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Rhetoric, science, & magic in seventeenth-century England /
Ryan J. Stark.
Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America Press, c2009.
vii, 234 p.
0813215781 (cloth), 9780813215785 (cloth)
More Details
Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America Press, c2009.
0813215781 (cloth)
9780813215785 (cloth)
contents note
Introduction: The new plainness -- Charmed and plain tropes -- Language reform in the late seventeenth century -- Natural magic -- Demonic eloquence -- Meric Casaubon on rhetorical enthusiasm -- John Dryden, new philosophy, and rhetoric -- Conclusion: The importance of philosophy of rhetoric.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-10-01:
In looking at development of the plain style of rhetoric in 17th-century England and at the consequent abandonment of what he calls charmed rhetoric, Stark (Pennsylvania State Univ.) argues that "plainness denoted a lack of enchantment in discourse, not an absence of figuration, and it functioned as a short-hand way of dissociating one's rhetoric from numinous modes of writing where style continued to operate as a form of sorcery, where tropes had charm, either naturally or preternaturally imbued." The author goes on to discuss Francis Bacon and the establishment of the idea of rhetorical plainness, the practice of charmed rhetoric by magicians and witches, and the championing of the plain style by Meric Casaubon and John Dryden. But though this is an important and useful study, it is marred by awkward, strident polemical statements. For example, Stark refers to deism as "the most insidious theological system of the Enlightenment" (p. 18) and asserts that Thomas Hobbes "functioned as a morality tale in the context of mainstream science, illustrating how disbelief toward wonderment, divine and demonic, soon turned into mordant materialism" (p. 30). Less experienced readers in particular will have difficulty distinguishing between careful research and personal opinion. Summing Up: Optional. Graduate students and researchers only. D. W. Hayes Lakehead University
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Choice, October 2009
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Ryan J. Stark presents a spiritually sensitive, original, and interdisciplinary discussion of early modern English rhetoric. He shows how experimental philosophers attempted to disenchant language and how mystics, wizards and other practitioners of mysterious arts vehemently opposed the rhetorical precepts of modern science.
Main Description
Rhetoric operated at the crux of seventeenth-century thought, from arguments between scientists and magicians to anxieties over witchcraft and disputes about theology. Writers on all sides of these crucial topics stressed rhetorical discernment, because to the astute observer the shape of ones eloquence was perhaps the most reliable indicator of the hearts piety or, alternatively, of demonry. To understand the periods tenor, we must understand the periods rhetorical thinking, which is the focus of this book.

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