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Rhetorical structure and function in The Anatomy of Melancholy

Gowland, A; (2001) Rhetorical structure and function in The Anatomy of Melancholy. Rhetorica - Journal of the History of Rhetoric , 19 (1) pp. 1-48. 10.1525/rh.2001.19.1.1. Green open access

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Abstract

In writing The Anatomy of Melancholy Robert Burton was working within the system of classical rhetoric as revived in the Renaissance, specifically the epideictic genus. A juxtaposition of the topics, arguments, and tripartite form employed by Burton with the treatment of epideictic in Aristotle's Rhetoric, as well as with aspects of the Roman and Hellenistic rhetorical traditions, shows how Burton has playfully adapted Renaissance conceptions of epideictic rhetoric forencyclopaedic, satirical, andself-expressive purposes. The function of rhetoric in the Anatomy is both to 'dissect' the corpus of knowledge about melancholy and to 'show forth' the author's own melancholic condition. © International Society for History of Rhetoric.

Type: Article
Title: Rhetorical structure and function in The Anatomy of Melancholy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1525/rh.2001.19.1.1
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/12370
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