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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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Ove Bergersen - Kindergartens and the civic art of rhetoric: Citizens, character and knowledge


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Ove Bergersen

University of Stavanger

Kindergartens and the civic art of rhetoric: Citizens, character and knowledge

1. Introduction

The concept of rhetorical citizenship is a relatively new theoretical concept. In one of the few publications devoted to this concept, Christian Kock and Lisa S. Villadsen (Kock, Christian/ Villadsen, Lisa S.: Rhetorical Citizenship and Public Deliberation. Pennsylvania State University Press: University Park, PA 2012) point out that rhetorical citizenship emphasizes citizenship more as debate and deliberative practice than, for example, as a right. It is a view on citizenship in the republican tradition which “looks back to the Greek city-state.” (Kock/ Villadsen 2012, p. 1) They go on to say: “We offer the concept of rhetorical citizenship as a way of conceptualizing the discursive, processual, participatory aspects of civic life.” (Kock/ Villadsen 2012, p. 5) They highlight the fact that discourse in many ways is constitutive of civic engagement and not just something that precedes action.

In this chapter, I will introduce an Aristotelian perspective on rhetoric and citizens, and suggest how the concept of rhetorical citizenship can be understood in this light. I will use the theoretical discussion as a basis to analyze a kindergarten’s prospectus. In this way, I will test how the concept of rhetorical citizenship relates to documents that regulate education and care for society’s youngest citizens, and investigate how the concept of rhetorical citizenship can be fruitful for the rhetorical analysis of documents...

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