The first paragraph of my first draft of my first research-grant proposal

Although we might normally associate emotion with the personal realm, our public lives are actually dependent upon emotive functions of discourse. A public that is comprised of shared spaces and texts also shares ready-made rhetorical meanings that are constantly used for communication. These ready-made rhetorical meanings link together certain discourses and emotions, creating an archive of rhetorical figures that members of the public draw upon. For example, discourses about urban issues are often linked with images of crime, race, youth, and danger. In turn, this complex of discourses is further linked to emotions such as fear, anger, and depression. So familiar is this particular public rhetoric, in fact, that one element (urban crime or racial youth) might be invoked in order to suggest the others (fear or anger). Politicians seem to understand this public archive when they speak about “our children” as a way of invoking feelings of protection or anxiety among their audiences. Likewise, discourse about urban sprawl and land development is often linked to feelings of anger, disgust, and suspicion. For many people, the term “land development” contains an inherently negative ring. Through public archives of pathos, meaningful rhetorics are shared among participants.

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1 Comment »

  1. Adriano Said:

    [what can I say?]

    I have a very ‘enormous’ interest with the subjects you are dealing.

    I am a student of Philosophy at USP (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and I have been going through some reasearch in Aristotle. One of my main concerns is discourse theory (Poetical, Rhetorical, Dialectical and Analytical) and it is very interesting what you have been doing in trying to connect pathos and rhetorical discourse crossing it with the problem of Logos—and we cannot forget that Logos can also be said «discourse».

    For sure, I will come back and see what you are doing.

    Very nice job. Congrats.


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