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Thursday, 19 February 1998, 12:00AM

Telling Stories / Telling Tales

Professor Lynette Hunter

One of the key elements in conventional literary value is the idea of the work being produced by one person, yet in North America First Nations there is no copyright on words but on the story itself. The ‘stealing of stories’ issue has arisen time and again as First Nations’ writers have objected to the use of their stories in the western media. We need to rethink the criterion of ‘original genius’ when we are building literary value.

(Thomas King, Life Lived Like a Story, Lee Maracle, Jeanette Armstrong, Emma La Rocque, Leonore Keeshig-Tobias).

professor-lynette-hunter

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.

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