A timely collection of essays by prominent scholars in the field—on the past, present, and future of rhetoric instruction.
From Isocrates and Aristotle to the present, rhetorical education has consistently been regarded as the linchpin of a participatory democracy, a tool to foster civic action and social responsibility. Yet, questions of who should receive rhetorical education, in what form, and for what purpose, continue to vex teachers and scholars.
The essays in this volume converge to explore the purposes, problems, and possibilities of rhetorical education in America on both the undergraduate and graduate levels and inside and outside the academy. William Denman examines the ancient model of the "citizen-orator" and its value to democratic life. Thomas Miller argues that English departments have embraced a literary-research paradigm and sacrificed the teaching of rhetorical skills for public participation. Susan Kates explores how rhetoric is taught at nontraditional institutions, such as Berea College in Kentucky, where Appalachian dialect is espoused. Nan Johnson looks outside the academy at the parlor movement among women in antebellum America. Michael Halloran examines the rhetorical education provided by historical landmarks, where visitors are encouraged to share a common public discourse. Laura Gurak presents the challenges posed to traditional notions of literacy by the computer, the promises and dangers of internet technology, and the necessity of a critical cyber-literacy for future rhetorical curricula.
Collectively, the essays coalesce around timely political and cross-disciplinary issues. Rhetorical Education in America serves to orient scholars and teachers in rhetoric, regardless of their disciplinary home, and help to set an agenda for future classroom practice and curriculum design.