LINGUIST List 14.875

Wed Mar 26 2003

Diss: Ling Theories: Werry "Rhetoric and..."

Editor for this issue: Anita Yahui Huang <>


  1. cwerry, Ling Theories: Werry "Rhetoric and Reflexivity in..."

Message 1: Ling Theories: Werry "Rhetoric and Reflexivity in..."

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 20:41:48 +0000
From: cwerry <>
Subject: Ling Theories: Werry "Rhetoric and Reflexivity in..."

Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Program: English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Chris Werry 

Dissertation Title: 

Rhetoric and Reflexivity in Chomskyan and Cognitive Linguistics

Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories, Writing Systems, Discourse
Analysis, Philosophy of Language

Dissertation Director 1: Paul Hopper
Dissertation Director 2: Talbot Taylor
Dissertation Director 3: Barbara Johnstone

Dissertation Abstract: 

_Rhetoric and Reflexivity in Chomskyan and Cognitive Linguistics_
analyzes the rhetoric of Chomskyan and cognitive linguistics. Drawing
on work in the rhetoric of inquiry, rhetorical theory, and the
integrationalist school of linguistics, the dissertation examines some
of the major topoi, tropes and rhetorical strategies that both
characterize and enable knowledge production within Chomskyan and
cognitive linguistics. A central claim made in the dissertation is
that the idea of language as a unified, stable, coherent disciplinary
object that is 'found' rather than 'made', and which is amenable to
scientific analysis depends on a set of rhetorical strategies that
work to repress various aspects of the reflexive practices carried out
both by language users and linguists. The dissertation describes how
the repression of reflexivity within Chomskyan and cognitive
linguistics has played an important role in linguistic inquiry. I
argue that this repression has contributed to linguistics divorcing
itself from the cultural and rhetorical dimensions of communicative

The dissertation also focuses on several other key aspects of the
rhetoric of Chomskyan and cognitive linguistics. I argue that both
theories of language are deeply "ocularcentric." While a range of
figurative expressions characterize Chomskyan and cognitive linguistic
discourse, ocular metaphors and references are assigned a place of
particular importance. The assumption that language exists primarily
as something visible, that it can be represented in terms of
comparisons with various forms of visual phenomenon, and that
linguistic analysis can be understood as a kind of visual perception,
has been integral to the objects, concepts, data and methodologies
that characterize both areas of inquiry. This study examines the role
visual imagery plays in Chomskyan and cognitive linguistics texts, and
considers the rhetorical work it is used to carry out. I also argue
that ocularcentrism and the repression of reflexivity can be traced in
part to the influence of what Roy Harris dubs 'scriptism', or the
influence of written models on theories of language, as well as to the
influence of computational models and analogies. I thus examine how
writing and the classificatory spaces written form make possible
influence the representation of language in Chomskyan linguistics.
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