My Thoughts on Corbett’s Definition of Rhetoric

Corbett: “the art of the discipline that deals with the use of discourse, either spoken or written, to inform or persuade or motivate an audience” (Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 3).

I like that rhetoric is clearly a discipline. Of course, Corbett is in this discipline, so that is expected.

I’m not as excited about the spoken or written limitations of discourse. Is discourse limited to those?

I like, however, the aims he gives: inform, persuade, motivate. While I might not limit all the aims of rhetoric to these three, at least he expands the aims of rhetoric beyond persuasiveness. (Reminds me of Campbell.) Also, I think this expansion of aims is more likely to work with visual rhetoric–as not all visual artifacts (such as a certain day’s clothing) are intended to persuade.

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