Complete Story

ROWLAND, Allison L.

Spring 2017, 47.1, pages 26-48

Zoetropes: Turning Fetuses into Humans at the National Memorial for the Unborn

Abstract: This essay advances a theory of zoetropes, or rhetorical figures that modulate the social status of living entities. Using fetal memorialization at the National Memorial for the Unborn as a case study, I identify the humanizing zoetropes of naming (antonomasia), en/voicing (apostrophe), and en/facing (prosopopeia). While the malleability of the fetal entity lends itself toward zoetropes, arguably all subjects are made zoetropologically. To be tropologically animated, or given life, means immediate absorption into a biopolitical field of regulation. Humanhood is among the most consequential of biopolitical thresholds through which an entity can be zoetroped. This essay contributes to rhetorical theory by locating the tropological means by which entities gain the public status of humanhood. The biopolitical discourses that work to include entities into humanhood are the obverse side of the coin from the necropolitical discourses that work to exclude entities from humanhood.

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