ERIC Number: ED233347
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Understanding Susan Sontag's Critique of Communism and the Democratic Left: Confession? Conversion? Conundrum?
Page, Judy Lynn
Provoking violent controversy, Susan Sontag's speech, "The Lesson of Poland," is an example of subversive rhetoric. Delivered at a February 6, 1982, show of support for the recently oppressed Polish people, Sontag's speech, like other modernist writing, did not seek a consensus with the audience, but challenged its whole scheme of values. Exhibiting the three characteristics of subversive rhetoric--anti-ethos speaking, the "devil theory" of persuasion, and pervasive irony--Sontag redefined Communism, equating it with fascism and giving it satanic traits; condemned the hypocrisy of capitalist nations; and criticized the Left for not taking an anti-Communist stand. She accused partisans--and, ironically, herself--of smug self-righteousness. Her speech was, in effect, an effort to shock captive minds out of old habits of thought and worn-out rhetoric. Her decision afterward to copyright her remarks and delete a portion from the text she authorized for publication, raised debate over copyright law provisions and First Amendment rights of newspapers, and caused condemnation of her ostensible motives to "purge" and "copyright" the truth. (MM)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Response; Poland; Sontag (Susan)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (66th, Corvallis, OR, August 6-9, 1983).