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Outlaw RhetoricFiguring Vernacular Eloquence in Shakespeare's England$
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Jenny C. Mann

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449659

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449659.001.0001

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Common Rhetoric

Common Rhetoric

Planting Figures of Speech in the English Shire

(p.29) Chapter 1 Common Rhetoric
Outlaw Rhetoric

Jenny C. Mann

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the rhetorical operations whereby the vernacular language and the island of England become figures for one another, with particular emphasis on the spatialization of discourse within the art of rhetoric. It shows how English manuals draw on the spatial imaginary provided by the ancient art of rhetoric to localize that discursive space as a particularly English place. By fostering the use of a “common” language identifiable with a “common” land that together constitutes an English commonweal, the vernacular rhetorical guides undermine the rhetorical art. The chapter also considers two manuals of rhetoric in English that incorporate an image of vagrancy into a retold history of rhetoric, one by Thomas Wilson and another by George Puttenham. Finally, it explains how rhetoric systematizes its own theory of discourse by artificially dividing content from form and analyzes the commonplaces and the figures of speech within the terms of this dichotomy.

Keywords:   rhetoric, vernacular language, England, vernacular rhetorical guides, vagrancy, Thomas Wilson, George Puttenham, figures of speech, common language

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