Neo-Aristotelianism (rhetorical criticism)

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Neo-Aristotelianism is a view of literature and rhetorical criticism propagated by the Chicago School [1]Ronald S. Crane, Elder Olson, Richard McKeon, Wayne Booth, and others — which means.

"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"[2]

Neo-Artistotelianism was one of the first rhetorical methods of criticism.[3] 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.[4] In 1943, Neo-Aristotelianism was further publicized, gaining popularity after William Norwood Brigance published A History and Criticism of American Public Address.[5]

Unlike rhetorical criticism, which concentrates on the study of speeches and the immediate effect of rhetoric on an audience,[6] 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."[7]

The Literary Criticism of Oratory[edit]

Wichelns' work was one of the first that introduced Neo-Aristotelianism. It 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)
  • Audience
  • Major ideas
  • Motives to which the speaker appealed
  • Nature of the speaker's proof (credibility)
  • Speaker's judgment of human nature in the audience
  • Arrangement
  • Mode of expression
  • Speech preparation
  • Delivery
  • Effect of the discourse on the immediate audience and long-term effects[8]


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."[9] 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.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Neo-Aristotelianism.html Definition from The University of Toronto National Library
  3. ^ Foss, Sonja K. (1996). Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 25. 
  4. ^ Drummond, ed. A. M. (1925). Studies in Rhetoric and Public Speaking in Honor of James A. Winans. New York: Century. pp. 181–183. 
  5. ^ Brigance, William Norwood (1943). A History and Criticism of American Public Address. New York:: McGraw-Hill. 
  6. ^ Foss., Sonja K (1996). . Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. 
  7. ^ Foss, Sonja K (1996). Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 26. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Klyn, Mark S. (1968). "Toward a Pluralistic Rhetorical Criticism," in Essays on Rhetorical Criticism. New York: Random House. p. 154. 
  10. ^ Bryant, Donald C. (1958). The Rhetorical Idiom: Essays in Rhetoric, Oratory, Language, and Drama. Ithica: Cornell University Press. p. 5.