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Rhetoric involves the study of texts and language. In the context of the study of law and society—and in contrast to discourse analysis, linguistics, and communications—rhetoric represents a critique of the social study of law informed by the humanities. Unlike interpretive sociolegal scholarship, which takes “talk” as fundamentally the effect and cause of power, rhetoric takes language and speech seriously for what they say, as well as for what they do not say. The rhetoric of law takes as its subject matter a broad gamut of texts of and about law.

Although rhetoric itself has a long tradition dating back to ancient Greece, contemporary rhetoric often takes its inspiration from the works of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), Michel Foucault (1926–1984), Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), ...

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