This weeks readings all focused, in one respect or another, on ways of complicating the traditional ideas about persuasion (for example, the ideas advocated by Toulmin and P & O-T). Burke's notion of identification achieved this complication by focusing on how utterances are always partial in their relationship to truth and to reality (some of these ideas were present, for example, in last week's notions of rationality, perhaps). Anyway, identification, for Burke, is always a product of the surroundings, the context, the positioning from which it emerges and, therefore, one cannot index Reality but rather reflect and these reflections are always subject to change. While I read Burke, a lot of the ideas that I'm familiar with from social constructivist works and phenomenology/ethnomethodology seemed to be present so as I re-read Burke, I'd like to figure out where the overlaps and distinctions are between these sets of ideas.
Gearhart, directly citing her objection to the traditional views of Toulmin and P & O-T instead suggested thinking about traditional forms of persuasion intending to change others' opinions as a form of violence. Gearhart relates these ideas to pedagogy by suggesting that models of teaching that insist on imparting knowledge are a form of violence. Gearhart is suggesting a form of dialogue that provides listening and mutual support and tolerance of others' ideas without the intent to change others' minds; however, Gearhart seems to imply that if we put ourselves in these kinds of contexts, we will inevitably be changed through the process. In connection with Burke, I certainly saw a higher degree of relativity and tolerance for plural and multiple truths in Gearhart than I recognized in the readings for last week (as these, even when flexible, seemed to rely on fairly rigid taxonomies); however, the one caveat to Gearhart's argument as pointed to in our discussion forum, is that Gearhart's way of seeing persuasion itself could be read as fairly inflexible.
In a similar strain, Rak's article makes a case for blogs as liberal kinds of spaces that move beyond a simple diary format; however, that are nonetheless often enacting privileged statuses by using untroubled notions of queer identities. Rak argues that blogs could have the affect of re-creating group boundaries and distinctions. In this sense, Rak's article, like some of the other things we've read, warns against the over-emphasis of assuming that newer, digital forms simply erase the baggage carried around in our other social contexts.
Finally, Wells' article take up issues of invention and form and the relationship between these two and political and social progress. Wells argues that the narrative features in the MOVE Report work against traditional narrative conventions of commission reports and, therefore, the HOME report is able to invent a new kind of narrative commission report with fragmented bullets which (re)create a (lack of) responsibility in that political, cultural and civic climate. Like the other readings for this week, Wells' work does focus on the local but in a different sense: instead of asking us to nuance persuasion by looking at local contexts, Wells' article seems to be asking us to look at the very local and structural formal elements of texts and a means to think about the broader political relations that we are enacting, creating and responding to through these texts.