From contrastive rhetoric to intercultural rhetoric: A search for collective identity

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Contrastive rhetoric (CR) has come under sharp criticism in recent years. This chapter first traces CR’s emphasis on textual differences in students’ writing to its historical link to formal linguistics, delineating the reach and limitations of such an approach. Then, examining the major criticisms leveled against CR, it suggests that the criticism reflects the changing theoretical winds in Western academia. CR, with its continuing focus on the demonstrable linguistic traits of writing rather than their ideological implications, is vulnerable to charges of political neutrality, if not naiveté. Finally, it posits that intercultural rhetoric, by including qualitative research with expanded notions of culture, will offer both insights to teaching writing to non-native speakers of English and alternatives to the dominant discourse.


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