Herbert A. Wichelns at the Discipline's Centennial Mark: Re-Reading a Prospectus for Rhetoric As an Independent Discipline

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Abstract

At the discipline's centennial mark, Wichlens' clarion call for a new discipline based on his essay "The Literary Criticism of Rhetoric," is still open to commentary and at different junctions in the discipline's history the essay has been re-issued and commented on. In my essay I go back to Wichelns' specific instructions to argue that what he advocated was a focus on rhetoric's effects, despite attempts to suggest otherwise. I also read Wichlens' other prominent work-the consideration of Ralph Waldo Emerson's rhetoric-to argue for the case of effects. The issue of rhetoric's effects, I contend, is central to understanding Wichelns' as well as the later controversy over it when Wichelns' student, Edwin Black, sought to move the practice of rhetorical criticism to consider the merit of textual criticism in place of effects. The larger issue of what Wichelns sought to accomplish speaks to the heart of the discipline and the instrumental role rhetoric plays in the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalReview of Communication
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Edwin Black
  • Herbert Wichelns
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • effects
  • rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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