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Gruber, David R.

Summer, Issue 44:2, pages 148-167

The (Digital) Majesty of All Under Heaven: Affective Constitutive Rhetoric at the Hong Kong Museum of History’s Multi-Media Exhibition of Terracotta Warriors

Abstract: During a series of protests in Hong Kong about a leadership transition widely perceived to give Mainland China greater political influence, the Hong Kong Museum of History held a Special Exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors of Xian, China. Sponsored by “The Leisure and Cultural Service Department,” the exhibit featured the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty who ushered in “an epoch-making era in Chinese history that witnessed the unification of China” (Museum Exhibition). This essay explores the multi-media aspects of the exhibit, arguing that encounters with dramatic music and fully immersive digital experiences are examples of an embodied, affective form of constitutive rhetoric. Put differently, the museum’s multi-media elements demonstrate how Maurice Charland’s theory of a constitutive rhetoric can be informed by recent work on affect and can provide one point from which to engage affect theory and the “affective dimension of politics.”


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