oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - Rien de discours

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



This opening text by French philosopher of rhetoric and feminist philologist Barbara Cassin deals with an opening. Since it is in French, another African idiom, this double opening needs some sort of introduction. Rhetoric enjoys fundamental texts, Aristotle's , of course, but also, for the questioning of gender, the Sophist Gorgias' . As rhetoric begins and logology enters the field of reflecting upon the nature of that which exceeds nature - human nature and its civility -, two texts face each other: here, Aristotle's , wherefrom gender is so expunged that a Martian would think that this fundamental handbook of democracy is for sexless animates: there, Gorgias' , whereby gendering comes to the fore, in full force. It is the force of this staging to exhibit what male discourse can do with female presence, to show how one counterperformance of speech (the , against the "common knowledge" that Helen was to be vilified, not praised) can outperform Aristotle's , and to inaugurate, at the same time, woman as an object for civil speech. Cassin offers here, with Gorgias and Lacan, a careful, detailed, probing unravelling of the sexed stakes within rhetoric, and of the (lack of) rapport rhetoric entertains with truth, reality, and knowledge. Cassin is the author of (Paris, 1995) and the general editor of (Paris, 2004; now being translated at Princeton University Press, with further versions in Arabic and Russian on their way). Together with Alain Badiou, in a philosophical exchange that stages gendering, she has just released (Paris, 2010) and (Paris, 2010). A full scale treatment of the question of Helen and logos can be found in her (Paris 2000).

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