Reading the ninth chapter of City of Rhetoric, was a good way to tie up everything I learned throughout the book.  David Fleming finalizes the book restating many of the claims he developed throughout it. He begins the final chapter calling for the readers to have “humility toward the built world”.  In other words, Fleming makes a call for his readers to view environments as places crucial for human development. Nowadays, the majority of people see environments as minor and not determinant for human flourishing.

Following the call for a change of perspective for built environments, Fleming proceeds to one of the greatest parts of this book in my opinion. He narrates an ancient Greek myth about the Gods giving cities humans as a compensation for their lack of abilities. Fleming himself writes, “In time, the city became humans chief competitive advantage over nature, chance and other animals, as well as the home of civilization itself.” (196) Basically, Fleming considers cities as the most important advancement humanity has made and that all of the others are due to it.

Fleming  advocates for more public support for cities in the United States, the same way the government does to suburbs, more powerful regions and “civic” education for students. Fleming quotes utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill views on political education, “raised the intellectual standard of the average citizen beyond anything known since.” In other words, Fleming continues to advocate for the importance of public education and the way “cities teach us.”

 

 (Cover of Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill)

After reading the eight chapter of City of Rhetoric, finally I discovered why the book has the word Rhetoric in its title. David Fleming is not a sociologist or an urban developer he has an academic background teaching rhetoric. That’s why he wrote this book, even though certain elements of the categories mentioned before are present in the text. In the first paragraph of the chapter Fleming acknowledges how the book so far could be read as “a local history lesson or a seminar in urban sociology than an analysis of situated discourse practices” (179).  Basically, Fleming understands how a good portion of his readers could be reading this text and mentions how in the coming chapters he will concentrate
in the rhetoric part of his book.

Fleming proceeds to review some of the examples he has mentioned in the book and how they could appear to be completely different they have the same problems. For example, ghettos and suburbs both are marked by being “decentralized, fragmented and polarized”. They are the opposite of what Fleming calls “commonplaces”, places that are centralized, integrated and equitable (180). That type of place is the ideal to properly build public discourse. The problem with the other type is that some factors such as, isolation, fear and silence impede the inhabitants of proper public discourse. Also, it creates no human scale and all the problems that derive from it, “prejudice, mistrust and social alienation” (182).

In the previous chapters Fleming presents various places in Chicago that have certain characteristics like the ones “commonplaces” require. Even though he mentions this places not even one has was its needed to be consider fully a “commonplace”. Fleming is highly skeptic of this places because they don’t contain all the characteristics needed, “accessibility, density, diversity, publicity and sovereignty” (185). He remarks how the most important of those are accessibility and diversity. Both are necessary for effective public discourse; he mentions how in some parts of Europe there are places that have both requirements and how radically different the set ups are compared to the ones in the United States.

Fleming concentrates in this chapter to mold his arguments and relate them to rhetoric. All the examples he used previously are explained and contextualize for rhetoric purposes. I’m anxious to know what are the ways Fleming beliefs as a society we could bring opportunities to marginalized parts of cities.

 

 

Alejandro Rengifo

Professor Hoskins

WRTG 101

January 31, 2017

 

Preface City of Rhetoric

In the preface of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming argues that the social economic division that exists in our modern age is due to the poor political relations between people. His evidences are external realities gained by studies of the environments he uses as examples. Apart from that, he connects three different categories of thinking, political philosophy, urban design and rhetorical thinking. He narrates how in certain time periods there is a connection between this three different types of thinkings. He uses as an example United States post civil war until 1915 to prove the correlation between this three categories of thinking. Also, during this time period the American civic space was transitioning into a metropolitan area. This guided into the connection of many different cultures and ideologies.  Fleming insists in how different cultures should be connected, not separated by civic space and the necessity to continue doing it.

Alejandro Rengifo

Professor Hoskins

WRTG 101

January 31, 2017


In the first chapter of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming aims to show an example that reflects what he will later explain in his book. The example he uses is the development of certain parts of the city of Chicago. How during time they started to change depending on the people who lived there. He also discusses the organization of it and how the chapters intertwine. The focus of Fleming’s is the importance of rhetoric in the construction of society. How creating commonplaces for citizens to discuss is key for developing a sense of community. There are great benefits when talking to one another. Fleming also argues about the importance of having different cultures to conform a place to live. He uses political philosophy and statistics from different time periods as a way to prove his claims about living in community. At the end he calls for the use of rhetoric to solve problems. After reading this first chapter is clear why the book is called City of Rhetoric.