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Rhetoric, Vernacular

Gerard A. Hauser

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Aristotle

Key-Topics discourse

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The rhetorical tradition began with, and has remained linked to, the public discourse of official forums. Aristotle named these deliberative, forensic, and epideictic rhetoric (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). Although these first appeared as genres and later included additional forms of address, such as the sermon and the essay, the distinctive focus of rhetorical theory and criticism into the mid-twentieth century remained on speaking and writing. With some notable exceptions, these genres were typically delivered in an official site, such as a legislative chamber, or by a person who was in a position of power, such as the leader of a movement. They are captured by the category of “public address.” From the mid-1960s this category was challenged on a number of fronts, such as its inability to account for protest rhetoric, the rhetoric of new media, or that of marginalized groups, which became subjects of inquiry among rhetoricians (→  Rhetoric and Social Protest ). In the mid-1990s, this challenge was extended theoretically and critically to reconsider excluded voices without access to official sites, voices that are not in positions of leadership, or whose modes of expression do not take the form of public address or formal essay, by considering them as they were manifested in vernacular exchanges, or vernacular rhetoric . Vernacular rhetoric is variously understood as deliberation and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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