Progymnasmata--an answer for today's rhetorical pedagogy?Abstract
The ancient preliminary rhetorical exercises In late classical, medieval, and Renaissance rhetorical teaching, rhetorical exercises were used to prepare the student for the real work of persuasion. These fell into two categories:
Of, relating to, or involving knowledge; cognitive.
[From Greek epistm reflections among our students. They could be received as an introduction to, and practical exercises in a more sophistic so·phis·tic or so·phis·ti·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of sophists.
2. Apparently sound but really fallacious; specious: sophistic refutations. understanding of the relation between language and reality, and in a rhetorical vein, of the paradox that tells us that language and reality are totally separate entities, and yet indissoluble in·dis·sol·u·ble
1. Permanent; binding: an indissoluble contract; an indissoluble union.
2. united; that we are masters of the paradox since it's up to us to choose the language by which we construct our reality.
Rhetoric is an old art. So is the art of teaching rhetoric. In the earliest days of this teaching there were no established pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. system, every teacher had his own method. During the Hellenistic era, when the Greek culture, as a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great, dominated the Mediterranean region, a need for a more formalistic for·mal·ism
1. Rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms, as in religion or art.
2. An instance of rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms.
3. educational program evolved. It was given the name enkyklios paidea, the comprehensive education. In this education the art of rhetoric was an essential part, together with dialectic and grammar. The rhetorical training was soon organized according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a set of distinguished exercises, which were called progymnasmata, preliminary exercises.
Progymnasmata are specific exercises with an increasing degree of difficulty, starting with the fable and narration, and via chreia and maxim, refutation ref·u·ta·tion also re·fut·al
1. The act of refuting.
2. Something, such as an argument, that refutes someone or something.
Noun 1. and confirmation, koinos topos--commonplace, encomium en·co·mi·um
n. pl. en·co·mi·ums or en·co·mi·a
1. Warm, glowing praise.
2. A formal expression of praise; a tribute. and vituperatio (praise and blaim), ethopeiaspeech--in-character and description, ending with the thesis and proposal of a law. They are mentioned the first time, to our knowledge, in the sophistic pseudo-Aristotelian Rhetorica ad Alexandrum (1436a), written during the fourth century BCE BCE
1. Bachelor of Chemical Engineering
2. Bachelor of Civil Engineering
Abbreviation for before the Common Era. . The Roman rhetoricians are well familiar with the exercises, Cicero as well as Quintilian mentions several of the exercises. The most well-known and spread version of a collection of progymnasmata is Aphthonius' from the fifth century CE. One of the reasons for his fame is that he not only describes the exercises, but he also gives model-texts to encourage the students, and give them something to imitate.
Each exercise follows a set of steps that the student is supposed to follow in building the argumentative Controversial; subject to argument.
Pleading in which a point relied upon is not set out, but merely implied, is often labeled argumentative. Pleading that contains arguments that should be saved for trial, in addition to allegations establishing a Cause of Action or text. Take the exercise chreia for example, where the student is supposed to start from, and amplify a quotation. Aphthonius' example is:
Isocrates said: "The root of education is bitter, but its fruit is sweet" Praise the one who said the words Make a paraphrase Explain the reason Bring forward an antithesis Make a comparison Give an example Adduce testimony from others Conclude with a short summary
One reason talking for the progymnasmata is its inherent pedagogical theory. Implicit suppositions in that theory are that all communication takes place within a cultural context, that this context is characterized by conflicting alternatives, and that the urge to speak and write stems from the desire to affect the course of events. As a modern reader of the program you are struck by how well thought-out the increasing degree of difficulty is, and how easy it is to replace the ancient themes with more modern ones. The ancient rhetorical exercises, like modern writing education, introduces basic rhetorical skills like narration, description, argumentation, and the students are trained in how to imagine and how to picture other peoples life and character in an understanding and persuasive way. And while this happens the students are introduced to world of rhetoric and it's vocabulary.
In the renaissance the exercises were used throughout the educational systems of Europe, and numerous editions of Aphthonius were printed. If you would have asked a European school-boy in the eighteen century who Aphthonius was, you would, perhaps with a sigh, most certainly get an answer. When the art of rhetoric was questioned in the nineteenth century, it affected the rhetorical teaching. The exercises were apprehended as stilted stilt·ed
1. Stiffly or artificially formal; stiff.
2. Architecture Having some vertical length between the impost and the beginning of the curve. Used of an arch. and schematic, and they seem to more or less vanish and be forgotten from the beginning of the twentieth century.
Today progymnasmata have received an increased interest lately. The renewed interest has been primary historical (Kennedy, Kraus, Hansson et al, Church, Woods, Burton, etc), but there is also an increased interest in the possible use of progymnasmata in today's rhetorical pedagogy (Hagaman, Comprone, Connors, D'Angelo, Crowley & Hawhee, etc). Even if there often is no clear-cut line between the two interests, it could be claimed that the latter interest, in a typical rhetorical vein, has been very much a hands-on interest, without much theoretical consideration of why the progymnasmata might well help us achieve the pedagogical goals of our teaching, something which perhaps could be considered as a shortcoming short·com·ing
A deficiency; a flaw.
a fault or weakness
Noun 1. . The present paper is intended to answer the question of why might progymnasmata be a good device in our rhetorical teaching?
To be able to answer that question we must say something about the overall aim of a rhetorical teaching, what would be the salient features, and what would be the possible outcome of such a device? A pedagogical way of making tricky questions more manageable is to construct a dichotomy, something that might help scolars-teachers-students to recognize distinct features they otherwise might have missed. Constructing dichotomies could be very effective, as long as we remember that the dichotomy is a pedagogical construct, a metaphor, and not reality itself.
One such dichotomy opposes rhetoric as an epistemic activity, and rhetoric as a device for influencing one's social surroundings. Pedagogical practice as well as theoretical considerations starting from the persuasio concept-to quote Aristotle: The art of finding the most suitable means for persuasion (Rhetoric 1355b)-could become very prescriptive in its character; rhetoric could be reduced to a number of rules which can help us to be as efficient as possible in our communication. If we are to take the epistemic ambitions of rhetoric more seriously, we rather have to highlight rhetoric as a device for helping us to be aware of differences and see possibilities. One postulate postulate: see axiom. is that our choice of language to denote some given reality will determine how we will perceive that reality. An other is that persuasio has to do with actions--to be convinced or to chose to let something be part of what we call our knowledge, is an action--and the rationale for rhetoric is to guide us, both as senders and receivers, in our choice of actions. A theoretical support for this second postulate could be found in Aristotle's Rhetoric, where he writes, "The duty of rhetoric is to deal with such matters as we deliberate upon... The subjects of deliberation are such as seem to present us with alternative possibilities" 1357a. Facts are facts and not the duty of rhetoric, but what to do, we have to decide; for example, try to create a fact with our language choices. An epistemic rhetoric will stress the importance of that language choice, and the responsibility that follows. It could help us to sense other aspects of the seemingly objective surrounding world, and by that let rhetoric be a tool for conscious reflection over possible ways of action. It stresses, in other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , less a rules governed effect, and more a broader palette to choose from.
The notion of the epistemic character of rhetoric usually is traced from the concept of logos, in which language and thought are inseparable entities (for the ancient Greeks This an alphabetical list of ancient Greeks. These include ethnic Greeks and Greek language speakers from Greece and the Mediterranean world up to about 200 AD.
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A the word logos was used to denote language, thought, and their inseparable connection; an example of the latter is the first sentence of the Gospel of John For other uses, see Gospel of John (disambiguation).
The Gospel of John (literally, According to John; Greek, Κατά Ιωαννην, Kata Iōannēn "In the beginning was the word"--'logos'. 'Lexicon', as well as 'logic', has its roots in the word 'logos'). With this logos-understanding as a central part of an argumentation pedagogy, it is easy to see that argumentation is a means for an intellectual method, a method for the thought, to recognize differences and see other possibilities in our perception of our surroundings. The perhaps most central epistemological e·pis·te·mol·o·gy
The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.
[Greek epist claim from a rhetoric perspective is that the whole triad of ethos, pathos and logos forms the ground for a reflected standpoint. Why do I believe that progymnasmata might help us with the epistemic ambitions of our rhetorical teachings? Just because it has been the program for basic rhetorical education for centuries doesn't mean it's automatically a suitable pedagogical choice for us today. On the contrary, you could expect to find good reasons for leaving the exercises behind.
One reason arguing for the progymnasmata is its mentioned inherent pedagogical theory. The progymnasmata also pay respect to aspects other than linear logic when it comes to form a reflected standpoint. It is demonstrated in the importance given to narration, in for example the exercises fable and narration. In modern rhetorical teaching there might be a risk for viewing rhetoric as a battle or a competition instead of listening and really trying to understand an imagined or actual antagonist. The progymnasmata might be a cure to such a winning and losing comprehension of the terms of communication. Throughout the exercises--see the chreia example above--there is an inventio moment, where the students are supposed to formulate anti-theses to their taken standpoints, contraries that could be seen as objections and reasonable counter-arguments, something that facilitates the understanding that there might be something to learn even from diametrically di·a·met·ri·cal also di·a·met·ric
1. Of, relating to, or along a diameter.
2. Exactly opposite; contrary.
di opposed opinions. But most of all, progymnasmata could be exercises in trying to understand, and come to turns with, the significance and impact of different language-choices when it comes to understanding and perceiving our reality, both as senders and receivers.
The transformation of the fable, by making it longer, shorten it, adding dialogue etc., is a typical example of this overarching o·ver·arch·ing
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.
2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . . goal of helping students pay attention to the significance of their language choice. Paraphrasing not only forces students to try to find the main idea and the moral of the fable, but also consider how different language choices make us perceive the transmitted way of looking at the world from a different point of view. But if progymnasmata is that constructive for our pedagogical aims, why were they abandoned? It can't just be due to a historical epistemological situation, such as the inception of modern science or the romantic movement? From the seventies and onward there has, in Sweden and elsewhere, been a blistering criticism of what has been called the knowledge of form, in contrast to knowledge of function. School knowledge has been seen as something formal that you only have use for in school, which is something totally different from how you use language in reality-language in function. The expression to practice swim strokes out of the water, has been used to try to catch that relationship. Even if I agree with some of the above critique, a contextualization Contextualization of language use
Contextualization is a word first used in sociolinguistics to refer to the use of language and discourse to signal relevant aspects of an interactional or communicative situation. of the exercises is often necessary to stimulate a reflection over the impact of the language choice for our opinions and actions.
What are the tools of a rhetorical pedagogy? From one point of view it could be said to be different devices for conscious reflection over what makes a communication-act successful, in other words metacognitive devices in the form of models and concepts that enable us and our students to analyze the communication situation, with its different purposes, senders, audiences etc. Putting it this way, the critique of more classical rhetorical pedagogy as practicing swim strokes out of the water, could be countered with the likewise effective metaphor of not wasting time and energy to reinvent the wheel (jargon) reinvent the wheel - To design or implement a tool equivalent to an existing one or part of one, with the implication that doing so is silly or a waste of time. This is often a valid criticism. . The rhetorical functions of the progymnasmata could be seen as recurring in different exercises and in different forms to give the student more and more difficult variants, with the functions forming more complicated interplay. The exercises are general enough to avoid reductionism reductionism(rē·dukˑ·sh·niˑ·z , and specific enough to preserve distinguisability.
One of the possible advantages with progymnasmata as a pedagogical program is its recognition of both the dramatic and the argumentative character of a communicative act, something which is at the very heart of rhetoric with the understanding of the whole triad ethos, pathos, logos, as grounds for a reflected standpoint. From this point of view, all acts of communication could be seen as arguments for a justified way of looking at the world, and, by that, the justification for some kind of possible attitude or way of action. In the progymnasmata, this double role is found in all exercises. The exercises are parts of a rhetorical training aiming at successful argumentative skills, and the exercises emphasize the dramatic performance of the communication. As already mentioned, one of the many possible ways to work with one of the earliest exercises in the program, the fable, is to prolong or shorten it, inserting dialogue and/or making the moral explicit. The latter two clearly catch this double function of progymnasmata as a pedagogical rhetorical device Noun 1. rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
rhetoric - study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially in public speaking) for both the dramatic and argumentative function.
The perhaps most typical example of this double function is the exercise ethopoeia, speech-in-character, where the students are supposed to write a speech of a historical or mythical person and perform it in a way that makes this person's ethos evident to the audience. Prof. Manfred Kraus had an interesting paper at the ISHR-conference (International Society for the History of Rhetoric The International Society for the History of Rhetoric was created in order to promote studies of rhetoric in theory and practice. It also emphasizes the relationship of rhetoric to other cultural contexts, such as poetics, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, politics, ) in Warsaw 2001 on the question, why are so many of the examples handed down to posterity POSTERITY, descents. All the descendants of a person in a direct line. ethopoeia with female characters? One possible answer is a strict economical one. If the schoolboys in the future were to write speeches for female clients, they had better have some praxis prax·is
n. pl. prax·es
1. Practical application or exercise of a branch of learning.
2. Habitual or established practice; custom. in how to frame the ethos of a woman. Another reason is the possibility of seeing the ethopoeia as an exercise in empathy, an exercise in not just understanding but also in seeing the world from another person's perspective and feeling the emotions that perspective offers. But the exercise is always understood, or at least could be understood as either part of an argument or as an independent argument concerned with future actions. No reflected standpoint or decision of future action takes place without for example encomium/vituperation, praise or blame.
From a rhetorical point of view, every act of communication gives the attentive audience the role of a judge, and the sender the role of an advocate for the entitlement of one way of looking at the world. The sender asks the receiver to agree with this judgment. Looking at rhetorical pedagogy this way, a key-term is choice. We are able to look at the world from many different perspectives; we have to make a choice, and we must chose a suitable language to be able to understand and deal with the possible implications on future actions that this perspective offers. In the same way, we are as receivers responsible for how we choose to interpret, understand and judge the choice of the sender. To put it programmatically Using programming to accomplish a task. : The main concern for a rhetorical pedagogy is to help us see differences, make the most constructive choices, and take responsibility for those choices (one way of understanding the well-known Quintilian vir bonus-concept), and the role or impact the language choice has in this process.
Focusing students' attention on the decisions that make up a text, the meaning and quality of these decisions, generates analytical understanding of text production emphasizing judgment and artistry, with the purpose of developing the students ability to judge and make good decisions. In some contexts it could be problematic to speak of 'a good decision'; the choice of words Noun 1. choice of words - the manner in which something is expressed in words; "use concise military verbiage"- G.S.Patton
phraseology, wording, diction, phrasing, verbiage could easily lead to the apprehension of one good decision, in line with the philosophical understanding of the singularity (1) See technology singularity.
(2) (Singularity) An experimental operating system from Microsoft for the x86 platform written almost entirely in C#, a .NET managed code language. Released in 2007, Singularity is a non-Windows research project. of truth. From a rhetorical point of view there is of course no such thing. The rhetorical epistemology epistemology (ĭpĭs'təmŏl`əjē) [Gr.,=knowledge or science], the branch of philosophy that is directed toward theories of the sources, nature, and limits of knowledge. Since the 17th cent. could be framed as perspectivism This article or section may be confusing or unclear for some readers.
Please or discuss this issue on the talk page. , that the 'truth' and 'a good decision' depends upon the chosen perspective, which leaves us with a number of truths and good decisions. But just because there are a number of right decisions does not disqualify To deprive of eligibility or render unfit; to disable or incapacitate.
To be disqualified is to be stripped of legal capacity. A wife would be disqualified as a juror in her husband's trial for murder due to the nature of their relationship. from the responsibility to choose, and there are wrong decisions being made (we have all experienced that, after all). Nevertheless, rhetorical perspectivism is not a nihilistic ni·hil·ism
a. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.
b. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.
2. relativism relativism
Any view that maintains that the truth or falsity of statements of a certain class depends on the person making the statement or upon his circumstances or society. Historically the most prevalent form of relativism has been See also ethical relativism. where everything could be equally good or true. Accordingly, progymnasmata could be seen as a series of exercises which could help us how to recognize the impact of different language-choices on our perception and construction of a reality. I have mentioned a few of the exercises, and I hope the examples were clear enough to indicate that this goes for the rest of the exercises.
Aristotle. Rhetoric (trans. Rhys, R. W.). In: The Complete Works of Aristotle. The Revised Oxford Translation (Ed. Barnes, J.). Princetown University Press 1984.
Burton, Gideon. Unpublished paper at the ISHR-conference in Warzaw, Poland, 2001.
Church, Alan. Unpublished paper at the ISHR-conference in Warzaw, Poland, 2001.
Conley, Thomas. "Rhetoric in the European Tradition". The University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including 1990.
Corbett, Edward J, och och
Scot & Irish an expression of surprise, annoyance, or disagreement Robert J Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 4th ed. Oxford University Press 1999.
Crowley, Sharon, och Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 2nd ed. Allyn and Bacon 1999.
D'Angelo, Frank. Composition in the Classical Tradition. Allyn & Bacon 2000.
Hagaman, John. "Moders Use of the 'Progymnasmata' in Teaching Rhetorical Inventio". Rhetorical Review, 5.1 (1986): 22-29.
Hansson, Stina. Head of the Swedish Progymnasmata Project, sponsored by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary ter·cen·ten·a·ry
n. pl. ter·cen·ten·a·ries
A 300th anniversary or its celebration.
Of or relating to a span of 300 years or to a 300th anniversary. Foundation. Comprone, "'Elementary Exercises' and In-Process Composing". Freshman English News, 17.1 (1988): 11-13.
Kennedy, George. Progymnasmata: Greek textbooks of prose composition introductory to the study of rhetoric. Tuscalum: Museum Press 2000.
Kraus, Manfred. Unpublished paper at the ISHR-conference in Warzaw, Poland, 2001.
Woods, Marjorie. "Later Middle Ages Poetic Composition Teaching". In A Short History of Writing Instruction. Murphy, J. J. (ed.). Davis: Hermagoras Press 1990.
Anders Sigrell, Umea University, Sweden
Anders Sigrell is assistant professor in Rhetoric at the Dep. of Scandinavian Studies Scandinavian studies is an interdisciplinary academic field of area studies that covers topics related to Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, including their languages, literature, history, culture and society, in countries other than these. . He spent the academic year 2001-2002 as a Visiting Scholar A visiting scholar, in the world of academia, is a scholar from an institution who visits a receiving university that hosts him where he or she is projected to teach (visiting professor), lecture (visiting lecturer), or perform research (visiting researcher at the Dep. of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin “University of Texas” redirects here. For other system schools, see University of Texas System.
The University of Texas at Austin (often referred to as The University of Texas, UT Austin, UT, or Texas . He is currently working in the Swedish Progymnasmata project "From Aphtonius to the Writing Process," sponsored by The Swedish Tercentary Foundation.