The Rhetoric of the Other Literature

The Rhetoric of the Other Literature

The Rhetoric of the Other Literature

The Rhetoric of the Other Literature


Using traditional and contemporary rhetorical theory, Winterowd argues that the fiction-nonfiction division of literature is unjustified and destructive.

He would bridge the gap between literary scholars and rhetoricians by including both fiction (imaginative literature) and nonfiction (literature of fact) in the canon. The actual difference in literary texts, he notes, lies not in their factuality but in their potential for eliciting an aesthetic response.

With speech act and rhetorical theory as a basis, Winterowd argues that presentational literature gains its power on the basis of its ethical and pathetic appeal, not because of its assertions or arguments.


These pages are moments in the ceaseless flow of textuality. They discuss what is now called "the nonfiction novel" (e.g., In Cold Blood) and "the New Journalism"; essays, a variety of which I term "lyrics in prose" (e.g., Loren Eiseley The Angry Winter); "the confession," again my term (e.g., Armies of the Night); and "the nature meditation" (e.g., The Snow Leopard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek).

The greatest problem, perhaps, is finding a term that covers the texts I deal with in this book. "The literature of fact"? But factuality is not really a central issue. "Non-imaginative literature"? Hardly, since one of my purposes is to argue that the texts I discuss are just as imaginative as the poems, stories, novels, and plays that are generally considered to constitute "imaginative" literature.

Actually, throughout my planning and writing of this book, I have been preoccupied with the question of terminology, and finally, now that I am saying my last say, I have decided merely to surrender. I am dealing with the "other" literature, and I will title the book The Rhetoric of the "Other" Literature. I will use terms such as "the literature of fact" and "non-imaginative literature" simply because I can find no others.

Was it not inevitable that a book studying the rhetoric of nonfiction would appear at this time in history? Nonfiction literature -- or "the literature" of fact -- is being rehabilitated within the literary establishment, and rhetoric is being repatriated after nearly a century of exile from the literary establishment. J. Hillis Miller speaks of "the sort of rhetorical analysis of works of literature I and some others try to do" (Ethics 9). Kenneth Burke is at last gaining the respect he deserves. Much of the most interesting work in linguistics -- such as Kochman Black and White Styles in Conflict -- might as well be called rhetorical study.

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