3. Reply to Vaia Touna: Situated Descriptions
Steven W Ramey [+]
University of Alabama
Building on Vaia Touna’s response to my chapter on the construction of the nones, I argue that our academic descriptions should reflect the contingent nature of descriptions that Touna emphasizes. Any description of past actions, an item, or a scholar’s work makes selections and emphases that create the object of its discussion. Rather than arguing that some descriptions are true and others are false, I suggest that descriptions can be more or less convincing and valuable. I propose three ways of analyzing any description’s incompleteness, including its correspondence to evidence, the coherence of the connections presented, and the classifications employed. Then I propose three strategies to be more self-reflexive about the contingency of descriptions and their role in constituting the object of their discourse, and I demonstrate some of those strategies by rewriting a paragraph of my original chapter in which I failed to acknowledge the limited nature of the narrative.