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Main page » Non-Fiction » Science literature » Linguistics » Elizabethan Rhetoric

Elizabethan Rhetoric


Peter Mack examines the impact of humanist training in rhetoric and argument on a range of Elizabethan prose texts, including political orations, histories, romances, conduct manuals, privy council debates and personal letters. Elizabethan Rhetoric reconstructs the knowledge, skills and approaches which an Elizabethan would have acquired in order to participate in the political and religious debates of the time: the approaches to an audience, analysis and replication of textual structures, organisation of arguments and tactics for disputation. Study of the rhetorical codes and conventions in terms of which debates were conducted is currently a major area of historical and literary enquiry, and Mack provides a wealth of new information about what was taught and how these conventions were exploited in personal memoranda, court depositions, sermons and political and religious pamphlets. This important book will be invaluable for all those interested in the culture, literature and political history of the period.


- A major contribution to the understanding of Renaissance educational theory and practice

 - Genuinely path-breaking in its study of practical and literary applications

 - Rhetoric currently one of the central concerns of both historical and literary study for the early modern period




1. Introduction

2. Rhetoric in the grammar school

3. Rhetoric and dialectic in the universities

4. English language manuals of rhetoric and dialectic

5. Everyday writing: notebooks, letters, narratives

6. Histories, conduct manuals, romances

7. Political argument

8. Elizabethan parliamentary oratory

9. Religious discourse

10. Conclusion: rhetoric, ethics and politics


‘Peter Mack has done a considerable service in this thorough survey of Elizabethan rhetoric …’ History of Political Thought


‘… this is a significant contribution to our understanding of Elizabethan thought and expression, which deserves to be read by anyone interested in that period, whatever their discipline.’ Review of English Studies

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Tags: Elizabethan, political, Rhetoric, conventions, sermons, court