Notes: Catherine Chaput, “Rhetorical Circulation in Late Capitalism: Neoliberalism and the Overdetermination of Affective Energy”

Chaput, Catherine. (2010). Rhetorical circulation in late capitalism: Neoliberalism and the overdetermination of affective energy.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, 43(1), 1–25.


Chaput critiques the situated/situation premise within rhetoric as enabling neoliberalist ideologies to operate uninterrogated within them and poses rhetorical circulation, in its insistence on moving between spaces, as an alternative.

Keywords: affect, capital, materiality, neoliberalism, rhetoric, rhetorical theory, theory


“Conceptualizing discursive practices as a form of labor rather than a form of political signifi cation sidesteps anxiety about well-chosen language and emphasizes the life-affi rming activity involved in deciphering issues, inventing paths through those issues, and communicating new ideas to others” (p. 2).

“Put differently, security converts human beings into self-entrepreneurs whose freely chosen education, work, and leisure decisions operate instinctually according to the economics of risk and reward. Such a schema no longer enforces appropriate subjectivities (normalization) but regulates the point at which individual actions impinge on the statistically favored rates of population success (normation)” (p. 5).

“From this perspective, rhetoric is not an isolated instance or even a series of instances but a circulation of exchanges, the whole of which govern our individual and collective decisions. Understanding rhetoric as circulating within an overdetermined ecological space helps illuminate the biopolitical reaches of contemporary capital, while the social connectivity of aff ective energy produced through communicative labor helps explain the persuasive capacity of these reaches” (p. 8).

“The rhetorical  situation, that is, makes rhetoricians comfortable within the disciplinary status quo of rhetorical production understood as transpiring within  discrete sociohistorical, political, and cultural situations. Th e negative  aff ectivity of the rhetorical situation— its organization and  interpretation of life structures in terms of fi xed origins—stems, in part, from its reproduction of philosophical divisions: materiality and consciousness; reason and emotion; objects and subjects; past and future; the situated place and the open space” (p. 18).

“In the rhetorical circulation model, success derives from a better understanding of diff erently situated positions and an enhanced ability to engage diff erently situated people, processes that open dialogue rather than win debates” (p. 19).

Notes: Roland Boer, “The Privatization of Eschatology and Myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Boer, Rudolph. (2013). The privatization of eschatology and myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 106-120.


Boer works through the conversations between Bultmann and Bloch around their readings of religious texts, showing Bultmann’s as a deliberately depolitical and Bloch’s as intentionally political.

Keywords: capital, philosophy


“Existentialism is a means, a language that gives voice to the deep logic of middle-class capitalist ideology. With its focus on the private and sacrosanct individual, it effaces the world” (p. 114).


Notes: Vincent Geoghegan, “An Anti-humanist Utopia?” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Geoghegan, Vincent. (2013). An anti-humanist utopia?. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 37-60.


Geoghegan explores the relationship between subject, nature, and natural subject in Bloch (by way of Bacon and Burke) to ask after an anti-humanist utopia.

Keywords: capitalism, neoliberalism, philosophy, posthumanism, theory, utopianism


“Bloch’s outline of a possible new relationship between humanity and nature draws upon a critique of the existing relationship in capitalism and a personal canon of historical conceptions—mythological, religious, philosophical, artistic—of a natural subject” (p. 45).

“The historical figure of a natural ‘subject’ is deemed to be both a semi-mythologized expression of this dynamic materialism and a prefiguring of an authentic natural subjectivity lying in the future” (p. 45).

“A distinction (admittedly polemical) can be made, whereby a self-critical can be distinguished from a self-loathing utopian anti-humanism” (p. 49).

Notes: David Sibley, “Bounding Space: Purification and Control” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Bounding space: Purification and control. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge, 72-89.


Sibley examines the way in which constructions of self and other create ‘purified’ spaces that desire conformity and construct deviance.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Place, Space, Borders


“There seems to me to be a continuing need for ritual practices to maintain the sanctity of space in a secular society. These rituals… are an expression of power relations: they are concerned with domination. Today, however, the guardians of sacred spaces are more likely to be security guards, parents or judges than priests. They are policing the spaces of commerce, public institutions and the home rather than the temple” (72).

“We cannot understand the role of space in the reproduction of social relations without recognizing that the relatively powerless still have enough power to ‘carve out spaces of control’ in respect of their day-to-day lives” (73).

“We can envision the build environment as an integral element in the production of social life, conditioning activities and creating opportunities according to the distribution of power in the socio-spatial system” (73).

“An appreciation of power relations gives meaning to space. Variations in the control and manipulation of different spatial configurations reflect different forms of power relations” (76).

“The anatomy of the purified environment is an expression of the values associated with strong feelings of abjection, a heightened consciousness of difference and, thus, a fear of mixing or the disintegration of boundaries” (78).

“[The panopticon principle] ‘colonizes’ social life and erects boundaries between normal and deviant at all levels, irrespective of legal codes which define criminal behavior. Thus, control, discipline and carceral forms of punishment are diffused through society and social control on the panopticon principle becomes much more than confinement under a particular regime” (83).

“Self and other, and the spaces they create and are alienated from, are defined through projection and introjection. Thus, the built environment assumes symbolic importance, reinforcing a desire for order and conformity if the environment itself is ordered and purified; in this way, space is implicated in the construction of deviancy” (86).

Notes: David Sibley, “Introduction” in Geographies of Exclusion

Sibley, David. (1995). Introduction. in Geographies of exclusion. New York: Routledge.


David Sibley introduces a theoretical framework for raising questions of exclusion within human geography.

Keywords: Geography, Human Geography, Capital, Space, Place


Nicholson, Linda J. (1990). Feminism/Postmodernism. London: Routledge.


“Because power is expressed in the monopolized of space and the relegation of weaker groups in society to less desirable environments, any text on social geography of advanced capitalism should be concerned with the question of exclusion” (ix).

“Human geography, in particular, should be concerned with raising consciousness of the domination of space in its critique of hegemonic culture” (x).

“To get beyond the myths which secure capitalist hegemony, to expose oppressive practices, it is necessary to examine the assumptions about inclusion and exclusion which are implicit in the design of spaces and places” (x).

“One part of the problem, then, is to identify forms of socio-spatial exclusion as they are experienced and articulated by the subject groups” (x).