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Duquesne Professor’s New Book Challenges What It Means to Communicate

Dr. Garnet Butchart, assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Duquesne University, recently had his book, Embodiment, Relation, Community: A Continental Philosophy of Communication, published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

In the book, Butchart questions the traditional meaning of human communication as the "outward" sharing of "inner" thoughts. He argues instead that communication should be understood as a relation, a basic form of contact that exposes oneself to another.

"The centerpiece of the book is the concept of immunization, the practice of protecting a body against threats to its internal function. Immunization underpins much of the talk today about security, borders, and boundaries, for instance between 'us' and 'them,' inside and outside, domestic and foreign," said Butchart. "The point of thinking about communication as a relation of immunization-of both threat and protection-is to show how those divisions are never clear-cut but in fact overlap and blur, and how communication can open us to one another, rather than wall us off."

The book explains how human communication can at times cause conflict and misunderstanding, but also describes how it offers solution to these same problems. Communication, Butchart argues, is a relation through which people coexist and find commonalities insofar as we embody the very language we use in our interactions.

Butchart's scholarship focuses on communication philosophy, visual semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) and contemporary media theory. He has been recognized by the National Communication Association's Philosophy of Communication Division for his various journal publications and editing roles.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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