Bizzell and Herzberg: Renaissance Rhetoric: Introduction

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, eds. Renaissance Rhetoric: Introduction. The rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin''s, 2001. 553-81. Print.



Secular challenges to religious power.


Renaissance rhetorica said to begin with Petrarch (1304-74)-- espoused notion of "renaissance man" -- and end with the founding of the Royal Society of London in 1660 (555). Problems of definition (especially since defining time frame and space is difficult). Many rhetorics in the Renaissance.


Rhetoric and Italian Humanism


Humanism first big movement of Renaissance; sets tone. Italian; often traced to Petrarch. Petrarch called upon Cicero and Aristotle; set as not simply a style guide, but a standard, work to improve upon/shine. @ Same time, Renaissance intellectuals trying to find new ways to understand the past historically. Petrarch advocates Cicero''s Humanitas ideal of cultivated learning > Renaissance humanism.


Promoted more personal/ literary letter writing style.


Renaissance man must pursue classical learning in native language.


Italian humanists began to see rhetoric and philosophy as united-- began to understand meaning itself as historically established.


Much seems to be recognized as social constructs; promoted greater tolerance (religious). Recognition of self as performance (560-61).


Castiglione''s The Book of the Courtier


Machiavelli. Discards Christian values... is he a Sophist (any means necessary?)


Humanist schools-- a paradox? curriculum prepared children to embody Ciceronian ideal of public man at a time when difficult for most to achieve.


Italian Women Humanists


Isotta Nogarola (d. 1466); Ginevra Nogarola, Cassandra Fedele (d 1558) and Laura Cereta (1469-99). Similar lives: mastered humanist studies in their youth, working with private tutors, exchanged letters with noted humanist men, received letters of fulsome praise. When married, their public scholarship usually stopped (562).


Most work responded to misogynist texts.


Humanism in Northern Empire: Agricola, Erasmus, and Ramus


Rise of Protestantism.


Ignatius Loyola (Jesuits). Developed RC "alternative" to humanist education-- which adopted many humanist emphases.


Humanism moved north (thank Gutenberg).


Agricola (1444-1485): Dutch. Separates logic and rhetoric; gives more importance to dialectic for invention. Recommends topoi.


Melancthon (1497-1560) in Germany. Established a universal system to control quality of education in his many schools. Struggles with pathos in religious instruction.


Erasmus (ca 1469-1536): Met Agricola. RC. Language studies: Adagia, NT in Greek, etc. expanded scope of sacred rhetoric. Recovers full range of rhet resources for religious persuasion.


Ramus (1515-72): Protestant. Rejected scholasticism. Attacked the classicals. Published in vernacular as well as Latin. Calls for "union of philosophy and elegance" (568). Suggest sorting from general to most particular. To him, rhetoric means only "the study of stylistic ornamentation" (569).


Classical rhetoric also preserved in work of RC thinkers during Counter-Reformation. RCs now begin to study more about effective preaching (borrowed from Melancthon, Erasmus, but mostly Augustine). The preacher can use any of the tools, but must live the virtues extolled (ethos).


Humanism and Rhetoric in England: Ramus versus Cicero


Sir Thomas More: leader of movement in England. Attracted by Epicureanism


University system went from more democratized (in MA) to more limited.


Influence of Ramus. (572)


Descartes/ Cartesian Science (start of modern science/ beginning of end of Western rhetoric).


questioning status of knowledge (what is known/ how does one know it is known) beginning of elevation of reason (574).


Early Italian humanists valued historical knowledge, yet primacy of historical knowledge displaced by science/reason.


Rise of Montaigne and Bacon


Montaigne (d 1592): casts of authority of received wisdom b/c wisdom changes with changing historical circumstances


Bacon (1561-1626): considers rhetoric a technical skill; more interested in generation of knowledge by scientific means. Influences addition of practical experience to teaching of general rules (knowledge should come through the senses) (575). Influenced Comenius to create first schoolbook with pictures, Orbis Sensualim Pictus, 1658.


Jansenist movement; influence Arnauld and Pascal.


Arnauld: human depravity taints rhetoric; true knowledge is beginning of things, not words (576).


Sprat: declaration of principles for Royal Society; rejects ornamentation (Senecan style). Opposed Neo-Ciceronians.


Madame de Scudéry (fl. 1640s): neo-Ciceronian. Leader of French salon society. Conversation rhetorical realm in which women could excel. Women''s rhetoric better in private sphere than men''s.


From late 1600s on, rhetoric was deeply discredited as "no more than tropes and figures" (577).