Rhetoric is . . .
"not merely a study of constructing argument or of studying the work of Aristotle and Plato. It is the study of how language is used, in basic, everyday ways, to construct not only our reality (politically, socially, psychologically, etc.) but also our response to that reality.
Language creates subjectivity and agency, reveals power struggles within relationships and institutions, and helps perform intervention. Language creates ideology, builds relationships of trust or suspicion, and forms cultures and values.
Language is also a means through which new possibilities for the self and the social condition are improved . . . rhetoric, too, understands that gaps, or spaces within language/discourse, are also sites of study.
These spaces allow silence to be opened and analyzed, and by doing so allow new voices and ideas to arise and to problematize older ones. These spaces are also sites where cultural and social conflict can be studied."
--Nikki Agee (MA Student), End-of-Semester Reflection (2006)
"Rhetoric is often about who's in and who's out, what's included and what's excluded, who is placed inside and who outside a cultural community, a political movement, a professional organization. These ins and outs concern both the commonplaces of rhetoric and rhe rhetoric of common spaces. Such rhetorical locations are not simply spatial; they are also temporal. Rhetoric is about time and especially about timing: the kairos of the present, the traditions of the past, the utopias [possibilities] of the future" (124).
--Stephen Mailloux, Disciplinary Identities: Rhetorical Paths of
English, Speech, and Composition (2006)