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The Conceit of Context

Resituating Domains in Rhetorical Studies

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Edited By Charles E. Morris III and Kendall R. Phillips

This edited volume features essays derived from presentations delivered at the 15th Biennial Public Address Conference held at Syracuse University in October 2016, as well as additional material. The Conceit of Context explores the often invoked—indeed a central term in the history of rhetorical studies—but less often engaged concept of context. In this volume, we center the notion of context as the site of engagement, critique, and imagination, seeking to deepen the critical and political promise of context in the study of public discourse.

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21 Rethinking Commemorative Context: Local and Global Intersections (Mary E. Stuckey)

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Mary E. Stuckey

Kristen Poirot’s act of rhetorical recovery is an important one, contributing to the on-going project of expanding our knowledge of the movement and its politics. Her essay indicates the ways in which memory traditions and practices are profoundly connected to one another across geographical space, and it underlines the ways in which of what and whom to remember is entangled with how we remember, and that these ideological choices are reflected in landscapes that reach beyond a particular memory site. Poirot treats the environment in question not as the immediate vicinity, or even the larger city, but also as “the South” more generally. She gives us analyses of specific sites treating “the South” as a constructed context, rooted in slavery and its ideological defense, the Civil War, and the Lost Cause narrative. Poirot looks carefully at the tensions and contradictions that constitute “southernness,” noting in particular the ways that the South as context evokes notions of hospitality as well as brutality; community and separation; and white supremacy alongside black agency, resistance, and achievement. She pays particular attention to the ways that these all have gendered valences.

I want to use Poirot’s essay as a jumping off point to argue that when rhetoricians think about “context,” we are referring to something that can be narrowly understood as local or national, but is also always international and temporal. History can be understood in ways that reach from the vernacular to the global. By...

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