International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Disrupting Polarization in Discourses of Terrorism, the Environment, and Race: The Generative Possibilities of Dialectical Innovation
Elizabeth Dickinson, Karen A. Foss, Yea-Wen Chen

This study examines how highly polarized issues can be interrupted and renegotiated through a rhetorical device that we call dialectical innovation. We analyze three popular texts—a South Parkepisode called Imaginationland, an Oprah Winfrey Show segment on freeganism, and a blog and book titled Stuff White People Like—to explore the commonly polarized topics of terrorism, the environment, and race. Drawing from the theory of dialectical disorientation, we illustrate how these artifactsuniquely interrogate polarized perspectives and open up a rhetorical space for audience membersas individual agentsto pursue their own generative possibilities. Facilitating this process is a rhetor within the texts who unsettles polarization and encourages generative rhetorical responses.

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