Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another idea for RSA: Rhetorical Agency for the "Orphan of Asia"

Here's another timely topic for the upcoming Rhetoric Society conference. It's another one I am interested in, but don't have time right now to explore.

Earlier this month, Michael Turton wrote a post about the U.S. government's response to a teleconference between Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and members of the National Press Club. This teleconference was (predictably) denounced by the PRC, and U.S. government officials avoided the event. According to a Taipei Times article that Turton quotes, "at least one [U.S. State Department] official charg[ed] that Chen's appearance violated the US ban on Taiwanese presidents visiting Washington". Turton comments,
In other words, officials within the US State Department -- thankfully not the whole State Department -- decided to take the exact position that Beijing had advanced: that pixels containing Chen Shui-bian's image should not be allowed to re-assemble themselves on digital screens inside the territory of the United States, especially when accompanied by audio.
The Taipei Times article also notes that no one from the State Department attended the teleconference.

This made me think of a question that Cheryl Geisler noted was raised by Joshua Gunn in a discussion of rhetorical agency at a meeting of the Alliance of Rhetoric Societies: "Under the impact of digital technologies, we have the ability to be in virtual places beyond our physical reach--how does this affect agency?"

The answer in this case seems to be "not a whole lot", but I'd be interested in hearing the views of those who have studied rhetorical agency (particularly in digital environments) in more depth than I have.

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