ERIC Number: ED172276
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Significant Form and Rhetorical Criticism: The Jeremiad and the Rhetoric of the American Revolution.
Ritter, Kurt W.
The jeremiad, a sermonic rhetorical form, played a significant role in the American Revolution. As a successful social movement, the Revolution generated a language that portrayed its interpretation of reality. This was achieved in part through the use of significant forms that served to provide a link between the past and future and to foster a sense of community. The Puritan jeremiad was a four-part discourse that, after a reading from an Old Testament prophet, included the following: recognition of the people's failure to keep the divine covenant; interpretation of present evils as divine punishment; a call to recognize errors, repent, and restore the covenant; and a prediction of divine restoration of the people. The jeremiad became a vehicle of cultural expression and an agent of socialization, serving as rhetoric, ideology, and ritual. The rhetorical form of the jeremiad has subsequently taken on a secular cast, recognizing a covenant with the United States' past, rather than with God; civil religion has replaced Puritanism as the underpinning of the jeremiad. By analysis of this structure, speakers can be identified who were at the advancing edge of the movement, stressing action while their contemporaries were lamenting. (DF)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (St. Louis, Missouri, April 5-7, 1979)