December 1, 2012

Up The Yangtze

Something I found interesting about Up The Yangtze was when the narrator in the beginning said something about the people going on the river cruise to see what they thought was the "Old China," when in fact it was disappearing right before their eyes. The hybridity of cultures on the boat and their perceptions of China gave the documentary depth because they all were experiencing a different China.

The Chinese employee on the boat were working as their home disappeared around them, like in the case of the young girl, Yu. On the other hand, the western passengers were given an entirely different view of China since for most, it was their original perspective.

November 26, 2012

Terministic Screens meets Gates

We ended today's class with,

"Is Gates’ critical concept of  “race” simply another example of Burke’s  terministic screen,” or should we call it something else? We were discussing in class that according to Gates, African-Americans have historically felt obligated and restricted to speak as Anglo-African writers. “Ironically, Anglo-African writing arose as a response to allegations of its absence" (Gates 11). But does one have to know their race to write about it?

Dialectical Materialism

When it came to defining the term "Dialectical Materialism", I went to the the OED. They gave me this definition:

"Belonging to, or of the nature of, dialectic in its later philosophical developments of meaning. spec. dialectical materialism, the theory propagated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels according to which political events or social phenomena are to be interpreted as a conflict of social forces (the ‘class struggle’) produced by the operation of economic causes, and history is to be interpreted as a series of contradictions and their solutions (the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis of Hegelian philosophy)."

The "Other" in 21st Century

The question was brought up in class who or what could be the "other" in the 21st century and this question was complicated to me because the 21st century has had a time when women were othered, African Americans and people from the middle east. Women were the other when Hilary Clinton was running for President and this brought out the bias of people who did not agree with a women being president. when 9/11 happened the middle eastern people became a automatic enemy depsite their accomplishments as Americans and them being individuals. When Obama became president of the U.S many people believed the African Americans being an "other" had been erased because he was a good speech maker, but when looking at "racial alienation with economic alienation (Gates 6)" it can be seen that African Americans are still the "other" in the 21st century. I say this because they are still the minority in businesses and they have reserved beds in prisons waiting for them. As a people, they are not respected enough in any industry and it is still believed that "black people are regelated to a lower place in the great chain of being (Gates 8)." Black people are still dealing with this 'trap' Gates discusses as being "inversion 'race' as a term for an essence (Gates 13)" and "indenture (Gates 13)."


Gate’s text really hit home on the theme of language function for me. He spoke about the way people abuse of language to create the differences of race. I’d like to dedicate this post to my questions on the functions of language. Prior to this class I thought language was just a way to communicate what already existed, but between this reading and last weeks, I see how to use language to create the world the way we want to see it. If there is no word for something does it still exist? Can we bring a feeling or movement into existence by simply naming it?


I found Henry Gates Jr. to be spot on when it comes to the idea that physical attributes are not the only way people can be classified into a race. Like Burke's terminatstic screens Gates believes that can be created within a text and are associated with people by people. Race is a very ambiguous terministic screen simply because people do not have the same views of others. Race is a social construct since a person can be considered part of certain group by their location that they were born or their religion. I myself have been told hundreds of time that I am not white because I am Jewish. Being Jewish is not a race but to many people it is and with that reinforcement placed on me many times over I have caught myself identifying myself as Jewish when race is brought up in a conversation.

Screens will always play a huge role in "Race"

Gates refers to how language is used to transcribe how we feel about “race” and how the use of language allows us to maintain a biological criteria different than all others. Through our own terministic screens we all look at African-Americans differently, but the common use of derogatory language will always present a sense of a natural difference that isn’t like the differences in sex.

With regards to the use of careless language Gates notes, “To do so is to engage in a pernicious act of language, one which exacerbates the complex problem of cultural and ethnic difference, rather than to assuage or redress it.”

The Racial Trope

As I was reading Gates' essay, his statement, "Race... pretends to be an objective term of classification, when in fact it is a dangerous trope," stuck out to me quite a bit when I was reflecting on the essay. Racism throughout history was and still is just that-- a trope that people use for generalizations, comparisons, and reasoning for arguments. I have never learned about the racism in literature before, so seeing how Gates introduces his point on demonstrating "the emblem that links racial alienation with economic alienation" through literature and the reading/writing abilities of Africans showed how such tropes are perpetuated. 


"Current language use signifies the difference between cultures and their possession of power, spelling out the distance between subordinate and superordinate, between bondsman and lord in terms of their race." (6)  I believe this quote is worth looking in to in terms of Gates definition of race.  Gates identifies race with tropes, believing race to be a category from which literary works can be understood and judged by.  I believe that though this subject may make some uncomfortable to talk about, it is a factor that remains and must be acknowledged.  Gates talks about "otherness" and how those not in the dominant culture (race) are made out to be "others" who are different or "less than".  Through establishing tropes by using terms such as cracker or nigger these concepts or superiority and otherness are reinforced.

Racial Screens

I believe that Race, as it is presented in "Writimg Race and the Difference It Makes", is an interesting element to examine in literature. I think it ties in a lot of literary tools we have learned about in class, such as genre, terministic screens and author function.

Throughout history, Especially western culture, it is obvious why race mattered, even if it is just a metaphorical idea rather than an actual thing. Because, as a society, we have for the most part played up the role of the author, it is no surprise that the race of this author made a difference. After all, every race has not always been equal in America. Had we all listened to Barthes and paid no heed to the author, instead letting him "die" at the beginning of the text, race would make no difference. But, as I analyzed when we originally read Barthes, I don't think that all authors would want themselves divorced from their text. Some authors, like the example discussed in this article, with an African American poet wanting to be seen just as a poet, would agree with Barthes. But authors who want to speak for their race or for their culture want this identification.

The 'Race' to literary equality

Gate composed a very interesting piece about race and literature. To begin with I could have argued that race was a dying critique had I read this a few months ago but in the wake of such a controversial election I was shown how divided many people are on such an issue. I could have easily thought thy race and literature could be judged on one plane but its evident that today these divisions need to still be in place just as they were when we read the speech written by a white wan and then spoken by a black women which change the entire meaning and rhetoric of those words. Who says what completely reflects on what is being said. The divide between when people of different races speak on the same topics is one that is not going away any time soon, whether between blacks and whites or between middle-easterners as we have seen still have plenty of issues to resolve before them.

Race and Literature

Henry Louis Gates Jr approaches the situation of race within literature and the study of it in the introduction Writing "Race" and the Difference It Makes. He likens any literature other than mainstream literature written be western white people as being "other." In this particular essay, "otherness" refers to sub groups of people other than white and specifically African American. Gates specifically talks about the lack of an existence of "other" literature. Gates claims that race is still an important factor today and has not changed much in post colonial America. An important claim that Gates makes is that "race, in these usages, pretends to be an objective term of classifications, when in fact it is a dangerous trope" (Gates 5).

Gynocriticism-Discussion Term

  • Refers to feminist criticism (emerged in U.S. around 1970's)
  • Focus is on literary works by women 
  • "special and explicitly female tradition exists in literature..."
  • power is within own female communities and traditions 
  • removing the comparison of women to men
  • "female language" : empowers females and their writing
  • refer to feminine subjects, "such as domestic life, intimate experiences and personal and family relationships"
  • separates from men and masculinity

This term can be applied to the reading on Helen Keller. As some may argue that they do not see her as a rhetorical theorist, I think that her own, personal, experiences as a woman and a blind woman at that, give her all the power to be named a rhetorical theorist. She is able to experience her own communities as a woman and a handicapped woman. She was able to create her own language as a female herself and empower other women through her own experiences. Not only does she make use of "female language" but it is also enhanced by her language as a woman with a handicap. She still experience domestic life as a woman and family life as a woman. Her experience with her handicap would have been much different if she had experienced as a man. 

"Race Is A Fiction"

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes an impressive critique on race in his essay, Writing "Race" and the Difference It Makes. Within the essay, he points out how race, throughout history, has had an imprint on literature and the way that we view literary society.

On page 4, Gates states, "Race, as a meaningful criterion within the biological sciences, has long been recognized to be a fiction" (Gates 4). He goes on to say that the idealized races that we talk about are generally metaphors in which certain predisposed traits have been assigned. I agree that race is a somewhat social construction, and even though race was not always an issue in writing, I think that cultural differences between the writings of different races are often apparent, especially in fiction writing, since many writers pull from their own experiences. Aside from that, I do not think race has anything to do with literature. Gates states how, in the past, people arrived at the conclusion that "Blacks and other people of color could not write" (9). This obviously shows an ignorance of the times, and a bogus social construction with nothing to back it up.  

Race In Society

After reading I wasn't surprised at all by any of the claims stated in the reading, i was surprised somebody else finally had the same train of thought as I. Gates open a Pandora's Box that is the concept of what really defines a race and takes a step at calling it a trope which i can agree with.

Being black myself I have dealt with this personally on many levels. In Miami, there are people who are black yet don't identify with the society's concept of Black but instead with being Hispanic or of foreign descent. The idea that we let a term represent such an ambiguous meaning is in fact wrong in my opinion. Therefore, this does relate to terministic screens except from a sociological standpoint. However, one more way t relates is through genre.

Writing Race: western/othered literature

I want to engage an early point made in this article. Gates notes that canonized literature is literature written by white people, mostly men, and asks why the literature of other cultures is considered specific to their culture and not part of a universal canon. I think that this is because white experiences are considered to be universal and the experiences of people of color is considered to be other. This is harmful because it sets anyone who is not white as an other, someone that cannot be related to unless they are like you. I also think, though, that in some ways having a distinct branch of literature can be beneficial. For instance, I took a class on Latin American Lit, being Latina myself. Because this type of literature was not absorbed as 'universal canon' I was able to read literature specifically by and about people from similar cultural backgrounds to myself. I think that in order to not other various cultural literature, it should be admitted that what is considered universal canon should rightfully be labeled as white literature, or something similar. Admit that it is what it is.

Race in all.

From Henry Louis Gates to Zora Neale Hurston to Langston Hughes, there have been scores of African American authors that have been designated by those within the African American community and by those outside of that community as the voices of the African American people. It has been written by author Langston Hughes, and recognized, as a very real phenomenon that African American authors are looked to as the "voice" of their race in the 1926 article "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain." Hughes said he knew of a negro poet that didn't want to be recognized as such, that this poet wanted to be seen as a poet, not a Negro poet. The poet did not want to be seen as a voice for the African American people, restricted to address the plight and struggles of the African American, and seen as someone that has betrayed their culture because of his refusal to act as an advocate for social justice. I believe it is this that Gates references. An author is hardly ever free of race.

s.f.u.. but learning.


“The poem is about art, figured in the urn, is more vivid than life itself. It is eternal life.. well .. until it burns.. or do ashes burn?(Rivkin/Ryan 6)

“The realm of universal meaning is beyond sensory experience and cannot be analyzed using scientific methods” (6).

“a kind being displaced by science” (6).

I pushed the F11 key on the keyboard three times to turn Mr. Harris’ philosophy down just a little. I needed to finish reading M(r)s. Rivkin and Mr. Ryan, and there just wasn’t enough time left.. right now.. and oh Lord.. that means someone isn’t going to have enough time to read my stuff..

Genre According to Race

Reading Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s "Writing 'Race' and the Difference It Makes" made me think about Carol Miller's brief but important introduction to the importance of genres. She claimed that genres could shape an entire interpretation of a reading, and made the argument that for rhetorical theory, genre according to action is most effective. This is because rhetoric is designed to move the will, so we must read according to how the will is being moved/attempted to be moved. When applying this notion to the topic of reading and classifying genre according to race, it may seem to make sense. Epistemological critical thinking tells us that the history and time period is important, and so the race of the writer is obviously important as well. To know the race of a writer seems to aid in understanding the purpose behind a particular text.

terministic screens and the united way

I cannot help but continuing to think about Burke’s Terministic Screens and one of the essays that were read in the first section by Barton entitled Textual Practices of Erasure. The first essay that was read was all about the United Way posters and campaign. Here it depends on which terminsitic screen the viewer has been primed to use that determines how the campaign and advertisements are received.

Race Writing

I'm not gonna lie, originally I was confused, in the sense that I thought of... a foot race or a car race when race came up in the title. It was only until I started reading that I found out it meant ethnicity.

Now that that little cute story is out of the way, what exactly is Gates trying to explore as far as writing about ethnicity is concerned? Well, he seems to think that it is a "fiction." The vibe I'm getting is the sense that there is no race, but rather we are a collective of human being who just happen to come from different places and therefore be different colors.

What does he think of tradition?

The Power of Credibility

I found myself surprised to read that intellectuals such as Kant, Hume and Hegel, philosophers I have read and whom I respect for some of their ideas, held the same misconceptions about race that were commonly believed. Gates, Jr.'s article seem to place cause of this idea in the intellectual sphere on Rene Descartes' thesis that reason is privileged about all other human characteristics, and that writing is the "visible sign of reason" (8). Because Africans did not have a formal literature, they were perceived as lower on the hierarchy of human beings as a species.


Burke's idea on terministic screens is an ideal that is practiced in our everyday interactions. we unconsciously place ourselves and others into specific categories that essentially determine how open we will be with them. in the case of Burke this means that we assign people terms and based on those terms, appoint specific stereotypes based on what we have heard, seen, or encountered with the group, which ultimately determine if we identify with them or not.

This idea of reference and recollection is consistent as humans because our brains store most new encounters as a extension of our previous encounters with any given person place or thing. this is why word of mouth is believed to be the most reliable form of spreading information or learning about a new place. while our minds love to naturally build  memory and refr to these memories whenever possible, this is actually crippling and limits our level of acceptance of other people and consequently makes humans closed off to certain people or prejudice.

The terministic screen of race

I found within the article "Writing "Race" and the Differences it Makes" that the inclusion of racial identity within literary form is one that has been modified and conditioned throughout historical context to mold a system of classification in which persecution and discrimination for sociopolitical and nationalistic purposes may be justified. It is described that the very form of language itself is one that is built upon and recognized through internalized systems of classification based upon accepted similarities and differences among elements of the natural world, and this system of language is given merit and value within a certain sociopolitical atmosphere. We may then observe that the very use of language in a particular form can be used as a mechanism of discrimination, as seen in the example of the oxford dictionary which is given authority to hold the definitions of words based upon the common historical and cultural associations of the authorship of the dictionary.

Racial Stigma

The quote that stood out to me the most when reading Gates' essay was, "Race has become a trope of ultimate, irreducible difference between cultures, linguistic groups, or adherents of specific belief systems which--more often than not--also have fundamentally opposed economic differences" (5). Gates insists that even though the same biological criteria used to determine 'differences' in sex do not stand when applied to race, we carelessly use this language anyway, in such a way that is has gained permanence in our culture. Repeated racial slurs and stereotypes are grounded in the roots of our culture and as a result, this language "exacerbates the complex problem of cultural or ethnic difference, rather than to assuage or redress it" (5). What I also found interesting was the way in which race coincided with knowledge or power.

Gates and the Election

"Race has become a trope of ultimate and irreducible difference between cultures, linguistic groups, or adherents of specific belief systems- which more often than not- also have fundamentally opposed economic interests." (Gates 5)

The above statement by Gates is a powerful one yet offers a distinct truth, or so it may seem. The idea of race has divided and separated people for many years. While many nations strive for equality of all people, there always seems to be an unfortunate stigma attached to each racial group. I am not entirely sure if I dare to tackle the 2012 election since it is a delicate issue but my blog should taken as part of a discussion and not a political stance. Democrats and Republicans will fight for their beliefs to be in office no matter what it takes however in recent years, our Nation has had to face the concept of race along with the economy headfirst. While politics are far beyond my realm of clear understanding, it is fairly clear to me that the statement above could be seen in the election in this year and past years.

Gates - Racial Slurs as tropes

Gates had some very interesting views on what actually constituted a race. He seemed to dismiss the idea that physical attributes are the only aspects that form a race. He actually furthered this idea by stating that is a gross misconception the call an African black and a European white. These color shades do not represent a skin tone; these color classifications become a trope and arguably the terms gain agency from repetition. The really interesting thing about his explanation of race is that he breaks down the historical and social aspects of the words used to describe races and how they have evolved over the years. 

Gates and Race

In many ways, Gates' essay on race reads like an extension on Burke's concept of terministic screens as race can be a perception-shaping factor within a text. Although its social implications are no doubt very real and prevalent, I am of the view that race itself is an amorphous social concept which is simply an amalgamation of historically relative social and cultural norms. Although essentially every individual is categorized by their culture, there is no such thing as an objectively "raced" person without a social context to predicate a racial framework. The same individual may be classed as a variety of "races" depending on the geographical area and time period in which they are categorized. This isn't strictly problematic from the standpoint of rhetoric, as rhetoric is also an inherently social action whose formulation is also contingent upon relative social and cultural factors. However, this caused me to reflect upon the historiographic potential of particular terministic screens.


In many ways, Gates' essay on race reads like an extension on Burke's concept of terministic screens as race can be a perception-shaping factor within a text. Although its social implications are no doubt very real and prevalent, I am of the view that race itself is an amorphous social concept which is simply an amalgamation of historically relative social and cultural norms. Although essentially every individual is categorized by their culture, there is no such thing as an objectively "raced" person without a social context to predicate a racial framework. The same individual may be classed as a variety of "races" depending on the geographical area and time period in which they are categorized. This isn't strictly problematic from the standpoint of rhetoric, as rhetoric is also an inherently social action whose formulation is also contingent upon relative social and cultural factors. However, this caused me to reflect upon the historiographic potential of particular terministic screens.


The category of historical writing is very important in this piece and is still today. It has allowed "sources of all structures and feeling of thought: to "track the root of man [...] to consider the race itself" (page 3). And although I do slightly agree with this quote I find it hard to completely back it up. To me I almost feel like it is a way to separate the others from the white 'literature' writing. It is a way to put people in a box, that they are not always living in  "like a black person 'speaking black.'" The writing of the text is like a freeing mechanism and yet a shackle to this is what we are seen as, and sometimes that can blind people into thinking that is how that race is specifically (like generalizing everyone as redneck in the south). 
   But on a brighter note the creation of 'race' writing helped show the historical development of communication among people of different backgrounds and races. It helped showed or record (for the most part) the true relationship of how we as humans began to interact with each different people, on new levels. 

Little White Girl Gets a C-

I thought Gate's article was really interesting and something that I think frequently about. When I started my degree I focused all of my studies on African-American Literature and was frequently given bizarre looks because, frankly, I was always the only white girl in the class. I even got in a fight with a professor once because of it. She was black and I was a young, white, freshman taking her class on society and racism. I was well read and when it came time to write the papers, I knew I would do extremely well. That professor gave me a C- on that paper and when I asked why, knowing it wasn't a fair grade, she said she thought it was only fair to grade me against myself rather than the rest of the class since I was the only one, "like me" in there. 

Significance of Race and Literature

“The truth is that, with the fading of the Renaissance ideal through progressive stages of specialism, leading to intellectual emptiness, we are left with a potentially suicidal movement among ‘leaders of the profession’…” Gates has a strong opinion on race being a meaningful category to the study of literature. However, he states that many theorists and authors would argue that race does not play a role in literature but I cannot seem to understand why they would argue against Gates claim. Literature is used around the entire world; there are many races in the entire world as well as many different languages. “The question of the place of texts written by the Other in the proper study of ‘literature’, ‘Western Literature,’ or ‘comparative literature’ has, remained an unasked question…” It was not until recently was race an invisible quantity.

Gates and Puddin'head Wilson

One part of Gates’ argument in regards to race that really stuck out for me was this quote; “we carelessly use language in such a way as to will this sense of natural difference into our formulations”. This is argument is that different races have distinct ways of speaking that are inherent to jut their race, without any regard to their social standing, upbringing, or geographical region. There is, of course, nothing in a set of genes that indicates how you speak, that is all influenced in the environment you grow up in. However, Gates’ is correct in claiming that we make assumptions about a person’s race by the way that they speak.

Gates, Race......

I really enjoyed this reading from Gates. It definitely addresses issues that are still being noted today. We still have incidents where who and what created a piece of literature matters. For instance in book stores and award ceremonies there are books that are categorized by who the author is. Books by African writers, Irish writers etc. The incident where the young African girl gets orally examined was very eye opening to me (p 3). she was basically questioned about her ability to write. I guess it strikes me to the fact that in my eyes it made the African girl seem more foreign. Them not believing that she was capable of writing such made it seem like she was less human, and not capable of learning skills and adapting to them.

Gates and The Help

On page 12 Gates asks, "Can writing, with the very difference it makes and marks, mask the blackness of the blackface that addresses the text of Western letters, in a voice that speaks English through an idiom which contains the irreducible element of cultural difference that will always separate the white voice from the black?  When I read this particular passage I thought about the novel, The Help, by Kathyrn Stockett. Is it really possible for a white author to write the experiences of black maids in the 1960s when she herself never experienced the kind of racism she writes about in her book? This coupled with Gates title, "Writing Race and the Difference It Makes" is also relevant. 

Economic Language

In Gate's article I was most intrigued by the idea of the economic factors of language. Gates stated in his article that literacy is " the emblem that links racial alienation with economic alienation" (Gates, 6) This thought can apply to so many places today in 2012. For me, I automatically thought of lower reading and writing levels in impoverished areas in the US as well as many countries across the globe.  I thought of different uses of slang and jargon by people of different economic statuses. Gates used the example of Phillis Wheatley, a slave who wrote a book of poems and had to go up against a council of 18 judges to prove that she was the one who wrote them. From this example he worked to the point of saying that when slaves began to write they were seen as more human? On page 12 he said "Writing stood as a complex 'certificate of humanity'". Is it because writing is a form of communication? Intelligence? Learning ability? I think this is a powerful statement, while I may be taking this a little out of context, and I definitely can see where he is coming from in this argument but there's so many factors that I'm not sure I agree with it completely.

Gates links to feminism

Since I am discussion leader this week it is my responsibility to relate the term ecriture feminine to the reading on Gates. Like I did last week I will just state in a summary what the term ecriture feminine means. The term can be summed up as literature that is complied or derived from purely a woman’s perspective.

From what I read on Gates work of writing it seem to me it focused mostly on literature’s connection to race dating all the way back to earlier centuries. He mentioned that Race, as a meaningful criterion within the biological sciences has long been recognized to be fiction. That when we speak of race we speak in biological misnomers and, more generally in metaphors. This statement in my opinion confronts its readers to realize that maybe we have been trained to put an insignificant amount of importance upon certain labels or categories.

November 25, 2012

"Irreducible Difference"

I feel a large portion of Gates' argument is centered around the conception of race as a divisive factor, "a trope of ultimate, irreducible difference, between cultures, linguistic groups, or adherents of specific belief systems" (5). Predisposition, when applied to race, lends itself to exaggeration and distortion. Physical racial differences are clear (skin color, hair, facial features, etc.), yet to assume those physical characteristics imply an ulterior distinction between races is fallacious. Furthermore, to imbue our system of language with features that support this distinction ultimately does create differences between us. Gates' best describes this dilemma on page five, "we carelessly use language in such a way as to will this sense of natural difference into our formulations."

Helen Keller, How You So Smart, Girl?

What I find most interesting about George’s essay on Helen Keller is that people criticized her for not being able to experience the world, and thus not being able to form her own opinions about the world. I’ll say honestly that I had no idea that Helen Keller wrote so many books and essays, or anything at all. Keller makes an excellent point that we can only know things that happen outside our immediate environment through texts, but the things that happen directly in front of her can only be known by descriptions of others. Keller is more equipped to know about the rest of the world than she is to know her own surroundings. Her location is subject to the terministic screens of whoever describes it to her. However, I don’t agree that this makes her necessarily unable to know of the world or be informed. She is more aware of things in the world than I could ever expect her to be, which I think is why some people would be critical. They can’t understand how she could come to her conclusions, so they assume it must be a sham. I believe that having a disability like that is one way to open a person to truths most people take for granted. Most people take their sight and hearing for granted, along with many other things.

Gates "Writing Race"

I am mostly interested in what Gates wrote on page 11, “Hegel, echoing Hume and Kant, claimed that Africans had no history, because they had developed no systems of writing and had not mastered the art of writing in European languages.” It seems to me that these writers Gates has mentioned are dismissing oral tradition entirely, which just kind of offends me. Even though literature has preserved so much, we still tell each other stories from memory (plays, bedtime stories, children sharing ghost stories). As far as uniting people goes, I think oral tradition makes much more of an impact that written tradition does. Anyways, onto the rest of the essay…

On page 12 Gates writes, “Black writing, especially the literature of the slave, served not to obliterate the difference of race; rather, the inscription of the black voice in Western literatures has preserved those very cultural differences to be repeated, imitated, and revised in separate Western literary tradition, a tradition of black difference.”

Gates' View on Race

I found Gates’ writing on race to be very attention-grabbing and well thought out. He gave great examples all throughout his article that helped drive his theory on race and cultures home. For example in his introduction to “Race”, Writing, and Difference, Gates shows how “race” has been “written” into reality as a way of keeping racially marked populations in underling places. Portrayals of race in text have been seen all the way through the Nineteenth and have been sought after to “naturalize” and therefore legitimize the different races as essentially inferior. “Race, in these usages”, Gates writes, “pretends to be an objective term of classification, when in fact it is a dangerous trope”(5).

Race as a Filter

While reading Gates, I kept seeing reminders of Burke throughout, especially with the examples of how  white people back in the 1700's and from other European cultures didn't believe that black people could write properly. On page 3 Gates gives an example of how a young black girl, Phillis, was a famous poet and had to be orally examined by 18 orators and men of educated standing in order to give authenticity that she was the one who wrote the literature. This example seemed relatable to Burke's theory that each culture has their own filter because when white people read the material, they couldn't believe that a black girl had actually written poetry.

Keller, Burke, George, Meet DeCerteau

The big question at hand seems to be whether or not Keller could be a rhetorical theorist. Bluntly, the answer is no; if there is anything that this unit has so far imparted it's that qualifications, screens, titles, are the somethings that the beholder must decide for him/herself even though it may seem to be given to us by an outside party. Thus, despite labeling (in the case of George the most common kind that occurs post-work-post-mortem), Keller could only logically be a rhetorical theorist if she herself had donned that mantle using her own signs.

That being said, I do agree with how George demonstrates a case for re-classifying Keller's writings/actions for the purpose of Rhetorical Theory. Part of this reasoning comes from George's comparison of Keller's work to Burke's consubstantiation, where you can "'persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language'" (George 342). There is no doubt that Keller could consubtantiate. The very fact that she was so celebrated relied on her ability to overcome the obstacle of communication despite her disabilities. Even if one were to argue that she could not properly hold a conversation, or listen to language, she still had written language, which is nothing but a transcription of spoken word, and therefore still sufficient to offer a position in the community of language.