Neo-Aristotelianism (rhetorical criticism)
"A view of literature and criticism which takes a pluralistic attitude toward the history of literature and seeks to view literary works and critical theories intrinsically"
Neo-Artistotelianism was one of the first rhetorical methods of criticism. Its central features were first suggested in Herbert A. Wichelns' "The Literary Criticism of Oratory" in 1925. It focused on analyzing the methodology behind a speech's ability to convey an idea to its audience. In 1943, Neo-Aristotelianism was further publicized, gaining popularity after William Norwood Brigance published A History and Criticism of American Public Address.
Unlike rhetorical criticism, which concentrates on the study of speeches and the immediate effect of rhetoric on an audience, Neo-Aristotelianism "led to the study of a single speaker because the sheer number of topics to cover relating to the rhetor and the speech made dealing with more than a single speaker virtually impossible. Thus, various speeches by different rhetors related by form of topic were not included in the scope of rhetorical criticism."
The Literary Criticism of Oratory
Wichelns' work was one of the first that introduced Neo-Aristotelianism. It that narrowed down speech to 12 key topics to be studied, similar to many of the topics discussed by Aristotle in the Rhetoric. His topics for speech critique include:
- Speaker's personality
- Character of the speaker (how the audience views a speaker)
- Major ideas
- Motives to which the speaker appealed
- Nature of the speaker's proof (credibility)
- Speaker's judgment of human nature in the audience
- Mode of expression
- Speech preparation
- Effect of the discourse on the immediate audience and long term effects
According to Mark S. Klyn, author of Towards a Pluralistic Rhetorical Criticism, "The Literary Criticism of Oratory" provided "substance and structure to a study which heretofore had been formless and ephemeral [...] it literally created the modern discipline of rhetorical criticism." Thus regardless of the lack of detail on these topics, it provided a modern structure of critiquing and analyzing speech via Neo-Aristotelianism, according to Donald C. Bryant.
- James P. Beasley, A Prehistory of Rhetoric and Composition: New Rhetoric and Neo-Aristotelianism at the University of Chicago, 1947--1959, ProQuest, 2007, pp.129
- http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Neo-Aristotelianism.html Definition from The University of Toronto National Library
- Foss, Sonja K. (1996). Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 25.
- Drummond, ed. A. M. (1925). Studies in Rhetoric and Public Speaking in Honor of James A. Winans. New York: Century. pp. 181–183.
- Brigance, William Norwood (1943). A History and Criticism of American Public Address. New York:: McGraw-Hill.
- Foss., Sonja K (1996). . Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
- Foss, Sonja K (1996). Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 26.
- Wichelns, Herbert A. (1925). "The Literary Criticisms of Oratory," in Studies in Rhetoric and Public Speaking in Honor of James A. Winans. New York: Century. pp. 181–183.
- Klyn, Mark S. (1968). "Toward a Pluralistic Rhetorical Criticism," in Essays on Rhetorical Criticism. New York: Random House. p. 154.
- Bryant, Donald C. (1958). The Rhetorical Idiom: Essays in Rhetoric, Oratory, Language, and Drama. Ithica: Cornell Univeristy Press. p. 5.
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