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Rhetoric and Narrativity

Lisa Gring-Pemble

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Aristotle

Key-Topics narrative

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


For centuries, rhetoricians, communication scholars, and practitioners have recognized narrative's rich descriptive and persuasive appeal. Numerous essays, books, and monographs address the nature and functions of narrative in disciplines as varied as rhetoric and communication, biology and anthropology, psychology and sociology, political science and public policy, and theology and philosophy. Throughout rhetorical history, narrative has assumed many roles from a rhetorical trope or figure, to a part of speech, to a paradigm that explains how humans make sense of their world. Such diverse roles reflect the varying levels of privilege theorists have accorded to narrative at any given point in time. Discussions of narrative in classical times emphasize narrative's role as a part of speech and a form of proof. Rhetorical handbooks dating back to the fifth century bce catalog narration ( narratio or diēgēsis ) as a formal part of speech. Handbooks were an important resource for citizens of democratic Athens. Male citizens, who were expected to speak on their own behalf in Athenian law courts, outlined the particulars of their case in the narration ( Kennedy 1999 , 21). In his Art of rhetoric , Aristotle conceived of narrative as a form of artistic proof. He outlined proof by example, noting that examples could arise from historical accounts as well as invented parables and fables. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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