My Thoughts on Bain’s Definition of Rhetoric

Bain: “Rhetoric discusses the means whereby language spoken or written, may be rendered effective” (875).

This is an interesting definition of rhetoric as it includes the study of both oral and written language.

It is also interesting in that it does not include the texts that are written or spoken as rhetoric.

Instead it simply limits rhetoric to the studies of effectiveness in language.

I would say that this definition of rhetoric is too narrow for three reasons.

First, its limitation to study of effectiveness seems incredibly limiting to me.

Second, it does not include anything that is not language. Therefore, within this definition visual rhetoric would be impossible.

Third, limiting the studies to effectiveness means that ineffective work might be excluded. (Though it is not necessarily excluded.)

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