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Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts

Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts

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Edited by Cheryl Glenn and Krista Ratcliffe


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
6 x 9


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About the Book

In Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts,editors Cheryl Glenn and Krista Ratcliffe bring together seventeen essays by new and established scholars that demonstrate the value and importance of silence and listening to the study and practice of rhetoric. Building on the editors’ groundbreaking research, which respects the power of the spoken word while challenging the marginalized status of silence and listening, this volumemakes a strong case for placing these overlooked concepts, and their intersections, at the forefront of rhetorical arts within rhetoric and composition studies.

            Divided into three parts—History, Theory and Criticism, and Praxes—this book reimagines traditional histories and theories of rhetoric and incorporates contemporary interests, such as race, gender, and cross-cultural concerns, into scholarly conversations about rhetorical history, theory, criticism, and praxes. For the editors and the other contributors to this volume, silence is not simply the absence of sound and listening is not a passive act. When used strategically and with purpose—together and separately—silence and listening are powerful rhetorical devices integral to effective communication. The essays cover a wide range of subjects, including women rhetors from ancient Greece and medieval and Renaissance Europe; African philosophy and African American rhetoric; contemporary antiwar protests in the United States; activist conflict resolution in Israel and Palestine; and feminist and second-language pedagogies.  

            Taken together, the essays in this volume advance the argument that silence and listening are as important to rhetoric and composition studies as the more traditionally emphasized arts of reading, writing, and speaking and are particularly effective for theorizing, historicizing, analyzing, and teaching. An extremely valuable resource for instructors and students in rhetoric, composition, and communication studies, Silence and Listening as Rhetorical Arts will also have applications beyond academia, helping individuals, cultural groups, and nations more productively discern and implement appropriate actions when all parties agree to engage in rhetorical situations that include not only respectful speaking, reading, and writing but also productive silence and rhetorical listening.     



Cheryl Glenn is a liberal arts research professor of English and women’s studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her many publications include Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance and Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence.

Krista Ratcliffe is a professor and chair of the English department at Marquette University. Her research focuses on the intersections of rhetoric and feminist theory, and her publications include the award-winning Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness.


"This well-edited and thematically coherent collection offers in-depth studies from a variety of topics and methods that reveal the complexity of these two critical (but often unattended) concepts: silence and listening. Those interested in orality and literacy will find a new, dynamic vector for study."—Richard Leo Enos, Holder of the Lillian Radford Chair of Rhetoric and Composition, Texas Christian University

"With this collection we see unmistakably that indeed a tide of interest is rising and that it promises to yield groundbreaking changes across the spectrum of rhetorical history, theory, criticism, and pedagogy. After reading this collection, one must surely ask, "Why in the world did we take so very long to pay attention?" Our thanks must go to Krista Ratcliffe and Cheryl Glenn for casting such a much needed light in this direction."—Jacqueline Jones Royster, author of Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women