ENGL607 - Readings in the History of Rhetorical Theory to 1900

The goals for this course are two-fold. First, as the title of the course implies, our work this semester will be to identify and examine the major rhetorical theories articulated during the period from the fifth century B.C.E. to 1900. Here, we will explore concepts such as the rhetorical canon (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery); stasis theory; rhetorical appeals; rhetorical education; arts of preaching, and arts of letter writing by engaging the writings of figures from Isocrates to Margaret Fell. The second major goal of the course will be to complicate our canonical readings by engaging twentieth and twenty-first century critiques of traditional concepts and strategies. In other words, as we make our way through the rhetorical tradition, we will also trouble this history by considering how issues of historiography, feminist rhetorics, and cultural rhetorics reframe and reshape this history. Thus, at each course meeting, we will not only read and discuss figures such as Augustine and Blair, but we will also consider how scholars such as Cheryl Glenn and Susan Jarratt complicate and elaborate on these figures and their theoretical insights.