• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The SAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies surveys the latest advances in rhetorical scholarship, synthesizing theories and practices across major areas of study in the field and pointing the way for future studies. Edited by Andrea A. Lunsford and Associate Editors Kirt H. Wilson and Rosa A. Eberly, the Handbook aims to introduce a new generation of students to rhetorical study and provide a deeply informed and ready resource for scholars currently working in the field.

Coping With Modernity: Strategies of 20th-century Rhetorical Theory
Coping with modernity: Strategies of 20th-century rhetorical theory

The problem for rhetorical theory after the birth of Enlightenment liberalism lies in the central role of moral autonomy in the emerging view of the liberal self. The very philosophy of liberal democracy itself was based on a fundamental distrust of persuasion. Once the autonomous individual rather than the family or community became the fundamental building block of politics, any effort to subvert that autonomy, whether through rhetoric or violence, came to be viewed as a “heteronomous imposition,” as Immanuel Kant put it. For Kant, perhaps the most influential theorist of liberalism in the Western democracies, a normal adult is capable of full self-government in moral matters: “No authority external ...

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