ENGL607 - Readings in the History of Rhetorical Theory to 1900

Earlier theories of effective written discourse surveyed historically and as influenced by ethical, technical, and social change.

This course will introduce you to what we think of as the foundational texts of rhetoric as a discipline, i.e., those texts from Greek and Roman antiquity – as well as their creative appropriation in the Middle Ages and Renaissance – which claim to define the nature, function, goals, substance, tools, and teaching of rhetoric. We will begin with the accounts of the Older Sophists about the civilizing power of the spoken word, then move on to Plato and Isocrates’ conflicting ideas about the character and goals of rhetoric. Isocrates’ views and pedagogical attitudes toward rhetoric will lead us to Aristotle’s attempt to “correct” the shortcomings of his predecessors, define rhetoric as a discipline, and build a comprehensive theory of its substance and methods.
Moving into the Roman imperial and early medieval period, we will discuss the complicated, at times quarrelsome but more often productive, relationship between rhetoric and philosophy and its role in the practical toolbox of the rhetorician. Then with Boethius, John of Sicily, Michael Psellos, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Ramus, and Erasmus, we will explore the medieval and Renaissance response to ancient theory and practice, as well as the subsequent shift in epistemology, exemplified by a “divorce” between rhetoric and dialectic in the west as well as a heightened attention to style and figurality. With Madeleine de Scudéry, we will also look at the rise of a women’s tradition of conversational rhetoric in rhetorical theory.  Finally, with Vico and Blair we will look at the Enlightenment appropriation of the classical rhetorical tradition and its transformation into an epistemic philosophy anticipating modern developments.  One of the premises behind the course is to look at the history of rhetoric as a history not only of theory but also of pedagogical goals and attitudes – which could potentially serve our own teaching practice.
Robin Waterfield, tr. Plato: Phaedrus (Oxford: 2002), ISBN 0-19-280277-1
George Kennedy, tr. Aristotle on Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse, 2nd ed. (Oxford: 2006), ISBN 978-0-19-530509-8
Aristotle, Categories (Loeb translation) and Prior Analytics I. 1-7 (Loeb translation)
H. M. Hubbell, tr. Cicero: On Invention; Best Kind of Orator; Topics (Harvard: 1949), ISBN 0-674-99425-6
Porphyry, Isagoge (Jonathan Barnes translation and commentary)
Quintilian, Institutio oratoriae (online source, available at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Quintilian/Institutio_Oratoria/home.html)
Malcolm Heath, ed. Hermogenes on Issues, translation and commentary (Oxford: 1995), ISBN 978-0198149828
Boethius, De topicis differentiis, with translation and commentary by Eleonor Stump (Cornell: 2004), ISBN 978-0801489334 – recommended. Will include excerpts on ELMS.
Margaret Nims, tr. Poetria Nova of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (Toronto: 1967), ISBN 978-0888442994
R. P. H. Green, tr. Augustine: On Christian Teaching (Oxford: 2008); ISBN 978-0-1-9954063-1. Otherwise, please use the online resource at http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/augustine/ddc.html or http://www.ccel.org/a/augustine/doctrine/
D. King, tr. Erasmus: On Copia of Words and Ideas (Marquette UP, 2007), ISBN 0-87462-212-3  
Giambattista Vico, Institutiones oratoriae, tr. Pinton, G. and Shippee, A. (Amsterdam: 1984), ISBN 978-9051839159
Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. Ferreira-Buckley and Halloran (2010), ISBN 978-1162978376
Selected texts by Hermogenes (On Staseis, On Types of Style), Ps-Hermogenes (On Invention, On the Method), Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides, John of Sicily (Prolegomena), Psellos (Synopsis of Hermogenes) OR Tzetzes (Synopsis of the Art of Rhetoric), Matthew of Vendôme (Ars versificatoria), Ramus, and Madeleine de Scudéry among others, as well as secondary literature on ELMS.