The materiality of discourse as oxymoron: A challenge to critical rhetoric

Dana L. Cloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Recent rhetorical theory has adopted two versions—variously idealist and relativist—of the proposition that discourse is influential in or even constitutive of social and material “reality.”; This idea, which underpins much critical communication scholarship, I am calling the “materiality of discourse hypothesis.”; This essay documents and criticizes the idealism and relativism of the materiality of discourse idea in postmodernist and post‐Marxist rhetorical theories, illustrates the critique with an extended critical analysis of Persian Gulf War news coverage, and defends materialist ideology criticism as an alternative to a critical rhetoric that has become increasingly affirmative of the social order and detached from reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-163
Number of pages23
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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