“I grew up in a society where a Masters degree was considered the biggest, and highest, level of formal education one could achieve in life. PhD was an outlandish dream to me and my people. It felt big as soon as I took a University faculty position  in August 2000 and was warned that life in a University should culminate in doctorate and professorship. This particular feeling made me respect my work and the challenges I was asked to face as a university teacher.

My beliefs about academic pursuits have changed ever since I decided to venture into doctoral research, probably quite late. I have realized that a journey in serious scholarship must begin after ruthless submission of adult arrogance to childish ignorance. The period of five years spent in reading and writing, therefore, have not been without moments of alternation between breaking off and picking up spirit to learn and work. I acknowledge this opportunity of growth, the productive challenge spared for me – the necessity of constant update in knowledge, qualification and competence.

People say as a cliche that PhD takes 99 percent perspiration and very little inspiration. But, to me, it is as much inspiration as perspiration – perhaps fifty-fifty. The five-year involvement has not only been an opportunity to hone my research skills, explore new knowledge in rhetoric and create a lasting network of intellectuals and well-wishers, but also an occasion to test my academic stamina and perseverance. I am deeply obliged to a large number of research scholars, friends, colleagues and kinsmen. I will remember them as far in the future as possible.”

What I would share fresh after graduation is this:

“Rhetorical criticism does bring transformation in the critic. It brings to the critic an awareness of the diversity in perspectives, especially the merits of contention in communication. Productive communication is about keeping relations intact, creating communities, ensuring consensus and acknowledging dissention at the same time. The critic realizes that conflict resolution demands identification and promotion of common grounds through mutually binding actions and negotiations within comfortable settings towards points of agreements. The critic’s task in this direction is to explicate the nature of diversity in worldviews and indicate the points of consensus.

A critical method is a powerful magnifying glass or a set of lenses with varying optical powers. But the eyes that see through the lenses, the mind that makes sense of the phenomena and the heart that feels them matter as much or even more.

There are moments of epiphany at the sight of certain signifiers when you read artifacts and try to relate them with your lived realities. The lenses have triggered the epiphany, but it is again the human language that defines the nature of that and any other subsequent experience. In my own work, I have made informed attempts to combine many signifiers into different higher-order signifiers. The combination is a purely mental process enabled by moments of reflections and realizations. A rhetorician’s task thus moves beyond the artifacts.

There are times when you put aside the glasses, especially when your signifiers are waiting for reflections, interconnections and higher abstractions. And you can choose to wear the glasses many times after your version of criticism has taken shape, in order to reflect the possibility of adding new semantic dimensions to your work.

Rhetorical criticism is largely about reflecting on the signifiers more independently, connecting and reconnecting them with your lived realities. … Because the glasses helped me see through the intricacies of artifacts and made my engagement with the artifacts deep and expansive, I can now say, my engagement with the rhetoric of April Movement has become fairly representative.”

[Edited personal writings from my PhD Thesis.]

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By hkafle

I am a University teacher, with passion for literature and music.

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