History of Rhetorical Theory I (Pre-1800)

R607 — Spring 2022

Scot Barnett
Days and Times
1:15 - 2:30p TR (4 CR.)
Course Description

In this readings course, we will explore some of the major milestones in the development of rhetorical theory from antiquity to the early modern period. We will focus specifically on how each historical period defined and understood rhetoric, that is, how each period used rhetorical theory to articulate goals for education, enliven the study of language and communication, and provide frameworks for understanding reality. Our readings will span the sophistic, Greek, and Roman classical traditions, rhetoric’s revival in early modern period, and its troublesome status in the early European Enlightenment. Some of the rhetoricians and philosophers we will read include: the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, Ramus, Bacon, and Kant. As we work to understand these figures and their texts, we will also be interested in how canonical thinkers in the history of rhetoric have been engaged, critiqued, and extended in contemporary rhetorical scholarship, especially in scholarship that pushes histories of rhetoric beyond its Greco-Roman traditions and that takes seriously issues of marginalization and canonicity in historical research on rhetoric. Assignments will include a key term analysis, conference proposal and paper, class participation, and a final presentation.