Breaking Up (at) Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter / Edition 1

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Rhetoric and composition theory has shown a renewed interest in sophistic countertraditions, as seen in the work of such "postphilosophers" as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Hélène Cixous, and of such rhetoricians as Susan Jarratt and Steven Mailloux. As D. Diane Davis traces today’s theoretical interest to those countertraditions, she also sets her sights beyond them.


Davis takes a “third sophistics” approach, one that focuses on the play of language that perpetually disrupts the “either/or” binary construction of dialectic. She concentrates on the nonsequential  third—excess—that overflows language’s dichotomies. In this work, laughter operates as a trope for disruption or breaking up, which is, from Davis’s perspective, a joyfully destructive shattering of our confining conceptual frameworks.


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“D. Diane Davis has written a performative book at the end of the old and the beginning of the new millennium. It's a transitional, yet disruptive book about thinking-writing, theorizing(seeing)-writing, and learning(teaching)- writing. It's a book that hacks into and recodes the cultures of writing by perpetually deterritorializing writing theories and pedagogies. If you read no other book in the next millennium, you must read this book! For if you do not, you will remain in whatever previous century you last thought in and by way of.”—Victor J. Vitanza, editor of Writing Histories of Rhetoric
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809322299
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 1/19/2000
  • Series: Rhetorical Philosophy & Theory Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

D. Diane Davis is an assistant professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa.

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Table of Contents

Rhetorical Philosophy and Theory Series
Preambulatory Emissions: A Prefatory Post-Scipt on Where We Will Have Gone 1
1 Physiological Laughter: The Subject Convulsed 21
Potential Responses to the Paradox 24
Gorgian Kairos 26
Kairotic Laughter 29
Idealism - Refusals to Respond 30
Modernism - A Too Hopeful Response 40
Cynicism - A Nihilistic Response 47
Kynicism - An/Other Positive (cum Negative) Response 52
Affirmation - A Comedic Response 56
An Affirmative Alliance 66
2 Discursive Laughter: Composition Convulsed 69
Bespeaking the Speaker: Agency and Authorship Re/Visited 73
The Hail Breaks Down/Up; Or, Adding a Para to the Dissoi Logoi 81
Breaking Up [with] Language; Or, Toward an Ethics of Decision for the "Polyethoi" 104
Deciding for/with Laughter - A Posthumanist Ethics 112
Excursus. Being-Hard/Wired: Cyburbian Convulsions 116
Being-on-Language, Again 118
Being-on-Technology 118
Being-in-Cyburbia 122
Cyburbian Power Struggles 125
Deadly Simulations - Cyborg Writing 133
3 A Rhetoric of Laughter for Feminist Politics 136
Sect. 1 The Back-Spin 136
Prefatory Remarks on Feminist Politics and Negative Deconstructions 140
(Self) Re/Presentation, Take One - The Fight for Subjectivity 141
Take Two - Forget Re/Presentation and the "Fight" 149
Feminism(s) and/in Postmodernism(s) 156
Sect. 2 A Thinking of Futurity 162
The Question Concerning Subversion 164
Thinking the Unthinkable - "Let's Get Out of Here!" 165
Overflowing God - A Liquidation of Solidifications 166
Of Drag Queens and Hermaphrodites - The Joys of Gender-Sliding 168
Of Hymens and Hesitations - Evoking "Woman" Other/Wise 171
Of "Woman" and Politics - Community of An/Other Kind 179
Community in Spasms - A Rhetoric of Laughter for Feminist Politics 198
4 A Rhetoric of Laughter for Composition Pedagogy 209
Feminist Composition Pedagogies - In (Their) Brief(s) 213
The Pharce of the Phallic Pheminine - A Critique, in Brief(s) 217
Supposing We Don't Know - Turning Teaching "Arse Upwards" 223
"The Sujet Suppositaire" - Pedagogical Insertions and Intrusions 226
In the Name of Writing: (De)Compos(t)ing the Prosthetic Composition Course 228
Writing Re-Vived: Beyond the "White Terror of Truth" 235
Forget Empowerment - Becoming-Imperceptible 250
A(nother) Post-Script on Laughter and Futurity 254
Notes 261
Works Cited 291
Index 307
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