Rhetorical Memory and Delivery: Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication

Rhetorical Memory and Delivery: Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication

Rhetorical Memory and Delivery: Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication

Rhetorical Memory and Delivery: Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication

Synopsis

Why has classical rhetoric been a subject of such growing interest for the past ten years? Because the most exciting work in classical rhetoric has asked us to rethink classical concepts in modern terms. What's been missing, at least in book-length form, is a scholarly rethinking of rhetorical memory and delivery. As many scholars have been noting in their work for some time now, three of five classical issues -- invention, arrangement, and style -- have dominated rhetorical studies while the other two -- memory and delivery -- have largely been misunderstood or ignored. Re-examined in light of recent research on orality, literacy, and electronic technology, rhetorical memory and delivery issues can become not only central to the field but also key to the continued interest in classical rhetoric. Bringing together national scholars from a variety of related disciplines in which rhetorical memory and delivery issues matter, this collection is the only volume that examines classical and contemporary interpretations of rhetorical memory and delivery in depth and detail.

Excerpt

The classical rhetorical canons of memory and delivery have interested me ever since I was an undergraduate student double-majoring in speech communication and English at Midwestern State University in Texas in the early 1970s. My teachers there in both departments were among the finest I have known, wonderful and inspiring, but they kept sending mixed messages about the official canon count. I remember being puzzled even as a first-semester college freshman by the fact that there were five classical canons in my 9:00 a.m. rhetorical theory class, four in my 10:00 a.m. public speaking class, and only three in my 11:00 a.m. composition class. It took me far too long to get to the bottom of that mystery, and even longer to realize how much it mattered.

I have assembled this volume of diverse chapters exploring various aspects of classical rhetoric's "problem canons" for two reasons. First, because I think that it is long overdue: rhetorical memory and delivery have always been important, and yet they have never received the kind of widespread critical attention they deserve. Second, because I am convinced that much might be at stake where memory and delivery issues are concerned. Theoretical accuracy, context, and coherence, certainly. The longevity of the rhetoric revival, perhaps. A clearer sense of just how much common ground composition studies' various camps (cognitivists, classicists, developmentalists, and such) actually share. Maybe even a better sense of just how closely the various divisions of rhetorical inquiry (composition, speech communication, media studies, and such) are connected to each other. My thinking here borders, I know, on something akin to the Beatific Vision but, much to my good fortune, Hollis Heimbouch at Lawrence Erlbaum Associates understood my mission and supported it almost immediately, and I am very grateful to her for that.

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