The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric

The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric

The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric

The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric

Synopsis

"In a book that will change the way we read Renaissance rhetoric, Wayne A. Rebhorn shows that the issues at stake are not dialogue and debate but power and control. Looking closely at what rhetoricians themselves said about their art, Rebhorn explores the profound engagement of rhetoric with some of the major cultural concerns of the time, including political authority, social mobility, gender relations, and attitudes toward the body. As he reads texts by Shakespeare, Jonson, Herbert, Carew, Tirso de Molina, Machiavelli, Rabelais, and Moliere, among others, Rebhorn offers a new model for the rhetorical reading of literature. Renaissance literature, he maintains, subjects rhetorical discourse to examination and evaluation and in the process exposes its many contradictions and evasions. According to Rebhorn, rhetoricians imagine orators ambiguously, both as absolutist rulers who employ rhetoric to help maintain the status quo, and as base-born outsiders who use it to promote their own social advancement or even to resist authority. Renaissance rhetoric is equally ambiguous when it confronts issues of gender, for it identifies itself as simultaneously male and female, both "masculine" in its power and "feminine" in its procreativity and adornment. Finally, Renaissance rhetoric conveys a contradictory vision of the body, for although it is most typically aligned with the body image associated with elites, it simultaneously identities itself with the ethically suspect, grotesque body linked with the lower classes." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Stated simply, the purpose of this series is to study rhetoric in all the varied forms it has taken in human civilizations by situating it in the social and political contexts to which it is inextricably bound. The series Rhetoric and Society rests on the assumption that rhetoric is both an important intellectual discipline and a necessary cultural practice and that it is profoundly implicated in a large array of other disciplines and practices, from politics to literature to religion. Interdisciplinary by definition and unrestricted in range either historically or geographically, the series investigates a wide variety of questions; among them, how rhetoric constitutes a response to historical developments in a given society, how it crystallizes cultural tensions and conflicts and defines key concepts, and how it affects and shapes the social order in its turn. The series includes books that approach rhetoric as a form of signification, as a discipline that makes meaning out of other cultural practices, and as a central and defining intellectual and social activity deeply rooted in its milieu. In essence, the books in the series seek to demonstrate just how important rhetoric really is to human beings in society.

By examining what rhetoricians actually say about the nature and functions of their art, The Emperor of Men's Minds offers a revisionary interpretation of Renaissance rhetoric that argues for its historically distinctive character and for its direct engagement with many of the basic. concerns of its culture, including political power and authority, social mobility, gender, ethics, and the body. This book also offers a new model for the rhetorical reading of literary works, interpreting them as . . .

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