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Rhetoric and Economics

Workshop Leader:

Mark Longaker, University of Texas at Austin

Deirdre McCloskey and James Aune both encouraged scholars to see economics as a discipline that uses rhetoric.  Their work, heavy with rhetorical analyses of economic arguments, spurred other inquiries.  We have since learned that rhetoric and economics share much more than common persuasive strategies.  The disciplines share people.  Many of the early and august economists were also rhetorical theorists.  They share history.  Simultaneously during the Enlightenment and thereafter, rhetoric and economics developed, the one inquiring into liberal civil society and the other investigating capitalist free markets.  They share information.  Economic ideas have influenced rhetorical theories, and rhetorical theories have appeared in economic arguments.  And they share influence.  Economic circumstances bear upon persuasive efforts, and persuasive rhetoric changes economic circumstances.  Instead of concluding that economics is rhetorical--McCloskey’s and Aune’s initial theses--we might conclude that economics is a rhetorical system and rhetoric is an economical discipline.  

To prepare for this workshop, participants will read selections that take various approaches to the interconnection between rhetoric and economics: writings by Aune, McCloskey, and others including but not limited to Joyce Carter, Ronald Greene, Dana Cloud, David Gore, and Richard Lanham.  Together, based on these readings, we will discuss the principal and potential connection(s) between rhetoric and economics. Following this initial conversation, we will spend most of our time reviewing and improving work (project proposals, conference papers, chapters, articles, etc.) by the workshop participants. Those applying to this workshop should send a brief (one paragraph) description of what they would like to workshop and a suggested reading selection.  Before the workshop, each participant will be asked to provide the piece of writing that s/he would like to workshop.  All participants will receive and will be asked to read two packets, one containing published selections and the other containing the works in progress that we will discuss and develop.

Questions should be directed to Mark Longaker, longaker@utexas.edu


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