As part of a panel on Reframing the Brain: Indentification and the Rhetoric of Neuroscience, I will be giving a talk titled "Reframing Deception: Rhetorical, Psychology, and Agency." It's a version of a paper I have recently co-authored with a colleague in psychology, Maarten Derksen. The talk will be given at the 2012 Rhetoric Society of America Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The panel (H.12) is on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 11:00am.
Abstract: Speaker #3 frames deception through the combined lenses of rhetorical theory and experimental psychology, thus performing an important interdisciplinary gesture: to study the human experience culturally and scientifically. It introduces a specific strain of rhetorical theory to experimental psychology in order to make claims for the emergence of human agency, and to rethink and recast a term common to both rhetoric and psychology, namely deception. Speaker #3 argues that agency is emergent in experimental conditions as it likewise is in moments of rhetorical encounter. It reads this understanding of agency through psychological experiments in priming, which attempt to demonstrate how subtle context cues unconsciously shape human behavior and in so doing reveal the bare mechanisms of the human mind. Examining work on rhetorical ecologies (Edbauer), identification (Burke), and ambience (Rickert) on the one hand, and experimental social psychology on the other, this presentation argues that deception cannot simply be identified as something that one person does to another, but rather is an emergent phenomenon within and across moments of encounter, whether they be complex rhetorical interactions or tightly controlled psychological experiments.