Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources

Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources

Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources

Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources

Synopsis

Much work has been done on rhetoric and rhetorical theory in the 20th century, with scientists discussing the rhetoric of the scientific method and philosophers debating the rhetoric of the metaphysical tradition. This reference summarizes major trends in rhetoric during the last hundred years. Included are alphabetically arranged entries on 40 20th- century rhetoricians, such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Edward P. J. Corbett, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Walter J. Ong, and I. A. Richards. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and provides a brief biography, an analysis of the figure's rhetorical theory, and a bibliography of primary and secondary works. The volume concludes with extensive bibliographical material.

Excerpt

The twentieth century could be characterized as having been a rhetorical century. Although at the beginning of the century, rhetoric, despite its rich heritage, lacked intellectual vigor, after the century rhetoric became a key concept, a key term, not only within its own home disciplines of English and Speech Communications Departments but also within nearly every social science. The twentieth century has witnessed "the linguistic turn" as evidenced by work in language philosophy and linguistics (Ludwig Wittgenstein andC. S. Peirce); speech-act theory (J. L. Austin andJ. Searle); semiotics (Ferdinand de Saussure andUmberto Eco); hertmneutics (Martin Heidegger andHans-Georg Gadamer); neopragmatism (Richard Rorty andStanley Fish); argumentation theory (Stephen Toulmin andChaïm Perelman); as well as literary studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and even the so-called hard sciences. Rhetoric, having found itself disparaged for centuries, now finds itself as the center of attention, as scientists Thomas S. Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend discussed the rhetoricity of the scientific method and as philosophers Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault discussed the rhetoricity of the metaphysical tradition. Rhetoric seems to have found a welcome embrace in the twentieth century.

Of course, all of this attention has begged the centuries-old question of the definition of rhetoric. Twentieth-century rhetoric, in fact, defies definition. Indeed, at the groundbreaking Wingspread Conference, which produced The Prospect of Rhetoric (Bitzer andBlack 1971), participant Larry Rosenfield remarked, "'So far as I can tell,' the notion of rhetorical phenomena 'includes everything but tidal waves.' Richard McKeon responded, 'Why not tidal waves?'" (qtd. in Bitzer 20). Although some, including Lloyd Bitzer himself, now argue for a more delimiting definition of rhetoric and rhetorical phenomena, this volume, Twentieth-Century Rhetorics and Rhetoricians, does not. Rather this volume . . .

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