Rhetoric in Society #3, January 2011, Lessius University College
Welcome to the Rhetoric in Society III Conference
Since Aristotle, the study of rhetoric has focused on the persuasive aspect of discourse in the political, forensic, and ceremonial domains. Rhetoric deals with doxa, the shared opinions and reasons people consider plausible and acceptable in a specific situation. It involves decisions taken by participants in public discourse on the basis of common deliberation and free choice in domains in which there can be no absolute truth, e.g. as in social and political life. Nowadays, we have come to realize the importance of rhetoric in all forms of discourse. There is no communication without some form of rhetoric.
Rhetoricians examine how people use arguments and language in order to convince or persuade an audience. But there is a lot more to rhetoric than that. It comprises more than sets of advice; in fact it is an art. It is the art of discovering what is persuasive in a given situation. This inventiveness points to how rhetoric has a heuristic function as well. It appeals to our creativity in our search for relevant questions and answers to specific matters. And as our arguments develop in interaction with other discourses (Voloshinov / Bakhtin), the hermeneutic aspect of rhetoric should not be overlooked. There is no rhetoric without analysis and theoretical reflection. The art of speaking and writing “well” can be considered a cornerstone of our cultures and our educational systems.
The conference Rhetoric in Society aims to present and discuss different approaches to rhetoric. It will address this basic question: in what ways can the study of rhetoric function and provide an insight into our postmodern world? Consequently, what can it claim about discourse in the public domain, how is it related to empirical sciences, what can it say about the ever increasing amount of information and opinion that pervades our lives? Conversely, it can also be asked in what way actual language and communication theories and disciplines draw on ancient rhetoric. Contributions to the conference cover a broad spectrum of academic fields and thus favor interdisciplinary research not only within the fields of rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, rhetorical citizenship, argumentation studies, pragmatics, critical discourse studies, text linguistics, art and literature, but also the fields of communication studies, journalism studies, political, social and educational studies, history and philosophy.
The core themes of the conference are:
- Rhetoric in journalism and new media
- Rhetoric in political discourse
- Rhetoric in organizational discourse
- Rhetoric in legal discourse
- Rhetoric in education
- Rhetoric in visual communication
- Theoretical, historical and (inter)cultural perspectives on rhetoric