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In this CIHK webinar, we will discuss the material conditions of and historical background to the use of Classical Chinese or Literary Sinitic in writing-mediated brush conversation between literati of Sinitic engaged in cross-border communication within Sinographic East Asia or the Sinographic cosmopolis, which corresponds with today’s China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan (including Okinawa, formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom) and Vietnam. Compared with speech as a modality of communication, real-time writing-mediated interaction between talking humans, synchronously face-to-face, seems uncommon. In any society, speaking is premised on one condition: the interlocutors must have at least one shared spoken language at their disposal, but even then, there are circumstances under which speaking is either physically not feasible or socially inappropriate. Could writing function as an alternative modality of communication when speaking is not an option due to the absence of a shared spoken language, as in cross-border communication settings? Whereas real-time writing-mediated face-to-face interaction is rare where a regional lingua franca was known to exist (e.g., Latin and Arabic), there is ample historical evidence of literati of Classical Chinese or Literary Sinitic from different parts of Sinographic East Asia conducting ‘silent conversation’, synchronously and interactively in writing mode using brush, ink, and paper. Such a pattern of writing-assisted interaction is still practiced and observable in pen-assisted conversation – pen-talk – between Chinese and Japanese speakers today, thanks to the pragma-linguistic affordance of morphographic, non-phonographic sinograms (i.e., Chinese characters and Japanese kanji). We will outline the historical spread of Classical Chinese or Sinitic texts from the ‘center’ to the ‘peripheries’, and the historical background to the acquisition of literacy in Sinitic by the people there. Their shared knowledge of Sinitic helps explain why, for well over a thousand years until the 1900s, literati from these places were able to speak their mind by engaging in ‘Sinitic brush-talk’ 漢文筆談 in cross-border communication.
Even date: 13/5/2022
Speaker: Prof. David C. S. Li
Hosted by: Confucius Institute of Hong Kong, Department of Chinese Culture
InThe Centrality of Style, editors Mike Duncan and Star Medzerian Vanguri argue that style is a central concern of composition studies even as they demonstrate that some of the most compelling work in the area has emerged from the margins of the field. Calling attention to this paradox in his foreword to the collection, Paul Butler observes, "Many of the chapters work within the liminal space in which style serves as both a centralizing and decentralizing force in rhetoric and composition. Clearly, the authors and editors have made an invaluable contribution in their collection by exposing the paradoxical nature of a canon that continues to play a vital role in our disciplinary history."
The second in a two-volume set, A Theory of Literate Action draws on work from the social sciences—and in particular sociocultural psychology, phenomenological sociology, and the pragmatic tradition of social science—to "reconceive rhetoric fundamentally around the problems of written communication rather than around rhetoric's founding concerns of high stakes, agonistic, oral public persuasion" (p. 3). An expression of more than a quarter-century of reflection and scholarly inquiry, this volume represents a significant contribution to contemporary rhetorical theory.
The first in a two-volume set, A Rhetoric of Literate Action is written for "the experienced writer with a substantial repertoire of skills, [who] now would find it useful to think in more fundamental strategic terms about what they want their texts to accomplish, what form the texts might take, how to develop specific contents, and how to arrange the work of writing." The reader is offered a framework for identifying and understanding the situations writing comes out of and is directed toward; a consideration of how a text works to transform a situation and achieve the writer's motives; and advice on how to bring the text to completion and "how to manage the work and one's own emotions and energies so as to accomplish the work most effectively."