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The latest edition of Rhetoric and Human Consciousness remains a well-researched, accessible examination of rhetorical theory in Western civilization. Smith's in-depth coverage of the major figures who advanced rhetoric is strengthened by his keen analysis of developments in rhetorical theory that resulted from its interaction with other disciplines and the cultures surrounding it. The dialectic between rhetoric and other disciplines (notably philosophy and psychology) illuminate evolving definitions of rhetoric, from myth and display to persuasion and symbolic inducement. Well-chosen, engaging examples demonstrate how rhetoric can find truths, particularly at times when science and reason fail to solve important human crises. Paramount to this well-wrought survey is Smith's ability to show that rhetorical criticism illustrates, verifies, and refines rhetorical theory. Thus, the synergistic relationship between theory and criticism in rhetoric is no different than in other arts.
Chief among the Fourth Edition's enhancements are expanded discussions of the historical context for the creation of rhetorical theory and its use in public address; additional coverage of Isocrates, Cicero, Machiavelli, Kenneth Burke, and Michel Foucault; new material on the rhetoric of civil religion, ideological criticism, constitutive discourse, and feminist rhetorical theory; and many fresh examples. Each chapter ends with questions that sharpen readers' retention of concepts and the ability to apply those to everyday life.
Titles of related interest from Waveland Press: Foss et al., Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric, 30th Anniversary Edition (ISBN 9781478615248); Foss et al., Readings in Contemporary Rhetoric (ISBN 9781577662068); and Hauser, Introduction to Rhetorical Theory, Second Edition (ISBN 9781577662211).