11-17-2011 Andreea Deciu Ritivoi

Presentation Archives

Academic Year 2011-2012

Meeting Date: Nov. 17 (Thurs.), 2011, 4:30-6:00 PM, 207 College Hall, Berger Gallery, Duquesne University.

Next event for our year-long theme of Migrancy.

Prophets in Another Land: Foreign Intellectuals in American Public Discourse

Presenter: Professor Andreea Deciu Ritivoi, Dept. of English, Carnegie Mellon University.

Bio: Andreea Deciu Ritivoi is associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, where she teaches courses on narrative and identity, rhetorical theory, argument, controversy, and the rhetoric of globalization. She is the author of Yesterday's Self: Nostalgia and the Immigrant Identity (Rowman and Littlefield 2002), Paul Ricoeur: Tradition and Innovation in Rhetorical Theory (The State University of New York Press, 2006), and forthcoming, Outrage: Controversy, Society, and Art (Palgrave MacMillan, with Judith Schachter and Richard Howells).

Title: Prophets in Another Land: Foreign Intellectuals in American Public Discourse

Abstract: Much argumentation theory and deliberative practice in the Western rhetorical tradition tend to view the credibility of speakers engaged in public discourse by assuming that such speakers must be citizens, that is, be members of the respective national polity. How can non-citizens, then, position themselves in relation to a community of citizens in order to address them publicly on matters of civic importance? To offer an answer, in this paper I examine the cultural schemas through which representations about non-citizens as political actors take shape in the United States, leading to the emergence of a unique set of rhetorical constraints available to foreigners. These constraints can sometimes produce paradoxical and long-lasting effects. As a case in point, I look at the controversy triggered by Alexander Solzhenitsyn's 1976 Harvard University commencement address, in which the writer lambasted the United States for not taking a stronger stance against the Soviet Union. In response, liberal and conservative critics alike rose to the defense of their country against the criticism. They dismissed Solzhenitsyn not because they disagreed with his arguments, but because they explicitly identified him as a non-citizen. Yet the overt rejection of his ideas was accompanied, paradoxically, by a tacit acceptance, indeed reinforcement of the writer's main premise: that the United States is a superpower responsible for the global governance. What emerged from this confrontation was the ideograph of America as "world policeman," which continues to operate in post-Cold War political discourse.

All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited. Refreshments will be served.