Alternatives to Argumentation: Implications for Intercultural Rhetoric
AuthorPeirce, Karen Patricia
Committee ChairEnos, Theresa J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAmerican composition classrooms focus on teaching students to be assertive, self-assured, and definitive. What they do not tend to emphasize is how to reach mutual understandings, especially when communication takes place across cultural borders. This dissertation explores interdisciplinary perspectives on intercultural communication and alternatives to argument to suggest possibilities for building a rhetoric that better enables understanding between cultures. In this text I challenge assumptions about culturally based rhetorical strategies, question the tendency to teach argumentative writing in American composition classes, propose rhetorical strategies for reaching mutual understanding across cultures, and show the positive feelings of contemporary university students toward nonargumentative writing assignments.This dissertation has two main aims. The first aim is to show that trying to manufacture a one-to-one correspondence between a culture and its communication strategy is not as straightforward as it may seem. Such efforts not only tend to essentialize the differences between cultures, but they also ignore the multiple strategies that people from all cultures use to deal with complex rhetorical situations. By analyzing press releases from both the United States and North Korea, I show that categorizing an entire culture's communication style under one label is a mistake. Instead, I show that in different situations both Americans and Koreans use a variety of rhetorical strategies in their communication. The second aim of this dissertation stems from the first. Once I have shown that people across cultures are both the same and different and that our use of language reflects this reality, I call for a change in our educational practices in order to better reflect these complexities. I show how teaching alternatives to traditional academic argumentation can better foster intercultural understanding by describing a research-based writing assignment I designed that asks students to explore controversial issues nonagumentatively. This assignment encourages students to explore the many facets involved in complex situations and avoid simplistic either-or thinking. In meeting this challenge, students often make use of collaborative writing and go beyond traditional text formats to create hybrid texts. Overwhelmingly they report positive reactions to such innovative writing strategies.
Degree ProgramRhetoric, Composition & the Teaching of English