Special Issue: Rhetorik und Geschichte

Prof. Benjamin Biebuyck
Saturday, 1 September, 2018 (All day)

Since 1980, Rhetorik. Ein internationales Jahrbuch explores the many manifestations of rhetorical action across the borders of individual disciplines. In almost four decades, significant anthologies have appeared on current topics such as "Juridical Rhetoric", "Rhetoric and War", "Rhetoric and Anthropology", "Rhetoric and Politics", "Rhetoric and Film" and "Rhetoric and Philosophy".
For the year 2019, the editors are preparing a volume with essays on rhetoric and history. The collection aims at all those researchers who are interested in the specific function of linguistic imagination in the representation of historical events. Several well-known authors have promised to contribute; however, the editors would also like to offer other, in particular younger, scholars interested in the subject area the opportunity to contribute an article. We would welcome three to four contributions.
We are looking for both historical and contemporary case studies. Hereby, the following key questions should be considered:

  • Historiographers have long been aware of the fact that the rhetorical orientation of past representations also indicates the implicit self-understanding of the present time. In the late 1970s, the American historian Hayden White, who died in March 2018, got a following with his "tropics of discourse," in which rhetorical figures reveal the basic ideological structures of historiography. How do historiographers today, forty years later, deal with the interplay between rhetoric and history at a time when the tension between reality and forgery or invention has international political relevance?
  • Much more than classical historiography, alternative forms of historiography depend on their respective rhetorical dynamics. Counterfactual, alternative or imaginary histories aim at making unknown or oppressed layers of the past - and the present - intelligible with the help of narrative and rhetorical imagination. Which rhetorical forms and processes come into play precisely in the historiographical claims of such texts? How do they correlate with the plausibility of the representation of reality?
  • Special forms of historiography are natural history and ecological history. They refer to periods, evolutions and future perspectives that go far beyond the available descriptive vocabulary and beyond human imagination at all. Exemplary of the problems faced by ecological historiographers is the way in which they experiment with the inevitability as well as with the limitations of anthropomorphism. What rhetorical tools are historiographers using to reconstruct ecological history, and possibly to predict an ecological future as well?

Interested scholars are invited to submit an abstract of about 300 words by 1 September 2018 to: Prof. Benjamin Biebuyck (Ghent University, Belgium) - benjamin.biebuyck@ugent.be. Contributions are preferably written in German, but texts in French or English are also considered. The submission deadline for manuscripts is 1 January 2019.