University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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The Modern Rhetoric Project, 2009-2010

This stage of the research collaborative focused on modern rhetorical theory.  In the 19th century, the university had not yet fragmented into contemporary disciplinary structures.  By 1900, literary studies, psychology and philosophy had differentiated.  By 1920, speech-communication coalesced as its own intellectual field, with composition following soon after.  As a result, the rhetorical tradition, as a more-or-less coherent pedagogical tradition for centuries, was subdivided.  It was subdivided by research method (as philosophy, philology, aesthetics and psychology broke apart) and by medium (in the study of written and spoken communication). The rhetorical tradition would never quite be the same.

This “modern” rhetorical period is contemporary to “modern” literature, art and architecture.  We have a canon of major figures and texts, but we do not have a definitive scholarly assessment.This project articulates the modern in rhetorical theory, answering three questions:

  • To what extent is modern rhetorical theory a rearticulation or transformation of classical rhetorical theories?
  • To what extent is modern rhetorical theory a rupture from its classical roots in response to social, aesthetic or technological changes?
  • Can we use modern rhetorical theories to generate contemporary rhetorical criticism?

Conveners: David Beard (Writing Studies, UM-Duluth), David Gore (Communication Studies, UM-Duluth), Richard Graff (Writing Studies, UMTC), Alan Gross (Communications Studies, UMTC), Mark Huglen (Communication, UM-Crookston), Kenneth Marunowski (Writing Studies, UM-Duluth), Elizabeth Nelson (Communication Studies, UM-Duluth), Michael Pfau (Communication Studies, UM-Duluth), Arthur Walzer (Communication Studies, UMTC).

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