Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

More Than a Mere Device: Letters

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

More Than a Mere Device: Letters

Article excerpt

In her defence of creative writing, Fay Weldon argues that our schools and universities need a new discipline called literacy ("Persuasion: teaching not the what, but the how, of crafting words", 2 May). Such a discipline, however, already exists, even if it's little taught in the UK (my own university is a happy exception). I refer to rhetoric, for what is rhetoric - in the classic rather than the pejorative sense - if not the art, craft and study of "us(ing) words effectively and persuasively", as Weldon puts it?

The roots of rhetoric go back to before Aristotle, and for centuries - along with grammar and logic - the subject formed part of the core curriculum of the West. Shakespeare's mastery of the arts of language was based on a firm foundation in rhetoric. The same applies to Winston Churchill, the winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature, who at the tender age of 23 had written an essay aptly titled "The Scaffolding of Rhetoric". …

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