Magic, Rhetoric, and Literacy: An Eccentric History of the Composing Imagination

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SUNY Press, 1994 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 189 pages
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This book presents a selective, introductory reading of key texts in the history of magic from antiquity forward, in order to construct a suggestive conceptual framework for disrupting our conventional notions about rhetoric and literacy.

Offering an overarching, pointed synthesis of the interpenetration of magic, rhetoric, and literacy, William A. Covino draws from theorists ranging from Plato and Cornelius Agrippa to Paulo Freire and Mary Daly, and analyzes the different magics that operate in Renaissance occult philosophy and Romantic literature, as well as in popular indicators of mass literacy such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and The National Enquirer.

Magic, Rhetoric, and Literacy distinguishes two kinds of magic-rhetoric that continue to affect our psychological and cultural life today. Generative magic-rhetoric creates novel possibilities for action, within a broad sympathetic universe of signs and symbols. Arresting magic-rhetoric attempts to induce automatistic behavior, by inculcating rules and maxims that function like magic ritual formulas: JUST SAY NO. In this connection, the literate individual is one who can interrogate arresting language, and generate "counter-spells."
 

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Contents

Magic Rhetoric and Literacy
11
Rhetoric
16
Literacy
24
The Interanimation of Phantasms
31
The History of Phantasy
32
Renaissance Magic of Rhetoric in the Light of Faith
40
Agrippas Occult Philosophy
46
Parcels and Palimpsests
59
Burkes Magic
91
Adorno Against Occultism
94
Marcuses Universe of Discourse
106
Freires Magic Consciousness
112
Grimoires and Witches
117
The National Enquirer
121
Magic Nuggets and Tabloid Epistemology
130
Oprah and the Witches
140

From Magic to Science
60
Natural Language Nationalized
65
Magic and Romanticism
71
De Quinceys Palimpsest
75
Magic Consciousness
89
Notes
153
References
171
Index
185
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Page 6 - Fancy disgust the best things, if they come sound, and unadorn'd: they are in open defiance against Reason; professing, not to hold much correspondence with that; but with its Slaves, the Passions: they give the mind a motion too changeable, and bewitching, to consist with right practice. Who can behold, without indignation, how many mists and uncertainties, these specious Tropes and Figures have brought on our Knowledg?

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About the author (1994)

William A. Covino is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he teaches in the Language, Literacy, and Rhetoric graduate program. He has been named a Cline University Scholar, and a Fellow in the Institute for the Humanities.

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