The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction, 6th Edition (Paperback) book cover

The History and Theory of Rhetoric

An Introduction, 6th Edition

By James A. Herrick


330 pages

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By tracing the traditional progression of rhetoric from the Greek Sophists to contemporary theorists, The History and Theory of Rhetoric illustrates how persuasive public discourse performs essential social functions and shapes our daily worlds. Students gain a conceptual framework for evaluating and practicing persuasive writing and speaking in a wide range of settings and in both written and visual media. This new 6th edition includes greater attention to non-Western studies, as well as contemporary developments such as the rhetoric of science, feminist rhetoric, the rhetoric of display, and comparative rhetoric. Known for its clear writing style and contemporary examples throughout, The History and Theory of Rhetoric emphasizes the relevance of rhetoric to today’s students.


The History and Theory of Rhetoric balances illuminating and concise reviews of canonical thinkers with critical discussions of the rhetorical tradition's blind spots, internal conflicts, and periodic course corrections. Its accessible prose and lively pace help students readily apprehend potentially intimidating material, and recognize how the insights of the past reverberate through contemporary culture.

-Brett Ingram, Ph.D., Boston College, USA

Offering a foundation that encompasses over 2000 years, this text is digestible and meticulous rather than reductive. The author synthesizes history and theory such that readers can easily reference one part of the book while reading another and can utilize its term lists long after the first read. It is both a critical sourcebook and required reading for anyone interested in how rhetoric evolved.

-Zosha Stuckey, Towson University, USA

In my opinion, The History and Theory of Rhetoric is the best rhetorical history textbook on the market. Students at all levels appreciate its engaging, straightforward approach. Even so, serious philosophical and theoretical questions that arise from rhetoric's history receive the attention and care they deserve. The book strikes a perfect balance between accessibility and rigor.

-Jackie Wheeler, Arizona State University, USA

James Herrick invites students "further up and further in" to the contours and depths of the art of rhetoric. He offers serious engagements with historical texts that ground the art and wades into the currents of contemporary theories that simultaneously interrogate and rely upon our rhetorical heritage.

-Calvin L. Troup, Geneva College, USA

The History and Theory of Rhetoric is not simply a book but a fascinating journey to explore the magnificent world of mind and speech interconnection throughout centuries, and its influence on various social developments of humanity. It is diverse and inclusive for all times and civilizations. The book is easy to understand and never simple. It provides valuable knowledge, useful skills and competitive tools. The book is a must for all those who want to explore the World of rhetoric!

-Anahit Parzyan, Nanjing University, China

Table of Contents

  1. An Overview of Rhetoric
  2. The Origins and Early History of Rhetoric
  3. Plato versus the Sophists: Rhetoric on Trial
  4. Aristotle on Rhetoric
  5. Rhetoric at Rome
  6. Rhetoric in Christian Europe
  7. Rhetoric in the Renaissance
  8. Enlightenment Rhetoric
  9. Contemporary Rhetoric I: Arguments, Audiences, Advocates
  10. Contemporary Rhetoric II: Context, Story, Display
  11. Contemporary Rhetoric III: Texts, Power, Alternatives

About the Author

James A. Herrick is Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College, USA. His publications include Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments, 6th edition (2017) and Visions of Technological Transcendent: Human Enhancement and the Rhetoric of the Future (2017).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies