Reclaiming Rhetoric

Joe Kirby's blog

Nam eloquentiam quae admirationem non habet nullam iudico

Eloquence which doesn’t startle I don’t consider eloquence

Marcus Tullius Cicero, 48 BC

 

Pithanon tini pithanon

What convinces is conviction

Aristotle, 325 BC

At the 2013 Festival of Education at Wellington, one of the most startling and memorable talks was given by Sam Leith on Reclaiming Rhetoric. I rushed up to Sam afterwards and told him how inspiring I found his talk. I went out and bought his book, and I’ve read it twice since. Exploring the world of oratory, from Aristotle and Cicero to Lincoln and Obama, is fascinating. I’m increasingly convinced that teaching rhetoric as a powerful body of knowledge can transform the English curriculum.

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As Sam explains, “for fifteen centuries or so, the study of rhetoric was at the centre of Western education. What has changed is that it has now all but vanished as an area of…

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