The Politics of Rhetoric
Richard M. Weaver and the Conservative Tradition
AUTHOR: Bernard K. Duffy and Martin J. Jacobi
PUBLISHER: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
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Richard M. Weaver (1910-1963) was one of the leading rhetoricians of the 1950s, whose philosophical and pedagogical writings helped revitalize interest in rhetoric. His rhetorical contributions are difficult to separate from his conservative stances on social and political issues; and, indeed, he espoused the cultural role of rhetoric, conceiving of his intellectual task as one of reinventing a philosophical conservatism and employing rhetorical theory to oppose liberalism and modernism. Today, his politics would be viewed as extreme by liberals, feminists, and civil libertarians; on the other hand, his theories laid the philosophical groundwork for contemporary American political conservatism, and his argumentation on a number of social issues remains pertinent.
This first full-length study of Weaver examines the relationship between his rhetorical theory and his cultural views, focusing on the rhetorical insights---for instance, his conception of language as sermonic, its function being to influence others to think and act according to the speaker's moral precepts and, ideally, to convey the abiding truth of a culture. Authors Duffy and Jacobi advance the idea that Weaver was at his best as an epideictic rhetor, engaged in the celebration of abstract values, and at his worst as a forensic rhetor, pleading conservative causes with no more than the pretense of impartiality. Based largely on primary materials but with adroit application of previous criticism, this work will be valuable for a wide range of research specialties in rhetoric and public address.
PUBLICATION DATE: 4/30/1993
CATEGORY: Language Arts & Disciplines, Literary Criticism, Political Science