Posts Tagged ‘david fleming’

The Final Words

Reading Analysis 5:

In the last chapter of the book City of Rhetoric, author David Fleming wraps up his final words  by explaining what his overall point of this book is; to consider and better understand our metropolitan lives together as well as our civic responsibilities. He mentions1990’s urban poverty and how it was lower because those years had an especially good economy as well as a liberal federal government and compares it to the first couple of years in the 2000’s. Rising unemployment rate, fewer individuals with health insurance, high rates of poverty, inadequate housing, and a harsh national government.

Housing projects were supposed to be way stations on the road to a better life, but they quickly became dead ends for most residents. Robert Taylor Homes was America’s largest public-housing project and evolved into an emblem of failure. (Chicago Tribune photo by Ovie Carter)

Our society isn’t perfect, but then again no one’s is. Fleming mentions how we lack public life and concrete places meaning there are some grey areas where citizens still feel separated and there is no middle ground. The ever changing political activity in our society is why there is an “impoverished, ‘middle-range'” (212) of public activity. There are connections that still need to be made whether it’s between a neighborhood and society, a city and the country.

Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
(photo from house

The solutions to these problems remain “individualistic and private” (212). Basically, the government is telling you you’re on your own. There are no publics that will help the people, so therefore there needs to be more private enterprise.

And in the end, all the public housing projects in Chicago were eventually torn down or failed. Areas like this remain racially and economically segregated, but not only in Chicago. All over the United States this problem remains constant and keeps growing because more suburbs keep developing. However David Fleming remains optimistic on this issue and the future because he understands that design counteracts economics and politics, hopes that people will understand we need to save our natural environment, and he is a teacher and feels obligated to be hopeful for his students.

Photo of writer David Fleming (photo from

Work Cited

Fleming, David. “City of Rhetoric” SUNY Press. 2009.


Sociospatial Environment

Rhetorical Analysis #4: Fleming Chapter 8

Throughout the book, author David Fleming constantly argues that our built environment, along with civic public discourse and education, continually shape who we are. In this specific chapter, the first of section 3, Fleming examines the scenes he has talked about in previous chapters such as the ghettos, white suburbs, and mixed-income neighborhoods, as well as the overall built environment in the Chicago area.

As Fleming re-caps what he has mentioned in the past 7 chapters, he concludes that “we have failed, in other words, to help our young people appreciate and deal with the inevitable conflicts of living together in concrete space with people unlike themselves” (180). Referring to the teaching of politics in our country, teenagers are the most susceptible to learn and change our future than any other generation is at this point in time. And for Fleming to say our country, as a whole, has failed to teach the millennial generation life, growing up, and all the baggage that comes with it puts our future in a hold. And this is where the term commonplace comes to play because it could create a balance of a more unified and amalgamated public sphere.

By now it is obvious that Chicago is not the only one at fault here for segregating their people by race and class. The public housing was meant to provide shelter to the poor but instead completely separated the city. Chicago is not the only city that has done this, in fact, “Americans have not done a good job of making space for diverse peoples to come together, openly and fairly, to determine together their shared destiny” (181).Because of the economic divide in our country, it has become difficult for people of different classes to relate, especially on a political level. And it’s not the low-income citizens living there, it’s their environment. It wasn’t a voluntary choice to grow up poor or to be uneducated because the school system is bad, it’s the poor environment in which they grew up. Where they were constantly in fear because of crime, violence, and drugs that surrounded them. Which lead to poor education systems and joblessness. Their environment was toxic, sucking them in, and allowing them no opportunity to escape.

The one exception was 1230 North Burling Street located in Cabrini Green. The citizens created their own rules, security, and jobs in hope for a brighter future. They were successful for a period of time but “the only way to build a self-governing community in our society, a culture of argument that brings people together to work actively and discursively on common projects, is to make sure that they are all relatively similar in background and goals” (183). Because of America’s past, similar background means similar class which means similar race. The continuation of sticking with similarity will only create disconnections with the rest of the world. Diverse communities learn from one another and therefore grow from one another.

Work Cited

Fleming, David. “City of Rhetoric” SUNY Press, 2009.

Reading Analysis 2

City of Rhetoric: A New Civic Map for Our Time

In order for our society to function properly, David Fleming, author of City of Rhetoric, argues that the size of the community is the most important. The amount of citizens in a city determine the participation levels, the political talks and debates, the separation of class, and the educational systems. Another important factor is that the society participates in public discourse. Citizens not participating in political actions only causes harm to the society as a whole because the less they participate, the less diversity and power their is.
While Fleming argues that smaller communities with shared political beliefs individually benefit citizens more than the United States’ federal government does (56), I still believe that the U.S. educational system can better equalize the education system and better provide fair education to all students. Fleming argues that the textbooks used in this country are all the same and all American (39). Although in theory it might work well to have smaller local governments to control school districts based off location and local beliefs, the vast income inequality in our country would reflect in the quality education nationwide. It would not be fair to separate curriculum based on an area because not all areas have equal funding to provide quality education. Rather, I believe, that the students across the United States should be taught the same in order to have equal opportunity.

Because of the specific writing, reading, and speaking courses in this country, the “role of individual citizens in such politics is almost entirely, therefore, spectatorial” (Fleming 41). A citizen being an onlooker in politics only further un involves them in activities. Indirect participation leads to a lack in a shared sense of common good and then gives all the power to the upper hand leaders. In terms in the United States, we are a democratic society, the people participate and get back what they give in- with taxes, voting, and so on. But other countries, such as Afghanistan, do not get a say in the political events in their country, instead they have to watch by the sidelines. So American’s should feel lucky and honored to be able to participate in such activities involving the government.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “City of Rhetoric” SUNY Press, 2009.

Reading Analysis #1

City of Rhetoric: The Placelessness of Political Theory

In David Fleming’s scholarly text, The City of Rhetoric, he argues that your surroundings are every aspect of who you are, from your choice of food, to even your political ideology. Fleming brings up this claim many times throughout the chapter. We would not be who we are without place. Place meaning our origins, our surroundings, and the people that make it up. Individuals values, beliefs, and morals are stemmed from where they grew up and what they call “home” (Fleming 22). Every location has its own unique properties, independent from others. Their individuality brings their citizens a very defined sense of self. For example, many Americans identify themselves as American, but they also identify themselves as New Yorkers, Floridians, etc.
Stemming from Fleming’s argument that our surroundings influence who we are, the individuals who surround us, who are also a bi-product of that environment, also have a profound impact on our morals and values. Fleming uses the ideas of republicanism and liberalism. Republicanism in the golden-age of Athens was not only small and independent, but active participation was expected of each and every citizen. However, republicanism was often criticized for being too demanding and controlling. Republicanism was “founded and maintained by selfless citizens zealously guarding their own and their fellows’ freedom through physical combat and public displays of verbal eloquence, practical wisdom, and communal spirit” (Fleming 25). The selflessness of citizens shows the powerful uniting force of ideas and values based off a specific location. The idea of dying for your country is still prevalent today. For example, American’s would sacrifice their lives for the United States, despite it being a place in space, it represents so much more than just that.
Fleming uses liberalism to express individuality and privateness. Each place has a different sense of liberalism however, individual happiness is found through involvement in family, church and other nonpolitical activities rather than participating in politics (Fleming 26). In liberalism, participation in politics is not required due to its emphasis of expression and civil society. This directly impacts the ideals and values a society contains.
Being able to understand our origins and understand our background allows us to advance as people. In an everly more interconnected world, people often overlook the influences that are apparent in our surroundings. By understanding these influences we can further understand our own society and solve the issues that arise by understanding their origins.

Work Cited

Fleming, David, “City of Rhetoric,” SUNY Press, 2009.