Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Configurative rhetoric: The role of aesthetic design in professional communication
by Dalzell, Amy Dolores, Ph.D., New Mexico State University, 2014, 188; 3582401
Abstract (Summary)

This study involves conducting a rhetorically configurative analysis of an architectural interior, where `configurative' is defined as a set of visual/spatial interrelations perceived within a given context or framework. Specifically, the purpose of this project is to re-animate not only awareness of context, but also the imagination in its role in the creation of human significance in designing spaces.

Technological changes in communication directly affect the relevance of rhetoric to the development and continuation of culture. Shifts in rhetorical modalities, therefore, may eventually constitute cross-cultural transitions in sharing experiences. Thus, to maintain continuity of meaning, it becomes incumbent on professional communicators to develop a working familiarity with contemporary socio-cultural changes, particularly those changes that involve a transition from one form of communicative form to another.

According to rhetorician Ernest Grassi (1980, 1994) culture itself is rhetorical, i.e., a by-product of the human need for the psyche to achieve and, more importantly, to share meaning. For Grassi, this adaptation of nature involves a metaphoric transfer of meaning from inner understanding onto the physical world. To do this, however, there must be some means, some venue, available to create a common connection between the two realms.

Language has been such a venue, and, print, until recently in the West, has been the predominant communicative modality for the maintenance and transmission of culture. One cultural consequence of this adaptation is that written/printed communications deliberately hold form constant so as not to interfere with the transparent dissemination of information, as content. Electronic modalities, however, complicate this cultural communicative assumption in that: (1) virtual form can no longer be routinely subordinated to content, and (2) `knowledge' when experienced as simultaneous pattern need not be distanced and `provable' to be valid,

Grassi's understanding of metaphor as the link between rhetoric and culture (1980, 1994), in effect, characterizes metaphor as a hybrid communicative form that bridges the gap between rational/linguistic and aesthetic/configurative forms via human ingenuity. This approach has been explored on the linguistic/rhetorical side as generative criticism (Foss, 2004) where the researcher must create and/or design/construct a singular critical framework through which to interpret an unusual artifact. On the aesthetic/rhetorical side, however, Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky's analytical drawing process and correspondence color theory practicably elucidate design as a communicative system (Poling 1986).

This proposed visual/spatial analysis of the interior the lobby of the rotunda of Skeen hall is intended to depict an architectural interior as schematized space that will illustrate the processing inherent to Grassi's imagistic first principles, i.e., the archai, remnants of a primordial language (Grassi, 1994) where deductive reasoning fords its source, but that cannot, in and of themselves, be discovered via deduction (Grassi, 1980). In this view, the archai represent the collective sources of ingenium which allow humans to overcome their alienation from nature through the figurative development of human meaning that the rawness of the natural world alone cannot provide.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Torres, Monica F.
School: New Mexico State University
School Location: United States -- New Mexico
Source: DAI-A 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Design, Aesthetics, Rhetoric
Keywords: Communication, Cultural Studies, Discourse, Metaphor
Publication Number: 3582401
ISBN: 978-1-321-62044-3
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