Choosing to Be Human: American Romantic/Pragmatic Rhetoric in Ursula K. Le Guin's Teaching Novel, Gifts (Critical Essay) By Extrapolation. Normally, this book will cost you $5.99, Here you can download thousands of books in PDF file format for free without needing the extra spent money. Click the download button above or alternative link below to download thousands of books in PDF file format.
Richard Erlich argues in Coyote's Song: the Teaching Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin that Le Guin's fiction is, as his title says, fiction that instructs, and that there are lessons for her readers in her stories. She wants her readers to know certain things--or perhaps it is more accurate to say that she is arguing for a certain way of seeing and knowing the world and this certain way can change the world, if applied--and possibly, save it. I argued in Communities of the Heart (1) that Le Guin's argument or rhetoric is that of Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and C.S. Peirce--American romantic/pragmatic rhetoric, which is a rhetoric of choice, of the contingency of knowledge, of the mediation of the tensions inherent in binary thinking, of valuing the rational and the irrational, and of choosing the third way. What I am going to examine here is how Gifts exemplifies this rhetoric, and then, what is this novel's particular argument--what is its particular lesson for the reader. It is my contention that Gifts echoes "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" as it examines the rhetoric of choice, of choosing process, and not just product as having value--the means to an end do matter, and that this is a lesson that must be learned. The lesson taught is the same: choose to be human. First, just what is this rhetoric of choice and how does it connect to Le Guin's teaching novels, and to Gifts, in particular? American romantic/pragmatic rhetoric is a term coined by Roskelly and Ronald in Reason to Believe: Romanticism, Pragmatism, and the Teaching of Writing (1998). They define their term by studying the history of its component parts: "the history of romanticism and pragmatism" (3), both of which began in the 19th century, in Emerson's American romanticism. According to Cornel West in The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (1989), Emerson "prefigures the dominant themes of American pragmatism," as he saw a way to embody the "ideal in the real" (9, 10). As Roskelly and Ronald argue in Reason to Believe, "Emerson's romanticism meant that he took his ideals for realities, believed them to be part of real and possible action" (56). Emerson saw an "inseparable link between thought and action, theory and practice" (West 10)--a cardinal connection later reiterated in pragmatic philosophy by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, (2) and John Dewey.