The selection of agency as a rhetorical device: Opening up the scene of dialogue through ventriloquism

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I propose to open up the dialogic scene by showing that a dialogue is never <i>just about </i>discourse and language. It is also about facts, principles, passions, values, ideologies, collectives, worldviews, etc. that can (or cannot) make a difference, i.e., do something, in a given interaction. According to this approach, dialogue is one of the most important phonation devices through which a plethora of ‘things’ – which I call actants – can come to act from a distance. Showing that these actants can be rhetorically mobilized in a given interaction allows me to account for phenomena of ‘ventriloquism,’ that is, the various ways by which human interactants make certain entities (collectives, procedures, policies, ideologies, etc.) speak in their name and vice versa. We will see that this way of dislocating the dialogic scene allows us to address thoroughly the question of power and authority, a question that tends to be relatively downplayed by dialogue analysts.


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