Complete Story


Fall 2011, 41:5, pages 472 - 494

The Future of Forgetting:  Rhetoric, Memory, Affect

This article argues for a rethinking of the rhetorical canon of memory as a productive tool for understanding and effectively responding to recent changes in culture, economics, and politics. After reviewing historical conceptions of rhetorical memory both before and after its “canonization,” we identify two processes at the heart of the contemporary relationships between persuasion and memory: an “externalization” of memory and commonplace rhetorical structures through information networks and technologies, and an “internalization” of memory and dispositions that takes place in human affective systems. We conclude by arguing for the value of such an expanded notion of rhetorical memory for addressing two of the more pervasive and significant registers of contemporary persuasion: advertising and populist politics.

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