Chapter 15

Lessons from the YMCA

The material rhetoric of criticism, rhetorical interpretation, and pastoral power

Ronald Walter Greene


The problematic situation of rhetoric’s materiality emerges from within the desire of rhetorical scholars to maintain rhetoric as a practical art situated in time and space while also advancing rhetoric as an interpretive art robust enough to isolate the influential character of nearly anything. As a practical art, rhetoric’s materiality is registered in how humans craft discourse for the purpose of making public decisions. As an interpretive art, rhetoric’s materiality is often recorded in the growth of objects that exhibit social influence. From speeches to soap operas and from movies to sculpture, rhetoric’s ...

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