Of course the question mark is there in the title because I do not think the writing is Second-rate at all.
Nor am I happy with the description ‘Third world country’, with its implicite valuation of a place as not the best, nor even the second best, but making a third rank. But both these rankings imply a ‘first rate’ writing and a ‘first world’ country, the ‘relationship between which is at the centre of this lecture.
The relationship calls upon a notion of national literatures and national identities; and necessarily also asks how individuals and writers relate to those national identities, and how the people living in those nations relate to either or both.
The basic questions I would like to work around in this lecture are these: do artists represent us culturally? and, is the artist a cultural hero?
Lynette Hunter was the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric between 1997 and 2000.
She is currently Professor of the History and Rhetoric of Performance at the University of California, Davis. She was previously Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Rhetoric at the University of Leeds.
She has written and edited over twenty books and many essays in a range of disciplines from the history of rhetoric and literature, to philosophy and feminist theory, to post/neo-colonial studies (especially in Canada), to the history of science and computing, to women’s history and gender studies (from the early modern period), to performance studies. She has scripted, devised, produced and toured, several theory performance installations in Europe and North America and explores alternative ways of disseminating modes of knowing within aesthetics and scholarship.
When she was appointed to the Rhetoric Professorship at Gresham College in 1997, Professor Hunter wrote the following:
When Thomas Gresham included Rhetoric among the areas of study in his plan for a College, he was keeping a vital part of the Old Learning to contribute to all the New Knowlegde which he wanted to disseminate.
At its centre, rhetoric is concerned with value. We tend to use the word only in the negative sense in popular language, but all choice, good or bad, involves persuasion and therefore rhetoric. I intend to explore issues of literary value and work with words in a larger sense, in terms of the kinds of community that we are shaping for ourselves. We need to talk about these issues to understand our own New Knowledges.