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What accounts for the popularity of the macho image, the fanaticism of sports enthusiasts, and the perennial appeal of Don Quixote's ineffectual struggles? In Fighting for Life, Walter J. Ong addresses these and related questions, offering insight into the role of competition in human existence. Focusing on the ways in which human life is affected by contest, Ong argues that the male agonistic drive finds an outlet in games as divergent as football and chess. Demonstrating the importance of contest in biological evolution and in the growth of consciousness out of the unconscious, Ong also shows how adversary procedure has affected social, linguistic, and intellectual history. He discusses shifting patterns of contest in such arenas as spectator sports, politics, business, academia, and religion. Human beings' internalization of agonistic drives, he concludes, can foster the deeper discovery of the self and of distinctively human freedom.
"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Connors provides a history of composition and its pedagogical approaches to form, genre, and correctness. He shows where many of the today’s practices and assumptions about writing come from, and he translates what our techniques and theories of teaching have said over time about our attitudes toward students, language and life. Connors locates the beginning of a new rhetorical tradition in the mid-nineteenth century, and from there, he discusses the theoretical and pedagogical innovations of the last two centuries as the result of historical forces, social needs, and cultural shifts. This important book proves that American composition-rhetoric is a genuine, rhetorical tradition with its own evolving theria and praxis. As such it is an essential reference for all teachers of English and students of American education.
This collection is about writing contests, a vibrant rhetorical practice traceable to rhetorical performances in ancient Greece. In their discussion of contests’ cultural work, the scholars who have contributed to this collection uncover important questions about our practices. For example, educational contests as epideictic rhetoric do indeed celebrate writing, but does this celebration merely relieve educators of the responsibility of finding ways for all writers to succeed? Contests designed to reward single winners and singly-authored works admirably celebrate hard work, but do they over-emphasize exceptional individual achievement over shared goals and communal reward for success? Taking a cultural-rhetorical approach to contests, each chapter demonstrates the cultural work the contests accomplish. The essays in Part I examine contests and riddles in classical Greek and Roman periods, educational contests in eighteenth-century Scotland, and the Lyceum movement in the Antebellum American South. The next set of essays discusses how contests leverage competition and reward in educational settings: medieval universities, American turn-of-the-century women’s colleges, twenty-first century scholarship-essay contests, and writing contests for speakers of other languages at the University of Portsmouth. The last set of essays examines popular contests, including poetry contests in Youth Spoken Word, popular American contests designed by marketers, and twenty-first century podcasting competitions. This collection, then, takes up contests as a cultural marker of our values, assumptions, and relationships to writing, contests, and competition.
Walter Ong pioneered the study of how orality and literacy mutually enrich each other in the evolution of human consciousness, arguing that verbal communication moves from orality to literacy and on to what he has termed the "secondary orality" of radio and television. The original essays in this volume explore the implications of Ong's work across the diverse fields of cultural history, literary theory, theology, philosophy, and anthropology. These scholars maintain that Ong's view of orality not only changes our readings of ancient and medieval texts, but that it also changes our understanding of the differing epistemologies of oral and literate cultures and of the coexistence of the oral and literate within a given culture.
This is not a book on rhetoric in any narrow sense, but rather concerns its general ambiance and also some of its quite specific manifestations. The thirteen chapters that comprise the book move chronologically from the Renaissance up to the present time. Chapter 2 shows the continuity of verbal expression during the English Renaissance with earlier speech and thought patterns before the invention of writing. In the third chapter, a detailed report is given on the entire production of English-language books on rhetoric and poetic and literary criticism or theory during the Tudor age, from the late 15th through the beginning of the 17th century. The fourth chapter indicates the central significance of the art of memory. The chapters from 5 through 12 treat the interrelationships between social institutions and modes of thought and expression (Latin Language Study as a Renaissance Puberty Rite; Ramist Classroom Procedure and the Nature of Reality; Ramist Method and the Commercial Mind; Swift on the Mind: Satire in a Closed Field; Psyche and the Geometers; Associationist Critical Theory; J. S. Mill's Pariah Poet; Romantic Difference and the Poetics of Technology; and The Literate Orality of Popular Culture Today). The final chapter centers on the history of the humanities to show that they have not been the same in all ages, and that they are always in a state of crisis.
Probes the interrelationship of violence and space in 10 contemporary American novels. James R. Giles examines 10 novels for the unique ways they explore violence and space as interrelated phenomena. These texts are Russell Banks’s Affliction, Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark and Child of God, Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Don DeLillo’s End Zone, Denis Johnson’s Angels, Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. These stories take place in settings as diverse as small towns, college campuses, suburbs, the brokerage houses and luxury apartments of Wall Street, football stadiums, Appalachian hills, and America’s no-man’s-land of Greyhound bus stations and highways. Violence, Giles finds, is mythological and ritual in many of these novels, whereas it is treated as systemic and naturalistic in others. Giles locates each of the novels he studies on a continuum from the mythological to the naturalistic and argues that they represent a fourthspace at the margins of physical, social, and psychological space, a territory at the cultural borders of the mainstream. These textual spaces are so saturated with violence that they suggest little or no potential for change and affirmation and are as degraded as the physical, social, and mental spaces out of which they emerge.A concluding chapter extends the focus of The Spaces of Violence to texts by Jane Smiley, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, and Chuck Palahniuk, who treat the destructive effects of violence on family structures.

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