The Perfect Response

The Perfect Response : Studies of the Rhetorical Personality

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The Perfect Response is a lucid account of the social origins of fluency from a scholar recognized as 'a leading analyst of the dramaturgical dimensions of politics.' In this imaginative study Gary C. Woodward creates and elucidates the idea of 'The Rhetorical Personality, using a deft blend of communication theory, social history and rhetorical criticism. With unusual capacities for expressiveness, persuasiveness, and sensitivity, Rhetorical Personalities thrive in settings that call for communication that will transcend differences and engage others. They typically have a heightened sense of their own persuasive power, a skill for 'reading' audiences, and the capacity to function effectively in unfamiliar settings. Each chapter of The Perfect Response probes the nature of these uniquely social persons from a different perspective: through the sympathetic characters of a prolific Hollywood filmmaker; by examining the nature of the social isolation in individuals with autism-spectrum disorders; through cross-cultural comparisons; and by assessing seminal and recent social science research on key benchmarks of rhetorical skill, such as 'high self monitoring,' 'other-direction,' and 'the capacity for engagement with others.' Focusing on public figures that range from comedian Steve Martin to political leaders as diverse as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, Woodward builds a detailed 'conceptual map' for profiling the kinds of individuals who naturally maximize the possibilities of communication in public settings.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 212 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 13mm | 340g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739140019
  • 9780739140017
  • 1,659,787

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Chapter One. Introduction: A Conceptual Map of the Rhetorical Personality Chapter 2 Chapter Two. Empathy: Finding Ourselves in Others Chapter 3 Chapter Three. Saving the World One Person at a Time: the Inclination to Engage Chapter 4 Chapter Four. Confirming Our Acceptability: the Impulse for Self-Monitoring Chapter 5 Chapter Five. Autism, the Williams Syndrome and the Rhetoric of Sociality Chapter 6 Chapter Six. Finding a Way Through: The Films of James L. Brooks Chapter 7 Chapter Seven. Lessons from the Political Stage: the Role of the Other in the Rhetorical and Hortatory Styles
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Review quote

In this wide-ranging inquiry, Woodward (communication, The College of New Jersey) identifies what he considers significant markers of public persuasion. In seven chapters, the author considers a willingness to engage in public communication with others, self-monitoring, empathy, motivation, adherence to goals, responsiveness, and comfort level as indicators of influence; defines a rhetorical personality as someone who possesses significant numbers of these indicators; discusses autism and the Williams Syndrome (a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with unusual language skills) as arguable evidence that communicative interactions are fragile and unpredictable; and examines the rhetoric of public figures (President Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush) and of the films of James L. Brooks and comedian Steve Martin....A good resource for comprehensive collections in public rhetoric. Summing Up: Recommended. * CHOICE *
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About Gary C. Woodward

Gary C. Woodward is professor of communication studies at The College of New Jersey and author of Center Stage: Media and the Performance of American Politics. Check out the new book website found at
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