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Social rhetorics have historically and recently been criticized on ethical grounds. According to Kurt Spellmeyer, Cultural "Constructions of Knowledge" are oppressive and often lead to a betrayal of the individual, while Donald Stewart, is of the opinion that the "excesses" of social construction can lead to a police state, the group mentality. Expressionist critiques carry even more force currently as discussion in rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, and literary theory turns to a renewed interest in agency. Stewart, like Kurt Spellmeyer, links expressionist rhetoric to personal empowerment and freedom, but he is also concerned that social movements are not as benign as their proponents believe. For instance, he notes that the word "collaboration" has troubling links to Nazi Germany, where a collaborator was a person who assisted the Nazis, even to the point of betraying his or her countryman. Stewart is concerned that in the rush to add collaborative theory to the writing classroom, teachers have failed to account for its troubling drawbacks. Expressionists, by their emphasis on writing as an act of self-empowerment and self-knowledge, are trying to free writers from what they see as the overly mechanical restrictions of current traditional rhetoric and the epistemological and moral restrictions of social rhetorics. Expressionist rhetorics' insistence on the self as the source of truth, invites, as Carolyn Miller points out, "anomie and disaffection." Ways to create a practical rhetoric that accounts for the agency of the writer and the agency of the interlocutor in a manner that is ethically, politically, and socially responsible need to continue to be theorized. (Contains 10 references.) (CR)

Descriptors: Cooperation, Ethics, Expressionism, Group Dynamics, Higher Education, Individualism, Language Role, Nazism, Rhetoric, Rhetorical Criticism, Writing Instruction, Writing Processes

Autor: Henning, Teresa


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