Volume 26, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2006
Elizabeth M. Bucar
Speaking of Motherhood
The Epideictic Rhetoric of John Paul II and Ayatollah Khomeini
IN THIS ESSAY, I PROPOSE A DISTINCT APPROACH TO ETHICS—COMPARAtive rhetoric—that attempts to analyze moral discourse at the intratradition and intertradition levels. Drawing on Aristotle's classification of modes of rhetoric, I demonstrate how the epideictic mode helps conceptualize moral discourse as attempting to convince and motivate through persuasion, even as it assumes as audience of adherence. I then elaborate a method of technical rhetorical analysis, drawing on the work of Stephen Toulmin and Chiam Perelman. This method is applied to two short rhetorical performances of John Paul II and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, focusing on motherhood. I conclude by briefly considering women's responses to clerical rhetoric.