Book Announcement: Commonplace Witnessing
Bradford Vivian, Commonplace Witnessing: Rhetorical Invention, Historical Remembrance, and Public Culture (Oxford University Press, 2017)
Commonplace Witnessing examines how citizens, politicians, and civic institutions have adopted idioms of witnessing in recent decades to serve a variety of social, political, and moral ends. The book encourages us to continue expanding and diversifying our normative assumptions about which historical subjects bear witness and how they do so. Commonplace Witnessing presupposes that witnessing in modern public culture is a broad and inclusive rhetorical act; that many different types of historical subjects now think and speak of themselves as witnesses; and that the rhetoric of witnessing can be mundane, formulaic, or popular instead of rare and refined. This study builds upon previous literary, philosophical, psychoanalytic, and theological studies of its subject matter in order to analyze witnessing, instead, as a commonplace form of communication and as a prevalent mode of influence regarding the putative realities and lessons of historical injustice or tragedy. It thus wei!
ghs both the uses and disadvantages of witnessing as an ordinary feature of modern public life.