rhetoric: October 2005 Archives

Wayne Booth, 1921-2005

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I know. Three posts in a single day is largely unprecedented, but news just came across a listserv that Wayne Booth has passed on. His is not a household name, even in rhetoric circles, and Wikipedia's entry on him is woefully inadequate, but Booth was one of the people who helped rhetoric (re)emerge into its own discipline in the 20th century. He probably doesn't receive the attention nowadays that he deserves for that contribution.

He began as a literary critic (as did many of the canonical 20th C rhetoricians), and the Rhetoric of Fiction is still a staple on many reading lists. Although we carnivalized (and cannibalized?) his latest offering, The Rhetoric of Rhetoric, I've always considered WB to be worth reading, if for no other reason than his optimism. Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent was one of those books that everyone in my grad program read at one point or another, one which attempts a decisive break from the modern dogmas of skepticism and doubt in favor of the kind of rhetorical generosity that certainly characterized that last book of his.

I can't say that I always agreed with Booth, but I can say that I almost always wanted to. He was someone who made the field richer, and who never stopped trying to convince others of that richness and value. Disagreements or no, that's good enough for me.

That's all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the rhetoric category from October 2005.

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