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Cramer, Peter

Spring 2013, 43:2, pages 177-201

Sick Stuff: A Case Study of Controversy in a Constitutive Attitude

Abstract:  Journalists contribute in many routine ways to public controversies, ways that are often overlooked in traditional criticism. They have tended to e overlooked in part because of the agonistic argument dialogue that functions as a tacit, a priori location for controversy, and in part because of the tendency of traditional critics to treat news texts as reflections of controversy rather than contributions to it. This essay examines in detail journalists’ entextualization and recontextualization of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s discourse from a press conference on September 22, 1999 in order to explain one way that they contributed to the Brooklyn Museum Controversy. The analysis adopts a constitutive attitude toward controversy, asking how our habits of talking and writing contribute to our impressions of a controversy as a autonomous cultural phenomenon.

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