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Rhetoric, Knowledge and the Public Sphere


Edited By Agnieszka Kampka and Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska

Public deliberation depends on how skillful communicators are in establishing their version of what is known to be publicly acceptable. This volume provides rhetorical analyses of institutional websites, political speeches, scientific presentations, journalistic accounts or visual entertainment. It shows the significance of rhetorical construction of knowledge in the public sphere. It addresses the issues of citizenship and social participation, media agendas, surveillance and verbal or visual manipulation. It offers rhetorical critiques of current trends in specialist communication and of devices used when contested interests or ideologies are presented.
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Christine Isager - A poor show of knowing: the horror and comedy of unsuccessful writers on film


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Christine Isager

University of Copenhagen

A poor show of knowing: the horror and comedy of unsuccessful writers on film

1. Introduction

Popular film and television series at once reflect and inform the popular understanding of rhetorical practices. Cinematic portrayals of reporters, attorneys, coaches, or politicians who speak to motivate and move their audiences on film become tied up with our general understanding of rhetoric and its functions in society. In recent years, still more filmmakers have been exploring the cinematic potential of the intriguing, if really rather inconspicuous, rhetorical practice of writing. (cf. Buchanan, Judith (ed.): The Writer on Film: Screening Literary Authorship. Palgrave MacMillan: Houndmills 2013) The aspirations, compromises and successes of both historical and fictional characters who write with authority and resonance – or wish they did – have proved to have great popular appeal. Examples abound, and the gallery of characters span from prominent literary figures like Virginia Woolf (in The Hours from 2002) and Jane Austen (in Becoming Jane, 2007) over journalist and author Susan Orlean and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (both portrayed in Adaptation from 2006) to completely fictional characters such as the professional letter writer Theodore (in Her from 2013) or troubled freelance careerists Hank Moody and Hannah Horvath (in television series Californication, 2007–2014 and Girls, 2012–), respectively.1 Writing in these films is not typically considered as a way of imparting knowledge as such, which is an interesting point in itself. Writing is portrayed, instead,...

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