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Rhetoric, Knowledge and the Public Sphere

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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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Hilde van Belle - Polemics and paradoxes in the media: The case of the Dutch TV-show Pauw

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Hilde van Belle

KU Leuven

Polemics and paradoxes in the media: The case of the Dutch TV-show Pauw

1. Introduction

In Apologie de la polémique, Ruth Amossy (Amossy, Ruth: Apologie de la polémique. Puf: Paris 2014) studies the place of polemical discourse in public space. This “argumentative modality” guarantees the possibility of non-violent coexistence of groups in political situations, in other words, situations of dissensus. In our pluralistic democratic society, where agreement often is not possible, polemics have a distinct social function, she claims, as they verbally manage conflicts that take place in the modus of dissent. They insure a way of coexistence in a complex society, and enable participants to share the same space and to communicate without reverting to physical violence. (Amossy 2014, pp. 12–13)

As a genre, polemics exist within a rich tradition throughout Western history: from Martin Luther to Karl Marx, from Robespierre to Noam Chomsky, from Desiderius Erasmus to Michael Moore. A polemic is a widely accepted and appreciated genre, and it certainly deserves a place in the study of rhetoric and argumentation. Scholars such as Arthur Schopenhauer or Marc Angenot (Angenot, Marc: La parole pamphlétaire. Typologie des discours modernes. Paris: Payot 1982) undertook elaborate efforts to classify every possible trick and move in polemical discourse. While in a democratic environment polemics exist in every domain of public life, their socio-political function is not all that widely acknowledged....

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