Teaching Rhetorical Studies
To be a teacher of rhetorical studies at the turn of the millennium is to be engaged in an exciting yet frustrating pedagogical pursuit. The excitement for many flows from the significance of what has been called the “rhetorical turn” in the human sciences. In all of the social sciences are teacher-scholars who argue that human beings construct their knowledge and their relationships with each other symbolically, and to study those sciences-psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology-as well as society in general, one must be well versed in how people use language and other symbol systems in making for themselves pasts and futures, self identities and social units, literatures and philosophies, secular structures and religious hierarchies. Such construction projects are understood as rhetorical endeavors (Nelson, Megill, & McCloskey, 1987). The frustration comes from the realization that these symbolic activities are patently political activities, as often governed by considerations of power as by thoughts of sociality.