Relevant Rhetoric

Relevant Rhetoric is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to revealing the relevance and significance of rhetoric in our lives.













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Spring 2020
Volume 11

Welcome to Volume 11 of
Relevant Rhetoric: A New Journal of Rhetorical Studies

Staying true to the mission of Relevant Rhetoric, the essays in this volume explore relevant and timely issues: (1) the role of memes in creating meanings in popular culture; (2) the rhetorical significance of the use of Tupac's hologram at performances; (3) the rhetorical and social functions of the information backcountry skiiers use; and (4) an analysis of Demosthenes's On the Crown with identifying parallels to President Trump's rhetorical strategies.

Each submission we receive is carefully peer reviewed by members of the Editorial Board. Thank you for your submissions and for your support. We are accepting submissions for consideration for Volume 12 (Spring, 2021) of Relevant Rhetoric: A New Journal of Rhetorical Studies. To be considered for publication, please submit your essay by October 30, 2020. Please mail submissions and queries to:
Nancy J. Legge, Editor -Relevant Rhetoric.

For submission information, please visit the relevant tab from the menu. If you’re looking for previous volumes/articles, please visit the Archives tab. The other tabs provide information about the journal’s philosophy, submissions for future volumes, and the Editorial Board.

Contents of Volume 11

Matthew H. Barton, Kevin A. Stein, and Scott H. Church, "The Disruptive Power of Memes: The Carnivalesque and Kevin Spacey’s Place in the Weinstein Moment
--This study examines memes in response to the Kevin Spacey sexual assault scandal using Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque as the lens for understanding why memes are a uniquely interesting response to cultural disruptions of the normal. A grounded theory analysis was used to explicate six inductive categories that explore the limits of the carnival: 1)Association with villains; 2)Kevin Spacey movie/TV references; 3)Non-Kevin Spacey movie/TV references; 4)'Im gay' deflections; 5)Emphasis on innocence of victims; and 6)Pointed cultural critique. Each category is discussed along with implications for the future study of the rhetorical influence of memes on public mediated culture.

Danielle Lavendier,"The More things Change, the More they Stay the Same: Tupac Shakur’s 'hologram,' Victorian Death Customs, and American Voyeurism"
--Violence against black bodies in this country is, shamefully, commonplace. The way black bodies are treated after their deaths is telling of the ways in which the larger society handles issues of race. One emerging technological area that deserves a closer look in light of racial tensions is "holographic” technology and its use to “bring back” dead black musicians. For example, Tupac Shakur has “performed” since his death in 1996--the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival featured a performance by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and a pseudo-holographic Shakur. This paper explores the weaving of a Victorian-based technology with modern-day American voyeurism, especially as it connects to violence against black men’s bodies. A product of consumerism, devotion, spectacle, or the urge to recapture what has been lost (or perhaps all these things), Shakur’s “hologram” provides a case study on a modern-day memento mori.

Peter Kratzke, "An Extremely Functional Genre System: The Life-or-Death Occasion of Alpine Backcountry Accident Accounts "
--Official avalanche reports, community forums, journalistic essays, and biographies and autobiographies may be construed as the principal genres of the genre system of Alpine backcountry accident accounts. Regardless of the textual forms of these genres, paramount is their social function to supply backcountry skiers needed “beta” (a term for the who, what, where, when, why and how of weather, physical environment, and human activities). This rhetorical function is so important that it all but eclipses formal considerations, an effect showing how, in the fundamental relationship between the forms and functions to all genre systems, diversity in one direction requires focus in the other if the system is to maintain coherency as a system. Studying accident accounts accordingly makes them of interest to the study of all systems.

Mike Duncan, "'Knives in the Air': Argumentative Arrangement in Demosthenes’s 330 BCE On The Crown and Donald Trump’s October 10, 2019 Minnesota Rally Speech"
--While the style of Demosthenes's "On the Crown" speech of 330 BCE is distinctive, its argumentative arrangement has been underexplained. I demonstrate how Demosthenes employs a distinctive arrangement of claims that I call “knives in the air,” reflecting how its four central and interlocked claims are rapidly repeated through dozens of different variants to overwhelm the listener. "On the Crown" serves as a relevant parallel to the contemporary argumentative structure of a rally address in Minnesota by U.S. President Donald Trump on October 10, 2019. Despite Trump’s largely impromptu delivery, crude language, and comparatively random chronology when compared to Demosthenes’s precomposed judicial speech, Trump’s arrangement also showcases a similiar four-claim revolving structure that is closely related to the parallel rhetorical situtation of the two speeches, with both speakers mounting an aggressive defense against political opponents while closely identifying with the audience. Given the demonstrated positive reception of both speeches despite considerable differences in style and content, I argue their rhetorical effectiveness lies chiefly with their shared arrangement of claims. The juxaposition of the ancient and the modern in these cases offers a pedagogical hook into examining how demagogic rhetorics of identification universally operate.