Rhetoric and Pedagogy: Its History, Philosophy, and Practice: Essays in Honor of James J. Murphy

By Winifred Bryan Horner; Michael Leff | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
A Minor Skirmish: Balthazar Gibert Versus Charles Rollin on Rhetorical Education

Barbara Warnick
University of Washington

During the early 18th century in France, a series of events in the life of Charles Rollin conspired to produce a work that would influence rhetorical pedagogy until well into the 19th century. Rollin was first elected Rector of the University of Paris in his late thirties, then reelected 20 years later; in the interim he served as principal of the Collège de Beauvais. He was forced to resign his offices, however, because of his Jansenist sympathies and his liaisons with prominent Jansenists.1 In 1720 he retired, and he spent the last 20 years of his life writing and revising his treatise, De la Manière d'enseigner et d'étudier les belles lettres par rapport à l'esprit et au coeur.2 Commonly known as the Traité des études, this work was first published between 1726 and 1728 and contained sections on the teaching of rhetoric and the practice of eloquence that formed a matrix of elements from neoclassical and belletristic rhetorical theories.3

Rollin Traité was well received. It was favorably reviewed in the journals of the day and commended by the Assemblée de la Faculté des Arts at the

____________________
1
On Rollin's life, see H. Ferté, Rollin: sa vie, ses oeuvres ( Paris: Hachette, 1902) 3-96; and Albert C. Gaudin, The Educational Views of Charles Rollin ( New York: Thesis Publishing Co., 1939) 1-8.
2
Charles Rollin, De la Manière d'enseigner et d'étudier les belles lettres, par rapport à l'esprit et au coeur, ou Traité des études, 4 vols. ( Lyon: Russand, 1819). This and all other translations from Rollin's works are mine. Hereafter cited as Traité.
3
On the emergence of belletrism in the works of Fénelon, Boileau, Rollin, and Dubos and their influence on 18th-century Scottish belletrism, see Barbara Warnick, The Sixth Canon: Belletristic Rhetorical Theory and Its French Antecedents ( Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993).

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