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Promoting a New Kind of Education: Greek and Roman Philosophical Protreptic, by Daniel Markovich

Arguments for the uninitiated about why one ought to pursue philosophy were a pervasive form of philosophical activity in antiquity. Such “protreptics”—attempts to exhort (protrepein) a person to philosophize—might reasonably and often have been understood as a marginal facet of a philosopher’s activity. However, this ambitious and wide-ranging study attempts to recover protreptic as a central form of philosophical discourse, treating it as a genre of speech and writing “concerned with the ultimate goals of education” (4), one that philosophers in antiquity used in order to set forth their novel conceptions of the good life and proposals about how to achieve it. One challenge such a project faces is the great variety of forms that philosophical protreptic takes, but Markovich’s aim is not to argue for a Socratic definition that captures all exhortations to philosophy. His book instead traces the intertextual relations between various philosophers’ exhortations, showing how they have influenced and departed from one another in articulating their respective conceptions of philosophy as a new form of education.Chapter 1 carefully surveys some of the problems facing attempts to establish philosophical protreptic as a genre in its own right. Although philosophical protreptic takes a great variety of forms, Markovich argues that instances of this genre are unified both by their “communicative purpose” (6)—they all contain “explicit protreptic utterances” (13), urging the audience to philosophize—and by their historical, intertextual connections. For Markovich, the origins of philosophical protreptic are found in Socrates’s protreptic utterances: brief live exhortations preserved in works like Plato’s Apology. Out of these original Socratic utterances develop longer protreptic discourses in works of other genres (e.g., in Socratic dialogues), which in turn influence the development of protreptic works in their own right, often entitled Protrepticus. Such works, finally, influence texts written in the “protreptic mode” (such as Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy), “works significantly shaped by the protreptic utterances that they contain” (12).In addition to their Socratic provenance, Markovich takes deliberative rhetoric to be an important influence on this genre. Philosophical protreptics emphasize the value of wisdom over that of traditional goods like wealth, health, and honor. Because rhetorical handbooks—like the Rhetoric to Alexander and Aristotle’s Rhetoric—treat these traditional values as sources of persuasion in deliberative rhetoric, Markovich suggests that deliberative rhetoric is a “foil” (14) and perhaps also a “model” (25) for philosophical protreptics. Here, I was not sure that the “exact relationship” between these two genres is in fact detailed as promised (14), and I thought Markovich was a bit too quick to dismiss sophistic exhortations as an influence on philosophical protreptic. As he notes, what is probably the first extant use of “protreptic speech” (protreptikos logos) occurs in Plato’s Euthydemus, where Socrates famously presents “amateur” (idiōtikon, 278d5, 282d6) protreptics as a model for the exhortations he wants to hear from the sophists Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. Although Plato seems to think that these particular sophists fail to provide successful exhortations to philosophy, Socrates’s persistent expectation that the sophists generally will offer “professional” (technēi, 282d8) exhortations nevertheless seems to provide evidence that they promoted their educational programs through a form of discourse somehow analogous to the sample protreptics that Socrates offers.Chapter 2 surveys the protreptics of Socratic authors: Aeschines of Sphettos’s Alcibiades, various exhortations in the Platonic corpus, and Xenophon’s treatment of Socratic protreptic in the Memorabilia. Here, and in subsequent chapters, Markovich’s method is to provide block-indented summaries of the relevant works and then comment on the salient argumentative and rhetorical patterns that emerge. The summaries of these Socratic discourses bring out a typical protreptic pattern that, as Markovich argues in subsequent chapters, will be recycled by many later authors: one’s ultimate aim is happiness (eudaimonia); however, happiness consists not in traditional goods like wealth, beauty, or power but in the care of the soul and the cultivation of virtue; and, because philosophy is the cultivation of virtue, one ought to philosophize. After detailing these paradigms, Markovich then turns in chapter 3 to the most famous text to develop out of this Socratic tradition: Aristotle’s Protrepticus, which was probably the first of the many philosophical texts by that name. Here, Markovich judiciously reviews some of the major difficulties for reconstructing this lost text on the basis of Iamblichus’s paraphrases and again provides a useful summary of the main arguments. The rest of the chapter highlights the various Platonic motifs on which Aristotle draws and briefly reconstructs the intervention that the Protrepticus makes in Aristotle’s debate with Isocrates, whose criticisms of a Platonic conception of philosophy are often thought to have occasioned this text.Chapter 4 surveys our almost exclusively fragmentary evidence about the use of protreptic by various Hellenistic philosophers: Epicurus, Chrysippus, Posidonius, Phylo of Larissa, and Eudoxus of Alexandria. The analysis of Epicurus’s Letter to Menoeceus, which begins and ends with protreptic utterances, brings out some of the novel features of protreptic that Markovich shows to be emblematic of this period: the call to philosophize is directed toward an increasingly universal audience, and the philosophical activity to which these philosophers exhort their audience is regarded as a kind of “therapy” (92). He also draws attention to the development that Chrysippus, Posidonius, and Eudoxus treat protreptic not just as a kind of literary work but as a specific kind of ethical discourse, one that “translate[s] general theoretical rules into practical precepts” (103). But it was not clear to me that this form of “protreptic” discourse has anything more than a name in common with exhortations to take up the study of philosophy. On the whole, however, Markovich is able to extract much more from the scarce evidence about protreptics in this period than one might have thought possible.Chapter 5 examines protreptic works and passages in three authors from the late Roman Republic and the early Empire: Lucretius, Cicero, and Seneca, all of whom, in Markovich’s reading, promote philosophical education for broadly “political” reasons (125). A careful analysis of two protreptic passages in De rerum natura reveals how Lucretius promotes philosophical education as the true means of achieving the peace of mind and lofty perspective that his aristocratic audience typically seeks through military and civil command. Markovich considers the role of protreptic in the philosophical works that Cicero composed at the end of his life—works that constitute his “continuation of politics by another means” (142)—with a view to showing how he adopts protreptic motifs in his project of promoting philosophy as a new education that corrects the traditional education that failed to prevent Caesar’s dictatorship. This chapter also includes a useful collection of protreptic passages from Seneca’s Letters to Lucullus, but the allegedly political character of Seneca’s calls to take up philosophy—which contrast the peace of philosophy with the strife of political oratory (Ep. 14.11–14) and emphasize the leisure required for philosophy (Ep. 17.5)—eludes this reader.Markovich then turns to Greek protreptics in the Second Sophistic. The cast of this fascinating chapter is quite diverse. Markovich shows how the Stoic Musonius Rufus evokes typical protreptic arguments in exhorting a Syrian king to philosophize and examines Epictetus’s treatment of protreptic discourse as an “invitation to therapy” (168). With these two teachers of philosophy are paired two representatives of the Second Sophistic. Dio Chrysostom’s speech In Athens on His Exile exemplifies an explicit Socratic exhortation to the Athenians before describing his own call for his Roman audience to adopt a new, better education. Lucian of Samosata is cast as a “moderate Cynic” whose Nigrinus employs commonplace elements from philosophical protreptic in order to mock initiates’ dependence on their philosophical guides and whose work The Parasite employs those same protreptic tropes to ridicule those who presume that they can prove any paradoxical claim through sophisticated rhetorical techniques (181). Markovich’s treatment of this fascinating and less-studied period includes an excursus on Galen’s Protreptic to Medicine and Clement of Alexandria’s exhortation to Christianity in his Protreptic to the Greeks, both of whose obvious dependence on the conventions of philosophical protreptic reveals that this genre had by this point become closely associated with the promotion of educational programs.Chapter 5, the final substantive chapter, on the Neoplatonic protreptics of Iamblichus, Themistius, and Boethius, contains a complete summary of Iamblichus’s Protrepticus in which Markovich helpfully identifies the protreptic sources from which Iamblichus draws. Two of these—the defense speech of philosophy in Plato’s Phaedo (61c–69e) and the digression in the Theaetetus (172c–177c)—appear for the first time in this study. Given the importance that these texts play in Neoplatonic exhortations like Iamblichus’s, it was not obvious to me that we should understand them as only “implicitly or latently protreptic” (222). In fact, the digression in the Theaetetus is arguably the locus classicus for the “view from above” motif that Markovich rightly identifies as a paradigmatic protreptic theme (246). A brief consideration of Themistus’s Exhortation to the Nicomedians shows how this text employs typical strategies of philosophical protreptic in order to present philosophy and rhetoric as harmonious educational pursuits. The chapter concludes with a treatment of the central argument of The Consolation of Philosophy and details how Boethius employs typical protreptic commonplaces in service of his goals of consolation and exhortation.In the book’s conclusion, Markovich summarizes the core protreptic arguments that readers have now encountered repeatedly and outlines the central philosophical commitments shared by those who employ such arguments. Among these commitments are the idea that there is “only one kind of happiness” (241), that internal excellence (aretē) takes precedence over external and bodily goods, that reason is the most divine aspect of the human being, that philosophy provides one with a “view from above” (246), and that philosophy is an art that restores health to the soul and protreptic is a preparation for such treatment. After summarizing the deliberative rhetorical strategies of these protreptics and sketching the distinct rhetorical goals of the authors surveyed, Markovich concludes by comparing protreptic with other forms of philosophical literature. A brief epilogue makes some observations about the afterlife of ancient philosophical protreptic in historical and contemporary debates about ultimate educational goals.This book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of philosophical protreptic by examining a much larger and more diverse sampling of this genre than has been treated in a unified study. Markovich succeeds in both extracting a core protreptic message that was repeated over a thousand-year history and demonstrating the enormous fecundity of the original Platonic and Aristotelian protreptics, which were able to be adapted to meet the specific needs of the diverse group of educators who were compelled to promote and defend their novel conceptions of philosophical education.

Words on Fire: Eloquence and Its Conditions, by Rob Goodman

A brief for eloquence might be expected to be an exercise in nostalgia. Whether confronting mass culture, digital media, or populist demagoguery, one may have difficulty avoiding reverie and thus fail to speak to the present moment. Rob Goodman is willing to risk failure in Words on Fire and places that risk at the center of both eloquence and the democratic project. By taking up the problem of whether the tradition of rhetoric can be adapted and renewed with respect to modern processes of mechanization, he is able to provide insight and perhaps encouragement regarding the prospects for public speech.It is comforting to mythologize rhetoric as the natural form of democratic speech, with codification of the art making the means of persuasion available to all. Both ancients and moderns knew better, and obvious asymmetries in rhetorical skill and social capital could make the concept of democratic rhetoric an oxymoron—as well as the pathway to demagogic subversion of democratic institutions. Goodman separates the structural distinction between mass and elite from the discursive distinction between speaker and audience, and he offers an ingenious argument regarding what he terms the rhetorical bargain (6). The key feature of a sound rhetorical transaction is that both the speaker and the audience put themselves at risk. Audiences always risk being manipulated, deceived, and exploited, but speakers can risk failure, humiliation, and other negative consequences. When this bargain is kept, it can serve the democratic ends of ameliorating structural inequities while empowering the public. And the stakes are high: “Political ‘tribalism’ is a justifiable response to a broken rhetorical bargain” (18).But why would a speaker take such a risk? The answer sets up the two major themes of the book. One is that, without symmetrical risk, eloquence is not possible. Nor need one aspire to eloquence for its own sake as it alone provides the greatest influence regarding the most difficult problems. It does so because of the way language works, the way the art of rhetoric works, and the way democracy works. Risk is built into language use because of the inherent ambiguity and instability of words as they are polyvocal and grounded in interpretation. Risk is built into rhetoric because persuasion is grounded in decorum, the fitting together of speech and situation and of artistry and historical conditions. Risk is built into democracy because one needs to engage the public if it is to be persuaded and publics can be critical, unpredictable, and unruly—and the more powerful for that.In an ideal (and, by the way, not classical) world, we might stop there. But the same properties that enable democratic speech also provide means for its undoing. Not taking a risk one can avoid is a sensible option and certainly one available to many elites. Hence, Goodman’s second theme, that the tradition of rhetoric also provides the means for offloading the risk in the rhetorical bargain. The key resource is the systematization of discourse (32), and making rhetoric into a machine is a theme that runs from the classical handbooks to contemporary algorithmic technologies. Thus, although the rhetorical bargain produces the egalitarianism essential for democratic legitimacy, a codified, technical rhetoric produces the performative asymmetry between speaker and audience that aligns with forms of domination. In Goodman’s history of rhetoric, the choice between these two tendencies can come down to an ethical conception of failure and the value placed on style and other forms of verbal abundance.To tell this story, Goodman first turns to Cicero. In contrast to the handbook tradition, he argues: “Resistance to rhetorical systems and ‘learnable codes’ of eloquence is integral to the Ciceronian orator’s self-conception” (24). In contrast to more sweeping conceptions of rhetorical power from Gorgias onward, Cicero emphasizes “the absence of predictable and manipulable links between speech and audience response” (25). Thus: “In Cicero’s rhetorical theory, neither eloquence nor the public is systematized” (26). These claims are demonstrated by comparative readings of De oratore and Julius Caesar’s De analogia, a response to Cicero on behalf of a stylistically limited and politically attenuated model of public speech. Although promoting clarity and reason, Caesar’s codification of everyday speech undercut the democratic audience. No longer either ideal or dangerous, it became “inert and manipulable”: “[R]hetoric would be done to such a public, not done with it” (47).Cicero understood that “the harm in systematized persuasion is its tendency to minimize rhetorical risk” (32). Against the idea that speech should be routinized to make information accessible and responses predictable, he held out for polyvocality and stylistic agility. Indeed, Goodman argues that style—“a quality of language in excess of argument” (13)—is crucial for situational adaptation and collective empowerment. Ornamentation acknowledges the autonomy of the audience and requires that the speaker take risks. The question of political efficacy then comes down to the concept of frank speech: in our terms, which style is better for speaking truth to power? Drawing on Cicero’s appreciation of Demosthenes, who was known for both stylistic virtuosity and frankness, Goodman offers a reconstituted norm that does not require the “flattened” rhetorical culture (53, 62) preferred by Caesar (and wannabe Caesars). It also points toward the democratic potential of indirect speech and debunks the appeal to sincerity that is used across the political spectrum today.Even if one considered these matters to be settled, the larger question of decorum arises. Can the classical tradition work in the modern world? Were its essential properties tied too closely to its specific historical conditions such that now it can have only aesthetic value? The rest of the book takes up this question by considering three different attempts at reconstitution: Edmund Burke’s, with respect to deliberation and political judgment; Thomas Babington Macaulay’s, with respect to historiography and public culture; and Carl Schmitt’s, with respect to how public speech and parliamentary democracy have been incapacitated by modern market and institutional practices.Burke is the transitional figure who looms largest in Goodman’s book. A Ciceronian thinker, he is known more as a political conservative than as a rhetorical radical, yet he was both. While Burke’s contemporaries believed that modern, rule-bound governance required rule-bound speech that was “factual, restrained, dispassionate, and even happily mediocre” (15), Goodman reconsiders key elements in his thought to provide a theoretical model for dealing with modern problems of political dysfunction. The theme of mechanization is taken up via Burke’s critique of defective deliberation, featuring especially civility, abstraction, and limited conceptions of scale. By focusing on the language of Burke’s speeches and his philosophical treatise on the sublime, Goodman sets out several strong claims, among them that his language was over-the-top because “the obscure and the uncanny can in fact help us to see political problems more clearly” (98), that this realm of the sublime was literally lifesaving as “excessive immersion in custom, habit, and regularity means depression and even death” (107), and that the Ciceronian conception of decorum “was never a notion of stable and static propriety, but of a dynamic moderation that appears stable because it is a permanent adaptation to flux” (114). Most important, this revaluation of eloquence as a disruptive artistic capability on behalf of sustainability counters the tendency of a political class toward “atrophy of imagination and abdication of judgment” (117).With Macaulay, one is more distant from Cicero while facing the new phenomenon of the mass public. As rhetoric becomes defined by public relations and propaganda, political institutions are less capable of supporting public judgment. Enter the public writer: Macaulay’s History of England (1848) was a bestseller designed for civic education. Goodman identifies the intention and the means, including a historiography that featured arguments rather than actions as well as the use of polyvocal texts to cultivate public memory and imagination. Macaulay’s public audience also is developed over time, going beyond a situational conception of rhetoric, and extending the role of the orator in public life. Goodman also brings in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Ancien Régime and the French Revolution (1856) to raise the stakes: Tocqueville provides an antirhetorical historiography and a fatalistic theory of mass communication. In this worldview, impersonal processes of centralization and dispersion combine to limit persuasion to domination and pit distended publics against practices of secrecy. This model remains all too legible, but Goodman suggests that it scraps rhetoric too soon and that Macaulay’s cultivation of a viable public remains a real option.Many today would see this belief in a deliberative public capable of sound judgment as optimistic claptrap; for a rationale they can draw on Schmitt. Set against the tragedy of the collapse of the Weimar Republic, Schmitt’s analysis was structural: sound political deliberation required speaking on behalf of the common good, whereas democratic speakers represented specific interests. The only solution also was structural: a prior imposition of hierarchy. Goodman has no sympathy for Schmitt’s authoritarianism, but he finds in the harsh critique of modern democratic speech an insight into the role that ritual can play in democratic sustainability and renewal. This turn might seem odd. Would ritual not be a leading example of mechanization? As with Burke and the uncanny, another reconstitution is provided. Ritual is defined not as a specific code or a routinized practice but as an understanding of how pattern can be maintained amid indeterminacy. This perspective includes a shift from structure to performance, where occasions—and symmetrical risks—are created anew and the obvious artificiality of rhetoric becomes part of its aspirational quality, not least in creating the conditions for eloquence. It also underscores the continuing failure of the handbook, that is, of how codification remains dependent on variable applications that inadvertently can generate unruly publics.Goodman’s intention was to display “a coherent tradition of eloquence” that could be understood with respect to the political conditions of its formation and that might be useful for addressing contemporary problems of democratic legitimacy. He admits that his exemplars are a series of “rearguard actions” (193) and rightly cautions against any classicism that would undermine constitutional democracy. He also illustrates the benefit in learning about rhetoric from the disruptions of the tradition. One can, of course, supply caveats and criticisms. For example, the critique of mechanization could be started and developed more theoretically in the Greek texts (not least Isocrates’s Against the Sophists and Plato’s Phaedrus, which is mentioned), and more application to contemporary speakers and practices would have been welcome. Goodman does what he set out to do, however, and provides plenty of arguments and insights that can be taken forward by others.Let me close by suggesting three additional areas for further development of Goodman’s project. The first is recuperating eloquence as a topic for rhetorical studies. It was not that long ago that it was taken for granted, but that may not have been the best approach. The concept has rightly been demoted by practices and aspirations for democratization at many levels, and it certainly should not be used to shut that door again. Eloquence is an end of rhetoric, however, whether in the Roman Senate, the venues of ordinary democracy, the media arts of popular culture, or the most recent viral imagetext. In a time of demagoguery that reduces politics to determinations of group identity, it might be time to take up eloquence as a democratic ideal. Goodman rightly points toward the relationship between these two forms of democratic speech. If eloquence is “an emergent property of certain rhetorical relationships—in particular, the ones characterized by mutual risk” (184)—then it can be a vehicle for democratic renewal, and its loss leads further down the pathway to mechanized risk avoidance, defective speech, polarized audiences, and violence.A second consideration, also following Goodman’s example, is the need for reconsideration of style and of the plain style. After many generations of Strunk and White, writer’s workshops teaching bestseller minimalism, and short-form composition spreading across advertising and social media, modern Atticism certainly has proved its worth. Like Caesar, however, these developments also may have helped flatten rhetorical culture. From the era of the New Criticism to today, they certainly have helped maintain literature and politics as largely separate realms and audiences as consumers more than citizens.Finally, Goodman’s repositioning of Burke within the rhetorical tradition could contribute to a reconsideration of form and formalism as these can be modes for political engagement. The concepts being considered have direct application, for example, to problems such as climate change and global wealth inequity that involve extreme extensions of scale and routinized practices of denial. As Goodman notes, Burke was tuned in to the propensity to try to offload the duress of making political judgments (89)—which was one reason he valued institutions—but today any attempt to cultivate good judgment has to depend more on public culture and, therefore, on artistic forms. Like decorum, form can appear both static and dynamic, self-evident and enigmatic, mechanical and deeply resonant. By endorsing stylistic abundance, mutual risk, and an attempt to articulate the uncanny, Goodman identifies essential conditions for artistic innovation, political participation, and a revitalized public imagination.

Voices of Black Folk: The Sermons of Rev. A. W. Nix, by Terri Brinegar

In Voices of Black Folk, Terri Brinegar provides a careful analysis of the Reverend A. W. Nix’s phonograph recordings. As cutting-edge recorded sound from a prominent and influential minister during the 1920s and 1930s, Reverend Nix’s recorded sermons provide precious, primary-source data concerning the relationship between the efficacy of Black vocal aesthetics and the tectonic shifts occurring within Black communities owing to mass migration. Brinegar argues that the popularity of recorded sermons with “vocal aesthetics of the folk,” or vocal characteristics most associated with poor and working-class southern Black cultures, amplifies critical questions surrounding discourses of racial uplift and complicates more simplistic accounts of their rejection by middle- and upper-class African Americans. Voices of Black Folk is richly interdisciplinary as it conjoins the interests of African American religious studies, sound studies, and rhetorical studies while illuminating the life of an important transitional figure within African American history. According to Brinegar, Nix stood at the intersection of two major cultural and generational transformations. The first was the emergence of the “New Negro,” who was “self-respecting, fearless, and determined in the assertion of his rights.” The second was the dynamic class and cultural stratification occurring in Black communities owing to new employment and educational opportunities (23). As a college-educated pastor, Nix effectively straddled the lines between the working-class vernacular expressions commonly associated with “sanctified” storefront churches and the assimilationist impulses condemning all behaviors considered beneath the “respectable classes” (30).Brinegar provides a rigorous review of the historical and contextual information necessary to gauge the degree, scale, and impact of Nix’s influence and contributions while sounding out the nuances involved in his style of vocal performance. Voices of Black Folk is also greatly enhanced by the interviews Brinegar was able to conduct with Nix’s two surviving children, Genester Nix and Elwood Nix, as well as Genester’s son, Dr. John Wilson. They provide impressive firsthand accounts of their father’s/grandfather’s life and career as well as crucial cultural and historical information that would otherwise be difficult to validate. The first chapter provides important biographical information on Nix and his family in addition to a detailed account of the interaction between Nix and the influential musician, composer, and evangelist Thomas Dorsey. (Dorsey is a major figure in African American history and is widely considered to be one of the most important architects of blues and gospel music.) It also includes an analysis of the cultural impact of Hallelujah (1929), the first all-Black Hollywood film, for its incorporation of Nix’s sermon “Black Diamond Express to Hell.” It concludes with a complete discography of Nix’s recordings. Brinegar then focuses the second chapter on defining Black folk traditions (African American vocal practices that emerged during slavery) and clearly delineating the link between vocal traditions, African American faith traditions, and cultural identity (65). She offers an account of the rhetorical landscape for religious conversion during the era of slavery that accounts for the centrality of the voice and oral culture. For enslaved African Americans, “the voice itself became the means by which to achieve salvation, not just in death, as had been sung in many of the spirituals and preached by slave preachers” (66). Therefore, congregations were moved by deep emotional feelings carried through the voice in a tradition that began with chanted sermons fusing European and African influences. These sounds evolved into a complex homiletic style in which African American ministers could switch “from conversational prose to rhythmic and tonal chanting” to signal “the connection with spirit” (68). Brinegar then expounds on the stigma of slavery that became attached to Black folk expressions, detailing how such expressions became markers of class divisions. Such class divisions were quite evident in Black church communities, and Brinegar carefully applies these distinctions to the churches in Chicago during the 1920s. However, she stresses that these categories were not as rigid as some scholarship implies and that “no singular mode of expression existed for all working-class African Americans with an opposing mode for those in the middle class” (74). Some churches in Chicago, such as Nix’s, were hybrid and embraced both the expressions associated with working-class, “sanctified” Holiness and Pentecostal churches (shouts, jerks, dances, and speaking in tongues) and the respectability politics typically associated with middle- and upper-class churches.Brinegar offers two classifications of sonic modernity for African Americans. First, the section “Creating Modern Black Voices” mirrors the efforts of the protagonist in James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) to view African American sonic traditions as source material ripe for “modernization” (Westernization). This idea encompasses groups such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, whose performances emphasized vocal sophistication and assimilation. The second classification is outlined in the section “Modernized Tradition,” which examines the commercial recordings of African American vernacular and musical performances of folk traditions. This framework helps solidify the location of sonic material within a matrix of cultural crosscurrents surrounding matters of identity, authenticity, and communal status. The recordings of Nix’s sermons fall into the latter category. Brinegar conceptualizes the recorded sermon as “a planned and rehearsed performance outside of its original context” that was transformed into a “modern, hybrid form that combined traditional elements with new technology and reflected the voices of the past in a commercially viable product that was planned, marketed, and sold to consumers” (100). Such recordings “blurred the lines between the demarcation zones of race, class, and geography” and “brought the vocal traditions associated with southern Black Baptist ministers such as Nix into the public sphere” (102).The third chapter of the book presents an analysis of the fifty-four sermons Nix recorded between 1927 and 1931 in Chicago on the Vocalion label. Brinegar also includes an analysis of the minister and social activist Sutton E. Griggs’s recordings as a way of highlighting the divergence between the two men’s vocal performances and thematic approaches. Griggs, a prominent Black minister and orator best known for his novel Imperium in Imperio (1899), embraced Victorian vocal aesthetics, standardized English, and accommodationist solutions to the problem of racial oppression. In contrast, Nix favored pragmatic solutions and African American Vernacular English and used his “booming voice” to perform the musical and improvisational traits of the Black folk vocal tradition (104). Brinegar includes transcriptions of each sermon, a feature that allows the book to pair well with scholarship on African American folklore and culture such as Dance (2002). Nix’s sermons explored a variety of themes, including traditional patriarchal family values, chastity, financial responsibility, education, and Christian morals.The fourth and final chapter presents an in-depth analysis of African American vocalisms and is the crown jewel of the book. In addition to traditional music transcription, Brinegar includes images of the spectrogram, harmonics, frequencies, amplitude, dynamics, and time points in order to capture the rich texture of these vocalizations. Instead of the more uniform approach of European vocal aesthetics, African American vocal aesthetics features a wide range of sounds, including “shouts, moans, calls, cries, whoops, hollers, singing of folk spirituals, use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), improvisation, call-and-response, use of the pentatonic or ‘gapped’ scale, bent notes, ‘blue’ notes, slides, melismas, loud vocal volume, vocal percussiveness, heterophonic textures, use of repetition, use of the entire gamut of the voice, gravelly, raspy, shrill, hard, strained, ‘dirty’ or ‘throaty’ vocal timbre, nasal vocal timbre, use of falsetto, and speech-song, also known as chanting or intoning” (190).Brinegar reviews each of these traditions, employing detailed historical data, contextualization, and transcription that allow her to drill down into a wide range of distinctions, such as the differences between shouts and secular moans or the chanted sermon versus the blues. This chapter also incorporates summaries of the historical origins of particular folk spirituals that Nix included in his recorded sermons. Brinegar’s technical prowess at the nuances of music description allows for a formidable contribution to scholarship on Black expressive culture in the fields of musicology and African American rhetorical traditions.Brinegar’s analysis of Nix’s sermons frames him as a master performer, style shifter, and communicator while securing his place in the rich legacy of Black preachers who were “the catalysts for progress in both the spiritual realm and the material world” (103). It is also a fitting response to the vibrant scholarly discourse on contemporary Black church cultures, such as Jones (2020). Voices of Black Folk makes an obvious contribution to African American religious history, but those with scholarly interests in other major figures, such as Booker T. Washington, Sutton E. Griggs, and Thomas A. Dorsey, will also find it to be an indispensable resource. It could also be read in conversation with a diverse array of texts addressing African American culture and sound, such as Eidsheim (2019) or Weheliye (2005). More importantly, the value of Brinegar’s work extends beyond African American rhetoric and should be regarded as a valuable contribution to the wider field of sound studies focusing on the voice, such as McCracken (2015). Voices of Black Folk valiantly foregrounds an overlooked chapter of African American modernity and, through the figure of the Reverend A. W. Nix, places the Black preacher at the zenith of a sonic, technological revolution.

The Dialectical Questions: Erotemata dialectices, by Philip Melanchthon, trans. and with an introduction by Jeanne Fahnestock

Textbooks on logic of the early modern era—of any era—are forbidding to most scholars. If you are like me, your knowledge of the humanist art of logic is either secondhand, through histories of the subject, or occasional, through chance encounters where the art of logic abuts on your own field of study, say, the history of rhetoric, literary criticism, theology, jurisprudence, or natural history. To paraphrase Benedick, Some achieve logic, and some have logic thrust upon them.In her translation and introduction to Philip Melanchthon’s Erotemata dialectices, which first appeared in 1547 and was among the most significant humanist works on logic, Jeanne Fahnestock has greatly lowered the barrier to entry and made even more approachable a textbook that was written expressly for a general learned audience. In the words of Fahnestock, Erotemata dialectices represents “a global art with an eye to teachers and to Melanchthon’s colleagues across the disciplines” (35). And in her admirable introduction, which includes an overview of the disciplines on which Melanchthon drew to illustrate dialectic, Fahnestock has made a persuasive overture to her colleagues across the disciplines. The publication of The Dialectical Questions, the first translation and the first edition of Erotemata dialectices since the Corpus reformatorum edition of 1846, removes any excuse to continue relying exclusively on secondhand or chance encounters.Erotemata dialectices was Melanchthon’s third textbook on logic, or dialectic, as humanists called it, sometimes with reference to the Greek word dialegomai, which calls up the spoken word. It is twice as long as his prior effort, first published in 1528, and it represents his definitive teaching on the subject. A first impression of three thousand copies sold out within a month of its publication in September 1547, and Melanchthon quickly went to work correcting it for a second edition that appeared in 1548. Erotemata dialectices stayed in print until the first decade of the seventeenth century, running through forty-seven editions concentrated in Leipzig and Wittenberg, the intellectual capitals of Saxony under Albertine rule. It is of “unique historical importance” (4).The uniqueness of Erotemata dialectices lies in its wide-ranging collection of material to illustrate the art of dialectic, its use of natural language or classical Latin to teach the art (characteristic of humanist logic), and its construction of dialectic as an art of teaching. Melanchthon’s contemporary definition of dialectic as the art that teaches how to teach is amply illustrated in this work, which stakes out a limitless domain of learning. Erotemata dialectices is his attempt to demonstrate the truth of Peter of Spain’s observation that dialectic is the art of arts, the science of sciences.Like Melanchthon’s second dialectic, Erotemata dialectices covers in a standard order much of the material of a comprehensive textbook. It appears in four books and proceeds in the order of the treatises in Aristotle’s Organon. Melanchthon treats terms in book 1, propositions in book 2, inference (“argumentation”) in book 3, and topics and fallacies in book 4. All this is presented in a question-and-answer format, which foregrounds Melanchthon’s understanding of dialectic as an art of teaching.To this conventional outline Melanchthon adds sections that advance his humanist commitments. For instance, he adds sections on the “expository genres” of definition, division, and method at the end of book 1. The purpose of these seems to be to keep the art of dialectic in dialogue with the neighboring liberal arts grammar and rhetoric. In book 3, he supplements the rules of the syllogism with forms of argument drawn from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, including enthymeme, induction, example, and sorites. Not all supplemental material runs in the same direction. At the end of book 4, following chapters on the fallacies, Melanchthon offers a chapter on the modes of signifying, partly to lob a few more insults at the Schoolmen (the modes of signifying were studied in treatises called the Parva logicalia attributed to Peter of Spain), partly, it seems, to leave none of the conventional lump unleavened.Melanchthon rehearses the conventional three operations of dialectic (defining, dividing, and connecting). But, in an era of public controversies over matters of faith, he adds a fourth: “unraveling and refuting the incoherent and the false.” This operation frames book 4, the topics, in a way that makes argumentation a kind of telos of topical invention. For this and other reasons, Fahnestock calls the Erotemata dialectices a “global art of argument” (139).Its global quality is immediately apparent. In Fahnestock’s praiseworthy and timely translation, Erotemata dialectices reads like a well-organized abstract of intellectual life at school and university in a time before encyclopedias and databases became the norm, when pupils interrogated teachers, texts, and even things—not devices—and when teachers, texts, and things were considered capable of giving meaningful responses. Queries of the teacher of dialectic mingle here with queries of the theologian, the philosopher, and the physician. What is man? What is a definition? What is virtue? What is a valid inference? What causes pain?Melanchthon observed no boundaries in illustrating the questions asked in a learned environment. In the pages of Erotemata dialectices, a definition of the solstice is followed by a definition of divine grace. An example from botany is followed by a potentially thorny review of penitence. A hypothesis about the circulation of the blood is followed by a clarification of a place in scripture. Conjunctions like these reflect one of Melanchthon’s aims: to shape learned discourse on the model of dialectic as an art of teaching. The textbook captures learned inquiry both as it is and as it ought to be, somewhat like Melanchthon’s declamations, collected and printed in the same era, capture what people say on formal academic occasions and how they ought to say it.Even though academic discourse is the primary object of study in Erotemata dialectices, Melanchthon also attempts to apply dialectic in more general ways. On the importance of “definition,” he writes: “Just as daily prayer reminds us all that whenever we think about God, we should reflect on his definition: Who is it to whom we speak? In what way should He be distinguished from fictitious gods and from evil and pernicious spirits?” (222). Dialectic is thus useful even in prayer, an application Melanchthon advertises in a prefatory letter and illustrates occasionally throughout the text.Erotemata dialectices is by no means unknown to historians of logic and rhetoric, but it stands to be read more widely, and, by translating it, Fahnestock has done a great service to scholars in several fields. Moreover, by collating several editions between 1547 and 1555, she has established a much firmer critical footing than is available in the only modern edition of the text, that of the Corpus reformatorum (which was based on a 1580 edition of Erotemata dialectices). Melanchthon incessantly revised his works on dialectic, and Fahnestock has helpfully recorded his changes to this text in her translation. Passages added in editions following 1547 are marked in the text, brief variants are reported in notes, and longer variants are recorded in appendices at the end of each book. References to column numbers in the Corpus reformatorum edition, on which numerous studies of Melanchthon’s dialectic are based, are helpfully included in the margins.Readers will approach The Dialectical Questions with questions of their own, many of which Fahnestock has anticipated and answered in a rich introduction running to 150 pages. This introduction is a substantial work of scholarship, complete with an up-to-date bibliography, addressed to a broad scholarly audience. In plain language, Fahnestock treats the historical context of Erotemata dialectices, its biographical context, and its relationship to earlier works on the subject by Melanchthon. She also takes up the crucial question of intended audience. If we are to believe the advertisement on the title page, it is for the young, but in fact the book itself, which speaks of students and the young in the third person, implies a teacher who could selectively guide the young through its material. School statutes of the era support this view. Fahnestock also argues a university audience: “In addition to teachers, those actually more likely to read the [Erotemata dialectices] itself and not an abbreviation were the students of dialectic at the university level” (66–67).In the second half of the introduction, Fahnestock turns to the examples that make Erotemata dialectices unique in the history of logic. She reviews these examples under the headings mathematics, natural philosophy (astronomy, astrology, botany), and medicine. She illustrates how special qualities of Melanchthon’s instruction reflect his attention to natural philosophy and how contemporary epochal developments in natural philosophy may have shaped his teaching of dialectic. In these ways, she makes a persuasive case that Erotemata dialectices deserves the attention of a broad array of historians.For this reason, it is fitting that the book appear in the series International Studies in the History of Rhetoric (ISHR). Dialectic does not just abut on the domain of rhetoric; the two arts share common ground. Throughout his career, Melanchthon insisted that rhetoric and dialectic be studied together, and readers in the second half of the sixteenth century seem to have taken this to heart. If you call up a copy of an early printing of Erotemata dialectices, there is a good chance you will find it bound with an early printing of Melanchthon’s third principal work on rhetoric, the Elementa rhetorices. The collection of The Dialectical Questions in the ISHR series argues for the collection of a new English translation and study of Elementa rhetorices. This new volume would be slimmer but could be filled out profitably with translations of De rhetorica libri tres (1519) and Institutiones rhetoricae (1521), both unavailable in English. The question is, Could Jeanne Fahnestock be persuaded to take this on? If not, who will?

The Subtle Subtext: Hidden Meanings in Literature and Life, by Laurent Pernot, trans. W. E. Higgins

The Subtle Subtext: Hidden Meanings in Literature and Life (a translation of L’art du sous-entendu: Histoire, théorie, mode d’emploi [2018]) is an important book by a distinguished scholar, Laurent Pernot, who is a professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Strasbourg, a past president of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, and the author of several significant contributions on classical rhetoric, including the 2015 monograph Epideictic Rhetoric. The book under review should be of particular interest to rhetoric scholars for his analysis of figured speech.The Subtle Subtext deals with its topic comprehensively, inventorying types of subtext, and explaining how subtexts function in myriad contexts. This survey of types constitutes the substance of chapters 1, 3–4, and 7–9 of the book, while chapters 2 and 5–6 are devoted to figured speech, a powerful rhetorical tool, prominent in antiquity, but still woefully understudied.The catalog of examples of subtexts in chapters 1, 7, and 9 certainly bears out the title of chapter 1: “Subtexts All around Us.” Pernot considers the circumlocutions of politeness, the intentional obfuscation of fedspeak, dramatic irony in literature, and the implied meaning in satire, allegory, and fable: all say one thing on the literal level while also implying something quite different. In chapter 7, “Sexorama,” Pernot takes up subtext in the context of allusions to sex acts and body parts—the “art of saying less to imply more” (145). Double entendre, allusions, ambiguous diction, hints, ellipsis, even silence: he offers an impressive range of examples from French, Italian, British, and Russian literature. He supplements these with examples of media reports, perhaps most impressively those describing the death of French president Felix Faure in 1899. The reports of Faure’s death (from apoplexy in the throes of oral sex gifted by his much younger mistress) display a French talent for vicious subtexting.To this cornucopia of allusions Pernot adds in chapter 9 “A Catalog of Further Examples,” demonstrating again his remarkable range of reference. Many of his examples capture what is perhaps the classic use of subtexting: to avoid confrontation or resistance by implying a meaning that is not stated. One of his examples is the French foreign minister’s use of subtext as a strategy of deferral in the UN Security Council. When the United States sought the council’s imprimatur for its invasion of Iraq, rather than oppose the invasion outright the French foreign minister insisted repeatedly that there was at this point insufficient evidence or provocation, stating “Not yet” while subtexting “Never.”Chapter 3 explores how modern theories of the subconscious and literary theories dethroning the author as privileged interpretive authority have complicated our understanding of subtexts. Eccentric overinterpretation, imagined vulgarities, and unintended puns complicate the interpretive challenge. Here, too, Pernot’s range of examples—from Plato and St. Jerome to Ian McEwan and Florence Noiville—impresses. He also identifies ways in which authors and speakers can attempt to limit interpretive possibilities—paratext, asides, or scare quotes, for example.Beginning in chapter 2, Pernot turns to figured speech, a type with a notable pedigree. Indeed, the only “preparatory work to guide the explorer in this field is buried in the writings of the rhetoricians of antiquity,” as Leo Strauss (1941, 11) testified in an essay in which he urged historians to go beyond and behind the literal and actively read for the subtext “between the lines” when interpreting political speech. Drawing on Strauss and on Frederick Ahl’s pioneering 1984 essay, Pernot analyzes the nearly five-hundred-year discourse in rhetoric on figured speech (logos eskhēmatismenos in Greek, figura oratio in Latin). Quintilian, Pernot tells us, is the best guide. He takes up the phenomenon in his general consideration of the figures in the Institutio, specifically under the figure emphasis, which Quintilian defines as occurring “when a hidden meaning is extracted from a phrase,” adding that the figure occurs when we “drop a hint to show that what we want to be understood is not what we are saying” and that this use of emphasis is “very common” (Institutio 9.2.64). Thus, for Quintilian, this variety of subtext is nicely circumscribed: it provides an intentional disguise but a disguise meant to be deciphered by at least some of the audience. A classic case would be rhetorical discourse intended to pass the scrutiny of censors—or, in Quintilian’s context, informers—but be noted by the cognoscenti.According to the Institutio (9.2.64), authors use figured speech for three reasons: safety (Quintilian knew the risk of direct or frank speech in Domitian’s Rome), propriety (frank criticism, even if deserved, can reflect poorly on the critic if, e.g., the person criticized is a friend of the speaker’s or a deeply respected person), and eloquence. Pernot next turns to the books attributed to Hermogenes of Tarsus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, known as “Pseudo-Hermogenes” and “Pseudo-Dionysius,” who emphasize the mechanics of figured speech. The techniques include attenuating or sugarcoating, hinting or slanting, letting the facts speak for themselves, and saying the opposite but in such a way that the audience can still infer the intended meaning (39). Also interesting is Pernot’s analysis of Quintilian’s consideration of figured speech in the context of declamation. Pernot (like Ahl) offers the possibility that Quintilian’s discussion of cases in the context of declamation is itself a disguised form of speech: by analyzing the invented situations of declamation, Quintilian could avoid arousing the wrath that dealing openly with real events might spark (46).Chapter 5, “Greek Pretenses about Rome,” deals with figured speech by colonized subjects under the conditions of the Roman Empire. Greek-speaking elites in Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East often lived privileged lives, at least relative to those generally subjugated by an occupying foreign power. But that privilege came with costs: the need to cooperate with the occupiers, even to participate in propaganda campaigns or at least seem to. Predictably, even those who cooperated mourned the loss of the type of life they lived before they were conquered. These subjects often criticized their rulers safely and decorously using disguised or figured speech.Pernot features two such dissidents, both of them Greek “by language, culture, and identity” (89): Dio Chrysostom (40–110 CE) and Aelius Aristides (117–180 CE). Both used the verb to figure in the technical sense of speech that disguises the orator’s intent to describe their approach, which they used as an alternative to, on the one hand, parrhesia and, on the other, groveling flattery. In his Discourses on Kingship, Dio employs rhetorical techniques that Quintilian and the other theorists identified—ethopoeia, or talking in the voice of, for example, a created character. Dio was “not an opponent” of Trajan’s (99), but he was a proponent of an ideal monarch that he thought Trajan should strive to meet. Rather than state this directly, he imagines a dialogue between Alexander and Philip in which a youthful Alexander presents a portrait of an ideal king to his father. Alexander contrasts this ideal king to a tyrant (98). Dio’s implication is clear enough: Trajan has so far failed.For his second case, Pernot takes up the Encomium of Rome by Aelius Aristides. Aristides—born in Asia Minor, educated in Greece, with a strong Greek identity—would praise Rome reluctantly. Pernot sets out the standard topics under the type “praise of a city,” as set forth in the progymnasmata and elsewhere (102). These topics are employed by Aristides also: he praises Rome’s geography, civil administration, and military prowess, concluding with praise of the emperor Antonius Pius. But, as Pernot points out, it is what Aristides does not say that is telling: no mention of Rome’s famous monuments, its distinguished literature and art, or a single illustrious Roman. An “encomium” of Rome without the Coliseum, the Forum, the Punic Wars, the Gallic campaigns, Cicero, Augustus, Virgil: as Pernot notes, “none of the basics” are mentioned (103), and all are conspicuous for their absence. In Pernot’s reading, the implication is that Rome is but an imperial power, not the center of culture and civilization that Greece was.Chapter 6 takes up the uses of coded languages under the conditions of modern totalitarianism in France under German occupation and in Eastern Europe under the Soviet Union. The goal of figured speech here is to speak to those in the know while escaping the censor. In a long, nuanced analysis, Pernot deals with the case of the distinguished French novelist and poet Louis Aragon. During the German occupation, Aragon practiced what he called contrabande, or “smuggling”: writing poems that were not apparently political but carried a political message or at least expressed emotions that paralleled those felt under the conditions of repression. His stated goal was “‘to get through to large numbers of people without attracting the prohibition of those in power’” (112). Pernot notes the similarity of Aragon’s claim to Quintilian’s: “to plead in such a way that the judges understood what had happened but the informers could not seize on any explicit statement” (Institutio 9.2.74; Pernot 117). Pernot works effectively with Aragon’s complicated intentions and multifaceted allegiances to identify what he “smuggles” into the public sphere.A second case is the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who used figured or disguised speech to counter Soviet repression. Miłosz borrows the Arabic notion of ketman (the art of dissimulation to escape persecution) to characterize his strategy. He and other dissidents in the Soviet sphere employed a number of methods, including deliberate anachronisms, obvious hyperbole, and conspicuous omission. The purpose was typically not to protest but to create solidarity among the resistance of like-minded people (128). Finally, Pernot shows that, in the People’s Republic of China, the limited resistance that can be safely mounted in the Chinese parliament is carried out by familiar means of disguised speech: praising the Party for something it did not want to do or praising only a small section of the prime minister’s speech (128–29).In comprehensively confronting subtexts, Laurent Pernot has defined a linguistic and rhetorical subfield worthy of exploration. For rhetorical critics, especially fruitful are the sections of The Subtle Subtext on figured speech. Susan Jarratt’s 2019Chain of Gold demonstrates how reading a work through the lens of figured speech can bring to the surface a rhetoric of protest otherwise invisible. The Subtle Subtext should make possible similar studies, especially under conditions of modern autocracies where political protest can be registered only indirectly.

Black Dignity: The Struggle against Domination, by Vincent W. Lloyd

This forum is occasioned by the publication of Vincent W. Lloyd’s Black Dignity, a provocative work of philosophy from a scholar whose intellectual efforts emerge from the intersections of race, religion, and politics. Lloyd develops the concept of Black dignity by placing the active struggle against domination at the center of his inquiry, specifically the struggle against anti-Blackness as a defining feature of life in the United States. This philosophical treatise will be of interest to scholars of rhetoric for the variety of reasons outlined in the reviews that follow.There is a dynamic of mutual exchange at work in these pages: scholars of rhetoric elucidate what our field can learn from a philosophical approach to the study of Black dignity and struggle, and they also show how these philosophical insights can be usefully extended. Karma R. Chávez attends to the material and sonic situation of her reading experience, addresses how Lloyd frames the question of domination and struggle, and invokes the work of the rhetoric scholar Josue David Cisneros. Coretta M. Pittman begins with a meditative approach that lingers on Lloyd’s conception of the ontic and the ontological. She then considers the ongoing work of struggle as the site of dignity, positing the convergence of Lloyd’s philosophical investigations and of rhetorical studies in the work of renewal—in finding fresh starts and inventing new paths. Tamika L. Carey closes this forum with advice about how to use fighting words, that is, how to use language in the cause of Black dignity: with precision, intentionality, wisdom, perspective, and a collaborative respect for different techniques of struggle. Positioning her line of thinking within a scholarly constellation shaped by Black feminist, womanist, and Black queer activist thought, she focuses on Lloyd’s conception of Black rage and its connections with rhetorical impatience.Together, these reviews take Lloyd’s work as a jumping-off point for thinking about the role rhetoric plays in the struggle that is Black dignity.T J Geiger IITexas Tech UniversityI settle into writing this while listening to blkbok’s Black Book. blkbok is a hip-hop artist and neoclassical pianist whose first album dropped in June 2021. While his name is a nod to Johann Sebastian Bach, his album is an homage to the Academy Award–winning film Green Book, about the Black pianist Don Shirley’s 1962 tour of the Deep South. The film’s title refers to The Negro Motorist Green-Book, a Jim Crow–era guide (first published in 1936) for Black road-trippers that let them know of friendly places to stop for gas, food, lodging, and the like. The Green Book was an attempt to ensure Black dignity; it was a small but meaningful tool in the struggle against anti-Blackness and domination. It was designed to enable Black folks’ unfettered mobility, whether for leisure or for work. blkbok’s music resonates with this effort. The fit and tattooed Black male artist’s music defies expectations, opens up new possibilities for Black living, and generates conversations. For example, the Black Book track “George Floyd and the Struggle for Equality” is as ragefully passionate as it is devastatingly haunting, and, while only one track among several, it is a reminder, as if one needed reminding, that the struggle is ongoing and that there are many ways to participate in it. Further, as Vincent Lloyd insists, through the many iterations of the struggle for Black lives, dignity is both named and found.Black Dignity is a remarkable work of philosophy. It is written from the vantage point of the radical Black tradition, but Lloyd intervenes in that tradition, often gently identifying its shortcomings and recentering it in Black feminisms. This turn is inherent and overt in his work as he theorizes from within the contours of contemporary Black political movements, the contemporary iteration of which is decidedly Black feminist and queer. Lloyd identifies Black dignity as “the broader philosophical project implicit” in those movements (6). He says simply: “[D]ignity means struggle against domination” (8). Here, he is careful to differentiate between dignity as some achievable status and dignity as “performance, activity” (9). Particularly, he is interested in collective activity. He also cautions his readers to be careful of the seduction of the ontic, the real and object oriented. Instead, he contends that “only ontological struggle, struggle aimed at domination, struggle against the master,” promises true freedom (10).Some contemporary theorizing about Black struggle deploys several catchwords designed to describe the predicament of Black people in the United States, and these words may include oppression, marginalization, suffering, and exploitation. Lloyd convincingly argues that these all miss the mark as they keep us from engaging in the primal relationship of domination, the relationship between master and slave. “Domination is defined by a capacity to act rather than by specific acts,” acts that may result in oppression, marginalization, suffering, or exploitation (10). In other words, when we begin with thinking about domination, we are able to reside in the realm of the ontological, the site of true freedom. Centering attention on the particular results of domination locates us in the ontic, and, from that standpoint, we can never understand the conditions that enable and sustain domination in their wholeness. It is worth noting—perhaps especially for some readers who might think primarily through and with vectors of power that are not Black—that Lloyd does not center Blackness because of some allergy to multiculturalism or from a refusal to accept that other kinds of domination matter. Blackness must be central because it is domination’s “chief paradigm” and, thereby, the best lens through which to understand domination and, more importantly, resist it (27).In laying out his case for the framework of Black dignity, Lloyd asks his readers to accept a difficult truth if we are to believe in what he is offering: “[T]he object of ontological struggle is, by definition, impossible to achieve.” Yet he is not on the side of pessimists, Afro- or otherwise. He goes on: “In the process of struggle, freedom can be dreamed, and such dreams call into question the absolute control of the master—motivating more struggle” (11).I rehearse Lloyd’s central thesis at length because I am persuaded by it, and I want readers of this journal—particularly those who, like me, have invested their lives in the study and practice of struggle—to be persuaded by it, too. His clarity about the conditions we face is born from decades of struggle against and study of domination. And, more than any book I have read recently, his offers us a lens through which to confront the conditions we face. He supplies for us a template for engaging in struggle, an invitation to participate in Black dignity, regardless of the identities we may, ourselves, possess.For scholars of rhetoric, Lloyd’s work resonates with that of Josue David Cisneros, who argues that the study of rhetoric “should be governed by a commitment to such an abolitionist telos” (2021, 95). Like Cisneros, Lloyd is indebted to abolitionist frameworks for his understanding of what the struggle against domination entails. While many reformers dismiss abolitionism as utopian, without a telos centered on the end of domination, reform will only strengthen the conditions of domination. Moreover, Lloyd notes an important role for those who study rhetoric in the project of Black dignity. He writes that philosophy and rhetoric take on a joint task “to narrate connections between primal scenes of domination and domination manifesting in the world”: “This requires telling stories in worldly terms, using words and images that will move readers to join the struggle. Domination tells its own stories that conceal and naturalize it. The task of the philosopher-rhetorician is to out-narrate domination” (163). Readers of this journal might cringe at the reduction of rhetoric to narrative, at the implication that philosophers do the work of thinking, and the fact that rhetoric is presented here as narrative practice. This might be especially hard to swallow given rhetoric’s vexed relationship with philosophy, often positioned as its mere handmaiden.However, if we read Lloyd alongside Cisneros, we can see that the role for scholars of rhetoric is more substantive. If a commitment to an abolitionist telos requires attending to the bordering practices at every stage of the work—from how we understand our object of study to who does and does not inform our thinking—then placing Black dignity at the center of our thinking provides the best possible lens for interpreting such practices. In other words, whatever the form of the intellectual labor, it is incumbent on us to make our scholarly practice part of the struggle against domination. It is necessary that we keep central the primal scene of domination, that we attend to the way in which the rhetorical practices that we perform and those that we critique are struggling against or participating in domination. From here, we begin to participate in the end of the world; we are part of the project of Black dignity.Karma R. ChávezUniversity of Texas at AustinVincent Lloyd’s Black Dignity sets out to examine the ways in which the Black Lives Matter movement’s founders, members, and youth activists reimagine Black dignity in the twenty-first century. Lloyd is quick to point out, however, that the struggle for Black dignity has long been a focal point for Black activists looking to help Black people gain control over their bodies and minds. From Frederick Douglass’s fight with Edward Covey to Martin Luther King Jr.’s active participation in the Montgomery bus boycott, the struggle for liberation and the fight against domination is, Lloyd suggests, Black dignity.Black dignity is an outgrowth of the struggle against domination, yet struggle must also yield other noteworthy ends. In short, Lloyd proposes that there are different kinds of struggles and different ends to be achieved from struggle. The ontic struggle yields a kind of quasi freedom, and the ontological struggle yields full freedom. Ontic struggle, according to Lloyd, means that one struggles against domination to acquire a specific object. The struggle to obtain the object could be the completion of a personal goal. To struggle ontically means that one’s struggle to obtain the specific object is determined by what those in power name as a valuable object. Simply put, Lloyd says: “Each object in our world, where our perception and action are shaped by interlocking systems of domination, is constituted by those regimes of domination” (10). In an ontic struggle, then, Black people’s struggle for liberation is directed by visible and invisible systems of domination, and that struggle may be successful but only insofar as one’s gains are momentary. In other words, Black people can struggle and sometimes win against a materialist domination that leaves them mired in quests for objects that result in personal gratification but not full freedom.Ontological struggle, on the other hand, is a struggle against “domination” itself (10). Lloyd describes the ontological struggle as one focused directly on challenging the oppressive conditions that keep one in bondage. He refers here to the master/slave relationship, which has contemporary corollaries. The slave struggles “against the master” not to acquire the master’s material goods but to demand full freedom (10). The freed person in an ontological struggle both in the past and contemporaneously recognizes that freedom is both an expressive and a physical condition and that the outcome of both is Black dignity.While Lloyd recognizes that the struggle for freedom as both an ontic exercise and an ontological exercise is Black dignity, he is quick to note that an ontological struggle against systems of domination is nearly “impossible to achieve” (11). Returning to the master/slave paradigm as the framework within which to understand how domination functions, he argues that, once the enslaved person dismantles one system of domination, another one replaces it. From enslaved person to emancipated person to quasi citizen to citizen, the systems of domination are arranged in such a way that the “symbols are impermanent” (12). This does not mean, however, that struggle against domination should not persist. The ontological struggle must be constant, particularly for the full liberation of Black people. Lloyd notes, however, that there are so many other forms of domination, including but not limited to “colonial, . . . patriarch[al], and capitali[st]” (14), but points out that anti-Black racism is by far the most acute form of domination and that it is also part of “interlocking systems of oppression” (14–15).How Black people access and acquire Black dignity in the face of domination is complicated by Lloyd’s belief that full freedom from domination is not completely obtainable, but there are theoretical and practical ways to work toward the aims of the ontological struggle. Black philosophy is one such way, and the Black Lives Matter movement’s founders and members provide the language to challenge ongoing systems of domination. Put succinctly: “They articulate a philosophy, a set of ideas about how the world is. This philosophy flows from the claim to Black dignity” (22). To be fair, there are, according to Lloyd, Black American predecessors who have been radical activists calling for the full liberation of Black people, such as Audre Lorde and bell hooks (there are also others unnamed in his book). Nonetheless, in a world where respectability politics is no longer the preeminent philosophy and strategy for contemporary young people and young adult movement leaders, particularly those in the Black Lives Matter movement, their movement strategies are, Lloyd suggests, constitutive rather than reductive. The opening up of the space for difference and an embrace of otherness missing in respectability politics leads Lloyd to argue that the Black philosophy that emerges from the Black Lives Matter platform is a way out of the master narrative and into multiplicity and Black dignity.If one imagines Lloyd’s Black Dignity as a twelve-inch ruler, the kind that secondary school teachers require for the purposes of math work and craft projects, then one might imagine his book as two halves of that twelve-inch ruler. The two halves proffer two kinds of reflection. The first half of the ruler, the theoretical half, explains how the struggle for true liberation in the face of domination is Black dignity. This, in turn, transforms into a philosophy of Black dignity. The second half of the ruler, that is, the second half of the book, outlines the specific structure of Black dignity as a philosophy that is outlined as follows: “Black rage, Black love, Black family, Black futures, Black magic” (21). There, the ontological struggle for full freedom is outlined in a series of chapters that explain how Black philosophy is theorized and practiced. For my purposes here, I focus on the first half of the ruler to propose why Lloyd’s book could prove helpful to rhetoric scholars interested in building on his work and/or supporting established claims that anti-Black racism continues to have real impacts in the lives of American citizens.Although Lloyd acknowledges that there are several kinds of domination at play globally (14), he argues passionately that anti-Blackness is the “preeminent mode of domination” and that “the preeminent struggle is the Black struggle” (32). The last three years—which have included a global pandemic, the high-profile murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of White male vigilantes and White policemen, the summer of racial reckoning, and the ongoing anti-Blackness backlash as one result of the summer of racial reckoning—need continuing intellectual exploration from scholars invested in exposing rhetorics of hate, violence, and rage while also examining rhetorics of dignity, love, futures, and joy.If one is to believe that American democracy is currently teetering on the edge of oblivion, then Lloyd’s ideas about the philosophy of Black dignity remind all that domination is an ongoing enterprise and that the struggle against domination must also be ongoing. This means that scholarly efforts should consistently investigate language use suggesting that a danger point is not really dangerous but merely an inconvenience and show how such language use is indeed dangerous after all. Lloyd recognizes the danger of such obfuscating language use. At one point he suggests: “We come to recognize the ruses of domination, how it makes the bad appear good and the ugly appear beautiful” (31). This was one of Plato’s warnings about rhetoric in the Gorgias. The sophists would teach their students to manipulate language for personal gain, thereby helping them achieve an advantage over and above the good of the people. The counterpoint to Plato’s critique of rhetoric in modern times is the idea of renewal. Scholars of rhetoric have a chance actively to participate in acts of renewal, and Lloyd’s book offers both prescriptive and descriptive ways for scholarly work to build on his theoretical and practical road maps.Lloyd encourages everyone—but particularly Black public intellectuals—to reflect on what they do in their lives as writers and thinkers, on what renewal strategies they might use to get beyond the mundane in their scholarship, and to be true advocates and activists fighting against domination. Scholars have access to resources, particularly human resources—community activists, students, and each other. He suggests directly that scholarship needs to be conducted with the struggle for full freedom in mind and not so much focused on personal outcomes. He knows this is risky business but maintains: “With struggle comes a kind of flourishing that we can never achieve simply by inhabiting a culture well” (155). In the midst of that struggle is Black dignity and the chance for full freedom.Coretta M. PittmanBaylor UniversityThe lay terminologies I use to explain rhetoric to the folk I encounter in my everyday life probably seem rough by academic standards. In no way devoid of intellectual sophistication, these words and phrases simply rely on a form of Black cultural wisdom that is, at best, intuitive and perhaps even passed down among us through the generations. At the base of this pool of wisdom is our shared assumption that our words have weight. Our languages and voices matter. We can spin our words with sophistication, beauty, and joy. When need arises, we can contour our words to build community or to wield as weapons for battle. Our assumption reveals an adherence to the belief that both death and life reside in the “power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). To have the quality of life we deserve, we will have to fight.What can operate to counter this intuitive cultural system is a demand for authenticity and clarity among female Black intellectuals and womanists at the level of language. The charge is to practice, decipher, and require ethical communication. It is a traceable legacy. In the late nineteenth century, Ida B. Wells’s writing ethic mandated that she and others call lynching “by its true name” (Royster 1995). The processes of “coming to voice” or “speaking truth to power” that Patricia Hill Collins (1998, 2012) and others have deemed necessary to resisting oppression carry an expectation of praxis. When the time comes, you must speak boldly and truthfully, particularly in the face of threat. These standards are not only for times of conflict. I can still hear my late grandmother’s admonishment, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” But today it sounds more like a lesson about the importance of integrity regardless of my circumstance. To fight with words requires precision.Vincent Lloyd’s Black Dignity rests precisely in the spaces between intuition and inheritance and precision and praxis. The project emerges from his observation of a shift in political vocabulary among young Black people, many of whom were frontline protestors against the last decade’s resurgence of anti-Black violence. Although Lloyd acknowledges that “[c]ulture provides language, concepts, and repertoires for action, feeling, and thought,” he also recognizes the possibility for individual difference. Our “ontological registers” motivate how we struggle against domination because they can dictate an individual’s motives or “reasons for action in struggle and the feelings elicited by struggle” (171). Since ontological registers are capable of transmitting anti-Black sentiments, Lloyd’s project is to bring oppressive systematic structures, their operation, and how Black Americans understand their relationship to them into clearer resolution. In doing so, his book unpacks how we can understand Black liberation and struggle at a time when our collective conversations about this work are subject to discursive slippage. Through a method that combines deep listening with contextualization and theorizing, Lloyd outlines the dimensions of embodied and performed antidomination work, or Black dignity, culled from the “activist rhetoric” of contemporary movement leaders, the writings of their intellectual foremothers and forefathers, and what he describes as the “crisper, connected concepts” undergirding the philosophy behind these efforts (xii). To fight well is to fight intentionally.The chapter “Black Rage” is a productive example of the kind of conceptual and discursive accuracy toward which Lloyd’s philosophical inquiry pushes us. Following contemporary Black studies scholars, Lloyd identifies the end of multiculturalism’s supposedly peaceful reign and the beginning of contemporary understandings of Black rage as the February 2012 night when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. With the subsequent murder of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer and the corresponding protests, the assumption that Black Americans were angry was not precise enough. The truth was that these murders activated a latent rage that can be made manifest when the collective soul is wounded (40). Lloyd devotes the remainder of the chapter to linking rage to the performance of Black dignity, essentially untethering it from frameworks that strip it from its natural human impulses and from justice campaigns that suppress it in favor of respectable displays of self- and group control. In so doing, he positions it among the resources that Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper, Darnell Moore, and other Black feminists and queer author-activists have wielded to fight domination. With his analysis, he corroborates the claim that “Black rage can build movements” and that Black women have historically been best suited to “discern rage oriented to truth from rage oriented to lies” (54). To fight with wisdom requires perspective.The number of scholars who are likely to see in Lloyd’s argument about ontological registers a resemblance to the assumption that individuals’ ideological orientations directly influence their sense of political consciousness assures me that the claims about rage and discernment he cites will be taken up enthusiastically by rhetoricians. The question that remains for me, however, regards the space between Black rage and rhetorical impatience, which I have defined as “performances of frustration or dismissal and time-based arguments that reflect or pursue haste for the purpose of discipline . . . [and] foreground the assumption that equity and justice for one’s self, Black women, and Black communities is already overdue and, thus, requires speed and decisive action” (Carey 2020, 271). Lloyd does not take up the question of timing that places rhetorical impatience into conversation with scholarship on kairos or the temporal turn in rhetorical studies (Houdek and Phillips 2020). Nor does he acknowledge how “temporal hegemony” pushes “equity and justice further and further out of reach” as I do (Carey 2020, 273). But he illustrates how making accommodations for the future is a mandate of Black rage also. He does not cite Moya Bailey’s concept of misogynoir as the condition of anti-Black misogyny (Bailey 2021) that can precipitate Black women’s rhetorical impatience as I do, but he acknowledges the potency of righteous indignation within these struggles as I have. Whereas I position righteous indignation as a temporary posture that the activist Bree Newsome voiced to show her insistence on the treatment she should receive and the life she must have, Lloyd positions indignation as the outcome of an indignity, a state of being cast off and treated as less than human. Rhetorical impatience transitions the indignant and fatigued from inaction into agency. Black rage transforms the indignant and angry into the dignified. While I have argued that impatience is part of a “self-care” project among Black women, the untethering project that Lloyd’s book invites is necessary at this moment. Impatience is percussive, everyday disruptions invoked on demand. Black rage is an inherent orientation that can be modeled for future generations and, thus, passed down as a legacy. The scale and scope of these concepts are different. To fight collaboratively is to register respect for a technique that can issue a stronger blow.I cannot predict yet whether Lloyd’s book will be cited in one of those periodic reflections on the state of rhetorical studies such as the Octalog, but I believe that it should be. Black Dignity does not purport to teach us how to engage in freedom or liberation work at the level of language, but, with its probing analysis of contemporary social justice discourses, it brings still undervoiced truths to research on social histories of rhetoric.Tamika L. CareyUniversity of Virginia