Complete Story


Winter 2007, 37:1, pages 71 - 96

"Anyone Can Be President": Figures of Speech, Cultural Forms, and Performance

This article argues that figures of speech are cultural forms that serve performative ends. After introducing this claim through an analysis of a Daily Show segment, the article reexamines treatments of the figures in Aristotle, Quintilian, and Peacham, claiming that these verbal devices are rituals of language that organize social experience while shaping relationships among communicative participants. The article then examines George W. Bush's address to Congress shortly after 9/11, and an article by John Edgar Wideman. Although Bush uses the figures in conventional ways, Wideman challenges the use of such rituals of language to shape public opinion in the wake of 9/11.


Printer-Friendly Version