Karl Wallace: Between Past and Future: A Response to Karl Wallace’s “The Fundamentals of Rhetoric”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


All theorizing is of a period, and Karl Wallace’s “The Fundamentals of Rhetoric” is no exception. The essay arrived at a moment in disciplinary practice when many of the traditional verities were undergoing unprecedented scrutiny, not least by the hosts of the Wingspread Conference and editors of the volume featuring its work. Certainly the labor of historical recovery continued to occupy students and scholars of rhetorical theory, much of it to lasting effect. But just as certainly something new was afoot, and Wallace’s contribution is to be understood as part of this more general effort. This much is not self-evident: readers of the essay may well be struck by its resolute Aristotelianism, its insistent rationalism, and seemingly narrow circumscription. There is truth in these observations, but the more important fact is that it represents a systematic attempt to sound the foundations of rhetorical theory. While it is not possible or necessary to draw direct connections, this movement may take as its parentage the arrival of Kenneth Burke into the collective consciousness of the discipline. Burke’s unabashed search for a comprehensive theory of discourse, whatever else one may think, had the effect of encouraging others along their own paths of inquiry-hence the work, among others, of Lloyd Bitzer, Henry Johnstone, Richard McKeon, and Karl Wallace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReengaging the Prospects of Rhetoric
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Conversations and Contemporary Challenges
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781135167745
ISBN (Print)9780415873086
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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