Complete Story

Garret, Mary

Special Issue 2013, 43:3, pages 243-255

Ties to a Tree: Culture and Self-Reflexivity


Comparative rhetoricians are heavily involved in textual interpretation, and the quality of the interpretation largely depends on how self-reflexive the interpreter is. However, within the essay is intended to ameliorate this situation by drawing on and synthesizing the relevant literatures from such areas as cultural anthropology, qualitative research, and critical theory. I begin by outlining the disputes over the concept of self-reflexivity. I then move to the different spheres that have been proposed for self-reflexivity; these spheres range from accidents of individual psychology to historical circumstances to webs of power and privilege. Next I describe the most useful techniques for refining self-reflexivity, mapping out their theoretical and practical complexities. Throughout the essay I pull from my work on traditional Chinese rhetoric for cautionary examples. I conclude with some words of warning and of encouragement.