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Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard

The Rhetoric of Symbolic Exchange

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Brian Gogan


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
248 pages, 6 x 9

Rhetoric in the Modern Era


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About the Book

Jean Baudrillard has been studied as sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. Brian Gogan establishes him as a rhetorician, demonstrating how the histories, traditions, and practices of rhetoric prove central to his use of language. In addition to Baudrillard’s standard works, Gogan examines many of the scholar’s lesser-known writings that have never been analyzed by rhetoricians, and this more comprehensive approach presents fresh perspectives on Baudrillard’s work as a whole.

Gogan examines both the theorist and his rhetoric, combining these two lines of inquiry in ways that allow for provocative insights. Part one of the book explains Baudrillard’s theory as compatible with the histories and traditions of rhetoric, outlining his novel understanding of rhetorical invention as involving thought, discourse, and perception. Part two evaluates Baudrillard’s work in terms of a perception of him—as an aphorist, an illusionist, an ignoramus, and an ironist. A biographical sketch and a critical review of the literature on Baudrillard and rhetoric round out the study.

This book makes the French theorist’s complex concepts understandable and relates them to the work of important thinkers, providing a thorough and accessible introduction to Baudrillard’s ideas.


Brian Gogan is an associate professor of rhetoric and writing studies in the department of English at Western Michigan University. His articles have appeared in College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Review, and the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies.


“Baudrillard’s work is both highly rhetorical and quite relevant to the study of rhetoric, yet his dozens of books have been generally ignored by rhetorical scholars. Gogan remedies this gap, treating Baudrillard’s complete corpus within the cross-disciplinary framework of rhetoric.”—Bruce McComiskey, author, Dialectical Rhetoric

“In an age of alternative facts and shifting political realities, the public and the academy need to understand Baudrillard’s work more than ever. Gogan gives us a useful reading and critique of this important body of scholarship.”— Barry Brummett, editor, The Politics of Style and the Style of Politics

“Rhetoric and composition should disappear as a discipline. Jean Baudrillard seductively suggests such, and Brian Gogan passes this seductive message into our ears. How will rhetoric be figured, transformatively, through the trope of metamorphosis? When an ear is given to radical alterity and ambivalence? That is a disappearing act I want to witness.”—Michelle Ballif, editor, Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric