> > Hi Rick: How are you doing? I hope all is well. . .
> > I'm contacting you to see if you can give me a good lead on the subject of
> > tropes. I'm teaching a course called Media and Development at Trent and
> > we've done a module on Eurocentrism. I tried to present the concept of
> > trope to describe the grammar of Eurocentrism as embedded into our
> > cultural practices, dominant texts, etc. I searched for a good definition
> > of tropes (Hayden White, Ricouer, your textbook, etc.) but never found one
> > to my liking. The working definition I proposed was "a figure of thought,
> > a conceptual trigger which conjures up associated meanings." I also
> > presented the notion of root metaphor (Pepper) as an analogous concept.
> > A student brought in a book by Marcel Danesi which defined tropes as
> > "figures of speech" and which listed only metaphor and metonomy as examples.
> At least in North American schools, the distinction between figures of
> thought (tropes) and figures of speech (schemes) seems largely to have
> been lost. If one makes the distinction (and it is traditional),
> metaphor and metonomy are figures of thought while alliteration (which
> affects sound but not sense) is a figure of speech. I think it is the
> concept that matters, the notion that certain sorts of figures are not
> just decoration, that they influence our perceptions and understandings.
> Thus what Pepper called a ROOT METAPHOR (and what Burke, about a decade
> earlier called a MASTER METAPHOR) is a metaphor that shapes (or is at the
> root of) a community's way of perceiving and interpreting something
> important. Cf., e.g., the way the computer has replaced the telephone
> switchboard as the master metaphor for the human brain or the way
> business metaphors (e.g., customer, market) are displacing other terms
> (e.g., citizen, community).
> In simpliest form, the notion (from I.A. Richards' _Philosophy of
> Rhetoric_, which lies at the root of most discussion of metaphor) is that
> the symbolic action of a metaphor is to direct attention to those aspects
> of primary subject that shared with (i.e., also signified by) the second
> term of the trope. So referring to students as customers of the
> university or school directs our attention to the ways in which students
> are like our commonplaces about customers and deflects our attention from
> ways in which students are not at all like our ideas about customers.
> N.B., as the metaphor 'men are wolves' (a standard example in discussions
> of metaphor) indicates, it is not the reality but the commonplaces evoked
> by the 2nd term that shapes the action of the metaphor.
> > My working definition was based on my coursework with you - does it jive
> > with your conception of trope? Do you have a favoured citation for this
> > concept?
> At Theresa Enos' request, I have explicated the above (and other
> important stuff I think I understand about metaphor in particular, tropes
> in general) in the _Encyclopedia of Rhetoric_ (Garland) under
> "Metaphor." (Including a critique of the current traditional
> reductionist misunderstanding and an extension into the concept of analog
> signifiers in general.)
> Presumably your library has it (because it costs about
> $100). The list of references for that article includes works by
> Aristotle, Barthes, Beardsley, Burke (appendix to the -Grammar_),
> Derrida, Gilbert and Gubar (on sexual metaphors for writing), Gould,
> Irigaray, Jakobson, Lakoff and Johnson, Pepper, Perelman, Richards,
> Ricoeur, Sacks, and Seitz--probably more than you want, certainly enuff
> to get past a dissertation committee (and some of which you likely read
> in that course).
> > My course carries on through April so it's never too late to return to
> > the issue. Also, I'm trying to present a case for the cultural
> > significance of the trope of consumption in my thesis, so any input you
> > have may influence me there too.
> > I hope I'm not asking too much. (If you do spend time on a response and
> > would prefer to post it back to me via CASLL - so others can enter into
> > the discussion and/or benefit from our interchange - I think that might
> > be a good idea. . .).
> > Best, Michael
> Hope that's useful. If not, try me again in two weeks (which is the next
> time I'll be on line).
> Hope to see you soon.
> cc: CASLL