The term 'rhetoric' describes the effective use of language, usually to persuade or influence. Frequently set up in opposition to 'truth' or 'plain speech', it has attracted much critical debate from ancient philosophy to current literary theory.
Examining both the practice and theory of this controversial concept, Jennifer Richards looks at:
- historical and contemporary definitions of the term 'rhetoric'
- uses of rhetoric in literature, by authors such as William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley and James Joyce
- classical traditions of rhetoric, as seen in the work of Plato, Aristotle and Cicero
- the rebirth of rhetoric in the Renaissance and its return to the contemporary academy through Composition and Literature courses
- the current position and way forward for rhetoric in literary and critical theory, as envisaged by critics such as Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida and Kenneth Burke.
This insightful volume offers an honest and accessible account of this debatable yet unavoidable term, making this book invaluable reading for students of literature, philosophy and cultural studies.