FisherCooper

Both of these readings brought forth some new ideas that I found rather fascinating, either that I hadn’t considered, or had only considered/learned about in passing but never with concentrated focus like that of these articles, or, even better, didn’t yet have names for.

From Fisher, I enjoyed the Homo narrans idea. Fisher gave a name to an idea I didn’t have a name for, and somewhat didn’t realize was enough of an idea to have a special name. The importance of accounting, as he calls it (in my head, I thought of it like relating — between humans, between humans and our environment, etc. etc.), or taking into account human choice in the history of argument, and not letting argument become separated from its innate human-ness.

It seems to be this, along with the idea of acknowledging humanity’s need for “stories meant to give order to human experience” that are made up of a bunch of other pieces (“materials”) from the history of stories before that (381). Or, at least, that’s how I understood it, and was further reminded by Fisher’s study of rhetoric as a semi-study of history as well, of the theory of new historicism (wiki article and a good Greenblatt article, natch), where literature is done much the same. Maybe I’m getting too far off track here, but they seem to, if not go hand-in-hand, at least high-five one another on their way past one another.

From Cooper, I was fascinated by the section “Death to the Subject,” though I’m not quite sure if I understood it correctly (though I know for sure I loved his play on Barthes). It seems that Fisher is getting at the subject as an idea instead of as a specific person? And that the subject itself is simply one agent of many, another being the agent who is the speaker/writer. Though, I’m curious as to how much this can be used to push the study of rhetoric towards not the art of persuasion, but to the study of finding the cracks and corners in language, the hidden definitions and silences.

Image result for death to the subject
This is what I got when I googled “Death to the Subject” and it’s ill-fitting, but I love it (https://pixabay.com/en/mortality-skull-and-crossbones-401222/)

I’m particularly into the quote on 425 that says “Unlike subjects, agents are defined neither by mastery, nor by determination, nor by fragmentation. They are unique, embodied, and autonomous individuals in that they are self-organizing, but by virtue of that fact, they, as well as the surround with which they interact, are always changing.” The part about self-organization leads me to think of audiences not which rhetors rhet upon, but instead choose to partake in the process. The transfer of power between rhetors and their audiences, from one of Authority to know-how (which, I guess I’m using as a stand-in to mean that lack of mastery agents are said to have).

I leave these essays thinking that maybe I need to do a lot more thinking myself about what they’re saying, particularly Cooper. I feel like I missed a lot, much like I did after reading Fish (though I didn’t miss the point so egregiously this go around, yikes), but the ground beneath my feet feels a little more even, even if I’m still getting a lot of (and I mean a lot)

2 comments

  1. austinllewellyn95 · September 12, 2018

    Kylie, I totally agree with you about the section in Coopers piece regarding death to the subject. I too felt a little overwhelmed (don’t worry!) and lost at times. I also latched onto Coopers discussion of agency as a way to anchor myself to the essay because of my lack of understanding the subject part. I am happy you used the quote from 425 regarding agency because this was a sentence that helped me understand the fluidity Cooper applies to the role of an agent. It is an interesting concept to consider that agents (humans) are always changing based on their situations. This plays perfectly into your discussion about the power shift between the audiences and the rhetor. Does a true master of rhetoric relinquish all power in most settings to the audience in order to be fully persuasive? This is a topic I would love to discuss with you in class and is something I hope we talk about on Thursday.

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  2. jessicahackett · September 12, 2018

    Kylie,
    It’s super interesting reading your thoughts on Fisher’s essay. The “homo narras” idea that Fisher brought up went over my head but reading your thoughts on how you interpreted that part is really helpful. Specifically, I didn’t know what he meant by the “importance of accounting” but thinking about it as relating between humans and the environment in relation to history makes more sense to me. In Cooper’s essay, the “Death to the Subject” section was also the most challenging part of his paper to understand for me too. I’m not sure if I’m right, but what I thought he was getting at throughout that section was how agency does not depend on an individual or a single subject, rather a “network of agents” as Julia said in her post. I think we think of agency as something more simple than it actually is because in reality there are many different forces at play even when it looks like a single agent is working. I hope that makes sense.

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