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Winter 2016, 46.5, pages 465-485

Revisiting Edwin Black: Exhortation as a Prelude to Emotional-Material Rhetoric

Abstract: This essay extends efforts to facilitate emotional–material frameworks of rhetoric informed by strides in rhetorical and biological studies respectively. Specifically, I examine Edwin Black’s theory of exhortation in light of neurological theories of affect, emotion contagion, and embodiment. I argue Black’s theory offers a prescient precursor to emotional-material rhetoric, while also subject to revision in light of recent advances in neuroscience. I present two claims. First, I argue emotionally grounded rhetoric can exhort emotional-discursive connections and preference judgments absent the need to convert emotional experiences into formal beliefs. Second, I argue physiological indicators are at least as important as verbal discourse in facilitating emotional exhortation. Finally, I conclude with some theoretical implications for the emotional-material study of rhetoric.

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