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Spatial Rhetoric and Rhetorical Space—Silence or Articulation? Violence or Harmony? Lets’ Talk: A Reflection on Michael de Certeau’s “Walking in the City”

When I first looked at the syllabus at the beginning of the semester, I thought contemporary rhetorical theory and literary theory are parallels. Therefore, there should not be a “lower division” at all in our department. Because they are equals, not higher or lower, just they functions in different ways. However, now I think rhetoric more powerful because it directly encourages action and change. Imagine how long takes one to read a piece of literature and than changes his or her mind. Just how much a live speech will be powerful to move the audience into quick actions. This is so true when I look at the title of de Certeau’s book “The Rhetoric of Everyday Life,” for if you read literature, it take that much time for you to ponder what the novel or literary work can do in real life space.

The spatial turn seems a sub category under the big umbrella of postmodern turn. However, it helps us in understanding the physicality or the materiality of our life and the way our surroundings unbound or constrains us. The very act of walking as mentioned in “Walking in the City” (91) is metaphorical because it shows how our daily actions can transform places into spaces. The word “city” is already loaded with meaning (93). City of consumption, of sin, of violence, of struggle, of spiritual poverty, of destruction of the natural environment, and so on? The idea of Erasmus is quite appealing now that Medieval rhetoric is brought to a new focus. The postmodern era seems a digital afterlife of the Middle Ages. Why not “Waking in the village”? Why “walking,” not “speaking,” “acting,” “living,” and so on(97-99)? The act of walking is often forgotten, the traces of people’s life left into a voidness that should not be neglected (97). This remapping of memories, of traces of life itself is a rhetorical act in space.

The most powerful rhetoric in de Certeau to me, is that he emphasizes agencies’ role in reappropriating spaces into whatever they are not intended for (102-107). Here lies the significance of change and the manipulation of meaning by the audience rather than the writer or producer. We are living in a rhetorical space where we can create our own spatial rhetoric no matter what the original expectation of the space designer intended. This reminds me of various public spheres as spaces where changes can be made, not merely in the city, city being the most intense symbol of consumer society though. For instance, as what we discussed in today’s class, pulpits. Changes have already taken place in some churches where women can stand on the pulpits and preach. Some of the pulpits even has visual, digital, and even rock and roll live concert elements for younger and fashionable church goers. I went to the Buckhead Church and was amazed by how they make use of high-tech for the purpose of preaching and worshipping. There are also much more subversive examples, such as the use of the word “church” for bar’s name. I one saw one in Atlanta near the Martin Luther King Museum.

This agency with power is in accordance with what we read on how to make changes in institutions, between sexes, and among races. Only this one seems much more vivid because we cannot escape from space. Anything authoritative, anything that gives rules is tied up with space and time. If we cannot change the past, then what we should do is to change our space. Make our own space a rhetorical space rather than a dumb space is each individual’s task if we want a change. We do not want our little kids get killed in school, we do not want our friends killed by in terrorists, we do not want our roommates poison us, then we have to make our space rhetorical and rather than crying for the consequences of other’s spatial rhetoric. Especially for us the instructors, we have a power in influencing our students, if not shaping them who they should be. Then, if not in our countries, what about we think about other spaces? Such as those Middle East countries, North Korea? What are their spatial rhetoric and rhetorical space we can build between and among different systems? What should we do to prevent tragedies from happening again and again? We do not want to be the victims of the next round!

Andrea’s Facilitation and Discussions on Material Spaces—A Note

Physicality around us: materiality that is rhetorical

Pictures relevant to the readings, pulpits:

panopticon; London eye; fountains; the Free Speech Zone; Hong Kong; and so on

The Practice of Everyday Life


rhetorical terms: difference between place and space; space is practiced place; social dimensions of space; 

Space not met: people not following the rules or not fulfilling the expectations in certain social spaces

Why rhetoricians should study space? Do you think space is rhetorical? Of course.

The way they shape public memory. Classroom space, digital space, and so on.

Part of the problem is analyzing the space without the materiality it embraces. Symbols, images, and so on. How spaces function rhetorically: they make arguments, constrain their rhetors in some ways, and  have impact on rhetorical situations.

Computer science lab in the church

Students analyzing spaces for rhetoric’s sake: e.g. designers; gift shops; etc.

World Trade Center, Boston bombing: Subverting the space and the rhetoric it represents

monuments of capitalism

physical structure that empowers certain rhetoric

Starbucks piece: cultural capital, learning the rules, language of tall, and so on.

Finding the Middle Way for Encountering Subjects: Reflections on bell hooks’ Views on Rhetoric

Why does Gloria Jean Watkins has to use a pen name? This is a big question for me before I embark on her ideas. Pen names are only used as a manifestation of powerless of rhetoric. The very name makes me feel uncomfortable because that reminds me of inability to articulate publicly, or the intentional secret keeping. Maybe it is just because she is an Africa American? Because she could not publish or say something with her true name?

When I was reading bell hooks from Contemporary perspectives on Rhetoric, I kept thinking of Toni Morrison’s novels and many other related issues concerning feminism, slavery, trauma, writing as a powerful way to enable changes, and so on. Frankly speaking, I come from a family where the right of articulation is intense. I can say that Bell Hooks’ feelings and her later pursuit is quite reasonable due to her life experience.

I am not shocked by the experience of her life because I read too much in literature on domestic life and female struggle. Even my own thesis is on the spiritual journey of the female protagonist. What struck me is that she openly talks about the ideology of domination in the West and when it relates to the “possibility of nuclear destruction” (270) I felt quite glad that she mentions this because before I just thought any country that develops nuclear weapon is evil. Now I guess I will look at the issue from a different perspective. For instance, I’ll understand why Japan and all these Asian countries want so crazily to be powerful. Maybe they just do not want to be invaded and occupied and being destroyed by bombs. History has left a trauma to them. Similarly, no matter it is in African American or any other race’s family life, women is often left the spiritual or physical trauma due to varied reasons. That’s why they want a change.

I am not saying that all male beings are bad or violent or not understandable, just that sometimes you do things in certain systems that made you so. Some husbands will think they are right when actually they are quite wrong. However, this happens on the other side, too. Women can also make men feel marginalized in today’s world. By saying women, I mean I am one of such women. So, what really matters is how to balance the gender issue domestically. I guess men and women thinks and behaves sharply different because of biological and social orders. But how can we solve the problem with the fast pace of contemporary life? I suddenly realized that maybe I was too busy demanding my dominance or equality while neglected my husband’s feeling as a male. It is hard to do the subject-to-subject encounter smoothly. People can easily get angry I mean. People cannot get out of their own subjectivity easily. Can science solve the problem? Maybe one day, when we get a chance to experience the difference biologically, we will understand?

I really love Hooks’ idea that the ideology of love, rather than the ideology of dominance should prevail in order to realize harmony(272). Her view that love is not merely “a sentimental longing for another person or the domination and possessiveness,” but “the idea of being able to let fear go so you can move towards another person who’s not like you” (272). Just because differences can cause fear, and fear leads to separation, Hooks thinks that the mutually exclusive relationship between love and dominance is the root cause of the (272). I don’t quite agree with this idea. I think sometimes different subjects will not necessarily try to get the dominance, maybe what they want is just equality? I am not sure, but will the simple requirement of the equality become another dominance?

I totally agree that there should be a “subject-to-subject encounter,” and “mutual recognition” is of vital importance. Just like the Chinese philosophy of “the middle way,” wrongfully translated into “the doctrine of the mean” in some texts, which holds that each one should try to keep a balance and try to find the middle ground rather than going to extremes. Recognition will be extremely useful to different subjects when finding middle ways. And finding the middle way can also be a powerful rhetoric where the mutual recognition process involves and the problems get solved. Such encounters should be able to help not only in men-women relationships, but also different people’s communication, even the international political arena.

The Rhetoric Of The Image – Roland Barthes (1964)


Traces Of The Real

This essay is a classic semiotic text where Roland Barthes analyses an advertising image and uses it as a means of teasing out how different messages are conveyed by a system of signs. The ad he uses is the Panzani advert, within which he finds a rich layering of meanings.

Barthes commences by remarking that the word image stems from a Latin term meaning ‘imitation’ and then poses the central question of his essay – can images truly function of conveyers of meaning given that they are essentially imitations (or direct analogical representations) of something else. Do they really constitute a language, and if they do, how does meaning work within this language? He uses an advertising image to analyze these questions, as advertising images clearly have intended meanings. The image used is the Panzani ad which is reproduced below.

View original post 1,549 more words

The Trap of Simulations in Consumerism and Beyond: Nihilism and Hyperbole in Baudrillard and the Way Out for Rhetorical Agencies

La Disparition Du Monde Réel/The Disappearance of the Real World

I open this post with a video of Baudrillard for the purpose of seeking meaning in his desert of meaninglessness. The mass media brought forth the violence of the images, the death of the subject and the object, and many other issues that haunts the present era. How do we get our resurrection when we realize that we are overwhelmed by commodities and images. How do we balance the banal with the fatal in this crazily undefinable postmodernist world?

According to this video, Baudrillard stresses the present and the absent at the same time as an implication of his hyperreal, which is the real more than the real—the non real. His early awareness of the photography technology and the television’s subversion of time and space leads us to his crystalized idea of simulation.

I understand from reading the first part of his Simulations—”The Precession of Simulacra” that he is trying to show us the fallacy of an existent reality. Drawing our attention to the fallacy of the appearances, he actually achieved his goal of pulling us back to the essence of capitalism and the consumer society.

The very opening of the book

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth whoch conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.


When I first read this, I was totally shocked and had no idea what he is talking about because I have no impression that there is something similar in the Bible. Then, after a second thought I realized it is just a parody or his play of words to reach a black humor? Or, is it simply an irony?

He gives the example of the Empire and its fall and then moves to argue the essence of mapping–precession of simulacra. He loves to use the image of desert. I guess he is using it as a symbol of death when he says that the map and the desert both disappears with simulation.

“Never again will the real have to be produced—this is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection which no longer leaves any chance even in the event of death. A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imagery, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference.”

Reading his assertions makes me feel inspiring but at the same time depressing. Psychology and medicine have no remedy for this powerful simulation rather than a superficial and recognizable “feigning”. Similarly, to Baudrillard, the death sentence of very reference makes even God a simulation due to the “murderous capacity of Byzatine icons.”

The successive phases of the images

1) the reflection of a basic reality; 2) masks and perverts a basic reality; 3) masks the absence of a basic reality;  4) bears no relation to any reality

reminds me of the apple trade mark, maps, as well as what I experienced in Vegas. This process is summarized by Foss & Foss according to different historical periods. The very act of mapping and imitating is vital to understand Baudrillard.



Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas


Paris Hotel, Las Vegas

The idea of simulation becomes easy to understand when I take a look at the commodified postmodern architectures. What they give us is a sense of reality, but they are actually not the reality. The Window of the World at Shenzhen City, P.R.China is another example of simulation in architectural representation. The postmodern copy of a copy of a copy phenomenon is just what Baudrillard argues in his Simulacra and Simulation. The idea of the “hyperreal” comes from “the procession of simulacra,” which is why he considers cultural and media constructed reality as simulations. Baudrillard gives the example of Disneyland when he talks about the hyperreal and the imaginary.

Baudrillard also refers to the Watergate as the same scenario as Disneyland He considers the simulative political incantation as a “moebius-spiralling negativity.” However, we have to search for the unsaid in his arguments. It seems that he leaves no place for the role of agency due to his negativity on the existence of the masses. Nevertheless, he is trying to put the object in the gaze so that we as the subject can have a clearer view of the simulations of nihilism in mass media and technologies. Therefore, his theory is not an absolute denial of the reality, but a hyperbole of the simulations in order to present the real.

Postmodernism and Postmodernity, Baudrillard’s Simulation and Questions for Discussion

Hi, All

Here are the Tentative Questions copied from my notebook (Subjected to changes until the discussion in class):

“America” by Baudrillard:


1. What does Baudrillard mean when he says “Speed is simply the rite mobility, concealed beneath the very intensification of their mobility. Akin to the nostalgia for living forms that haunts geometry”? (256)

2. How do we comprehend the “immanence” of America in relation to the postmodern features—immanence? (p. 257) Indeterminacy and immanence are two concepts of postmodernity, how do they relate to simulations and the hyperreal?

3. How do we understand the miracle of America’s obscenity as opposed to its puritan obsession and how does the speed make the ground of of puritan obsession gone? (257)

4. What does Baudrillard mean by saying that “Here is the most moral society there is, space is truly immoral. Here is the most conformist society, the dimensions are immoral. It is this immorality that makes distance light and the journey infinite, that cleaneses the muscles of their tiredness” at the end of the article? (258) How does this relate to the primitiveness of America and its desert like speed? Can it be related to Freud’s psychoanalysis of the human being’s unconscious desire?

“The rhetoric of Intetexuality” by Frank A. D’Angelo


1. According to D’Angelo, what are the concerns of rhetorical study and literary study and how do they differ from each other in research purpose and objects? Do you think his argument reliable from this perspective?

2. How does Kristiva’s idea “any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another”(33) resonants with Baudrillard’s simulation?

3. How do you think this piece is conducive to make full use of adaptation, retro, appropriation, pastiche, and simulation for pedagogical purposes?

4. If we teach our students in class these techniques in relation to mass and new media composition, what assessment criteria we would follow to grade?

Baudrillard in Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric

1. How do we teach students critical thinking when we ourselves are immersed in a “consumer society in which objects dominate and control humans rather than the reverse”? (300)

2. What is your idea on whether or not Baudrillard is a postmodernist? (301)

3. How do you comprehend the inability of intellectuals to create social change? (302-303)

4. How do we understand Baudrillard’s incidental shift of interest to photography contributes to his simulation theory? (303)

5. What is your understanding of Baudrillard’s criticism to Marxism as “incapable of describing life before and after the era of production”? (305)

6. How do we understand his idea that the masses/the people does not exist? (305)

7. Is Baudrillard’s critique on Foucault and other theorists reliable? (305-306)

8. Why Baudrillard argues the Gulf War as a “virtual war of information, electronics, and images”? Do you agree with his idea? (306)

9. Is his ways of escaping from fullness useful to the postmodern world? (307)

10. According to Baudrillard, simulation comes into being from the increasing separation of signs from the objects they present (307), can you give examples of his assertion that embodies “signs of the real for the real itself”? (307)

11. Simulation makes us unable to distinguish the real from the fake in this society of media and technology. How do you practice information literacy and electronical literacy in composition classroom?

12. Discuss the evolution of simulation and see how symbols becomes unreliable throughout time (308-312).

13. How does the excess of information in the mass media world produce the postmodern uncertainty and the difficulties or even impossibility of communication? (312-315)

14. How does the hegemony of commodity culture realize its power and what bad impact it has on the consumers? (315-317)

15. To illustrate the centrality of the object and the excessive consumer culture, Baudrillard gives the example of contrasts the television with the cinema, how do you understand the “absolutely irreplaceable” qualities of the cinema? Will it be more illustrative if he compares television to the “theatre”? (321)

16. How do we understand the possibilities of resistance as rhetorical strategies against hyperreality? (321)

17. What does banal and fatal strategy mean respectively and why does Baudrillard favor the fatal rather than the banal? How do they interrelate to each other? (322-327)

18. What are the advantages of alternative paradigms as compared to the reason dominated perspectives of traditional rhetoric? (329)

19. How does the poem at the end of commentary part illustrates Baudrillard and the postmodernity in him?

Additional Questions on Baudrillard:.

1. What does Baudrillard mean by “hyperreal”?

2. How do we apply his theory of simulation into our own research and pedagogy?

3. How does his theoretical lens relate to other postmodernists’ views from our readings so far? For instance, how do you connect Baudrillard’s examples of Disneyland, Watergate, and so on to McGee’s ideograph? And the symbol using theory of Burke?

4. Do we see any hope in his theory from the assigned readings and the quotes I have selected?

5. How do we deal with the rhetorical situation Baudrillard defines?

6. What is the difficulty of invention in a surrounding of simulations?

7. How do we view ourselves as agencies of change in a “mirror of production”?

8. What is the significance of “America” when related to spacial theory?

9. How does intertextuality play its role in the academia and the classroom? How do we make use of it and at the same time not committing plagiarism?

10. How does technology, specifically the new media shift our way of comprehension and teaching?

Here is some information on what I have been doing with Baudrillard and postmodernism. Hope it helps if your are interested in his theories. Please give me your invaluable suggestions.

Links on postmodernism, postmodernity, and Baudrillard as a postmodernist: Lyotard and the Postmodern Condition Ihab Hassan Linda Hatcheon Fredric Jameson

Jaques Lacan

General Introduction to Postmodernism

Features of Postmodernism

Characteristics of Postmodernism

Features and Examples of Postmodernism

Baudrillard on Postmodernity

The Loss of Distinction Between Reality and Simulation

Available Books relevant to Baudrillard at GSU Library (in alphabetic order):

Baudrillard Now: Current Persoectives in Baudrillard Studies. Edited by Ryan Bishop. Polity Press, Cambridge. 2009.

Exiles from Dialogue: Jean Baudrillard and Enrique Valiente Noailles. Translated by Chris Turner. Polity press, Cambridge. 2007.

Fragments: Conversations with François L’Yvonnet. Translated by Chris Turner. Routledge, London. 2004.

Impossible Exchange. Translated by Chris Turner. Verso, London. 2001.

McLuhan and Baudrillard, The Masters of Implosion. Gary Genosko. Routledge. 1999. (ebook available via GSU library)

Simulations. Translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman.

In the end, I’d like to share Anderson’s prosumer approach:

Tisha Savannah

"Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters." - Neil Gaiman

Foundations of Literary Studies: Reading Frankenstein Two Hundred Years Later

English 010 | University of California, Merced | Fall 2018



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