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Epistemic Music of Rhetoric

Epistemic Music of Rhetoric

Toward the Temporal Dimension of Affect in Reader Response and Writing

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Steven B. Katz

$55.00

Hardcover (Other formats: NLEB)
978-0-8093-1903-9
368 pages, 5.5 x 8.5
01/25/1996

 

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About the Book

Arguing for an oral theory of Reader Response Criticism, Steven B. Katz conducts a philosophical investigation into the possibility and desirability of teaching reading and writing as rhetorical music.

In the course of this investigation, Katz deals with New Physics, the sophists, Cicero, orality, epistemology, voice, writing, temporality, and sound. He demonstrates that Reader Response Criticism—as part of a new sophistic that has entered the mainstream of pedagogy and practice in our culture—parallels the philosophy of science engendered by the Copenhagen school of New Physics, which theoretically holds that knowledge of subatomic phenomena is probable, relative, contingent, and uncertain, thus requiring more nonformalistic, nonrationalistic methods in understanding and reconstructing it; Katz shows how the same methods are required in the study of affect in reading and writing. Katz also demonstrates that, like New Physics, Reader Response Criticism, in its commitment to interpretation as the primary function and goal of writing about literature, must remain somewhat committed to the formalistic, rationalistic epistemology it seeks to redress.

Basing his oral theory of Reader Response Criticism on notions of language as physical, sensuous, and musical and understanding reception as participatory performance rather that interpretation, Katz suggests a way to reconceptualize Reader Response Criticism. He accounts for "voice," "felt sense," "dissonance," and aesthetic response generally as it is created by the temporal, musical patterns of language, noting that the physical, musical dimension of language has been relatively neglected in contemporary movements in rhetoric, composition, and literature.

Thus, set against the relationship between literature and science, especially between Reader Response Criticism and the philosophy of science engendered by New Physics, Katz examines the sophistic and Ciceronian conceptions of rhetoric. He reinterprets Cicero’s rhetorical theory in light of recent revisionist scholarship on the sophists and reevaluates his assigned position in rhetorical history as neo-Aristotelian by focusing on his oral notions of style as epistemic music. In so doing, Katz offers a new interpretation of Cicero within the sophistic tradition.

Discussing the relationship between sophistic and Ciceronian conceptions of style as an oral, physical, nonrational, indirect form of knowledge and viewing philosophical conceptions of language as sensuous, temporal gestalten or "shapes" in consciousness, Katz suggests that response to and performance of the epistemic music of language can supplement analysis and interpretation in the teaching of reading and writing and can provide less formalistic, less rationalistic foundation for a reader response criticism as a new sophistic.

Authors/Editors

Steven B. Katz is an associate professor of English at North Carolina State University.

Reviews

"This is a terrific and important book. It’s unusual, creative, wide-ranging. . . . But most of all, it’s important: it opens up a point of view on fields of rhetoric and composition studies that is really new and surprising and interesting. Katz is opening up a whole new field of inquiry. . . . He is harnessing all this learning, scholarship, and theory in the interests of an approach that is far more human than the current ones."—Peter Elbow, University of Massachusetts at Amherst