Rhetoric Reclaimed: Aristotle and the Liberal Arts Tradition (Rhetoric & Society Series)

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9780801432637: Rhetoric Reclaimed: Aristotle and the Liberal Arts Tradition (Rhetoric & Society Series)
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Thoroughly embedded in postmodern theory, this book offers a critique of traditional conceptions of the liberal arts, exploring the challenges posed by cultural diversity to the aims and methods of a humanist education. Janet M. Atwill investigates a neglected tradition of rhetoric, exemplified by Protagoras and Isocorates, and preserved in Aristotle's Rhetoric.

This tradition was rooted in the ancient sophistic and platonic conceptions of techné, or productive knowledge, that appears both in literary texts from the seventh century B.C.E. and in medical and technical treatises from the fifth century B.C.E. Atwill examines these traditions, together with sophistic and platonic conceptions, and considers the commentaries on Aristotle's Rhetoric by E. M. Cope and William S. J. Grimaldi, where the concepts of techné and productive knowledge disappear in the modern opposition between theory and practice.

Since models of knowledge are closely tied to models of subjectivity, Atwill's examination of techné also explores the role of political, economic, and educational institutions in standardizing a specific model for subjectivity. She argues that the liberal arts traditions largely eclipsed the social and political functions of rhetoric, transforming it from an art of disrupting and reinventing lines of power to a discipline of producing a normative subject, defined by virtue but modeled on a specific gender and class type.

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"In Rhetoric Reclaimed, Janet Atwill offers a new framework for understanding the history of Western rhetoric and a reinterpretation of Aristotle's place within that history. . . . She has done much to illuminate the competing forms of knowledge and subjectivity inscribed in the canonical texts of ancient rhetoric and has recovered a lost or under-appreciated dimension of these texts. In so doing, Rhetoric Reclaimed . . . also suggests a starting point for reassessing and renegotiating the priorities and values we have inherited from the rhetorical tradition."―Rhetorik



"The publication of Janet Atwill's Rhetoric Reclaimed has served to powerfully recuperate and supplement an important conversation among the Greek sophists, one in which the notion of techné emerged not only as a rhetorical strategy, but also as a way of being and as an attitude about knowledge. . . . The importance of Atwill's book lies in its suggestion that attention to téchne can enlarge our understanding of rhetoric in general and the theorizing and teaching of cooperative approaches to writing in particular."―Journal of Advanced Composition



"This is an important book. To invite students to participate in constructing the standards of value and advantage in our culture is a vital pedagogical goal. Rhetoric Reclaimed advances us a long way toward that goal by helping us reconceive both the domain of productive knowledge and the intriguing range of rhetoric's possibilities as a productive art."―Frederick J. Antczak, author of Thought and Character: The Rhetoric of Democratic Education



"Rhetoric Reclaimed offers a unique and carefully considered blend of classical and postmodern approaches to rhetoric. By placing Aristotle and Bourdieu in dialogue, Atwill envisions rhetoric as an art of intervention rather than of representation, and her argument productively enlarges our understanding both of the history of rhetoric and of its place in contemporary liberal arts education."―Michael Leff, coauthor of Reading Rhetorical Texts: An Introduction to Criticism

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