Black Tropes in African-American Rhetoric: Patricia Sullivan’s analysis of Jesse Jackson’s “common ground and common sense” speech


  • Oana Georgina Gabor


intercultural communication, patterns of signification, oral culture, black tropes


The present study offers an opportunity to emphasize a “problem” of general interest in intercultural communication: the particularity of the theoretical frameworks from the perspective of which discourse may be evaluated and interpreted, in its cultural determination. The study focuses on the problematic of “orality” specific to the discursive tradition of African-American rhetoric. Patricia Sullivan's 1993 article on Jesse Jackson's “Common Ground and Common Sense” speech, the “object” of the present meta-critical essay, manages to “balance” the re-partition of voices within the space of academic discourse. The critical apparatus she documents, which prompts the critic to self-reflexiveness and responsibility for the particularity of their subjective positions in relation to the object of their inquiry, makes a step forward in identifying the political dimension of the project of intercultural communication. Sullivan legitimizes such a necessity and makes the later articulation of the political project of intercultural research possible. Sullivan’s remarkable attempt to confer and legitimize, within intercultural academic research, a place for a radically different theoretical interpretive model later called “Africalogy” (2000) makes us salute her welcome contribution to the expansion of the possibilities of representation in intercultural communication.