Journals Higher Education



Published: 12 July 2017

248 Pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

ISBN: 9780190611088

Also Available As:


Bookseller Code (06)

Commonplace Witnessing

Rhetorical Invention, Historical Remembrance, and Public Culture

Bradford Vivian

  • Argues for the commonplace significance of witnessing as an important social, political, and moral speech act. This position contrasts with longstanding assumptions that a witness (in the postwar usage throughout western public culture) is a relatively rare historical subject endowed with extraordinary experience, and thus authority to speak for the lessons of history
  • Questions common forms of public reverence for witnessing and witnesses, or the ready sympathies that often attend acts of witnessing in public culture
  • Maintains that witnessing is an act of rhetorical invention-meaning that it depends upon a writer's or speaker's adaptation of familiar tropes, topoi, lines of argument, forms of reasoning, and sympathetic appeals to fit immediate social, political, and moral exigencies