Logan, _We Are Coming_

Logan, Shirley Wilson. We Are Coming: The Persuasive Discourse of Nineteenth-Century Black Women. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999. (255 pages)

In the preface to Logan’s piece, she describes her goal to identify common rhetorical practices employed by black women orators in the 19th century: as she notes, these practices demonstrate a melding of conventions and traditions rooted in African diaspora, abolitionism, women’s rights movement, and religious traditions. For these orators, Logan writes: “identity and situation converge into one seamless exigence” (xiv). Because the politics of identity—and politics of their bodies—threads across and within these orator’s speech acts, Logan specifically seeks to observe the ways these women—often cast aside—create communal, consubstantial bonds with their audiences. In this light, Logan uses a definition of persuasive discourse that emphasizes the use of an orator’s verbal communication to develop an “adherence of minds”: creating a communal bond that also draws out the unique struggles of women of color. To do so, they often reflected the idea of the messenger is the message (22).

Logan uses many rhetoricians, but often discusses the work of Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca. She organizes her analysis using their classification of allusions:

  1. Rhetorical figures of choice: “selective interpretations of meaning that point to one particular characteristic of a term to the exclusion of others”
  2. Rhetorical figures of presence: “brings the subject more clearly into mental focus for the auditors”
  3. Rhetorical figures of communion: of central importance for Logan, “brings increased audience identity through references to common past, tradition, or culture” (23-4).

Toward this last point, Logan emphasizes the orator’s goal of developing communalism: “doctrine that the group constitutes the main focus of the lives of the individual members of that group, and that the extent of the individuals involvement in the interests, aspirations, and welfare of the group is measure of that individual’s worth” (24). In emphasizing communalism, Logan notes that these orators also attempted to realize the goal of community action or political solidarity: the group acts together toward social justice. However, simultaneously, with community action, these orators also emphasize self-help alongside communal action: “God would help them only if they helped themselves” (35).

However, as noted, creating a communal bond with white (and even non-white) men posed a challenge. Many of the orators employed the rhetorical move of insinuation: “the speaker claims her inadequacy or lack of qualifications for the task and asks for audience’s indulgence…allows the speaker to acquire the auditor’s initial goodwill and support” (36). However, religion—specifically Christianity—was the bridge that allowed these orators to build community among their audiences.

Chapter 3 on Frances Harper
 
P46: harper’s delivered speeches that argue for common interests between diverging communities as they attempt to reduce tension and promote collective action.
P47: Logan again draws from POTs to discuss harper’s use of association and dissociation with audience. Logan describes this as “shifts from ‘apart of’ to ‘apart from'” that allow Harper to first build community and then to point out weaknesses in its construction.
Chp 4 on Ida b wells & presence of lynching 
 
P 71: Logan addresses wells’s use of descriptive detail as key to her persuasive effectiveness.
P72: drawing on POT, Logan explains that rhetors must select and narrate detail w care: in selecting, rhetor both interprets and constructs the available means of persuasion. presence is created through these details, and rhetor must decide how to distribute details to make impression on audience.
P74: five features of presence (Louise karon): heightening consciousness, changing perceptions, stimulating the imagination, and initiating action through tactics if delivery, arrangement, and style.
Wells tried to be objective and report facts, interweaving quotations from newspapers with metadiscourse that revealed that the newspaper writers were themselves biased and supportive of the acts of lynching. Wells also tried to speak “rationally” and many wrote of her as having masculine qualities.
Chp 5 on Fannie williams and Anna cooper using identification and arrangement 
 
Williams uses identification to speak to white women audiences about the similarities between them and black women. Copper uses strategic arrangement to critique black male listeners in the middle of her speech, to respond to anticipated rebuttals, and to end with strong statement about black women.
Chp 6 on Victoria Matthews
 
Logan uses Carolyn miller to critique Bitzer’s conception of rhetorical situation, and structures her chapter under the headings of dif parts of Rhetorical Situation
P140 (audience): the rhetors role is often to enable audiences to recognize their ability to respond or to invoke in them the desire to respond rather than to address them as fixed, fully empowered, and fully able and willing to respond. 
 
Audience becomes invoked as much as addressed, invited to participate reciprocally in the rhetorical act –>sounds similar to foss and griffin’s take on invitational rhetoric
P142: notes that Aristotle believed a favorable view of the speaker’s character was the most persuasive appeal. Also points out that residual ethos from preceding speech acts could be influential to present audience
P150: Matthews as prototype for emerging black woman public intellectual, defined via chain as one who, addressing various publics, draws on considerable resources to help resolve complex public problems.
Discusses publics and counterpublics, noting that as black counterpublics of late nineteenth c became predominantly male and patriarchal, in imitation of bourgeois norms, black women public intellectuals found themselves in the position of having to create discursive spaces wi a range of exclusionary oppositional counterpublics.
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