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Rhetoric and poetics

D: Rhetoric and poetics (Convenor: Prof. Rodrigo Cacho)

1. An introduction to classical poetics (Dr Emma Gilby) 
Comparing and contrasting Plato, Aristotle, Horace, and pseudo-Longinus, this session explores some of the central issues that helped shape the theory and practice of poetry. We consider the nature of imitation in connection with ‘verisimilitude’ in poetry and Aristotle’s distinction between poetry and history; the place of art and nature (ars and natura/ingenium) in poetic composition; inspiration and allegory; and the application of these ideas to pre-Romantic writing. 

•    Ancient Literary Criticism: The Principal Texts in New Translations, ed. D. A. Russell and M. Winterbottom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972; World’s Classics, 2008), esp. pp. 39-75 (Plato's Ion, and extracts from his Republic on ‘Poetry in education’, ‘The true nature of imitation’, and ‘Poetic madness’; pp. 85-132 (Aristotle's Poetics); pp. 279-91 (Horace, Ars poetica); pp. 143-88 (Longinus, On Sublimity). Other editions of these texts fine too. 
•     Optional: Sidney's 'The Defence of Poesy' and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism, ed. by Gavin Alexander (London: Penguin, 2004), introduction. 

2. An introduction to classical rhetoric (Prof Rodrigo Cacho) 
We start the course by outlining the history and main characteristics of classical rhetoric and its five basic components (inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, actio). This is followed by a contextualization of the uses and development of rhetoric in literature, particularly the practice of imitation and its role in the transmission of culture. 

•    Ernst Robert Curtius, 'Rhetoric', in European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. W. R. Trask, Princeton: Princeton UP, 1953, pp. 62-78. 
•    [Cicero, attrib.], Rhetorica ad Herennium, ed. and tr. H. Caplan, Cambridge (Mass.), Loeb Classical Library, 1954. 

3. From rhetoric to critical theory (Dr Tim Chesters) 
The third session gives an overview of what has happened to rhetoric over the centuries, up to and including the rethinking of rhetoric in structuralism and post-structuralism, and considering the relationship between arts of rhetoric and philosophies of language. 

•    Don Paul Abbott, 'Splendor and Misery: Semiotics and the End of Rhetoric', in Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, 24.3 (Summer 2006), pp 303-323.
•    Roland Barthes, 'The Old Rhetoric: An Aide-Mémoire', in The Semiotic Challenge, trans. Richard Howard, Oxford, Blackwell, 1988, or 'L'Ancienne rhétorique: Aide-mémoire', in Communications 16.1 (1970), pp. 172-223.
•    John Bender and David E. Wellbery, 'Rhetoricality: On the Modernist Return of Rhetoric', in The Ends of Rhetoric: History, Theory, Practice, ed. by Bender and Wellbery (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990,) pp. 1-39.
•    Gérard Genette, 'Figures', in Figures of Literary Discourse, trans. A. Sheridan (New York: New York University Press, 1982), pp. 45-60 (or, in original French, 'Figures' in Figures I, Paris, Seuil, 1966, pp. 2005-21).
•    Victoria Kahn, 'Literature and Literariness', in The Trouble with Literature, Oxford, OUP 2020, pp. 1-32.
•    Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, Meaning and Relevance (Cambridge: CUP, 2012), chapter 4: ‘Rhetoric and Relevance’ and chapter 5: ‘A Deflationary Account of Metaphors’
•    Terence Cave and Deirdre Wilson, ‘Introduction’, in Reading Beyond the Code: Relevance and Literature, ed. by Terence Cave and Deirdre Wilson (Oxford: OUP, 2018)

Session 4: From Poetics to Critical Theory (Dr Rebecca Reich) 
This session examines the theory and practice of biographical self-creation with attention to the Russian and French critical traditions. When should the author’s biography be factored into literary analysis and when should it be set aside? These questions were famously raised by the French-language theorists Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in the 1960s. However, their roots lie, in part, in the Russian critical tradition. Moving from the Russian Formalists of the revolutionary era to the theorists of post-war Russia and France, this session puts this theoretical trajectory in historical context. 

Primary Reading 
•    Brodsky, Joseph. “Less Than One.” Less Than One: Selected Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986. 3–33. 

Secondary Reading 
•    Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author” (1967). Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana, 1977, 142-48.
•    Ginzburg, Lidiia. “Introduction” (1977). On Psychological Prose. Trans. Judson Rosengrant. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. 3–26. 
•    Tomashevskii, Boris. “Literature and Biography” (1923). Twentieth-Century Literary Theory. Ed. Vassilis Lambropoulos and David Neal Miller. Albany: State University of New York, 1987. 47–55.
•    Tynjanov, Jurij. “On Literary Evolution” (1927). Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Ed. Ladislav Matejka and Krystyna Pomorska. Normal: Dalkey Archive Press, 2002. 66–78. 

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