Romanticism, Rhetoric and the Search for the Sublime: A Neo-Romantic Theory for Our Time
Relying on the author’s established expertise in rhetorical theory and political communication, this book re-contextualizes Romantic rhetorical theory in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to provide a foundation for a Neo-Romantic rhetorical theory for our own time. In the process, it uses a unique methodology to correct misconceptions about many Romantic writers. The methodology of the early chapters uses a dialectical approach to trace Romanticism and its opposition, the Enlightenment, back through Humanism and its opposition, Scholasticism, to St. Augustine. These chapters include a revisionist analysis of the church’s treatment of Galileo in the course of showing how difficult it was for scientific study to be accepted in the academic world.
The study also re-conceptualizes Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Edmund Burke as bridge figures to the Romantic Era instead of as Enlightenment figures. This move throws new light on the major artists of the Romantic Era, who are examined in chapters seven and eight. Chapter nine focuses on Percy Bysshe Shelley and his development of the rhetorical poem, and thereby provides a new genre in the Romantic catalogue. Chapter ten uses the foregoing to analyse and reconceptualize the rhetorical theories of Hugh Blair and Thomas De Quincey. The concluding chapter then synthesizes their theories with relevant contemporary rhetorical theories thereby constructing a Neo-Romantic theory for our own time. In the process, this book links the Romantics’ love of nature to the current environmental crisis.
Craig R. Smith won the Ehninger Award for contributions to rhetorical theory and the Gronbeck Award for research on political communication, both from the National Communication Association. He also won that organization’s Robert O’Neil Award three times for scholarly papers on the First Amendment. After completing a PhD, he taught at San Diego State University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Alabama, where he founded the Communication Studies Department. He also served as a full-time speechwriter for President Gerald Ford, as a consulting writer to George H. W. Bush and as a consultant to CBS News for convention, election, and inaugural coverage. He served as founding president of the Freedom of Expression Foundation in Washington, DC from 1983 to 1988. He then became a full Professor at California State University, until he retired in 2015. He has published 19 books and over 85 scholarly articles.
"All in all, if you aim to understand Neo-Romantic Rhetoric, I would recommend reading Smith’s(2016) article, which provides an excellent analysis of what this rhetoric could look like. If you are interested in the history of those who influenced Romanticism itself, you should read the book."
Nicholas Lepp, Communication Studies, University of Nevada, Argumentation and Advocacy, 55:2, 172-174 (2019)
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