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Going Deep with The New Rhetoric

Linda Bensel-Meyers, James Crosswhite, David Frank and John Gage

Going Deep with The New Rhetoric 

Linda Bensel-Meyers, University of Denver
James Crosswhite, University of Oregon
David Frank, University of Oregon
John Gage, University of Oregon 

The New Rhetoric, by Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, was written out of the devastation of post World War II Europe and the collapse of reigning  conceptions of reason, and it is one of the most important works on rhetoric published in the last century. Yet this 500+ page treatise is no walk in the park. The book is part of a large, philosophically ambitious project that aims at nothing less than a radically new conception of what it means to be reasonable. It shows how it is possible to reason and argue in conditions of uncertainty and unclarity, and it grounds that possibility in a conception of justice. To put it simply, reason is the way we do justice to each other’s lives. The treatise also consciously inherits and reinterprets large portions of the history of rhetoric. In this workshop, participants will become deeply familiar with the text, its motives, and its achievements. They will also discover how these achievements might inform their own scholarship and teaching. We will clarify the philosophical and theoretical aims of the text, and we will also offer practical sessions on using and teaching the “techniques” of the treatise, which have importance both for invention and for rhetorical criticism. We will conclude by exploring possible futures of the new rhetoric project, both in general and in our own work.  

We plan to link our efforts with the workshop, Klal Rhetorica: Jewish Rhetorical Traditions, led by Janice W. Fernheimer and David Metzger. 

Questions? Contact Linda Bensel-Meyers, lbenselm@du.edu

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