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Title:Rhetorical gestures in British elocutionism
Author(s):Holding, Cory
Director of Research:Hawhee, Debra
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hawhee, Debra
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Camargo, Martin; Hawisher, Gail E.; Powers, Richard; Prior, Paul A.; Underwood, Ted
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):material rhetoric
rhetoric of gesture
18th century British rhetoric
materialist historiography
Abstract:This project uncovers the rhetoric of gesture in British elocutionist handbooks on delivery (about 1650 to 1800). In the work of Bulwer, Sheridan, Walker, Priestley, Austin and others, the gesture exceeds its caricature in histories of rhetoric: an ancillary, if “detached” mechanism for the coercion of audience. Instead, the gesture produces meaning as it promotes appeal. It recommends presence as an inventional resource, and moving-with as a means to coming to terms, drawing toward what Crowley, writing in the context of contemporary political action, calls “civil discourse.” By tracking and analyzing the rhetorical gesture through interrelated thematic locations—medicine, theatre, pulpit, and philosophical chemistry—this project not only argues for reembodying invention, but also (like the Elocutionists themselves did) suggests that theorists of material and body rhetoric would benefit by extending their cross-disciplinary reach. Rhetorical gesture points out an alternative to “invention” (as well as rhetoric) that is by nature personal, oral and alphabetic. I offer this study/ gesture in support of current efforts to theorize the body’s role in the production of argument (Hawhee, Davis), as well as feminst rhetorics that assert the importance of looking beyond the speaker (Glenn, Ratcliffe) and even text, for rhetorical subjects and “stance.”
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Cory Holding
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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