Writing Instruction in Nineteenth-Century American Colleges

Defining a rhetoric as a social invention arising out of a particular time, place, and set of circumstances, Berlin notes that -no rhetoric--not Plato's or Aris-totle's or Quintilian's or Perelman's--is permanent.- At any given time several rhetorics vie for supremacy, with each attracting adherents representing vari-ous views of reality expressed through a rhetoric.Traditionally rhetoric has been seen as based on four interacting elements: -re-ality, writer or speaker, audience, and language.- As emphasis shifts from one element to another, or as the interaction between elements changes, or as the def-initions of the elements change, rhetoric changes. This alters prevailing views on such important questions as what is ap-pearance, what is reality.In this interpretive study Berlin classi-fies the three 19th-century rhetorics as classical, psychological-epistemological, and romantic, a uniquely American development growing out of the transcen-dental movement. In each case studying the rhetoric provides insight into society and the beliefs of the people.