September 16, 2012

"Truths Agency"

When reading Campbell I could not help but notice how she speaks of Truths agency, rather than calling her the agent. I felt that I started seeing more clearly the lines of what agency is and what an agent is. Truth is surely both. Much of her agency, as Campbell tells us, is lines reiterated from others as a part of the movements she is speaking about. This is what also makes her an agent; what Truth speaks about is larger than her own sufferings and she becomes an agent for the pain all women and slaves.  Being able to recognize how an agent and agency are different allows you to see how each work together. The two ideas coincide so much that is difficult to explain how they work so I will try to list them:

  • The agency is the argument for women's rights, as well as slaves.
  • Truth becomes the agent for these arguments, an icon.
  • Gage's text becomes an agent for these ideas, especially since she dramatizes them all for more effect. 
  • The agency of the text is still Truth, creating a double agent/cy  since the text is also an agent.
By looking at it this way I was finally able to see how agency and the agent are separate. Agency is a person or what it represents, Truth was an agent for the agency of a movement, two movement. Then there is a paradox, for Truth became a part of the agency for Gage's text, the text being the agent, yet Truth was represented as the agent in the text for the ideas represented.

1 comment:

John Smith said...

I see your dilemma, the definition is bogged down with so many connotations to other notions of rhetor like power, discourse, action and what not, that it's hard to come up with something solid and universal. However, maybe this will also help distinguish, and combine the ideas of agent/cy. In conjunction with power, discourse, and the collective, agency could be seen as something conferred, and not inherently exhibited. Truth had agency, but that was because she was recognized by her peers of the same movement, that she had a story to tell. Also, agency was conferred by Gage's text, in pushing her speech in the realm of the anti-abolitionists. However, Truth, as you said, is also an agent because she had (in Campbell's words), "the capacity to act, that is, to have the competence to speak or write in a way that will be recognized or heeded. by one's community" (Campbell 3) The idea of the agent then, is the appropriation of power and discourse on a personal level, while the idea of agency is something reflexive, and given, similar to honor.

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