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Metaphor and Post-Truth Rhetorics

February 16, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:15 pm

MEI Rice event

The UT Austin Department of Communication Studies and the Center for Media Engagement Present:

Metaphor’s Keepers: The Mobile Armies of Post-Truth Rhetorics

Dr. Jenny Rice

Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies

University of Kentucky

February 16, 2021 ¦ 2:00PM-4:15PM CST

Via Zoom: https://utexas.zoom.us/j/91938345106

Meeting ID: 919 3834 5106

Nietzsche’s well-known aphorism that truth is a “mobile army of metaphors” suggests that rhetorical constructions of truth are only effective insofar as they remain invisible. The metaphors we mistake as truth, he writes, are simply “illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”  Yet, while Nietzsche might have also considered himself living in a “post-truth” era, our present rhetorical landscape is flooded by armies of mobile metaphors that have certainly not lost their sensuous power.

Conspiracy theories and white supremacist discourse, for example, are two specific scenes of post-truth rhetoric that have been shaped by explicit doctrines of metaphor. In this talk, I examine the role of metaphor-talk within both 21st century anti-Semitic discourse and conspiracy-oriented Christian evangelicalism. From David Duke’s embrace of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a metaphorical text to Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s declaration that prayer is a literal inoculation against COVID-19, both cases reflect a kind of “truth” that is grounded in a deliberate and distinct recognition of metaphor’s rhetorical power. Rather than relying on the overly vague label post-truth to engage this discourse, therefore, we might find it useful to start thinking about neo-metaphorical rhetoric.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Jenny Rice is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at The University of Kentucky. Her work has appeared in such journals as Philosophy & RhetoricRhetoric Society QuarterlyQuarterly Journal of Speech, and College English. Her book Distant Publics: Development Rhetoric and the Subject of Crisis was published in 2012 (University of Pittsburgh Press). She co-edited (along with Casey Boyle) Inventing Texas: Writing Lone Star Rhetorics (2019, Southern Illinois University Press). Her most recent book, Awful Archives: Conspiracy Theory, Rhetoric, and Acts of Evidencewas published in 2020 by The Ohio State University Press.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Media Engagement.

This event is free and open to the public with Zoom accounts; no registration required.


February 16, 2021
2:00 pm - 4:15 pm