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GROSS, Alan G.

Spring 2005, pages 5 - 22

Presence as Argument in the Public Sphere

ABSTRACT: Chaim Perelman's concept of presence is extended and enriched by applying it to a historical museum exhibit that commemorated a watershed of Austrian history, the Anschluss of 1938. To understand the argumentative effect of presence in this exhibit, new rhetorical categories are deployed: foreground and background, space, and time. These are managed in the interest of an ideological position: to free the Austrian conscience and consciousness from the burden of memory created by the disproportionate participation of Austrians in the Holocaust. Finally, a basic problem with presence is addressed: its apparent incompatibility with any form of rational argumentation.
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