This special issue is devoted to a dialogue between Martin Wenglinsky and Roland Wulbert on political conversation. The main tradition in the discussion of political conversation, from Aristotle through Lazarsfeld, was to treat it as a form of rhetoric: what forms of arguments, logical or not, people use to convince one another to adopt one or another political point of view or to join a political cause. In that tradition, the explanation for the use of one kind or another of political rhetoric is usually traced to the demographics of the listeners. The concern in the present discussion is how and if people make themselves understood, which means able to construct interchanges that are more or less responsive to one another, and thereby reveal something about how being a political animal is a special version of being a language using animal. For purposes of convenience, the dialogue is divided into four parts or articles that are to be read in sequence.
The purpose of this e-journal is to use in tandem the techniques of literary criticism and social structural analysis to illuminate American politics and the various institutions in American society and sometimes matters more global, like religion or war, by turning an eye on the events and objects and performances that are considered art and entertainment, those defined broadly enough to include whatever is covered in newspapers and other media. Another concern is to pick up the texture of social life, both in the United States and in general, through the analysis of those events, objects and performances that are to be found in everyday life.