Rhetoric and Human Consciousness: A History by Craig R. Smith
499 pages, $67.95 list
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Rhetoric and Human Consciousness
A History
Fifth Edition
For two decades, students and instructors have relied on award-winning author Craig Smith’s detailed description and analysis of rhetorical theories and the historical contexts for major thinkers who advanced them. He employs key themes from important philosophical schools in this well-researched chronicle of rhetoric and human consciousness. One is that rhetoric is a response to uncertainty. The modern philosophers, like the naturalists of ancient Greece and the Scholastics who preceded them, tried to end uncertainty by combining the discoveries of science and psychology with rationalism. Their aim was progress and a consensus among experts as to what truth is. However, where modernism proved ineffective, rhetoric was revived to fill the breach. Another significant theme is that different conceptions of human consciousness lead to different theories of rhetoric, and for every major school of thought, another school of thought forms in reaction.

Classic and contemporary examples demonstrate the usefulness of rhetorical theory, especially its ability to inform and guide. By providing probes for rhetorical criticism, discussions also demonstrate that rhetorical criticism illustrates, verifies, and refines rhetorical theory. Thus, the synergistic relationship between theory and criticism in rhetoric is no different than in other arts: Theory informs practice; analysis of successful practice refines theory.

Smith’s absorbing study has been expanded to include thorough treatments of rhetoric in the Romantic Era, feminist and queer theory, and historical context for the creation of rhetorical theory and its use in public address.
“The book is excellent for establishing historical context, identifying whose ‘shoulders we stand on.’” — Russell Greinke, University of Central Missouri

“I am skeptical of books that try to historize the whole of the Western rhetorical tradition, but I appreciate Smith’s approach and find this an excellent text for undergraduates.” — Tarez Samra Graban, Florida State University

“A scholarly summary of both well-known and lesser-known contributors to rhetorical theory. The author brilliantly integrates a large body of information that serves to educate students of rhetoric. Broad in scope, the book’s historical approach provides the reader a firm grasp of how rhetorical theory developed over time.” — Keith V. Erickson, University of Southern Mississippi

“A thoughtful, thorough examination of the development of rhetoric in the context of some great thinkers who are not usually thought of as rhetoricians (e.g., Sartre, Freud, Marx, Jung). There are strong additions about Burke, Foucault, feminist theory, etc. Provocative study questions include interesting suggestions for student essays. Overall, this book is a happy combination of a great ideas book with a history of rhetoric.” — Steven Strang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Table of Contents
1. An Introduction to Rhetorical Theory
Defining Rhetoric in Our Consciousness / What Is Theory? / A Situational Metatheory / Conclusion


2. Rhetorical Dimensions of Myth and Narrative
Myth and Narrative as Rhetoric / Archetypal Metaphors / Essential Elements of Effective Narratives / Conclusion

3. The Development of Rhetorical Theory in Greece
Thales and the Naturalist School / Athenian Reform and the Rise of Rhetoric / Socrates and Plato / Conclusion

4. Aristotle's Rhetoric
Ethos: To Be "Worthy of Belief" / Pathos: Frame of Mind / Logos: The Enthymeme and the Example / Style and Delivery (Lexis) / Organization (Taxis) and Form / Conclusion

5. The Roman Rhetorical System
Roman Nation Building / The Rhetorica ad Herennium / Cicero and Quintilian / Roman Theory of Style / Major Tropes and Figures / Conclusion


6. The Fall of Rome and the Rise of Christianity
The Augustinian Turn / The Medieval Period / Conclusion

7. The Renaissance of Rhetoric
Venice, the Flourishing City-State / Florence, the Humanists, and the Practice of Rhetoric / Reformation Theorists / The Protestant Revolt / Religious Intolerance / The English Renaissance / The Spanish Renaissance / Conclusion


8. Epistemology and the Modern Rhetorics
The Counter-Reformation / The Baroque Era / Cartesian Duality and Humanistic Unity / Epistemology in Great Britain / Faculty Psychology and Rhetoric / Conclusion

9. The Romantic Revolt against the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment / Romantic Rhetorical Theory / Human (1711–1776) / The Evolution of Romanticism / Burke (1729–1797) / Elocutionary Thought / Conclusion

10. The Existential Revolt against Modernism
Existentialist Thinkers / The Existential Challenge / Conclusion

11. Identification and Ideology: Freud, Marx, and Their Followers
Freud (1856–1939) / Jung (1875–1961) and Lacan (1901–1981) / Marx (1818–1883) / Habermas (1929–) / Conclusion

12. Kenneth Burke's Expansion of Rhetoric
Burke's Conception of Rhetoric / Strategies for Critics / Attitudes toward History / Rhetorical Frames / Symbolic Action / Conclusion


13. Context, Function, and Media
Meaning in Context / Mediated Rhetoric in the Contemporary Era / Conclusion

14. Postmodern and Feminist Theories
Postmodernism: Oxymoron or Useful Construct? / Conclusion

15. Feminist and Queer Theories
Feminism in the Postmodern World / A Feminist Rhetorical Theory / Queer Theory / Conclusion

16. Rhetorical Consciousness
Rhetoric as Ontological / Rhetoric as Axiological / Rhetoric as Epistemic / Rhetoric, Governance, and Power / Conclusion

Appendix: A Timeline of Events