Action and Agency in Dialogue: Passion, Incarnation and Ventriloquism

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John Benjamins Publishing, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 206 pages
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What happens when people communicate or dialogue with each other? This is the daunting question that this book proposes to address by starting from a controversial hypothesis: What if human interactants were not the only ones to be considered, paraphrasing Austin (1962), as "doing things with words"? That is, what if other "things" could also be granted the status of agents in a dialogical situation? Action and Agency in Dialogue: Passion, incarnation, and ventriloquism proposes to explore this unique hypothesis by mobilizing metaphorically the notion of ventriloquism. According to this ventriloqual perspective, interactions are never purely local, but dislocal, that is, they constantly mobilize figures (collectives, principles, values, emotions, etc.) that incarnate themselves in people's discussions. This highly original book, which develops the analytical, practical and ethical dimensions of such a theoretical positioning, may be of interest to communication scholars, linguists, sociologists, conversation analysts, management and organizational scholars, as well as philosophers interested in language, action and ethics.

"Elegantly written and compellingly argued, Cooren offers up some of the most original theorizing on agency in the communication sciences that we have seen to date. Nonhuman agency does not just "make a difference" in this book. It is a difference that connects, communicates, and brings to life the impossible."-Gail T. Fairhurst, Professor, University of Cincinnati, USA

"In his powerful book, Action and Agency in Dialogue, Francois Cooren helps to explode unexamined assumptions about our extraordinary relationships with nonhuman entities. As might be expected, the perspective of Action and Agency opens new ways of thinking about speech acts, social institutions and the ontology of things."-David Goldblatt, Emeritus Professor, Denison University, USA

Cooren convincingly demonstrates in the book that any action should be considered as contributing to a configuration of activities it participates in. His goal is not to deny that speakers do things with words, but to show that many other agents are implicitly or explicitly mobilized in this type of activity."-Istvan Kecskes, Professor, University at Albany, SUNY, USA

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Part I Agency texts and passion
1 For a renewed conception of action
2 How texts and other things do things with words
3 Passion animation and decision
Part II Ventriloquism and incarnation
4 Ventriloquism or the ecstatic dimension of communication
5 Incarnation
Author index
Subject index
The series Dialogue Studies

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