ERIC Number: ED400532
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Apr
Sophistic Synthesis in JFK Assassination Rhetoric.
The rhetoric surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy offers a unique testing ground for theories about the construction of knowledge in society. One dilemma, however, is the lack of academic theorizing about the assassination. The Kennedy assassination has been left almost exclusively in the hands of "nonhistorians," i.e., politicians, filmmakers, and novelists. Their struggle to reach consensus is an opportunity to consider recent issues in rhetorical theory, issues of knowledge and belief, argument and narrative, history and myth. In "Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured," Susan C. Jarratt uses the sophists and their focus on "nomos" to propose "an alternative analytic to the mythos/logos antithesis" characteristic of more Aristotelian forms of rhetorical analysis. Two basic features of sophistic historiography interest Jarratt: (1) the use of narrative structures along with or opposed to argumentative structures; and (2) the rhetorical focus on history to creative broad cultural meaning in the present rather than irrefutable fact about the past. Jarratt's book lends itself to a 2-part reading of Jim Garrison's "On the Trail of the Assassins"--a rational or Aristotelian reading and a nomos-driven or myth-making reading. Garrison's first chapters are almost completely devoted to the appeal of ethos--his portrayal of himself as a loyal American--but the bulk of the book presents evidence that Garrison collected in the 1960s. Still, its persuasive power comes also from its narrative form, its story of Garrison's 8-year investigation of the assassination. (Contains 23 references.) (TB)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A