RhetoricLee Speaking

RhetoricLee Speaking

If Ben Stein and the Kardashians had a baby that were raised by Janeane Garofalo in a recording studio, you’d have RhetoricLee Speaking, a podcast analyzing cliches in culture, politics, and whatever was on Netflix at 3am. Join hostess with the mostess and professor of Rhetorical Communication, Lee Pierce, to learn the ins and outs of this thing called rhetoric--why certain uses of language have different effects than others and how the cliches we use close our minds off from other ways of thinking.

Episodes

April 20, 2021 57 min

The first crossover episode between May it Displease the Court, which looks at corruption in the courts from judges through dark money anti-democratic far-Right donors, and RhetoricLee Speaking, banishing banality one speech at a time. Your co-hosts, Mary and Lee, look at censorship, free speech vs. hate speech, and counter speech. Here are the highlights:

1) as much as we may want the law to recognize hate speech sometimes when t...

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The problem with phrasing the rules or norms or whatever you want to call them around the word n-i** as a prohibition, as a thou shalt not, is that not only does it NOT address the more implicit racism of feeling entitled to say the word when there’s no one around “to be offended,” but it also begs the very people to transgress that you’re trying to get to stop transgressing because most people--especially people who fancy themselv...

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I chatted recently with Nadeje of the Unleashed Unapologetically podcast about thought work, rhetoric, tension, cliches, and internal debate. The episode is called "The Thoughts About the Thoughts." Click on the link below to listen.

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February 18, 2021 32 min

Black women remain subjects who must recite power to have any power even though the power of the reciter is never the power of the subject who originates the lines to be recited. 

Amidst the praise that critics have rightfully heaped upon “The Hill We Climb” since January 6, only a few critics, mostly Black women, have noticed how her language testifies to American slavery, 1619-present.

For example, Gorman’s opening lines contai...

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In honor of National Sex Ed Day on February 2nd, I’m teaching you how to talk dirty! You’re welcome.

Let me tell you who this episode is for. It is for people who are excited about the idea of dirty talk, or sexy talk, or explicit talk but have no idea how to start or aren’t sure if their partner is receptive or have had a bad experience or been turned off by stereotypes in the media. It is for people whose sex life has gotten sta...

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The Myth of Dr. King’s Absolute Nonviolence

There is a story about Dr. King, apparently true, that during one of his Christian leadership conferences a man jumped out of the audience and started punching him repeatedly in the face. King just stood there. When King’s supporters tried to interfere, King told them to stay back. He was getting the absolute shit knocked out of him and he kept saying “‘Don’t touch him, don’t hurt him.’”...

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January 5, 2021 28 min

When you’re talking about anything pro-Black in America, you’re going to run into a crossroads between making Black culture accessible, translatable to White hegemony or making it about elevating and celebrating Black culture in its distinctness from Whiteness. There is no right answer here. It’s just an ever-present decision.

One of the ways that tension gets navigated is the degree to which a text uses cliches. From comforting r...

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With New Year’s fast approaching, we are all in store for our usual turning-of-the clock epiphany. Suddenly, everything changes and, at that moment, we just know.

Except not. Epiphanies are cliches that keep us from doing the hard work of understanding how persuasion happens. The epiphany collapses the event that happens with our response to it as opposed to the rhetorical figure peripeteia, which marks an event as an opportunity ...

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Back in January, basketball legend Michael Jordan gave a eulogy for other basketball legend Kobe Bryant after Kobe died tragically in a plane crash with his daughter Gianna. Commentators praised the speech because it was “tearful,” “moving,” and “heartfelt.” 

I agree that Jordan’s speech is AN example of a eulogy. But I disagree that it is a model for ALL eulogies. It praises Kobe for a bunch of different attributes, all of those ...

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Of all the leaders on The Walking Dead, which is a show that takes place in a zombie apocalypse, I would choose the flamboyant, Shakespearean Black man with the giant tiger. Why? Because he, who goes by the name King Ezekiel, is the most rhetorical character. 

 

When I say that Ezekiel is the most rhetorical character, I mean that he is the most aware that meaning is something that has to be created--that there is no such thing a...

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Quick announcement after a long hiatus!

 

A lot is going on in the world. It’s a wonderful and terrible time to be a rhetorician #blacklivesmatter and #stillpodcasting

 

RhetoricLee Speaking will be back soon with a new episode feat. King Ezekiel of The Walking Dead. 

 

In the meantime, head over to the podcast Rhetoricity hosted by fellow rhetorician Eric Detweiler and check out a new episode featuring several analyses of ju...

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An anecdote is not a story. An anecdote is a quick, “this thing happened to me.” An anecdote is a one-dimensional series of facts that people call a story when they don’t know better. An anecdote may have had a point. It might even have some concrete detail. But the one thing it doesn’t have is the one thing that a good story can’t exist without:

Plot. Structure.

What’s missing from the anecdote is what we call in rhetoric “vicar...

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Corny-ass comedy: I'm here for it!

Comedian Chris D’Elia’s new standup, “No Pain,” which premiered on Netflix a few weeks ago and was unanimously a let down to everyone who analyzed it. D’Elia has been a mid-level stand-up for a while now. He really took off last year as the host of the podcast, “Congratulations with Chris D’Elia.”

At its best, “No Pain” transgresses and pokes fun at the expectation that people have to suffer...

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What’s up Rhetoric Nerds! Welcome to RhetoricLee Speaking--a podcast about banishing banality, one speech at a time.

I am your hostess with the mostess, Lee Pierce, she/they pronouns, lover of rhetoric, professor of communication, and loather of cliches.

Join me most Tuesdays on YouTube, your favorite podcast app, or my blog at rhetoriclee.com for a whirlwind tour of the banality in culture, politics, and whatever was on Netflix ...

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Get a great list of fast and dirty strategies for constructing a kick ass analogy and listen to me mini rant about how Democrats ought to be out visiting the victims of bleach poisoning, sympathizing with those poor people who are so terrified that grasp at a desperate solution, instead of shitting all over them for being idiot sailors led by Captain Idiot on the idiot cruise.

Kicking off with Britta’s hilarious explanation of ana...

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Part 2 of a 2-part episode defending only the first ⅗ of the very first episode of “Tiger King.”: A piece of cultural criticism as epic as “Tiger King” is not.

Tiger King bashing--which is not the same as nuanced cultural criticism--is demophobia to the core. Demophobia means a fear of the demos.

Tiger King gives you pleasure, at least in the first ⅗ of the first episode, because it toes the line of kink--of queer transgression ...

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Part 1 of a 2-part episode defending only the first ⅗ of the very first episode of “Tiger King.”

Part 1 you will get today, which is an episode that achieves what we in the critical world call a “ground clearing.” See, when something is as popular as Tiger King, and as radically mis-read, you can’t just jump in with an alternate interpretation. You need to clear some ground first, move away some cliche cobwebs to make space for an...

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For all my baby ears out there who can’t use their imagination; this episode contains spoiler alerts for Season 6, Episode 18 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

When Sgt. Terry Jeffords announces to his beloved Brooklyn Nine-Nine that he’s “not in denial, he’s in deNIAL,” everyone looks at him as if he’s crazy. “Is Jeffords broken?” Captain Holt asks Detective Diaz.

Except Jeffords isn’t crazy. He’s using the rhetorical figure of antanaclasi...

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I’m going to pose the radical idea that people can be polite, maybe even civil, and still sprinkle in some profanity. That said, while too much cursing may not necessarily be uncivil, it does, at a certain point, become overkill.  A good example is the cookbook Thug Kitchen, subtitled: “eat like you give a fuck.” The presumed edginess of profanity in public takes over actually saying anything interesting.

You can be cliche by havi...

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Cliches are rhetorical weapons of mass destruction. 

In 1963, Hitler’s second-in-command, Adolph Eichmann, was tried for war crimes in Jerusalem. In attendance at the trial was Hannah Arendt, a philosopher and journalist and also a Jew who managed to escape Europe during Nazi occupation. 

Arendt, who is brilliant, unsurprisingly made a lot of brilliant observations. Foremost among them was the degree to which Eichmann’s ability t...

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