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ERIC Number: EJ910906
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
Rhetoric and Bullshit
Fredal, James
College English, v73 n3 p243-259 Jan 2011
The study of bullshit, what the author calls "taurascatics", has been making a splash of late. It was Harry Frankfurt who tossed the stone: his essay "On Bullshit" came out in "Raritan" in 1986, hit the "New York Times" best-seller list as a book in 1995, and has been adopted, adapted, and criticized across the academy since. The ripples spread from philosophy to sociology, psychology, economics, public policy, and even to college composition. Philip Eubanks and John Schaffer considered the implications of Frankfurt's text for academic prose and for the field of composition specifically, while Peter Smagorinsky and his coauthors more recently examined the student term paper subtype. The author argues that taurascatics includes a much broader field than that articulated by either Frankfurt or any of his disciplinary successors, and that it therefore should be of central concern to students of rhetoric. The study of bullshit should occupy an important place alongside rhetoric because taurascatics is the "antistrophe" of rhetorical theory, for both are concerned with the politics of semiotic interaction, and with the frameworks within which that interaction will be produced, interpreted, and judged. The author begins with a brief review of Frankfurt's text and its limitations, and then uses that review to construct a rhetorically informed taxonomy of approaches to bullshit. Finally, he returns to the question of how these two fields of study--rhetoric and bullshit--can inform each other. (Contains 11 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A