularly by the founders of modern political theory, Hobbes, Rousseau and Schmitt. According to Nietzsche, rhetoric is inescapable because it is an intrinsic property of all language. Post-structuralist thinkers explore ways in which identities and politics are constituted through language, but sometimes shy away from acknowledging their affinities with classical rhetoric. Literary analysis can contribute to this debate because it appraises the social and political functions of discourse. Literary study provides a constructive (or deconstructive) forum in which the status of rhetoric can be debated.
We are seeking proposals for 30 minute research papers / presentations of work in progress for the 2013-2014 academic year. Proposals from colleagues and postgraduate students will be considered relating to any period, focusing on the discipline and practice of rhetoric.
Proposals could consider:
- links between classical rhetoric, political thought and modern literary theory
- the contestation and repudiation of rhetoric as a discipline
- notions of rhetoric as a form of language that has a special, if problematic, relation to the passions
- analysis of political oratory as textual and physical performance
- rhetorical uses of language, especially literary language, in order to negotiate (class, gender and ethnic) identities as well as political and ideological processes
- questions of how literary and theoretical texts are rhetorically positioned with respect to wider social fields and institutions, including for example state and non-state institutions, legal, medical, educational and religious authorities, companies and corporations.
Proposals (250 words) from any period and (almost) any language area, focusing on the discipline and practice of rhetoric, for papers for the next academic year (2013-2014) should be emailed by 31 May 2013 to the organisers of this seminar:
Tim Beasley-Murray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stephen M. Hart (email@example.com)
Kevin Inston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ernest Schonfield (email@example.com)