22 episodes

If Ben Stein and the Kardashians had a baby that were raised by Janeane Garofalo in a recording studio, you’d have RhetoricLee Speaking, a podcast about how we use language and language uses is. Join hostess with the mostess and rhetorical scholar extraordinaire, Lee Pierce, in a whirlwind tour of banality across pop culture, political controversy, and whatever was on Netflix at 3am.

RhetoricLee Speakin‪g‬ Lee M Pierce

    • Philosophy
    • 5.0 • 161 Ratings

If Ben Stein and the Kardashians had a baby that were raised by Janeane Garofalo in a recording studio, you’d have RhetoricLee Speaking, a podcast about how we use language and language uses is. Join hostess with the mostess and rhetorical scholar extraordinaire, Lee Pierce, in a whirlwind tour of banality across pop culture, political controversy, and whatever was on Netflix at 3am.

    The Whitewashing of Amanda Gorman

    The Whitewashing of Amanda Gorman

    Black women remain subjects who must recite power to have any power even though the power of the reciter is never the power of the subject who originates the lines to be recited. 
    Amidst the praise that critics have rightfully heaped upon “The Hill We Climb” since January 6, only a few critics, mostly Black women, have noticed how her language testifies to American slavery, 1619-present.
    For example, Gorman’s opening lines contain several middle passage metaphors, including “the loss we carry,” “a sea we must wade,” and “the belly of the beast.” Middle passage metaphors keep alive in language the memory of the ships that slaughtered most of the stolen Africans they trafficked to America for centuries.
    Critics have overlooked or misunderstood these lines because middle passage metaphors aren’t taught in “classic” education.
    Gorman also writes: “we the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.”
    “She imagined, she wrote, a country and a time,” summarizes a critic for The New York Times.
    But Gorman isn’t imagining. Gorman is testifying to her reality in two registers. In one register, it is wonderful that a Black girl is reciting for the president. But in the second register, that girl cannot be president. In the first register, she stands next to the first Black woman Vice President in American history. But in the second register, that Black woman can only be Vice President.
    One signal that Gorman is speaking in two registers is the missing verb between “we” and “the successors.” Grammatically, the passage should read, “we are the successors.” But it does not. Because the verb, the action, is missing. America is not acting on its promise of equality.
    Another signal is the phrase “only to find,” which Gorman inserts between her dream of becoming president and her reality of only reciting for one. The phrase “only to,” as in, “I awoke, only to find,” expresses surprise and disappointment. Gorman is surprised and disappointed that the country that tells her she can be anything she wants to be is also the country that ensures she can only recite.
    Recitation is simply to repeat out loud.
    Gorman demonstrated in “The Hill We Climb” that she is uniquely skilled at using language that speaks to two audiences simultaneously: those who want to fight for true abolition and those who want to whitewash America’s ongoing enslavement of Black citizens.
    It’s unfair that Black speakers have to accomplish this sophisticated code-switching to get a national audience. But it’s also a testament to the artful skill of Amanda Gorman.
    Resources used in this episode:
    WATCH: Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, 'The Hill We Climb'
    Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century by Rank
    All the Poetry That's Fit to Print
    Opinion: Amanda Gorman reminded America what poetry can do
    Amanda Gorman at Biden's inauguration reminded me: politics needs poetry
    America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One
    At the Inauguration, Amanda Gorman Wove History and the Future Into a Stirring Melody
    Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World
    The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde: 9780143135203 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
    Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment in “The Hill We Climb”
    Amanda Gorman was let down by a terrible poem
    Kamala Harris's Ascent Doesn't Mean Progress for Black Women
    Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/the-whitewashing-of-amanda-gorman/
    *Learn more at https://rhetoriclee.com 
    *Follow the show on Facebook and on Instagram @rhetoriclee for more teasers, highlights, and awesome graphics
    *Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Stitcher, on Youtube, on Spotify, or via RSS. 

    • 32 min
    Smut Yr Mouth: Dirty Talk Like a Rhetorician

    Smut Yr Mouth: Dirty Talk Like a Rhetorician

    In honor of National Sex Ed Day on February 2nd, I’m teaching you how to talk dirty! You’re welcome.
    Let me tell you who this episode is for. It is for people who are excited about the idea of dirty talk, or sexy talk, or explicit talk but have no idea how to start or aren’t sure if their partner is receptive or have had a bad experience or been turned off by stereotypes in the media. It is for people whose sex life has gotten stale but role playing and expensive toys and one-size-fits-all costumes that fit no one seems overwhelming, expensive, and just like a lot of work. It’s for people who think have fantasies about different sex acts--doing it in the butt, group sex, being ravaged by a handsome pirate--but don’t necessarily want to do the actual acts. Maybe you don’t have access to a pirate. Maybe group sex is a hot fantasy but in reality terrifying and very unsafe. Or maybe you have hemmerhoids and butt sex is just off the table.
    Like any kind of speech, sexy talk is amazing because it can create an experience in your mind that isn’t necessarily happening in an actual physical act. When it comes to sex, we are way too obsessed with the acts. Because the act sells. You gotta buy costumes and toys and porn and so on. And you also get to sit in your house, masturbating alone, thinking about how your partner won’t XYZ, self-loathing for feeling that way, and that self-loathing drives your consumerist behavior.
    But sexy talk is free. Sexy talk can bring any experience you would like to have in the whole world right into your brain so you can enjoy all of the sensations and titillations without ever having to spend a dollar or open a butt crack. And all you need is a sex vocabulary, a little bit of courage to talk about it, and your big beautiful imagination.
    The formula for great sexy talk: 
    “I want to…” Alternatives include “I like it when...” and “I’ve always fantasized about...” 
    Step two: Add a verb. Lick, suck, smack, grind, rub, caress. No 19th century romance novelist nonsense like “fondled”
    Step three: Add body part: a*****e, mouth, feet, pussy, eyes, slit, hands, cock, legs. 
    Step four: Add precise adjectives that cannot include “awesome” or “cool.” You may have the adjective “amazing,” as in, “your hips are amazing” but only if you mean it.
    Step five (optional):  liberally sprinkle in some curse words. 
    Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/smut-yr-mouth-dirty-talk-like-a-rhetorician/
    The podcast is now on Vurbl! Check it out https://vurbl.com/station/2IxsVEt2KqP/
    *Learn more at https://rhetoriclee.com 
    *Follow the show on Facebook and on Instagram @rhetoriclee for more teasers, highlights, and awesome graphics
    *Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Stitcher, on Youtube, on Spotify, or via RSS. 
    *Take 20 seconds to leave a short review and 5 star-rating (I’ll even take 4 stars, I’m not greedy). Reviews help future #rhetoricnerds find the show!
    *Have mixed feelings about the show or think I may have stepped in it? Let’s discuss on social media or at rhetoriclee@gmail.com. 
    Resources used in this episode:
    https://www.weshouldtryit.com/
    https://slate.com/culture/2021/01/bridgerton-sex-scenes-meh.html

    • 32 min
    The Myth of Dr. King’s Absolute Nonviolence

    The Myth of Dr. King’s Absolute Nonviolence

    Dr. King understood that it is not the strategy itself that does the work. Nonviolence, violence, it’s all just strategy. What matters is what you do with the strategy. And the aim of King’s nonviolence wasn’t the nonviolence for the sake of nonviolence, it nonviolence for the sake of amplifying and highlighting of systemic violence.

    • 24 min
    Pro Black Anthems 2020 Ranked by Cliche

    Pro Black Anthems 2020 Ranked by Cliche

    When you’re talking about anything pro-Black in America, you’re going to run into a crossroads between making Black culture accessible, translatable to White hegemony or making it about elevating and celebrating Black culture in its distinctness from Whiteness. There is no right answer here. It’s just an ever-present decision.
    One of the ways that tension gets navigated is the degree to which a text uses cliches. From comforting reassurance and quippy banality to unsettling juxtaposition and strong signifiers of unapologetic Black empowerment, this list of pro-Black Anthems of 2020 demonstrates the variety of ways that speech (in this case song) can challenge, undermine, shape, and respond to the ongoing work of civil rights.
    Depending on your criteria, my number 5 might be your number 1 but in the end the point of the ranking isn’t really the ranking; I’m not the Oscars. It’s a thought experiment to demonstrate the tensions constantly plaguing civil rights protest and it also demonstrates the pros and cons of cliches as a rhetorical strategy. 
    Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/2020-pro-black-anthems-ranked-by-cliche/
    *Learn more at https://rhetoriclee.com 
    *Follow the show on Facebook and on Instagram @rhetoriclee for more teasers, highlights, and awesome graphics
    *Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Stitcher, on Youtube, on Spotify, or via RSS. 
    *Take 20 seconds to leave a short review and 5 star-rating (I’ll even take 4 stars, I’m not greedy). Reviews help future #rhetoricnerds find the show!
    *Have mixed feelings about the show or think I may have stepped in it? Let’s discuss on social media or at rhetoriclee@gmail.com. 
    Alternative lists of pro-Black protest songs
    https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3WmmPTvTN0eqNHpdfjMB2o?si=fMSKiSeyRXuHgWtCzb3y1Q
    https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/9402496/black-lives-matter-protest-songs-2020
    https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWWAqc46ZJdZf?si=B8eKom2fQjSettz72p1G0g
    https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1ifafQvTmO40r7XIGFDDDn?si=FglhPtHoT6SLR31e23sjAw
    Other resources used in this episode:
    https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/13/lil-wayne-explains-why-he-said-theres-no-such-thing-as-racism
    https://people.com/music/ciara-talks-working-new-song-rooted-while-literally-in-labor/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/opinion/falser-words-were-never-spoken.html
    https://open.spotify.com/episode/7iFePOQVbZ9M9hqLCouCpn?si=FsMdmVA5TSCUdvv0hGxTGw
    https://truthout.org/articles/black-struggle-is-not-a-sound-bite-why-i-refused-to-meet-with-president-obama/
    http://www.scottishmusicnetwork.co.uk/tiggs-da-author-reveals-new-single-we-aint-scared/

    • 28 min
    Suddenly Nothing Changed: Why Epiphanies are Cliche

    Suddenly Nothing Changed: Why Epiphanies are Cliche

    With New Year’s fast approaching, we are all in store for our usual turning-of-the clock epiphany. Suddenly, everything changes and, at that moment, we just know.
    Except not. Epiphanies are cliches that keep us from doing the hard work of understanding how persuasion happens. The epiphany collapses the event that happens with our response to it as opposed to the rhetorical figure peripeteia, which marks an event as an opportunity for change.
    Joe Biden used both epiphany and peripeteia in his 2020 address at the Democratic National Convention. This episode will explore how these rhetorical strategies allowed Biden to navigate his thorny history with Civil Rights advocacy and what worked and didn’t work in Biden’s speech.
    Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/suddenly-nothing-changed-why-epiphanies-are-cliche/
    *Learn more at https://rhetoriclee.com 
    *Follow the show on Facebook and on Instagram @rhetoriclee for more teasers, highlights, and awesome graphics
    *Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Stitcher, on Youtube, on Spotify, or via RSS. 
    *Take 20 seconds to leave a short review and 5 star-rating (I’ll even take 4 stars, I’m not greedy). Reviews help future #rhetoricnerds find the show!
    *Have mixed feelings about the show or think I may have stepped in it? Let’s discuss on social media or at rhetoriclee@gmail.com. 
    Resources mentioned in this episode:
    Joe Biden’s full speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention
    Young, Brash and Reckless: Why Biden's First Run for President Failed, New York Times
    Rock Bottom Girl (Ep. 5), RhetoricLee Speaking (podcast)

    • 24 min
    I Come to Eulogize Kobe, Not to Praise Him

    I Come to Eulogize Kobe, Not to Praise Him

    Back in January, basketball legend Michael Jordan gave a eulogy for other basketball legend Kobe Bryant after Kobe died tragically in a plane crash with his daughter Gianna. Commentators praised the speech because it was “tearful,” “moving,” and “heartfelt.” 
    I agree that Jordan’s speech is AN example of a eulogy. But I disagree that it is a model for ALL eulogies. It praises Kobe for a bunch of different attributes, all of those attributes are probably what anyone would select if asked to give a eulogy for Kobe Bryant, all of those attributes are positive, and they get thrown in with a few insider anecdotes  (we know all about anecdotes from episode 14), and, of course, a few jokes.
    But a eulogy can and should be SO much more than that. Jordan’s central values for Kobe are passion and competition but there’s another value I want to pull out: being a pain-in-the-ass, a nag, someone so focused on the details that they don’t let up. And that’s what I want for Jordan’s eulogy; if he wants us to be more like Kobe, then I want that to mean being more of a pain in the ass.
    Read the blog version: https://rhetoriclee.com/i-come-to-eulogize-kobe-not-to-praise-him/
    Episode 15 of RhetoricLee Speaking is part of The Big Rhetorical Podcast Carnival 2020: The Digital Future of Rhetoric and Composition. Be sure to check out the other podcasts participating in the carnival this week: 
    Global Rhetorics Podcast at https://globalrhetorics.com @GlobalRhet
    Kairoticast @kairoticast
    Re:verb Cast www.reverbcast.com @reverb_cast
    Rhetorically Yours https://www.rhetoricallyyours.com @rhet_yours
    Rhetoricity rhetoricity.libsyn.com @Rhetcast
    The Big Rhetorical Podcast https://thebigrhetoricalpodcast.weebly.com @thebigrhet
    Writing Remix Podcast https://writingremixpodcast.com @WritingRemixPod
    *Learn more at https://rhetoriclee.com 
    *Follow the show on Facebook and on Instagram @rhetoriclee for more teasers, highlights, and awesome graphics
    *Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, on Google Podcasts, on Stitcher, on Youtube, on Spotify, or via RSS. 
    *Take 20 seconds to leave a short review and 5 star-rating (I’ll even take 4 stars, I’m not greedy). Reviews help future #rhetoricnerds find the show!
    *Have mixed feelings about the show or think I may have stepped in it? Let’s discuss on social media or at rhetoriclee@gmail.com. 

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
161 Ratings

161 Ratings

erikbuckingham ,

Unique and informative

Very informative yet relaxed! I like that it feels like I’m learning university level material but in a relaxed, accessible way. The examples Lee uses are relevant and although you can tell she’s passionate about the topic, the podcast still feels relaxed.

Annyinthedesert ,

Who’d have thought...

a podcast about words, how we use them, and how they’re used in media phenomena would be so entertaining and thought provoking? This baby bomber is no longer annoyed at her 30 something year-old offspring using the f- bomb to express depth of feeling and really pays attention to how words are being used.

DrBravohead ,

Great way to learn about rhetoric

It was just me listening, but now every time I turn this podcast off my husband is in the background asking what it is and saying repeatedly “I like it” which is basically him asking me to turn it back on. That is the power of the podcast. It has sucked the only other person living in this apartment into its listening orbit.

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