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Debates Are Stories About Things That Change in Time: Civic Engagement with Things

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Rhetorical education in general and debate education in particular, as civic education, prepares people to deal with things that change in shared time. In this paper, I argue that our discussions over civic education must include the things with
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  DEBATES ARE STORIES ABOUT THINGS THAT CHANGE IN TIME:CIVIC ENGAGEMENT WITH THINGSCatherine E. Morrison, Ph.DDiretor o! De"ateHarrin#ton Shoo$ o! Co%%&niation an' Me'iaUni(ersit) o! Rho'e Is$an'Dra!t on!erene *a*er s&"%itte' !or onsi'eration to the S*eeh an'De"ate as Ci(i E'&ation on!erene, Penns)$(ania State Uni(ersit)Se*te%"er +, +-/  De"ates are Stories A"o&t Thin#s That Chan#e in Ti%e:Ci(i En#a#e%ent 0ith Thin#sCatherine E. MorrisonA"strat: Rhetoria$ e'&ation in #enera$ an' 'e"ate e'&ation in *arti&$ar, as civic  e'&ation, *re*ares *eo*$e to 'ea$ 0ith thin#s that han#e in share' ti%e. In this *a*er, I ar#&e that o&r 'is&ssions o(er i(i e'&ation %&st in$&'e the things  0ith 0hih 0e en#a#e as iti1ens. I a**roah rhetoria$ theor) an' 'e"ate *ratie !ro% an onto$o#ia$ *ers*eti(e to sho0 that rhetoria$ %o'es o! s*ea2in# ai% to #ras* a *arti&$ar %o'e o! e3istene !or thin#s: the thin# that is shi!tin# in its %o'e o! e3istene an' "eo%in# other0ise in a share' ti%e an' re#ion o! tra4, tra'e an' onern. The rhetoriian an' 'e"ater "oth ai% in s*ea2in# to "rin# the a&'iene in atten'ane, an' the han#in# thin# in its o*en *ossi"i$ities to#ether to 'ei'e ho0 "est #ras* the thin# as it han#es. 5o$$o0in# Br&no 6ato&r, I ar#&e that ") atten'in# to the a*aities o! thin#s as 0e$$ as o! *eo*$e, 0e *re*are st&'ents !or i(i en#a#e%ents not si%*$) 0ith one another, "&t 0ith things. A i(i en#a#e%ent 0ith thin#s "rin#s thin#s into the #reat *ar$ia%entar) #atherin#s o(er %atters o! onern an' #rants the% a seat at in *ar$ia%ent a$on#si'e s*ea2ers an' hearers.+  I 0ant to start o&t 0ith a "$an2et state%ent so (a#&e as to "e a tr&is%, "&t 2ee* 0ith %e: I "e$ie(e the %ost *ressin# *ro"$e%s 0e !aein the +st ent&r) are *ro"$e%s o! thin#s: o! e3tration, *ro'&tion an' ons&%*tion, o! 7nit&'e an' *ersistene, o! (a$&e, 'istri"&tion an'nee', o! !or% an' %atter. No0, to "e s&re, the %ost *ressin# *ro"$e%s0e ha(e !ae' in any century at all  are *ro"$e%s 0ith thin#s, "&t 0e an "e %ore or $ess a0are o! that !at at an) #i(en ti%e. It is a$$ too eas) to $ea(e the thin# o&t 0hen 0e !o&s on *ro"$e%s. In rhetoria$ st&'ies, !or e3a%*$e, it is entire$) *ossi"$e to ta$2 a"o&t ta$2 0itho&t ta$2in# a"o&t the thin#s o! 0hih 0e s*ea2. In 'e"ate, it is entire$) *ossi"$e to ha(e a 'e"ate a"o&t 'e"ate rather than the thin#s to "e 'e"ate'. I ar#&e to'a) that thin2in# a"o&t ar#&%entation !ro% the *ers*eti(e o! the things we argue about   0i$$ he$* *re*are 'e"aters as i(i iti1ens to en#a#e an' 'ea$ 0ith these %ost *ressin# thin#s. I &se the 0or' 8thin#9 in the "roa' *hi$oso*hia$ sense"ein#s "oth e3tant an' *ossi"$e. As arts o! s*ea2in#, rhetori an' 'e"ate 2ee*the thin#s the) are a"o&t, their %atters, o*en.   We 'e(e$o* 0a)s o! 'ea$in# 0ith a 0i'e (ariet) o! %atters, an a"i$it) to see a(ai$a"$e *ossi"i$ities in #i(en ases. Whi$e the thin# is $e!t o*en as a *$aeho$'er in theor), in *ratie rhetori an' 'e"ate a''ress the thin#in its onrete, %ateria$ !atiit); 0hat, here an' no0, is the ase !or &s  I 'ra0 a 'istintion "et0een 8thin#9 an' 8%atter.9 The thin# on its o0nor in itse$! is a *$aeho$'er. The %atter is an in(o$(e%ent 0ith *arti&$ar thin#s that ha(e histories, *resenes an' *ossi"i$ities. At the ris2 o! o(er<Hei'e##erianis%: the %atter is ho0 the thin# matters to us . =  0ho ha(e #athere'. In ter%s o! the re$ationshi* "et0een rhetori an' 'e"ate, I inter*ret rhetori as an o(erarhin# %o'e o! s*ea2in# 0ith others a"o&t thin#s that ha(e a orres*on'in# %o'e o! e3istene. I inter*ret 'e"ate as a *ratie o! s*ea2in# that &n!o$'s in &ni>&e e3han#es o(er rhetoria$ %atterso(er thin#s that ha(e a rhetoria$ %o'e o! e3istene, ho0 the) are, an' ho0 the) o&$' "eto0ar' an &$ti%ate 'eision "et0een *ossi"i$ities. In the !o$$o0in# essa), I 7rst 'is&ss the onstit&tion o! thin#s that 0e s*ea2 an' 'e"ate a"o&t. I then ar#&e !or a**roahin# rhetori an' 'e"ate as (ehi$es !or i(i en#a#e%ent 0ith thin#s an' a''ress the "arriers "et0een o&rse$(es an' thin#s. I $ose 0ith strate#ies 0e an ta2e as teahers o! s*eeh an' 'e"ate to o(ero%e these "arriers an' #et back to things .Rhetoria$ thin#sI a**roah the >&estion 80hat are the things  0e s*ea2 a"o&t?9 !ro% t0o *ers*eti(es: as a rhetoria$ theorist an' as a teaher o! 'e"ate. As a theorist, I a% onerne' 0ith rhetoria$ onto$o#): 0hat it %eans to a$$ a thin# rhetoria$ an' 0hat a rhetoria$ thin# 0o&$' "e. M) &rrent on$&sion is that to a$$ a thin# rhetoria$ is to sa) that it is a*a"$e o! "eo%in# other0ise in share' ti%e. The thin# has a a*ait) to han#e an' it han#es !or %ore than @&st %e. Rhetoria$ /  s*ea2in#, in other 0or's, orres*on's to a rhetoria$ %o'e o! e3isteneo! the thin#s a"o&t 0hih rhetori s*ea2s.At this *oint, no one is i%*resse'. Aristot$e te$$s &s that 0e 'o not ar#&e a"o&t thin#s that annot "e other0ise. +  6$o)' Bit1er te$$s &s that it is sit&ationte%*ora$it) in Hei'e##erian ter%sthat 'eter%ines rhetoriit). =  Bar"ara Biese2er in(esti#ates the re$ationshi* o! 0or' an'thin# 0ithin the rhetoria$ e(ent. /  I thin2, ho0e(er, that atten'in# to the thin#s<that<an<"e<other0ise in the center   o! these sit&ations an' e(ents 0o&$' "e #oo' !or rhetoria$ theor) an' #oo' !or 'e"ate. 5or rhetoria$ theor), a !o&s on thin#s $ari7es to 0hat thin# the 8o!9 in rhetorics   of   re!ers ") as2in# ho0 this thin# here no0 has become  rhetoria$. 5or 'e"ate, a onern 0ith the thin# 'e"ate' ens&res a ontin&o&s tie "et0een the %atter as it is *resent in the 'e"ate an' asit is *resent in the 0or$' to &s. E(en i! 'e"ate 0ere %ere$) a simulation o! i(i en#a#e%ent, it ne(erthe$ess 'ea$s 0ith real   things  o! *ressin# o$$eti(e onern. Theoretia$$), I a% intereste' in 0or2in# o&t ho0 rhetori as a mode of language a *arti&$ar 0a) o! re$atin# to thin#s in s*ea2in# a"o&t +  Aristot$e, The Rhetoric and Poetics of Aristotle, trans. W. Rh)s Ro"erts an' In#raha% B)0ater. Ne0 or2: Ran'o% Ho&se, /, .+.+. I onten' that not on$) is Aristot$eFs rhetoria$ s)ste% "&i$t aro&n' the *arti&$ar te%*ora$it) o! rhetoria$ thin#s, "&t that the (er) str&t&re o! the Rhetoric  is or#ani1e' aro&n' a''ressin# o&r ai%s to0ar' the thin# in Boo2 I, ho0 the thin# stan's "e!ore &s in Boo2 II, an' ho0 ins*ea2in# 0e ai% to "rin# o&r s*ea2in#, the thin# an' the hearer $ose in Boo2 III. =  6$o)' Bit1er, 8The Rhetoria$ Sit&ation,9 Philosophy and Rhetoric  , no.  : . /  Bar"ara A. Biese2er, 8The Pros*ets o! Rhetori !or the T0ent)<5irst Cent&r): S*e&$ations on E(enta$ Rhetori En'in# 0ith a Note on Bara2 O"a%a an' a Bene'ition ") a>&es 6aan,9 in Reengaging the Prospects of Rhetoric: Current Conversations and Contemporary Challenges , e'. Mar2 . Porro(ehio. Ne0 or2: Ro&t$e'#e, +--, +. 
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