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Michael OSteen Rhetorical Citizenship Wolcott ENC 3331 0M02 Spring April 11, 2014 Get Off Your

Keister Amy Wan has thought more about citizenship than I have. She describes citizenship as a super-term, one that can encompass many definitions (29). That relegates defining such a term to the realm of quandary. Its a dark and murky game we are playing. It could be assumed that flavorfully modifying citizenship with rhetorical would make the rules of this game more easily understood, and thus, more easily played. I develop an argument that these terms must be understood together in order to arrive at what has been generally only thought of as citizenship. Citizenship only has legal ramifications, and much of the tailspin resulting from the discussion about citizenship can be recovered in the ideals of rhetorical citizenship. At Citizenships Line of Scrimmage Citizenship is the ground of competing discourses. The values that one person holds are often the marked opposition of another. The agora is decidedly pluralistic. Im not trying to be lofty; people just disagree. For this reason, I believe citizenship is best understood in a declarative sense. Citizenship is a legality. The appeal to your rights as a citizen is the only thing that matters. Here, I need to remark on Amy Wans insights into the evolving conversation on citizenship from In the Name of Citizenship: The Writing Classroom and the Promise of Citizenship:

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Strict legalists may be puzzled by debates over definitions of citizenship or even discussions of citizenship in educative spaces because they view citizenship as a legal category...but citizenship theorists have expanded thinking about citizenship beyond legal status to understanding citizenship as cultural identity, standing and status, civic virtue, everyday habits and participatory action. (33) I do not wholeheartedly disagree, and certainly, this is the case. My contention is that participation is protected by legality. In the discussion on citizenship we should be wary of creating too much commentary on right action and place our emphasis on the legal aspects of citizenship that allow the potential for right action to occur. The Rhetorical Umph Rhetoric can be simply understood. From the heights of Aristotle to just about yesterday, rhetoric can be understood as persuasion. As Ive set out to define rhetorical citizenship, Id like to limit rhetoric to persuasion. I am not going to get anywhere by toting the axiom, Rhetoric is everything!" With this, I embark in good company. Aristotle, the shadow silhouetting all of Western philosophy, sees it quite clearly that the line of inquiry proper to this craft is concerned with convincing arguments (519). Flash forward a few thousand years, and, in his introductory remarks of Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, Sam Leith continues to use the prop of rhetoric as one person trying to persuade another person of a truth or an ideal (9). Thats a definition I can work with. Citizenship on a Deserted Island Citizenship, on the other hand, still needs more by way of clarification. I mentioned earlier that in defining citizenship we should not place emphasis on right

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action over legality. Legality can give us great inferences into what right action entails. The over emphasis of right action connects any attempts to define citizenship to rightly held beliefs, and not rightly held beliefs about citizenship mind you, but rightly held beliefs on how to enact citizenship, or better yet, the reasons why to enact citizenship. That only helps use define the importance of citizenship. Though significant, it is something a step removed from the task at hand. In order to define citizenship I would like to explore what it is and what it isnt. Citizenship does not exist on a deserted island. If a group of people happen to become stranded on that island, citizenship potentially begins the instant they decide not to go their separate ways. It must be interactive, and this interaction must bring with it the opportunity to be responsible about the course of action the party will take. It is this opportunity that I define as citizenship. Rhetorical Citizenship Assembled This allows me to a further develop a definition of rhetoric as responsive to the parameters of citizenship I have established. If persuasiveness is at the heart of rhetoric, then rhetorical strategies round out any attempt to define rhetoric. Rhetoric as persuasion takes into account the seasons, situations, and styles at its disposal. Rhetoric becomes the means utilized in order to obtain an intended impact. It is citizenships essential modifier if we are to make a clear distinction between citizenship and its use. I hope you are beginning to see how I have been threading these two terms together. I want to make it clear that Amy Wan is spot on. Ideas about citizenship are increasingly expansive. That is why referring to this trends headway as rhetorical

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citizenship is so essential. I have established that if citizenship is understood as the opportunity to be responsible about any given course of action, then rhetorical citizenship is the utilization of such responsibility. It is exactly what has been pinpointed solely as citizenship, but with a modification that justifies such a broad understanding of the term. The failure to utilize the opportunity of responsible citizenship does not make someone an un-citizen. I believe I have found quite a nice analogy in Isocrates Antidosis, and I am sure that such a fine Greek rhetorician would be comfortable with me taking the liberty: Those who become skilled speakers by nature and luck do not aspire for what is best but are accustomed to use words as they come. One the other hand, those who acquire this ability by means of philosophy and reasoning do not speak thoughtlessly and are less careless in their affairs. (258) The naturally skillful speaker would do better to hone any ability they already possess in the same way someone trying to acquire that ability would. The purpose is to become a skilled citizen. The purpose is to become a citizen that leverages their rights as a citizen. What is the beating heart of rhetorical citizenship? What is the ultimate aim of rhetorical citizenship? The pulse of rhetorical citizenship is the continuation of rhetorical citizenship just as one heartbeat follows another. The aim of rhetorical citizenship is in direct proportion to its greatest fear: the end of rhetorical citizenship. Rhetorical citizenship seeks to keep the opportunity of responsible citizenship breathing. It aims to

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broaden the horizon of leverage. To do this, rhetorical citizenship embodies the ideal of engaging the disengaged. ENC 3331 for Everyone Amy Wans In the Name of Citizenship: The Writing Classroom and the Promise of Citizenship makes the basic assumption held by a host of scholars that successful writing instruction plays a key role in making good citizens and situates the classroom as a space that can reinvigorate democratic and participatory citizenship (29). I believe this is right in line with the heart of rhetorical citizenship. Rhetoric & Civic Engagement (ENC 3331) will certainly continue to play a great role in my own participation, but I also think that it will have a much greater impact considering its alignment with the ultimate goal of writing instruction expressed throughout universities nationwide. As more and more students begin to seriously consider their rhetorical agency we will be in a better position to qualify just how important the classroom is. Of my experiences in Rhetoric & Civic Engagement, what surprised me the most was the general willingness people had in collaborating with me. I found total strangers willing to help me. This alone may make the way I live a little bit more adventurous. Not only the readings assignedmany of them referenced hereinbut also the progressively-minded class projects have helped me reach my conclusions in this fartoo-many-rabbit-trails paper on defining rhetorical citizenship. The most rewarding efforts was our contribution to the Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP). TrIP was started by David Moran and Patrick Greene to bring together Orlandos art community with our citys public transit system. Theyve actually gathered quite a lot of attention from Orlandos transit authorities, and who knows, maybe enough attention might lead to

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some changes. Whereas my endeavor with Orlandos transit system explored ideas between the relationship of convenience and transportation, many of my fellow students did some hard-hitting investigation that gives us a glimpse into the difficulties mingled in with public transit. In this, putting our voices out there has been an act of rhetorical citizenship. Guerrilla Kindness Our involvement with the Transit Interpretation Project and the assessment of our rhetorical velocity allowed me to cross paths with Brendan OConnor and the SIT Project. The SIT Project was Brendan OConnors solution to the drab corridors of Orlando. Many of the bus stops on any LYNX route do not have any place for the friendly commuter to sit. Thats where the SIT Project comes in. In the span of four years, Brendan OConnor planted over 300 artfully designed chairs throughout the Orlando neighborhoods surrounding him. The SIT Project gained the momentum of numerous media outlets and established a contact with the LYNX authorities. I am not sure what solutions were reached, but outside of the weather sheltered bus stops, there is still no place to sit for the everyday commuter. This made me begin to think of the importance of just doing something. Do-it-yourself (DIY) has become the clarion call for all modern day hobbyists. Want to build a new deck? DIY. Is your clothing coming apart at the seams? DIY. Want to rewire your house? I dont recommend it. Yeah, to the people who are eternally trying to save the money they dont have, DIY is nothing new. In the world of kitchen remodeling, DIY is dead. In the world of no-one-will-listen-to-us, it can still mean something.

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Mathieus Tactics Paula Mathieus Tactics of Hope: The Public Turn in English Composition explores the unique relationship between rhetorical strategies and citizenship from a marginalized base. Her editorial work with StreetWise, Chicagos street newspaper primarily focusing on the issues of homelessness and poverty, gives her a considerable authority in speaking to the rhetorical strategies necessary for effective citizenship from places where social change seems impossible. People in these places often times do not have institutional support, and have to take a tactical approach to make their voices heard (Mathieu 32). As a writing professor, Mathieu advocates for the use of tactical writing to counteract the silence: This is the heart of a tactical approach to writing: One works for and hopes for change in the powerful systems that script our society, but one does not look to transactional rewards as a needed extrinsic exchange for the act of writing. The doing of the thing itself has to be enough pleasure or reward, because being heard in a fractured public and making change in the world is a slow and unpredictable process (47). Whether it is writing or any another avenue, a tactical approach is sometimes the only way to add the rhetorical umph to citizenship. This brings up an interesting dimension in the commonalities shared in Mathieus tactics and this semesters experiments in participatory citizenship. Consider that out of the 300 chairs that colored the bus stops of Orlando perhaps only one remains. Consider the raised but still marginalized voices of public transportation with the Transit Interpretation Project. Along with Mathieus adventures with StreetWise they all share the same self-starting DIY mentality: a

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mentality that is necessary in trying to make a use of a citizenship you dont even think is working for you. Rhetorical Citizenship Revisited The beauty of rhetorical citizenship is that those who are marginalized have access to it. If citizenship is understood as a legality, then it is protected. If the reason why it is protected is the basic assumption that a person should be able to make decisions about their future, then even those that do not have legal status can participate in the process. If Isocrates chided people with natural speaking abilities who do not strive for the development those abilities, then it would be appropriate to harp on citizens that do not make use of their citizenship. In this, an immigrant farmworker in protest exudes more of the applaudable qualities of citizenship than someone who would at minimum cast a vote but wont. If citizenship is understood as a legality, then it establishes a dialogue for those who are rhetorical citizens in the most basic sense to have access to it by sharing in the same spirit of it. Becoming part of the process is the only way to challenge it. Rhetorical citizenship acknowledges that you can shape it. Only that it must continue the process and not sink into the depths of tyranny. Amy Wans assessment of our ever-growing and complex understanding of what it is to be a citizen is correct. It is ever-growing and complex. It needs to be simplified. I believe that in limiting citizenship to a legality we have made the proper distinction between citizenship and its use. I have properly defined rhetorical citizenship as this use. This distinction needs to be upheld in order to maintain a level of clarity in the continually unraveling conversation about citizenship.

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Works Cited Aristotle. Aristotle: Selections. Trans. Terence Irwin and Gail Fine. Indianapolis/ Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1995. Print. Isocrates. Isocrates I. Trans. David Mirhady and Yun Lee Too. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000. Print. Leith, Sam. Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. New York: Basic Books, 2012. Print. Mathieu, Paula. Tactics of Hope: The Public Turn in English Composition . Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc., 2005. Print. Wan, Amy. In the Name of Citizenship. College English 74.1 (2011): 28-49. Print.