Abstract: In the 1980s, rhetoric scholars in the United States and Canada, including but certainly not limited to Raymie McKerrow, Maurice Charland, Michael C. McGee and Phillip Wander, began to challenge the Aristotelian paradigm that then dominated rhetorical scholarship. As is well known, Aristotle maintained that rhetoric, as an art, consisted of finding all the available means of persuasion in a given situation, arguing that rhetoric is a function of the intentions of rhetors. Under the general title ofcriticalrhetoric (83), however, a new generation of rhetoric scholars began to draw upon the insights of Continental linguists and philosophers such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan to question this intentionalist paradigm, suggesting as well that much of persuasion, and therefore much of the rhetorical enterprise, is largely unconscious and unintentional. This essay, after discussing various ways that “rhetoric” has been conceptualized in the United States and Europe, discusses the evolution of critical rhetoric and its larger relevance for rhetorical theory and criticism, paying particular attention to the most recent developments.
Key Words: Critical Rhetoric, Ideology, Rhetorical Criticism, Rhetorical Theory, the nUnconscious.
Rhetoric and Communications E-journal, Issue 13, July 2012, rhetoric.bg/, ISSN 1314-4464