Bizzell, P., and Herzberg, B.: "General Introduction." The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, eds. General Introduction. The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin''s, 2001. 1-16. Print.

Provides a very broad (yet dense) overview of historical development of rhetoric. Mirrors text in division of rhetoric into historical periods.

Origins: Tracks from 5th C BCE (weren''t people rhetorical before that?). Primarily art of persuasive speech; especially important where "no clear truth was available" (2). Became formalized, requiring set structure (''speeches / > parts /> strategies''). Historically, has been primarily a practical art. However, "the study of rhetoric generated not only an elaborate system for investigating language practices but also a set of far-reaching, theoretical questions about the relationship of language to knowledge" (2). Today rhet more than simply speech, but almost all means of communication.


Classical: Aristotle (late 4th C BCE) developed system of rhet further refined (?) by Cicero and Quintilian.


  • Types of discourse: legal or forensic (judging the past; often in courtroom); political or deliberative (legislative; move to action); ceremonial or epidiectic (public; to strengthen shared beliefs) (3).
  • Psychology and Audience Analysis: Chiefly to determine types of emo appeals (shouldn''t be nec for logos); Aristotle tended to generalize audiences.
  • Preparation of a Speech: 5 parts; followed sequentially: 


Invention-- determining tactics. Considered most important because blueprint for logos (reason privileged). Rhetorician must be draw on knowledge outside of rhetoric. Classical/Aristotelian view: "rhetoric manages knowledge, conveying but not creating it" (5). Contrast with Sophists--rhet makes knowledge; all language is rhetorical and shapes worldview. Plato disagreed with Sophists.Generating Rational Appeals: topoi (common topics): include comparison and contrast, cause and effect, argument a fortiori, strangely, even puns on proper names. Specialized topoi (e.g., rules of evidence in criminal law). enthymeme: similar to syllogism but not "true" but probable (often premise assumed) 
Arrangement: Aristotle-- four parts: intro (pathos/ethos), statement of issue (logos), argument (logos), conclusion (pathos/ethos). Cicero-- five parts: intro (ethos/pathos); narration of facts (logos and pathos); statement of position (logos/ pro); refutation (logos/ against opponent); concl (pathos/ethos).
CryNote on pathos (though considered inferior to logic): "In the arrangement stage, the speaker considers the kind of discourse to be presented, the nature of the subject, and the characteristics of the audience, all of which guide decisions about the relative weight and placement of logical and emotional appeals. Arrangement itself is thus a form of nonlogical appeal..." (6).
Style: Aristotle treated as "decoration," however, obsessively catalogued (as later rhetoricians would as well). Is it a form of invention? Consider f/x of media, especially on memory and delivery.
Memory: Classical rhet = visualized locations. Plato considered reaching those places as transcendant to "truth." Innocent: "The presence of memory in the system of rhetoric raises in yet another form the question of how knowledge is represented in the mind" (6).
Delivery: often dismissed. Consider, however, media analysis (medium is message?)



The Influence of Classical Rhetoric: "fundamental concerns of rhetoric in all ages appear to be those defined in the classical period: purpose, audience, composition, argumentation, organization, and style" (7).


  • Late Classical Rhetoric In Rome: Mostly drew from Greeks. Cicero (1st C BCE) questioned "how persuasion shaped belief and action" (7-8). Quintillian (1st C CE).


Medieval Rhetoric: 


Early Christianity: Rhet suspect because it was pagan; "probable" vs absolute (Christian); reason vs. revelation. However, Augustine (5th C CE) cautions baby/bathwater, focuses on persuasion.
The Later Middle Ages: Boethius composed generalized summary of classical rhet; originals not available to most. Rhetoric became a "style guide" (manuals for preaching, letter writing). Study of style (focused on verse). Informal/court interactions recognized.



The Renaissance:


Stylistic Rhetoric: Named everything; rhetorical terms used in "new science" of grammar (comma, apostrophe, etc.). "For stylistic rhetoric texts in the Renaissance, the idea that all language could be treated rhetorically was confined for the most part to style to the forms of statements, and not to the social situations of their utterance" (9).
Private Discourse in Rhetoric: Now seen as rhetorical (e.g., private letters, even private conversation).
Public Discourse by Women: Women''s literacy increased during Ren, though most were forbidden public speech.
Ramus: 16th C. Proposed reform of rhetoric and dialectic. Ramus separated invention (and arrangement) from rhetoric and instead placed it in dialectic (10). Confined rhetoric to style, memory, and delivery. Primarily concerned with style. Conflict with Ciceronians.
Science, Epistemology, and Rhetoric: Bacon (17th C)-- syllogism cannot discover anything new. ''Inquiry is work of science; recovery work of rhetorical invention'' (10). Bacon believed "human knowledge only a version of the objective truth" (10). Problem of language as metaphor.



The Enlightenment: John Locke-- language must use generalizations (actually, perceived similarities) or else too cumbersome. Yet, signifiers/signified not necessarily universal or precise. (Note: tree). Locke blames rhetoric / style. Cut the floweriness, curb the syllogisms and the topoi b/c "received wisdom rather than observed fact" (11).


The Eighteenth Century: Psychology! Vico challenged Descartes on basis that method is, just as rhetoric, more on probability than "absolute truth." Rhetoric superior b/c understands how argument produces belief. Believes that by analyzing language will understand how knowledge formed. Did not much influence his time. During 18th C, call for clarity, ''natural arrangement.'' Liked classical philos for their knowledge of human nature, which Locke felt hadn''t changed (uniform psychology). Bacon classifies genre with each mental faculty: philos for Reason; history for Memory, lit for Imagination (12). Period> "emphasis on the ''universal'' modes of discourse, modes that address not audiences but mental faculties" (12).


Rhetoric and Psychology: Focus not on audience, but (again, Locke''s uniform psychology) a mind, not a public forum.


Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric: In 19th C, rhetoric and psychology closely connected. Bain (psychologist) taught rhet and wrote on composition. "Bain argues that figures of speech reflect the mental operations of comparison, contrast, and association and that the modes of discourse--description, narration, exposition, argument, and poetry--correspond to mental faculties" (12).


Challenges to Rhetoric and Psychology: Audiences became more diverse (race, gender); shattered "universal" audience and rhetorical theories on audience. Influence of Freud (hidden in speech, nonverbal or subconscious). Educational structure changed (mass education; more in line with modern uni). Rhet narrowed to written composition/ subsumed by English/lit depts.; delivery to Communications. Nietzsche argued Truth = social arrangement (Sophism). Language is rhetorical (13-14)



Modern and Postmodern Rhetoric:


The Twentieth Century: IA Richards correct the "proper meaning fallacy" (Nietzsche). Believes "meaning is a function of context. Words are meaningful only in discourse (not, that is, in dictionaries), and discourse is meaningful to people who understand language by relating its present use to their previous experience of it. Richards thus defines rhetoric broadly, as the study of communication and understanding" (14). Burke argues ''all discourse seeks to motivate, so meaning is in intentions and effects'' (14). Language = human action--"dramatistic"-- Needs agent with purpose, scene of action, rhetorical strategy, and actual text. Discourse = ideological, promotes i.d. w/communities and beliefs (is this a form of epidiectic rhet?). Perelman rhetoric is a better alternative to logic, which is far too confined. Echoes Vico''s rejection of Cartesian. Social implications-- ability to refute so-called "absolute" knowledge. Rhet theory currently focuses on "question of the source and status of knowledge" (14). Foucault -- discourse is part of "network of knowledge and power, shaped by... institutions" (15). Weaver-- "language is sermonic"--not mental system but social one. "Knowledge and belief are products of persuasion, which seeks to make the arguable seem natural, to turn positions into premises--and it is rhetoric''s responsibility to reveal these ideological operations" (15).


New Rhetorics: Considerations of race, gender, ideology in language use.