(Very) Selective Bibliography of Rhetoric
This list was last
updated April 17, 2001. Many of the works below may appear
in newer editions since I compiled this list.
On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse.
Trans. George A. Kennedy. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991.
- The Philosopher
himself. Why settle for inferior commentary?
and Bruce Herzeberg, eds. The Rhetorical Tradition:
Readings from Classical Times to the Present. Boston:
Bedford Books, 1990.
- This book presents
a history of rhetorical traditions divided by period.
The editors choose to give limited explication before
each chapter, and then present the theory through
excerpts from the original texts. Strong chapter on
the Twentieth Century, but weak on Oriental rhetorical
M. Rhetoric in the European Tradition. Chicago:
U of Chicago P, 1990.
- Soon to be replaced
by newer editions, I imagine. Particularly good on
Renaissance and seventeenth century, but less comprehensive
in its treatment of modern rhetoricians.
P. J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student.
3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
- A bit dense and
dry in terms of reading, and somewhat spendy in terms
of price, but well-organized with handy charts in
front and back.
A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd Edition.
Berkeley: University of California P, 1991.
- It covers the same
ground as Quinn (see below), but with less wit and
charm and more depth. Not as entertaining to read
as Quinn, but it covers more terminology. I recommend
Quinn for dabblers who want an entertaining introduction,
and I recommend Lanham as a reference for serious
students of rhetoric.
A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers. 2nd Edition.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.
- A good starter for
anyone who will be teaching writing with an emphasis
M., et al. Readings in Medieval Rhetoric. Bloomington:
Indiana UP, 1973.
- A bit dated now,
but still a good survey of major medieval rhetoricians.
Often available used.
Murphy, James J.
Medieval Eloquence: Studies in the Theory and Practice
of Medieval Rhetoric. Berkeley: U of California P,
- A collection of
essays covering logic, grammar, letter-writing, preaching,
punctuation, and all sorts of good stuff as medieval
rhetors approached it. Less useful for a modern rhetorician.
Ultra-cool and super useful for students of medieval
Murphy, James J.
Three Medieval Rhetorical Arts. Berkeley: U of
California P, 1971.
- Contains translations
of medieval rhetorical theory so you don't have to
read the original Latin. Includes an anonymous treatise
on letter-writing, Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria
Nova, and and Robert Basevorn's treatise on sermons,
with accompanying discussion in the back of each translation.
Ch. and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca.
The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation.
Notre Dame, U of Notre Dame P, 2000.
- It's a reprint of
an older version from the 1950s. Big, fat, and authoritative,
with lots of abstract discussion. Bonus points for
Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase.
Davis, California: Hermagoras P, 1993.
- Short, concise,
and clever, this book provides explanation and examples
of over sixty different figures of speech. The book
is more subtle than it looks; pay attention to the
author's self-referential humor and cunning method
of inserting the figures of speech in his own commentary.
For more information
about rhetoric, or an easy spot to look up figures of
speech, see The
Forest of Rhetoric.