Recommended Readings in Rhetoric
silva rhetoricae

Reference Works
  • Richard Lanham, A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2d ed. (University of California, 1968).
    A useful and inexpensive resource on figures of speech with some material on broader rhetorical concerns (which are sometimes lost amid the terms for figures). Sources for this are chiefly from the Renaissance and so terminology is not always consistent with classical sources.

  • Lausberg, Heinrich, Handbook of Literary Rhetoric. Ed. David E. Orton and R. Dean Anderson (Brill, 1998). A comprehensive, erudite, and expensive handbook to rhetorical and literary terminology first published in German in 1960 and recently translated into English. Lausberg cites long passages from original Greek and Latin sources. Best for consulting the history of a given term. The book is hampered by an overly hierarchical organization. Also, this handbook puts minor rhetorical treatises on par with major ones such as Quintilian and Cicero. Excellent if dated bibliography, with indices in Latin, Greek, and French.

  • Theresa Enos, ed. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition (Garland, 1996)
    A very useful and accessible study of rhetoric that will be of chief interest to writing instructors. Material on historical rhetoric is presented in brief articles with substantive discussions of more important terms. Some figures are defined well in short entries, but sources for these are not given and are often inconsistent with classical or renaissance primary sources.

  • William A. Covino, David A. Jolliffe, Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries (Allyn and Bacon, 1995)
    An excellent overview article of the history of rhetoric is followed by a section on major rhetorical terms and authors (somewhat selectively chosen). The bulk of this excellent resource is an anthology of critical articles about rhetoric as it has developed both historically and within different disciplines. Excellent for graduate studies in rhetorical theory broadly conceived.

  • Thomas O. Sloane, ed. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric (Oxford, 2001)
    An academic encyclopedia of rhetorical history and theory whose articles on major aspects of rhetoric are very strong. When treating style and the figures of rhetoric this resource departs from a chiefly historical approach to one informed by the taxonomies of modern linguistics. Otherwise, a very competent, if expensive, resource for rhetorical studies.

Studies of Rhetoric
  • Brian Vickers, In Defence of Rhetoric. (Oxford, 1998)
    A spirited overview of the history of rhetoric, especially as a discipline in competition with philosophy in antiquity. Vickers makes interesting connections between rhetoric and other arts, and includes a section illustrating figures of speech. Excellent for undergraduate and advanced studies in rhetorical history and theory.

  • Thomas Conley, Rhetoric in the European Tradition. (New York: Longman, 1990).
    An accessible and accurate introduction to the history of rhetoric in Europe. Conley pinpoints major trends and figures in the history of rhetoric, and usefully includes outlines of various authorities' texts as he moves from period to period. Highly recommended for beginning students of the history of rhetoric.

Anthologies of Primary Texts in Rhetoric
  • Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg, The Rhetorical Tradition 2d ed. (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001).
    An excellent anthology of primary texts from classical antiquity to the present, including many texts not otherwise available to beginning students. Selections from the 20th century are less canonically chosen than those through the 19th century, and may reflect the interests of the editors and contributors more than the full manifestation of rhetorical theory and practice in the last century.

  • Patricia P. Matsen, Philip Rollinson, and Marion Sousa, Readings from Classical Rhetoric. (Southern Illinois University Press, 1990)
    There is no comparable anthology for strictly classical studies of rhetoric. Does not always include primary sources from the full range of classical authorities, but usefully includes selections from sources not primarly considered rhetorical but which do manifest the rhetorical tradition (Homer, etc.). Excellent set of both orations and of critical writings about rhetoric.

Primary Texts
Monographs / Electronic versions of original sources

In addition to finding the works of classical writers on rhetoric such as Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and Quintilian in the Loeb series, the following monograph editions are recommended because of their supplementary critical apparatus. Some online versions are also indicated:

  • Aristotle, On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Tr. George A. Kennedy (Oxford, 1991)
    An excellent modern translation of this primary text in rhetoric. Kennedy retains and explains many of the original Greek terms in his thorough notes. An inexpensive and authoritative edition ideal for students and scholars.

  • George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (1589) (Kent State University Press, 1970).
    This facsimile edition is difficult to read due to Renaissance printing conventions. See also the complete text online at Representative Poetry Online.

  • Thomas Wilson, The Art of Rhetoric (1560). Ed. Peter E. Medine (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994)
    I recommend this edition because of Medine's very able critical apparatus and notes. However, the complete text is also online at Virginia Commonwealth University or at Renascence editions.

Textbooks for Teaching Writing

These are textbooks more explicitly based on classical rhetorical pedagogy:

  • Edward P.J. Corbett and Robert Connors, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 4th ed. (Oxford, 1995)
    Classical rhetoric is used to teaching composition. An apt adaptation for students of many ages. Unlike many modern rhetorics that claim some connection to classical rhetoric, Corbett and Connors include explicit directions in imitation and in the progymnasmata exercises.Useful charts in the front and back covers display the whole of the classical rhetorical system. Good reference section to the figures of speech, as well as to the topics of invention.

  • Frank D'Angelo, Composition in the Classical Tradition (Allyn and Bacon, 2000)
    D'Angelo has developed a modern rhetoric based on the ancient progymnasmata exercises. A somewhat different treatment than Crowley and Hawhee. Does not include the full system of rhetoric, but one of only three books to take these vital preliminary exercises (the progymnasmata) seriously.

  • Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students, 2d. ed. (Longman, 1998)
    Another modern rhetoric based on the ancient progymnasmata exercises. A somewhat different treatment than D'Angelo. Does not include the full system of rhetoric, but one of only three books to take these vital preliminary exercises (the progymnasmata) seriously.

  • Robert A. Harris, Writing with Clarity and Style: A Guide to Rhetorical Devices for Contemporary Writers (Los Angeles: Pyrczak Pub., 2003).
    A workbook style rhetoric that is the only composition book employing many specific rhetorical figures to understand basic modes of essay writing. It may undersell its significance by seeming to focus only on stylistic matters, when the figures it teaches are ways of making prose not only more decorative, but more cogent.

Shakespeare and Rhetoric
  • Sister Miriam Joseph, Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language (New York: Columbia UP, 1947; rpt. New York: Hafner Publications, 1966; rpt. Paul Dry Books, 2005).
    Recently back in print, this remains the most thorough and accessible assessment of rhetoric in Shakespeare, going well beyond stylistic matters.

  • T.W. Baldwin, William Shakspere’s Small Latine and Lesse Greeke (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1944)
    This classic two-volume study is comprehensive to a fault, but very useful for students of Renaissance education (if a bit dated). Compare to Miriam Joseph's study.

  • Heinrich Plett, English Renaissance Rhetoric and Poetics: A Systematic Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources (Leiden: Brill, 1995).
    Contains a lengthy section canvassing rhetorical studies of Shakespeare. A most useful bibliography for rhetorical studies of Shakespeare.

  • Toby Widdicombe, Simply Shakespeare (Longman, 2002).
    See chapter three for a good rhetorical introduction to Shakespeare. Excellent for bringing rhetoric into the Shakespeare classroom at secondary or college levels.

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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