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Title:Style in rhetorical criticism: The case of Martin Luther's vernacular sermons
Author(s):Leroux, Neil Richard
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Conley, Thomas M.
Department / Program:Religion, History of
Speech Communication
Discipline:Religion, History of
Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, History of
Speech Communication
Abstract:Serious attention to style of the discourse analyzed remains a neglected feature of the tradition of rhetorical criticism. A survey of the literature reveals a fundamental neglect of style in both the theory and practice of rhetorical criticism. Application of stylistic matters to discourse has resulted in little which would help critics approach a text for analysis.
Kenneth Burke's notion of rhetorical form as the arousing and fulfillment of desires, and Chaim Perelman's concepts of persuasion as adherence to theses and of figures as devices which are functional and argumentative rather than merely ornamental or aesthetic are useful concepts for critically approaching a text. Specifically, a three-fold conceptual scheme of focus, presence, and communion provides a systematic method of employing the notions of Burke and Perelman. Particularly are these terms helpful for sorting out the structural and argumentative devices which speakers use strategically, but for which the handbooks offer little guidance to the critic, save for giving names to the devices.
A case-study for enacting a method of stylistic analysis produces insightful criticism as to how the discourse works. A case-study of the Eight Wittenberg Sermons, which Martin Luther preached in March, 1522, are closely analyzed, using the conceptual scheme of focus, presence, and communion. Particularly analyzed are speaker strategies which respond to (and create) audience expectations. The analysis closely examines the German text of the sermons, which were delivered in the vernacular but not published directly by Luther. Generalizations and implications are drawn about the sermons themselves, regarding Luther as rhetor, on preaching in general, and on the role of style in rhetorical criticism. The author argues that style cannot be neglected in the criticism of the function of discourse.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Leroux, Neil Richard
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114313
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114313

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