Rhetorical Selves in Conversion
Often a troubling theoretical term, identity conveys the idea that people possess a certain capacity for self-understanding and self-definition. But whatever the forces at work behind the identity one claims, the act of communicating this self-interpretation to others is inherently rhetorical. Expanding on Burkean concepts of human symbol use, Anderson works to parse and critique such inevitable persuasive ends of identity constitution.
Anderson examines the strategic presentation of identity in four narratives of powerful religious, sexual, political, and mystical conversions: Catholic social activist Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness, political commentator David Brock's Blinded by the Right, Deirdre McCloskey's memoir of transgender transformation, Crossing, and the well-known Native American text Black Elk Speaks. Mapping the rhetorical strategies at play in each narrative, Anderson points toward a broader understanding of how identity is made—and how it is made persuasive.
About the Author
"Successfully drawing on critical theory and the ideas of Kenneth Burke, Dana Anderson strikes new ground concerning the idea that 'identity' is a complex act of rhetorical constitution. Intriguing theoretical chapters and illuminating case studies explore aspects of identity heretofore understood only dimly. Moreover, Anderson indicates important paths that fans of Burke ought to follow with vigor. Identity's Strategy is persuasive and thoroughly engaging."—Ross Wolin, author of The Rhetorical Imagination of Kenneth Burke
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