August 7, 2015

Books on argument and rhetoric

First of all, thanks to Sardonicus for the gracious invitation to contribute to this blog. Thinking about, reflecting on, and analyzing public discourse is close to my heart, as are various topics on higher education, literature, and theology. As an English professor who teaches literature and rhetoric, I think that encouraging ethical public debate and nurturing eloquence are central to liberal education, and I thus welcome any opportunity to contribute to this project inside and outside the classroom.

Second, in response to a commentor on my previous post in this space, I'd like to recommend a few helpful works on rhetoric/argument that some readers might find useful. If other readers have texts they'd like to add, I welcome any suggestions.

Aristotle, Rhetoric
This is one of the foundational texts on the topic in the Western tradition, and repays careful reading. Aristotle was not offering a handbook so much as he was trying to describe how rhetoric functions--what it is, how it works, and how statesmen and orators use it. Extremely relevant today.

Plato, Gorgias
Another foundational text. This dialogue explores the pitfalls of rhetoric, and Plato's suspicions that rhetoric is ultimately a manipulative and dishonest art are still alive today.

Cavender and Kahane, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric
This textbook (I use it in the classroom) is informative, thorough, and pitched to a broad audience. It covers all the basics, from fallacies to formal logic to logic/rhetoric in popular culture. Great refresher/reference.

Heinrichs, Thank You For Arguing
This is a fun read, written in an approachable, sometimes tongue-in-cheek style. It offers a walk through the basics of rhetoric and how it is used (for better or worse) in contemporary discourse.

No comments:

Post a Comment