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WHITBURN, Merrill D.

Fall 2004, pages 55 - 70

Rhetorical Theory in Yale's Graduate Schools in the Late Nineteenth Century:
The Example of William C. Robinson's Forensic Oratory

ABSTRACT:Although conventional views about nineteenth-century rhetoric highlight a shift from oratory to composition and from classical rhetoric with origins in Cicero and Quintilian to a "new" rhetoric with origins in Campbell, Blair, and Whately (with an attendant loss of scholarship and quality), William C. Robinson's Forensic Oratory (1893) can be grouped with a growing number of works that complicate such views. Robinson continues to emphasize oratory and to derive his theory from Cicero and Quintilian, using a complex of ideas called "uniformitarianism" to justify his direct appropriation of classical ideas. The resulting rhetoric lacks neither responsible scholarship nor high quality.