Rhetoric  book cover
1st Edition


Edited By

Jennifer Richards

ISBN 9780415314374
Published October 12, 2007 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What is Rhetoric?  Part 1: The Classical Art  Beginnings  Plato’s Attack.  Aristotle’s Rhetoric  The Roman Art  Cicero: Rejecting Theory  Part 2: Rhetoric Renewed  Renaissance to Enlightenment  Literature and Rhetoric  ‘Rhetorical Didactics’: Post-Enlightenment.  Part 3: Rhetoric to Rhetoricality  I.A. Richards: The Art Renewed  The Death of Rhetoric  Post-Structuralist Rhetoric  Jacques Derrida  Paul de Man  Rhetoric Extended  Kenneth Burke  Glossary of Rhetorical Terms Bibliography

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Series Editor(s)


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).


'As important for scholars for its originality, as for students who will welcome its lucidity in dealing with complex ideas – a successful example of fresh, academic rhetoric in its own right.' - R. S. White, Parergon