Neo- Aristotelian criticism has been said to be the first formal method of rhetorical criticism and was developed in the field of communication. Neo Aristotelian Criticism takes various approaches in order to understand the artifacts in the four steps process. That is selecting the artifact, analyze the artifact, and formulate the research question and finally, drafting the final essay. After the completion of following the four-step process, an analysis of the artifact is then done using the five classical rhetoric’s cannons of organization, invention, style, delivery, and memory. In simple terms, Neo- Aristotelian criticism is how one views the literature, and criticized by taking the pluralistic attitudes towards the history of literature. It also seeks to view the work of literature and critical theories intrinsically.
There are different steps, which must be followed in analyzing the artifact. First, is reconstructing the context in which the occurrences of the artifacts happened. The critic investigates in page 24 of the text, three major components of the context, which is the occasion, audience and the rhetor. Through studying the rhetor, the critic is helped to understand the audience’s history, experience and the character. One learns more about their philosophy, principles, and the rhetor’s formal training. The occasion’s elements show the critic of what influenced the rhetor. Moreover, knowing the audience also helps one to understand the reasons why rhetor chose different strategies i.e. the intention of using them.
I therefore, embarked to use a particular case in the beginning to think how, why and wo whom the rhetorical criticism has been taught although one could not locate a sindle historical study addressing all these questions. In a curious note, the work of twentieth century undertaken in speech communication was published inside the college rhetorical criticism matrials rather than the professional documentaries. An example is the Bruce Gronbeck and Malcom Sillars who provided a brief historic rhetorical criticism in the college textbook known as the Communication Criticism: Rhetoric, Social Codes, Cultural Studies of 2001 among other in the same category. However, a discussion on the book of the rhetorical criticism takes the bases of this write up in order to draw the attention of the learners on its title meaning.
The own historical sketch of the Sillars and Gronbeck’s book of communication criticism makes it difficult for many students to understand and gain the sense of history in the rhetorical criticism. For example, when Gronbeck and Sillars acknowledge that, the critical theory and practices have been existed even before the recording of history started.
The criticism of the communication was well and alive immediately the shape of oral languages started to establish. Despite these acknowledgements, Gronbeck and Sillars proceeded by later claiming that “the classical writers on rhetoric were not writing about criticism: they were explaining to citizens how to give speeches” (112). Still in the same paragraph another sentence that Gronbeck and Sillars wrote claims that “the classical writers on rhetoric were not writing about criticism: they were explaining to citizens how to give speeches.” The authors also noted that the ancient Greeks were living in a distinguished rhetorical world. One can even think about how the rhetoric worked and devised a meaningful vocabulary for its analysis, and had insights, which were important in analyzing the today’s world. One can also be note hat the adaptation is not difficult. In addition, classical writing was described as a very practical art in terms of philosophy making it very easy in applying their assumptions in most of the different contexts and times (112).
The concept of using the rhetoric by Sillars and Gronbeck was intended to mitigate the contradiction between their productions apparently. These orientations and oriented analysis statements seem to portray word “adaptation.” This allows the modern readers to adapt and interact well with the productions of Greeks’ rhetoric comparing to today’s analytical purposes.
However, the Greeks always thought of how the rhetoric worked although there was an omission of a “devised useful vocabulary” that could be later applied by the analysts.
The Sillars and Gronbeck assumed that the ancient Greeks neither taught the vocabularies to their students nor employed the vocabularies for themselves. These assumption and lack of general clarifications not only risked to confusing the college students intended to learn Communication Criticism but does not also accurately reflect the Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle as the rhetorical critics were dedicated.
Both Gronbeck and Sillars admitted that Isocrates was not only a rhetorical critic but also good for the teacher who teaches the students to both review and generate political speech. They also identified Quintilian as “another teacher” within the entire context on top of their discussion of rhetorical criticism. It is also unclear to whether the referent “another teacher” meant to motion back to Isocrates and Cicero or just Isocrates, but in any case, the Plato and Aristotle were well-known teachers.
On another account, the Gronbeck and Sillars’ argument that the classical writers on rhetoric were not critics is problematic and untruthful. This is because, in an endnote to their assertions, Gronbeck and Sillars proposed that “[t]he exceptions to this statement would be the classical treatises devoted to the study of rhetorical style, including works by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Demetrius, and Cicero (especially his Brutus, secondarily, his Orator)” (138, fn 2). The assessment fails to understand and appreciate the analysis done in the past beyond the style, which was not only taught but also practiced by the students.
The Gronbeck and Sillars’ assessment that “formal criticism,” “accurate interpretation criticism,” and “neoclassical criticism” (neo-Aristotelian criticism) are the only “three oldest approaches of criticism” also contradicts the qualification of their based style that “[t]he classical writers on rhetoric were not writing about criticism” argument (59). Gronbeck and Sillars’ mostly emphasized on the accurate interpretation of the revolving criticism around the truth concept and the extent at which can be known. The people also tries to come to terms of the accuracy of long term messages.
Grouping the different methods of criticizing the rhetoric also is a factor, which made the Gronbeck and Sillars’ Communication Criticism a problematic. This is because the rhetorical traditions, cultural traditions and social traditions might leave the students with different impressions. The limitation of rhetorical criticism also inhibits the interpretation and neoclassical criticism although there was mentioning of Raymie McKerrow interests in the “critical rhetoric” (155).
In conclusion, Gronbeck and Sillars are not alone in their historical uncertainties and misconceptions because the in-depth treatments of the rhetorical criticism have been lacking. The literary criticism of the history, for example have been published despite they do not acknowledge the historical and conceptual connections to rhetoric. It can even tend to be displeased by the connections if they acknowledge it.
Gronbeck B. and Sillars M. (2001). Communication Criticism: Rhetoric, Social Codes, Cultural Studies. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland, ISBN: 9781577661719