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Chronistic Criticism: Temporalizing the Nation and Reconsidering the Role of Time-Temporalities in Rhetorical Theory

Nicole T Allen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Chronos has long held the inferior position to kairos in rhetorical studies. This dissertation revisits chronos as a site of rhetorical significance. I argue for the inclusion of chronos as chronistic criticism in contemporary rhetorical scholarship. To develop and support this argument, I review contemporary rhetorical theory intersecting with time-temporality. Drawing from critical materialist understandings of time, I pair the reassessment of chronos with a definition of immanent temporality, or time as change. This change operates on a number of material modalities from the minute transformations of energy imperceptible to naked human sensation to changes inherent to narratives and stories. As a conceptual criticism, chronistic criticism studies the entanglement of immanent temporalities. Reinterpreting chronos as entanglements of these never-ending processes of change stands to introduce novel texts, like calendars, and nuanced insights for traditional rhetorical artifacts, like public monuments. Within any chronistic entanglement, processes of change can coalesce, contradict, and conflict. I demonstrate chronistic criticism on two case studies: ‘Iraq’s Mandatory Calendar and Argentina’s Plaza del Bicentenario. The examination of the ‘Iraqi Mandatory Calendar argues that calendars are best understood as political myths, that is ideologically motivated narratives. These narratives seek to synchronize other immanent temporalities, like population mobility, around the state celebrated holidays. Using British Colonial archives, this chapter evaluates the varying levels of success at synchronization for ‘Iraq’s first national calendar. Next, I chronistically critique Argentina’s Plaza del Bicentenario. This chapter argues that the rhetoric of empty homogenous time, itself a chronistic entanglement, contradicts the physical decay and rotting of the monument intended to be its representation. Rejuvenation attempts to re-synchronize the tangible monument with the intangible rhetoric. The monument is repainted, refinished, and renewed. Time is once again represented as vacant and universal. Both case studies argue for conceiving of the nation as chronistic. Chronistic entanglements constitute nations via human and nonhuman immanent temporalities. This dissertation examines closely the successes and failures, as nations and their states attempt to manage these wild processes of change.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Allen, Nicole T, "Chronistic Criticism: Temporalizing the Nation and Reconsidering the Role of Time-Temporalities in Rhetorical Theory" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10272465.