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The styles of Eric Michaels: A rhetorical analysis

McHoul, A. (1990) The styles of Eric Michaels: A rhetorical analysis. Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture, 3 (2). pp. 99-118.

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Something I have found constantly enticing about Eric Michaels' work is that it is often very specific in its local and particular detail while refusing to add up to anything like an explicit 'position' on more global matters. Still less is there a 'grand theory' either of culture in general or of the specific Aboriginal practices and people in which Eric Michaels took so much interest. The point of the present analysis is to see whether it is possible to trace this double shuffle between local specificity and global indeterminacy in Michaels' 'styles', in the concrete textual specifics of his writing. As a case in point, I will turn to his paper 'Bad Aboriginal Art'.

In some ways this is a bad choice; it gives the game away within its own pages, albeit towards the very end. There, in the penultimate paragraph, it becomes clear that definite aesthetic judgments about Aboriginal art cannot be made in terms of the 'authenticity' or 'tradition' craved by many white and/or Eurocentric art experts. The paper, up to that point, is an unsuccessful attempt to track down empirical, ethnographically grounded, examples of what could count as 'bad' art in the context of Western desert painting practices. The rationale is that the category of 'good art' is routinely unavailable without a counterpart.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Humanities
Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: 1990 Taylor & Francis
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