Rhetoric has shaped our understanding of the nature of language and the purpose of literature for over two millennia. It is of crucial importance in understanding the development of literary history as well as elements of philosophy, politics and culture. The nature and practise of rhetoric was central to Classical, Renaissance and Enlightenment cultures and its relevance continues in our own postmodern world to inspire further debate.
Examining both the practice and theory of this controversial concept, Jennifer Richards explores:
- historical and contemporary definitions of the term ‘rhetoric’
- uses of rhetoric in literature, by authors such as William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce
- classical traditions of rhetoric, as seen in the work of Plato, Aristotle and Cicero
- the rebirth of rhetoric in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment
- the current status and future of rhetoric in literary and critical theory as envisaged by critics such as Kenneth Burke, Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida.
This insightful volume offers an accessible account of this contentious yet unavoidable term, making this book invaluable reading for students of literature, philosophy and cultural studies.
About the Author
Jennifer Richards is Reader in English at the University of Newcastle. She is the author of Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2003). She has edited several collections of essays, including, with Alison Thorne, Rhetoric, Women and Politics in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2006).
Table of Contents
Series editor's preface viii
Introduction: what is rhetoric? 1
The classical art 19
Plato's attack 21
Aristotle's Rhetoric 32
The Roman art 41
Cicero: rejecting theory 53
Rhetoric renewed 64
Renaissance to enlightenment 65
Literature and rhetoric 84
'Rhetorical didactics': post-enlightenment 102
From rhetoric to rhetoricality 114
I.A. Richards: the art renewed 116
The death of rhetoric 121
Post-structuralist rhetoric 129
Rhetoric extended 156
Glossary of rhetorical terms 180