Download Active Voices: Composing a Rhetoric for Social Movements by Sharon McKenzie Stevens PDF

By Sharon McKenzie Stevens

Explores the connection among social routine and rhetorical concept and perform.

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Extra info for Active Voices: Composing a Rhetoric for Social Movements

Sample text

Being separated from one’s own impulses for individual expression is living a lie; but conscious awareness may be no more radical than melancholy over the dreariness of life. Still, a rhetoric of contempt may bubble “under the surface” until its weight or some signal event triggers a new, more radical consciousness and it “breaks the surface” in an overt performance of resistance, much as Bakhtin 32 Gerard A. Hauser and erin daina mc clellan (1981:342) describes the internally persuasive discourse of the son finally rebelling against the discourse of the father.

S. 5 The polyvocality of vernacular discourse allows it to appear under the surface—not always in full view of the “official” discourse. Discourses of the everyday often appear in juxtaposition to their “official” counterparts, but not necessarily in ways that are recognized as contrary or resistant by those in power. Parody, mimicry, caricature, language games, irony, graffiti, bodily display, and the like participate in dialectical struggles given a public face through dramaturgical performances of resistance.

When the spectacle of dissident performance met with official acts of retaliation to curtail freedoms of assembly and speech, it became a dramaturgical unmasking of power’s underlying dissociation from society’s background understanding of power’s relationship with “the people” (McGee 1975). However, the force of spectacle depends on its ability to interpellate the text of state power. Moreover, such interpellations seldom have singular power to sustain a movement. Their success requires ongoing acts of opposition to advance the movement incrementally.

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