Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Emory Studies in Early Christianity

Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity

Religious Sites in Atlanta

Emory Department of Religion

Emory Graduate Division of Religion



Dictionary of Socio-Rhetorical Terms

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Or texture:

ideological analysis: Ideological analysis focuses on three places: writers and readers, other people's interpretations of texts, and the text that is the guest in our interpretive conversation with each other. Ideological analysis then, focuses on the factors that shape and influence writers, readers, and the writing and reading of texts.

ideological texture: Ideological texture is concerned with the particular alliances and conflicts nurtured and evoked by the language of the text and the language of the interpretation as well as the way the text itself and interpeters of the text position themselves in relation to other individuals and groups. The four subtextures of ideological texture are the individual locations of writers and readers (i.e. their presuppositions, dispositions, and values), the relation to groups, membership in which influences readings and writers, modes of intellectual discourse, which is the particular perspective a reader subscribes to that sets boundaries around his or her readings, and spheres of ideology, which concerns the ideology inscribed in the text and how one may analyze it.

ideology: Ideology is the biases, opinions, preferences, and stereotypes of a person or a group; a systematic or a generally known perspective from which a text is written, read, or intepreted.

ideology of power: is concerned with the power relations in a text (Castelli 1991: 50, 122). Elizabeth Castelli's summary yields the following principles:

  1. Define the system of differentiations that allows dominant people to act upon the actions of people in a subordinate position.
  2. Articulate the types of objectives held by those who act upon the actions of others.
  3. Identify the means for bringing these relationships into being.
  4. Identify the forms of institutionalization of power.
  5. Analyze the degree of rationalization of power relations.

implicit logic: This is reasoning that is not fully or overtly stated within the text, yet it is recognized by the reader and as such the reader may draw conclusions based upon it. Implicit logic is often recognized subconsciously, such as in the cases of characterization (e.g. a character was previously portrayed as merciful, thus the merciful actions of a character at a later stage in the story logically makes sense to the reader).

implied author: The implied author is the real author's "second self"-- the portrait of a guiding ideology, viewpoint, or intelligence. The reader reconstructs this portrait from various textual indicators as s/he reads the text and attributes control over the content and shape of the text to this "authoring self."

implied hearer/reader: The counterpart of the implied author, the implied reader/hearer is the reader or hearer posited by the text. It is reconstructed from textual clues by an actual reader. The implied reader/hearer is the reader/hearer for whom the real author writes, it is the embodiment all the knowledge and ability a real or hearer would need to fully comprehend the story and message of a text.

indirect speech: speech that is recounted in a form that keeps the narrator in view, as though a second-hand report, in contrast to speech attributed speech or direct speech.

individualist personality: The opposite of the dyadic personality, in which one defines oneself in relation to others, an individualist personality is a product of modern individualism, where people view themselves as unique and self-sufficient for their own understanding. Dyadic personalities, on the other hand, must always conceive of themselves as interrelated with another person, and whose self-conception and self-image are formed in terms of what others perceive and feed back to them.

individual location: A subtexture of ideological texture, the individual location of a person (readers and writers) is categorized by a person's type of response to the world (reformist, revolutionist, gnostic-manupilationist, etc.-- the specific social topics of social and cultural texture) and a person's cultural location (dominant culture, subculture, counterculture, etc. the final cultural categories of social and cultural texture). Recognition of one's individual location is the first step in analyzing ideological texture of interpreting texts.

initial unit: In inner texture, the initial unit is the beginning piece of a pericope or of an entire text. It is also called the opening texture (the first piece of opening-middle-closing texture).

inner texture: The inner texture of a text refers to the various ways the text employs language to communicate. This includes various types of linguistic patterns within a text (progressive and repetitive textures), structural elements of a text (narrational and opening-middle-closing textures) the specific manner a text attempts to persuade its reader (argumentative texture) and the way the language of a text evokes feelings, emotions, or senses that are located in different parts of the body (sensory-aesthetic texture).

interpretive analytics: Approaches texts as discourse and “sees discourse as part of a larger field of power and practice whose relations are articulated in different ways by different paradigms.” The rigorous establishment of the relations of power and practice is the analytic dimension. The courageous writing of a story of the emergence of these relations is the interpretive dimention: Robbins, Tapestry, 12, quoting Hubert L. Dreyfus, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (2nd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983) 199.

interpretive discourse: the mode of analysis that an interpreter chooses to help explain the meaning and significance of a text; the approaches range from anthropological, feminist, theological, literary, or historical modes.

intertexture: Intertexture is a "text's representation of, reference to, and use of phenomena in the 'world' outside the text being interpreted." This world includes other texts (oral-scribal intertexture) other cultures (cultural intertexture) social roles institutions, codes and relationships (social intertexture) and historical events or places (historical intertexture).

introversionist response: A type of social response to the world (which is a specific social topic, a subtexture of social and cultural texture), the introversionist response views the world as irredeemably evil and considers salvation to be attainable only by the fullest possible withdrawal from it. The self may be purified by renouncing the world and leaving it. This response might be an individual response, of course, but as the response of a social movement it leads to the establishment of a separated community preoccupied with its own holiness and its means of insulation from the wider society.

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Definitions based upon Vernon K. Robbins, Exploring the Texture of Texts, Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996 and Vernon K. Robbins, The Tapestry of Early Christianity: Rhetoric, Society, and Ideology, London and New York: Routledge, 1996.