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Rhetorics: From Classical Rhetoric to Modern Communication

Module Tutors:

Dr Caroline Petit (lectures)

Dr Caroline Petit and Lucrezia Sperindio (Latin texts)

Rhetoric (the art of speaking well, according to Quintilian) pervades all aspects of ancient life (education, public life, politics, literature...) and informs the ways in which the ancients think and express their ideas and their conceptions of the world around. It is also one of the most enduring areas of ancient knowledge and a key component of literary criticism throughout the ages, a topic that is still taught in modern universities: in an age of intense communication ("spin", even) in politics, trade, science and campaigning more generally, studying the ancient roots of "rhetoric" invites critical reflection on the world we live in and the possibilities to maintain or negotiate freedom despite bad faith, demagogy and the so-called "alternative facts".

The syllabus will explore in turn (1) the place of rhetoric in ancient society, (2) the power of rhetoric in ancient literature, (3) rhetoric in question (is rhetoric about truth or deceit?), and finally (4) the non-classical or post-classical takes on ancient rhetoric (semitic rhetoric; modern theories of argumentation, literary criticism, communication).

2020-21: Lectures will be pre-recorded; any materials (lectures, handouts and powerpoints) will be uploaded to Moodle. In addition to the weekly pre-recorded lecture, face-to-face seminars will take place on campus (Wednesday 3-4pm; OC.0.04).

The module is also available as Latin text option: the Latin Texts session will take place on Thursdays 2-3pm ONLINE via Microsoft Teams.

***please make sure you make yourself familiar with Teams and download the app prior to your first class.

SET TEXTS (in translation):

Plato, Gorgias; Menexenus

Aristotle, Rhetoric;

Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria

SET TEXTS (Latin option):

***see details on Moodle

1. Quintilian, Inst. Or. (extracts from Book II) (ed. with commentary by M. Winterbottom (accessible online through the Library)

2. Pliny the Younger, selected letters from Epistles Book II (ed. C. Whitton, Pliny the Younger. Epistles Book II, Cambridge Greek & Latin Classics, 2013)

3. Cicero, Second Philippic (ed. J. T. Ramsey, Cicero. Philippics I-II, Cambridge Greek & Latin Classics, 2003), extracts.

4. Claudian, selected works (tbc) from the 'Shorter Poems' (ed. M. Platnauer, Claudian, vol. II, Loeb Classical Library)