Public Rhetorics – blog 2: Are left/right using different dramatistic norms?

I’ve done a bit of reading on the initial reactions of conservative (National Review) and liberal (The Nation) articles on the NSA spying issue. The Guardian published the Snowden leaks about the extent of the domestic spying on June 6th, and I’ve looked at the first seven or so editorials from these two publications. So far, there are some interesting, but not entirely surprising distinctions.

First, a slightly surprising similarity: both left and right consistently condemn the spying. There are some minor caveats, as the one or two authors at the National Review try to offer support for some more limited level of domestic spying (interestingly by an attempt to define “public” and “private”), but generally both sides object. This is a bit of a surprise from the right because they had previously been fierce defenders of Bush’s domestic spying through the NSA, and from the left because the person in charge of the spying is a Democrat. This fact alone suggests that the right is particularly concerned with attacking the political opposition, while the left is quite willing not to defend “its own.” (Or, perhaps that the left does not see Obama as particularly representative of the self, I suppose).

The key difference between the groups is the way in which they frame the issue, not surprisingly. The right brings all of its attacks back to Obama and to “government” in general. The authors use incredibly strong language (the end of freedom, a “sinister merging of party and state”), and make continual connections previous political issues they’ve been discussing (the Ohio IRS targeting of Tea Party, Benghazi, etc) to promote a narrative of evil villains and innocent victims. The left, on the other hand, seems to focus on the legal issues, removing the focus on Obama as the agent, and discussing instead the framework of laws and policies, as well as the extensive involvement of non-governmental groups such as certain corporations and private firms. Of course this has the effect of reducing the perceived agency of Obama in particular. From a dramatistic perspective, one could argue that the left adopts a primarily scenic perspective, with some focus on agency. The right adopts an almost totally agent & act perspective.

Moving to the issue of publics, what strikes me is how distinct these two publics are. Habermas of course didn’t see these multiple publics (and was appropriately brought to task for it), but despite the common topic (politics, the NSA, privacy), the entirely different approaches to motives as seen by the differing dramatistic emphases implies these authors are participating in surprisingly (depressingly?) distinct publics. It may even be the case that the narratives adopted by each make the two publics almost incommensurable (in a Kuhn-ian sense), though I would hesitate to make such a claim, if only because it would mean the end of real political discourse insofar as it undermines hope for a truly inclusive public space.

My last thought is that the right (or again, the few authors from the right that I read) might be seen as a counterpublic, existing primarily to oppose Obama rather than to support any particular policy, while the left is not so focused on pure opposition to the right. If this is so (and I certainly don’t have anything close to enough to support such a claim now), then the next question would likely be how much these roles are determined by political context. Is the out-of-power public innately a counterpublic? And then, what does it mean to be out of power? (Republicans certainly retain quite a bit of political power, despite holding only the House.) And finally, to what extent can we get an accurate sense of a public by looking only at media? Given the need for media to respond to existing publics I think this is not a totally crazy approach, but one certainly needs to be mindful that this is only one piece of a larger conversation. I suppose this is a problem in trying to “explain” any public, though.

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Preliminary Musings on My Public Rhetorics Project

My dissertation will focus on the narrative construction of political identity, specifically looking to see if the left and right (yes, I know the dichotomy is inaccurate, simplistic, and problematic) use different narrative forms. Given this, I’m inclined to look at a political issue and see how the left and right deal with it. Summer classes are always tough for me because I like to let a few ideas ferment (ripen?) before settling on one, but with the compressed schedule I’ll just jump in and say that I’m going to look at how the left and right address the recent revelations about the NSA spying.

 

Politically this is a particularly interesting issue because it directly challenges both sides. The left, so vocally opposed to George W Bush’s domestic spying, is suddenly faced with a similar (though not identical) program being run by a Democratic president. Likewise the right, whose central governing philosophy of late seems to be reflexive opposition to anything Obama or the Dems support, faces the unappealing choices of either rejecting a policy they fiercely supported five years ago, or defending Obama, their central villain.

 

Perhaps more importantly for this class, though, is the way the issue reveals some of the internal struggles within each community. A great deal of the inaccurate/simplistic/problematic objections to seeing politics as left vs. right is that neither left nor right is actually a single public. Instead, both are a variety of publics align at times, but certainly compete as well. Furthermore, there are great disparities of power between participants in any particular public, as well as between the various publics themselves.

 

My early thought on how to enter into a study of this is rooted in Hauser’s statement that “we may redress these [Habermas’] problems by reconceptualizing the public as a plurality of publics grounded on their capacity for rhetorical engagement- I will contend that publics are emergences manifested through vernacular rhetoric” (p. 14). So if each public is created by what it does—its political discourse, then it may be that the key distinctions can be found in how they do it—their “vernacular rhetoric.” Or, as Hauser says, “sensible thought about publics requires capturing their activity: how they construct reality by establishing and synthesizing values, forming opinions, acceding to positions, and cooperating through symbolic actions, especially discursive ones” (p. 32). My general plan is thus to attempt some form of diachronic tracing by looking at the foundational symbols or phrases (or something) that serve as warrants for a givent public’s claims about the spying issue. I don’t quite know where this will go, and it seems awfully unformed as yet, but I suppose I need to hold my nose and jump into the iterative cycle somewhere.

 

As a secondary thought I was quite struck by Fraser. I was especially provoked by her suggestion that social/class/etc differences between members of a public could not just be “bracketed,” but must instead be functionally eliminated. This seems impossible, at first, and in a real sense it is, but the internet offers an giant step in this direction, I think, decontextualizing the comments of various subscribers to a website, for example, to such a degree that many (though certainly not all) of the distinctions between users become invisible. My hunch, though, is that this has not had the utopian effects Fraser imagines, and that instead of promoting equal discourse, it has promoted equal shallowness and petty insults. Maybe I’m wrong, though. In any case, it might be interesting to look into this more (but I suspect this is theoretically well-trodden territory, so maybe not).

And as a final thought, Fraser offers an offhand point about how the relationship between various publics is often adversarial. However, where would these conflicts play out? Is there a public sphere that mediatates between public spheres? A meta-public sphere? If political identity is actually composed of lots of competing political public spheres, there must be a space for them to relate to one another. Right?

In Praise of the Sophists — Steve’s Reading/Theorist Analysis

In Praise of the Sophists

The underlying plot behind the story of the Sophists would make a fine movie: the heroes work their way into status and power, but the aristocratic elite don’t like what they’re hearing and spend a few generations attacking their ideas (and what they imagine their ideas to be). Because of this (and maybe because of a few other reasons as well), the development of the Western intellectual tradition stagnates, devolving into a hopeless quest for certainty for the next two thousand years. But in the end, the Sophists return (okay—jus t their ideas return, and only some of them at that) to great acclaim and get to do the whole I-told-you-so bit.

This is obviously a little ridiculous, but I think in many ways it captures the essence of the Sophist’s place in the western intellectual tradition. They not only deserve much of the credit for creating rhetoric and philosophy, but their role as teachers-for-hire plays a pivotal role in the development of the first semi-democracies by helping create a class of people newly able to participate as equals in public debate. We—citizens of our republic, students in a rhetoric and tech-com program, and current or prospective teachers (mostly)—would not be here without the sophists, In essence, I think there are three areas in which the Sophists deserve particular merit insofar as they either foreshadow or directly lead to the dominant and successful practices of the current day: a philosophy that denied transcendental knowledge, a belief that argument and reasoning were skills that could be taught, and a market-oriented approach that attached monetary value to learning and to teaching. And at the risk of sounding a bit like a high school five-paragraph essay, I want to look at each of these things in turn, and put forth my little plug for why the Sophistic approach was so productive (and perhaps also hint at why the Platonic approach was so destructive).

Perhaps the most foundational aspect of the Sophistic approach is their unwillingness to reduce philosophical questions to revealed or divine truth. B & H write that the Sophists argued that the transcendent (ideal) was either inaccessible to humans, or did not exist (24). This step is, I believe, the first essential step toward democracy, and certainly the first step toward science, as it allows for the testing of arguments. As B&H state, since knowledge relies on sense data, “certainty or absolute truth is not available to humans… but probable knowledge can be refined by pitting opposing positions against one another and examining the arguments thus brought forward” (22). Or, stated in a more post-modern way, humans have the ability to create truth (as opposed to the capital-T Truth of transcendental knowledge) through social interaction and the testing of hypotheses. I would add that this seems like such a simple idea, and indeed it is almost foundational (ironically) in the halls of academia, but frankly it remains a rather shocking idea virtually everywhere else.

In any case, this idea is the core of the Sophists’ second great virtue: their belief that anyone (who could pay) could—and should—be taught to think and speak effectively. This notion flows rather naturally from their rejection of transcendental knowledge, of course, and ultimately serves to undergird the notion of democracy itself. Because there is no objective way of knowing, language (rhetoric) becomes the only way of separating better ideas from worse ideas. Thus truth is not found by pretending that language is objective, but by acknowledging its subjectivity and seeking to understand it (23ish). This also connects to their belief in the importance of kairos, which B&H explain as follows:  “the idea that elements of a situation, its cultural and political contexts, rather than transcendent unchanging laws, will produce both the best solutions to problems and the best verbal means of presenting them persuasively” (25). (And doesn’t the insistence on the importance of context sound a lot like Crawshay-Williams, by the way.) But without the notion of divine sanction determining membership in the ruling (and thus the deciding) classes, the notion of restricting rhetorical debate to a hereditary upper class becomes unsupportable. If rhetoric is the path to truth, and there is no transcendental force decreeing that only certain people have access to Truth (because there is no Truth, merely truth), then the best results should be achieved by the interaction of skilled rhetoricians. And what is the best route to skill? Teaching. So the Sophists, with their willingness to teach anyone were offering the keys to social mobility and democracy. I would add that the aristocracy (Plato—I’m talking about you!) hated this idea, and the bad name of the sophists is largely a product of Plato’s hatred of the idea that the common person should be offered the skills to compete with the upper class. He (Plato) insisted that teaching rhetoric to commoners was akin to handing loading rifles to babies (okay—that’s actually my metaphor; he actually compared rhetoric to cooking instead of the “medicine” of philosophy). So the Sophists got a bad name because Plato hated democracy. Basically.

My last bit in this excessively long post is more speculative, and refers to the Sophistic practice of selling their instruction. I think even today there is a sense that this transactional market-oriented approach to knowledge is a bit unseemly. Certainly we have famous Stewart Brand claim that “information wants to be free,” which has been partially taken up by some new media theorists, as well a throng of young people raised in the era of napster and its descendents. But we might also point to the belief that teachers should be paid very little, with the joy of teaching apparently supposed to be the compensation. (A smart and otherwise sensible friend of mine once said that the virtue of low teacher pay is that it ensures we have only the best teachers, because we know they’re not in it for the money. I asked if he felt he felt the quality of engineers at his job would be improved by a 60% pay cut, and he began to come around.) And even in academia, there is a powerful tension between the belief that universities should be getting students jobs and the belief that universities should be improving their minds for more abstract (social, personal, political) reasons. And I’ll admit I find myself a bit torn. (Is a college a business? Probably, I think, but it’s certainly a rather unusual sort of business.) But I’d suggest that the ultimate effect of de-monitizing knowledge is that the production of knowledge becomes limited to those who are independently wealthy. They are the only ones who can fool around with speculation about the nature of matter or the retrograde motion of Mars. Everyone else, as the saying goes, has to “work” for a living. In other words, knowledge work is not seen as work at all. And now, even though the university system with its staff of paid knowledge producers and disseminators has been one of the most powerful economic engines of all time, this bias persists. So, let’s drop Plato, that academic and social and fiscal elitist, and reclaim the glory of the Sophists.

 

Some Questions for a now-hypothetical discussion

 

  1. The sophists were attacked for valuing “pretty” language over “substance.” To what extent is this an accurate criticism? To what extent is it, if true, a legitimate concern?
  2. How (if at all) can one reconcile the market approach of the Sophists (education for sale) with the current belief in universal education (through grade 12, at least)?
  3. Plato’s dialogue “Gorgias” is essentially an attack on a series of Sophists. I’ve always felt this dialogue is really a bit of a straw man, and that the Sophists aren’t fairly presented (they make odd suggestions like insisting that knowledge of a subject is unrelated to one’s ability to argue on that subject, for example.) Am I off in thinking this? Why/why not?
  4. The Sophists basically suggested we can’t have certainty, and that debates about the probable were the best route to knowledge. How can we reconcile this with the differing skills of debaters? Wouldn’t it just end up with the best debater winning rather than the best (most productive/useful/effective) idea? Is there some “foundation” beyond the debate to which we can turn?
  5. The previous question expresses the root of Plato’s fear of the Sophists. Essentially, he thought persuading the “mob” was a terrible approach and led to seeking what was popular rather than what was right. Therefore, he thought we should turn decision making over to those with access to real wisdom (which he say as an almost mystical access to Truth). Both Platonic and Sophistic strands exist in our current political debates. Where do you see them? Which are “winning”? Do you have an preferences?

Black and White and Gray: Narrative Form in Partisan/Ideological Media

 

Introduction & Rationale

My study begins with the presumption, per Fisher (1984; 1985; 1989), that political commentary is narrative in nature.  In addition, as per Nossek and Berkowitz’s (2006) suggestion that societies as a whole have master narratives, I presume the possibility that smaller groups—narrative communities, if you will, such as adherents to a political party or ideology—might also share a master narrative unique to that group that operates as a template into which new events and characters are fit.  “Membership” is such groups would be premised upon acceptance of the narrative, and the group’s worldview would be shaped in an ongoing way by the application of the master narrative template.  Furthermore, the multiple studies of melodramatic form suggest that not only would these narrative communities have a master narrative, they might also (or even only) have a master narrative form.  However, while multiple sources identify a reliance on melodramatic form, all these studies are focused exclusively on the political right, which calls into question the universality of this particular narrative form.  Finally, given the unique rhetorical situation in which partisanship and ideology are largely in conflict, it becomes possible to examine how each publication balances support for these two communities.

Thus my research questions for this study, focused around how political media and the communities they represent create a narrative image of the world, are as follows:

  1.  Is it possible to discern a “master” narrative form of the political/ideological Left and Right, as represented by The Nation and the National Review?
  2. How do these political media address events that might threaten the community’s political identity, or might set its ideological identity against its political identity?

 

 Methods

 From the Right, this paper examines 17 articles totaling approximately 18,000 words published in the National Review (6 published prior to the commencement of U.S. intervention, and 11 after), and from the Left it examines 7 articles totaling approximately 9000 words from The Nation (3 prior to U.S. intervention and 4 after).  The two narrative forms examined are melodramatic and dramatic, defined as follows:

  •  Melodrama relies on “two-dimensional characters,” representing a “valorized ‘us’ and a dehumanized or demonized ‘them’” (Simons, 2007, p. 338), and arranged in the roles of hero, villain and victim (Anker, 2005).  Additionally, the moral legibility of melodrama is created not only by the nature of the characters but by plot devices such as “grandiose events, unprovoked actions, hyperbolic language, and spectacles of suffering” (Anker, p. 24).

 

  •  Dramatic form (defined by contrast to melodrama) adds a depth to these characters that complicates (but does not necessarily prevent) their categorization by type.  Additionally, dramatic form should mute the grandiosity of the events and the extent of the suffering of participants.

 To determine which narrative forms were used I examined how each publication characterized the key participants in the Libyan drama, as well as how each described the stakes of the conflict. 

To address the second research question, I examined how each publication dealt with two potential conflicts: (1) members of the opposite party who acted in accordance with that publication’s stated goals, or (2) members of the same party who acted in opposition to the publication’s stated goals.

 Results

 National Review: Though no single author produces a complete narrative, they all rely almost exclusively on five core characters described in uniformly melodramatic terms: the three villains of Qaddafi, Arabs and Arab states in general, and Obama; the heroic Unites States; and the two victims of the Libyan people and the United States (the U.S. playing, as suggested by Anker, the dual role of hero and victim).  Additionally, there are two essential levels of consequences, both of them fundamentally melodramatic in form.  Finally, though the authors were almost uniformly in favor of U.S. intervention, there was not any praise of Obama’s decision to intervene, but instead merely a shift to a new focus of criticism. 

The Nation: The writers in The Nation, with one exception, rely primarily on dramatic form, but still construct a narrative that tends toward a hero/villain/victim construction.  However, the participants, even Qaddafi himself, are generally presented with at least some degree of complexity, and the consequences—and especially the motives—of U.S. intervention (or lack of intervention) are portrayed as uncertain.  Finally, the authors exhibited great willingness to criticize not only Obama, but other media voices in favor of U.S. intervention.

Conclusion & Parting Thoughts

 These two partisan/ideological media outlets play a key role in the maintenance of core political narratives by contextualizing new information into existing narratives, and more importantly by contextualizing new information into a core narrative form—melodramatic for the National Review and dramatic for The Nation.  Thus, while the National Review operates almost exclusively in the binary world of good and evil, The Nation largely stakes it claim in the murky shades of gray that lie between these poles. Furthermore, perhaps because of their respective narrative forms, the National Review was more partisan than ideological, while The Nation tended to be more ideological than partisan.  While the scope of the article is too narrow to offer a generalized claim about the form of the narratives of Left and Right, it does suggest further study of other media and of other contexts,.

Possible future research questions:

  • How does media format affect the dominant narrative form? (Is television or radio more/less melodramatic than print?)
  • Might narratives surrounding a domestic policy dispute utilize a different narrative form?
  • What is the relationship between narrative form and policy preferences, and is political loyalty a product of narrative preference, or is narrative preference a product of political loyalty.  Or neither.  Or both.
  • Is bipartisanship possible when one group (or both groups) is operating from a melodramatic form where the political opposition is categorized as a villain?
  • What does this say about the possibility of persuading members of these groups?  Must persuasive narratives utilize the form of the audience’s community?
  • What other “narrative communities” might exist?

Record-Low Tax Rates; Record-High Tax Rage

How does one reconcile the fact that taxes are lower now than they’ve been in many decades…
(http://www.ocregister.com/news/-117079-ocprint–.html),

A fact that’s even more true for the super-rich… (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42633769/ns/business-your_retirement/),

with the TEA Party and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ rage?

It seems to me that people are either misinformed or the rage isn’t about taxes at all. Or both.

Limbaugh Analysis

Steve Morrison
English 5362
Artifact Presentation

Limbaugh’s Myth-Making

Why Narrative Criticism?

Three elements of Limbaugh’s defense:

1. Focus on the conflict between liberals and conservatives (and not on the relation between conservatives and Loughner)
2. Simplistic good or evil characterization of the parties involved
3. Consequence of the conflict defined as existential threats

Thus, Limbaugh creates the framework of a melodramatic narrative (simplistic and polarized characters, innate conflict based on moral incompatibility, extremely high stakes), and one that inverts the commonly perceived victim/victimizer roles by establishing conservatives (the audience, the speaker, and the whole of their political community) as the true victims. This use of narrative as argument suggests criticism involving the narrative paradigm, focusing specifically on the use of melodrama.

Theoretical Basis of Analysis

1. Fisher (1984) “Narration as a human communication paradigm: The case of public moral argument” (and later publications on the method)
a. narrative rationality relies on narrative probability (structural, material, and characterological coherence) and narrative fidelity (“good reasons,” consistency with other accepted stories)
2. Anker’s (2005) study of melodrama after 9/11
a. Three key characters in melodrama: ruthless villain, suffering victim, and heroic savior (though the later two can inhabit the same person)
b. Melodrama creates a situation in which designations of right and wrong are codified as universal truths and so are not subject to debate (pp. 35-36)
3. Simons’ (2007) examination of melodrama in Bush’s Iraq rhetoric
a. “Two-dimensional characters of fictional melodrama and the use of exaggeration and polarization for dramatic effect find their way into political crisis rhetoric by way of a valorized ‘us’ and a dehumanized ‘them.’ Victims, villains, and heroes are joined together in a sanitized narrative shorn of moral complexity” (p. 338)
4. McClure’s (2009) study of young-Earth creationists
a. Suggests the key component of narrative rationality is actually identification, which transcends (or even ignores) traditional rationality

Framing the Conflict

Limbaugh reframes the conflict so the real question is not if right-wing rhetoric influenced Loughner, but why the political left is attacking (victimizing) the right. The original question is summarily dismissed in the first paragraph by calling those who would bring it up childish, silly, and embarrassing. The second paragraph moves on the new frame by stating, “what they’ve done is essentially take aim at the majority of people in this county.” This remains the central conflict for the rest of the piece.

Characterization

Left

• There are two main characterizations of the left. First, they are show to be fundamentally Other: outside the mainstream (losers & in the minority); and insane (a subtle connection with Loughner that is enhanced later).

• Next, they are characterized as essentially evil (to various degrees): Liars (history of false accusations against the Right, including Oklahoma City bombing & Austin IRS bomb attack), politically motivated (all the accusations are exclusively for political gain), immoral (“their” movies promote abject perversion, “their” art is “crucifixions in urine”), dictatorial (want to outlaw opposition, take away freedom), and finally as murderers (Lee Harvey Oswald & Jim Jones)

Laughner

• Loughner, in contrast, is first characterized as fundamentally beyond human understanding—“just insane”—his actions therefore akin to an “act of god” or force of nature. At the same time, though, Limbaugh hints at the possibility that Loughner is either a liberal himself, or at least that his insanity is the product of liberal upbringing and values.

Right

• The Right, while overtly absent from the discussion, are defined by contrast as Limbaugh offers several linguistic nods to “we” and “they” and “us” and “them,” as well as a mention of “their [the Left’s] top grossing movies” and anti-religious entertainment (including, interesting, the Web itself).

Consequences

In keeping with Anker’s (2005) suggestion that the victim & hero can be one person, Limbaugh invests the Right not only with heroic virtue (at least by contrast) but also with victim status. Some of the perceived victimization is already established in the characterization of the Left as intent of taking away people’s rights, but much is specifically tied to past narratives of victimization widely unquestioned by the Right (gun control, “Obamacare,” and the Fairness Act—the last of which has the benefit of making Limbaugh himself perhaps the central victim).

Conclusion

The net effect, then, is an argument that undermines the claims of rhetorical complicity in the shooting not by addressing the substance of those claims, but by constructing a simplistic fable that admits no moral uncertainty, and also inverts the perceived roles of victim and victimizer and thus demands the audience’s sympathy for an external victim be transformed into outrage at their own victimization.

5362 Roundtable

Narrative Criticism Roundtable, 3/1/11
Steve Morrison

Summary of Fisher & Simons
Fisher suggests that the rational world paradigm (RWP) undermines public moral arguments by excluding non-experts from participation (p. 301). He posits the narrative paradigm (NP) as a more inclusive paradigm with the capacity to produce a more rational and egalitarian public discourse as the gap between the expert and regular public is bridged by affording the expert the role of storyteller (p. 303) and the public active participation in meaning-formation and rational judgment (p. 302).
However, there remains a hierarchical structure; some stories and some storytellers dominate (p. 298). The key means of judging competing stories, according to Fisher, is how well they fulfill narrative rationality, as defined by two demands: (1) Narrative probability—the coherence of the narratives as stories, and (2), narrative fidelity—the degree to which the stories ring true to the audience as determined by the degree to which they correspond to other stories (facts from their lives) accepted as true (p. 297).

Simons suggests that crisis rhetoric is not only narrative but melodramatic. He states, “Two dimensional characters of fictional melodrama and the use of exaggeration and polarization for dramatic effect find their way into political crisis rhetoric by way of a valorized ‘us’ and a dehumanized or demonized ‘them.’ Victims, villains, and heroes are joined together in a sanitized narrative, shorn of moral complexity” (p. 338). He then argues that this was precisely the rhetoric by which the case for the Iraq war was argued, and while it was very effective in achieving short-term and local persuasive goals, it was an ineffective (and even counter-productive) long-term strategy

Bonus info from William Lewis essay (not assigned, but a great read!). Because Reagan’s appeal was narrative, criticisms (such as the “warmonger” attack) that were consistent with his projected image (tough guy/leader) were ineffective. The damaging ones were those that undermined this image (Iran-Contra—either he negotiated with terrorists, or he didn’t know what was happening in his own administration) (pp. 319-320). And here’s Lewis addressing Fisher’s notion of narrative rationality: “Narrative form shapes ontology by making meaningfulness a product of consistent relationships between situations, subjects, and events and by making truth a property that refers primarily to narratives and only secondarily to propositions” (p. 321). Finally, Lewis argues that Fisher is incorrect in asserting that the RWP is compatible with the NP. Instead, he suggests they can be distinctive and incommensurable modes where differences in the judgment of rhetoric are in fact products of differences in perspective (p. 330).

QUESTIONS:
1. Are both of these pieces examples of narrative rhetoric? What overall narratives do Krugman and Fund construct? Who are the characters, what are the natures of these characters, and what is the role of the audience in the narrative?
2. How effective is each of the pieces at establishing narrative rationality, remembering that such rationality is composed of both narrative probability and narrative fidelity?
3. Fisher quotes Burke who suggests narratives get their material from the “unending conversation” to which any of us are only briefly witness (p. 296). How much of the narrative rationality in these editorials relies on previous “conversations” and how much is newly created as a result of the event in Wisconsin?
4. To what extent do we see Simon’s melodramatic crisis narrative structure in the two editorials? In light of Simmons’ discussion of Iraq War rhetoric, what might be the short-term and long-term effects of such an approach on the two elements of the story’s narrative rationality?
5. To what extent can a story maintain narrative rationality (particularly narrative fidelity) without adhering to traditional rationality (the rational world paradigm)? Or phrased another way, what degree of weak narrative fidelity can be overcome by strong narrative probability? (I’m thinking here about conspiracy theories.)