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Rhetoric and Visuality

Cara A. Finnegan

Subject Linguistics
Communication Studies » Rhetorical Studies

People Aristotle, Foucault, Michel

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


If visuality is understood broadly as the practices, performances, and configurations of the appearances, then the relationship between rhetoric and visuality is as old as the art of rhetoric itself. The ancients tied rhetoric to the world of mimesis , or the appearances, rather than to the realm of philosophical truth; this relationship has often unfairly relegated both rhetoric and the visual to subordinate status in the Platonic regime of knowledge ( Kennedy 2001 ). Yet in the ancient tradition the visual is constitutive of rhetoric in a number of ways (→  Rhetoric, Greek ). The canon of delivery references visuality in its emphasis on gesture, movement, and performance ( Kjeldsen 2003 ; →  Delivery and Rhetoric ; Gestures in Discourse ). The trope of ekphrasis (literally “bringing-before-the-eyes”) and Aristotle's notion of phantasia reference the ability of rhetoric to create →  Images in the mind and cultivate affective grounds for judgment ( O'Gorman 2005 ; →  Pathos and Rhetoric ; Rhetoric, Epideictic ). Sight is framed as a powerful influence on persuasion by Quintilian, who divided images into the categories of pictorial images and mental images, and argued that the best orators created visions ( visiones ) in their listeners’ minds ( Scholz 2001 ; Kjeldsen 2003 ; →  Rhetoric, Roman ). A contemporary discussion of the relationship of rhetoric to visuality would ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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