Rhetoric: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By Jennifer Richards


198 pages

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Paperback: 9780415314374
pub: 2007-08-29
Hardback: 9780415314367
pub: 2007-08-29
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pub: 2007-11-13
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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.


'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

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

About the Author/Editor

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).

About the Series

The New Critical Idiom

The New Critical Idiom is an invaluable series of introductory guides designed to meet the needs of today's students grappling with the complexities of modern critical terminology. Each book in the series provides:

  • A clear, explanatory guide to the use (and abuse) of the term
  • An original and distinctive overview by a leading literary and cultural critic
  • Helpful definitions of the boundaries between the literary and non-literary
  • Basic guidance for the introductory reader in how the term relates to the larger field of cultural representation

With a strong emphasis on clarity, lively debate and the widest possible breadth of examples, The New Critical Idiom is an indispensable guide to key topics in literary studies.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory