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ERIC Number: ED168062
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Shifting Conceptions of Rhetoric in the Eighteenth Century.
Skopec, Eric W.
The nature and scope of eighteenth century rhetoric were defined by three dominant taxonomies of knowledge. In the oldest taxonomy, which clung to the liberal arts tradition, rhetoric was seen as a means of achieving social dominance, and its distinctive characteristic was the exercise of control through persuasion. Treatises representing this point of view comprehensively reviewed the accumulated lore of rhetorical devices in search of persuasive devices. The second ordering of knowledge followed a Baconian structure and reflected the division of mental faculties employed in generating, recording, and transmitting knowledge. Within this structure, rhetoric was seen as the art of adornment within the broader organ of transmission. The works of many theorists show how this conception led to an emphasis on vivid description and imagery and to an expansion of the scope of rhetoric to include nonpersuasive discourse. In the final pattern, eloquence was defined as a fine art and rhetoric was associated with a number of plastic arts. Theorists from this school agreed that the essential characteristic of the fine arts, and of rhetoric, was the expression of ideas. In practical treatises on rhetoric, the emphasis on expression was associated with a declining interest in the instrumentality of rhetorical discourse and in a growth of interest in delivery and the "elocutionary movement." (GT)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (64th, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2-5, 1978)