The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of Ancient Discourse

The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of Ancient Discourse

The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of Ancient Discourse

The Contemporary Reception of Classical Rhetoric: Appropriations of Ancient Discourse

Synopsis

Responding to the reassertion of orality in the twentieth century in the form of electronic media such as the telegraph, film, video, computers, and television, this unique volume traces the roots of classical rhetoric in the modern world. Welch begins by changing the current view of classical rhetoric by reinterpreting the existing texts into fluid language contexts -- a change that requires relinquishing the formulaic tradition, acquiring an awareness of translation issues, and constructing a classical rhetoric beginning with the Fifth Century B. C. She continues with a discussion of the adaptability of this material to new language situations, including political, cultural, and linguistic change, providing it with much of its power as well as its longevity. The book concludes that classical rhetoric can readily address any situation since it focuses not only on critical stances toward discourse that already exists, but also presents elaborate theories for the production of new discourse.

Excerpt

This book presents a version of how classical rhetoric has been studied since 1965 when Edward P. J. Corbett published Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student and suggestions for those appropriations that are the most productive for current rhetoric and composition studies. Many other interpretations exist and are important. in the version presented here, I hope to show that classical rhetoric as it developed in fifth and fourth century B.C. Greece remains powerful as a system for producing texts as well as for interpreting texts. I connect rhetoric and composition throughout the book because I believe that composition is a primary form of rhetoric and one that becomes more powerful when theories of rhetoric are shown to be central to composing.

I hope to contribute to the lively critical conversation that exists now in rhetoric and composition studies and to focus attention on the possibilities and the problems that classical rhetoric as a critical system offers us. Raising questions and suggesting explorations for tentative answers have been central motives in the writing of this book. I have not set out to write a field coverage survey of classical rhetoric but instead to focus on particular questions that can contribute to current constructions of rhetoric and composition studies. the teaching of writing and some of its assumptions are a central concern of the book. I use the word "reception" as interpretation in general rather than in the more particular sense of reception theory that has been a vital area of critical theory. I have tried to make concepts from classical rhetoric as accessible as possible. Consequently, I have deleted accent marks from Greek keywords to encourage wider use of the keywords as loan words. I hope to reach a wide audience in the disciplines of English and Speech Com-

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