Workshop 9: Rhetorical Style
Jeanne Fahnestock and Martin Camper
As teachers and scholars, rhetoricians inevitably interpret and manipulate language. The tools enabling language awareness, from classical rhetoric through contemporary linguistics, can provide overwhelming descriptive data about a text. What does the scholar do with such data and how much language awareness should students be taught to give them greater power over language as readers and composers? This workshop will highlight methods of language analysis, question their relationship to rhetorical/argument analysis, and investigate pedagogies of style. Participants will be asked to share texts they are currently teaching or that they are examining in the course of their research. These will provide material for analysis in small groups during the sessions.
The workshop will be organized around the overview of stylistic analysis provided in Jeanne Fahnestock’s Rhetorical Style (Oxford, 2011) along with supplemental readings that go deeper into language features. The first three sessions will begin with an overview of the parts of Rhetorical Style assigned to that session, followed by small working groups examining texts contributed by the participants, and concluding with the possibilities and problems encountered when using particular language tools. Topics covered will include language history and varieties, registers, predication patterns, iconic form, figures of speech, tropes, situation and audience construction in texts, coherence, and amplification. The final session will pull things together, examining the prospects for language teaching and asking how studies of style can be designed to avoid the circularity that can plague any interpretive methods.