Toward a Rhetoric of Insult

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 15, 2010 - Philosophy - 176 pages
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From high school cafeterias to the floor of Congress, insult is a truly universal and ubiquitous cultural practice with a long and earthy history. And yet, this most human of human behaviors has rarely been the subject of organized and comprehensive attention—until Toward a Rhetoric of Insult. Viewed through the lens of the study of rhetoric, insult, Thomas M. Conley argues, is revealed as at once antisocial and crucial for human relations, both divisive and unifying.

Explaining how this works and what exactly makes up a rhetoric of insult prompts Conley to range across the vast and splendidly colorful history of offense. Taking in Monty Python, Shakespeare, Eminem, Cicero, Henry Ford, and the Latin poet Martial, Conley breaks down various types of insults, examines the importance of audience, and explores the benign side of abuse. In doing so, Conley initiates readers into the world of insult appreciation, enabling us to regard insults not solely as means of expressing enmity or disdain, but as fascinating aspects of human interaction.

 

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Contents

The Range of Insult
1
Traditional Principles of Insult
31
Beyond Traditional Rhetoric
97
Notes for Further Reading
127
Index
131
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About the author (2010)

Thomas M. Conley is professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the author of Rhetoric in the European Tradition, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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