oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - Rhetoric goes to war : the evolution of the United States of America's narrative of the "War On Terror"

Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



As the art of persuasion and argument, rhetoric has traditionally been considered in contrast to violent conflict, with persuasion, or, in Kenneth Burke's terms, symbolic inducement, the preferable alternative to the contest of arms. Rhetoric scholars appear to have, by and large, avoided the subject of war, both for ideological and pragmatic reasons: one does not want to sound as if one approved of war and it is not easy to gain access to the kind of contexts and information that would make for well-informed discussion of war and rhetoric. Yet, in the following discussion I intend to suggest that war and conflict ought to be of concern to rhetoric scholars because, one, they have been central to the human experience and, two, it is in the relationship between rhetoric and conflict or war that what Stephen Cimbala referred to as the "basic values of civilized life" have, especially in recent decades, been forged.

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