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Sweet Reason

Rhetoric and the Discourses of Modernity

In Sweet Reason, Susan Wells presents a rhetorical model for understanding the diverse discourses of modernity. Wells describes modernity as a system of texts which we are only now learning to read. In order to comprehend how these texts organize our world, she argues, we must grasp how reason and desire interact to create meaning. To this end, Wells offers a rhetoric based on an understanding of meaning as intersubjectivity created through the work of language. Wells elaborates this "rhetoric of intersubjectivity" by drawing on both Jürgen Habermas’s concept of communicative rationality and on Jacques Lacan’s theory of desire, affirming the significance of reason and desire for rhetorical studies. From scientific articles to classroom altercations, contemporary government hearings to Mantaigne’s Essays, Wells organizes several using rhetoric as an art, and she shows how rhetoric operates in practice.

Susan Wells is associate professor of English at Temple University.

295 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Culture Studies

Rhetoric and Communication

Table of Contents

Ch. 1: Toward a Rhetoric of Intersubjectivity: Language and Narration
Ch. 2: Reading Science Rhetorically
Ch. 3: Teaching Technical Writing
Ch. 4: Action and Rhetoric
Ch. 5: Reason and Desire in Public Discourse: Reading the MOVE Report
Ch. 6: Giving an Ordered History: Narrative in the Discourse of the
Ch. 7: Montaigne and the Discourses of Modernity
Works Cited

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