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Rhetoric is a subject researched across disciplinary boundaries: history, literature, philosophy, linguistics, political science, international relations, sociology, anthropology and others. There are also many examples of rhetoric in action that should be part of rhetorical study. And, of course, there are various books and websites dedicated to teaching people how to become better rhetoricians.

Below we indicate a few places where anyone who is interested in the content of this website might like to go next.

Publications related to ‘The Leader Speaks’ research project

Listed below are publications related to the research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which led to this website. These include works that stemmed directly from the project but also work by the lead investigators that led up to it. 

Judi Atkins and Alan Finlayson, ‘“…A 40-year-old black man made the point to me”: Anecdotes, Everyday Knowledge and the Performance of Leadership in British Politics’, Political Studies, forthcoming.

Judi Atkins, ‘A Renewed Social Democracy for an “Age of Internationalism”: An Interpretivist Account of New Labour’s Foreign Policy’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, forthcoming 2013.

Judi Atkins, Justifying New Labour Policy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2011).

Judi Atkins, ‘Moral Argument and the Justification of Policy: New Labour’s Case for Welfare Reform,’ British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 12, 3, 2010, pp. 408-424. 

Judi Atkins, ‘How Virtue Theoretic Arguments may be used in the Justification of Policy', Politics, Vol. 28(3), 2008, pp. 129-137.

Alan Finlayson, ‘Rhetoric and the Political Theory of Ideologies’, Political Studies, forthcoming. 

Alan Finlayson and Elizabeth Frazer, ‘Fictions of Sovereignty: Shakespeare, Theatre and the Representation of Rule’, Parliamentary Affairs, 2011, 64(2), pp. 233-47. 

Alan Finlayson, ‘Rhetoric’ in Michael Freeden and Marc Stears (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Alan Finlayson and James Martin, ‘ “It Ain’t What You Say…”: British Political Studies and the Analysis of Speech and Rhetoric’, British Politics, Vol. 3, 2008, pp. 445-464.

Alan Finlayson, ‘Rhetorical Radical Democracy’ in Adrian Little and Moya Lloyd (eds.) The Politics of Radical Democracy, Edinburgh University Press, 2008, pp. 13-32.

Alan Finlayson, ‘Politics as an Argument about the Common Good’, in Daniel Leighton and Stuart White (eds.) Building a Citizen Society, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 2008, pp. 157-165.

Alan Finlayson, ‘From Beliefs to Arguments: Interpretive Methodology and Rhetorical Political Analysis’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 9(4), 2007, pp. 545-563.

Alan Finlayson, ‘For the Sake of Argument: re-imagining political communication’, Soundings, 2006, pp. 34-43.

Alan Finlayson, ‘“What’s the Problem?” Rhetoric and Problem-Setting in Northern Ireland’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 9(4), 2006, pp. 541-548.

Alan Finlayson, ‘Political Science, Political Ideas and Rhetoric’, Economy and Society, Vol. 33(4), 2004, pp. 528-549.

Alan Finlayson, ‘Elements of the Blairite Style of Leadership’, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 55(3), 2002, pp. 586-599.

Alan Finlayson, ‘The Problem of the Political Interview’, Political Quarterly, Vol. 72(3), 2001, pp. 335-345.

General Online Resources

There are various sites of interest to the practical rhetorician.

The recently founded UK Speechwriters Guild promotes good speechwriting and organises events and talks to further understanding.

The Government Communication Network is in charge of government communications including some speechwriting.

Max Atkinson, who has written influential books on how to win over audiences, and who has advised various politicians, blogs here.

Excellent resources on American rhetoric, including an enviable online resource of exemplary speeches can be found at AmericanRhetoric.Com, and, for a specific focus on political rhetoric, go to the archive at PresidentialRhetoric.com.

Archives of British political speech are somewhat scattered, but there are some excellent resources. The website of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation has a record of almost everything she said in public and is well worth investigating.

Classical Rhetoric Online

Rhetoric’s bad name was given to it in ancient Athens. The definitive critique was launched by Plato in The Gorgias but Aristotle’s Rhetoric provides an alternative view. The most eloquent defender of the rhetorically able statesman was the Roman politician Cicero, in his history of great orators, Brutus.

An excellent resource for learning about classical and contemporary rhetoric is provided by Brigham Young University and goes by the name The Forest of Rhetoric. As the site indicates rhetorical analysts have many, many terms for each and every turn of phrase or arrangement of words. You can learn the difference between Hypallage and Hyperbaton or paranomasia and paraprosdokian by using this online glossary provided by Classics scholars at the University of Kentucky.

Rhetoric and British Politics

Research into rhetoric in British Politics is somewhat scattered across fields and locations. There are also a wide variety of approaches to, and motivations for, its study. Here are a range of places where the curious might first look: 

Fairclough, Norman (2000) New Labour, New Language? (London: Routledge).

Faucher-King, Florence (2005) Changing parties : an anthropology of British political party conferences, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.

Greatbatch, David and Heritage, John (1986) ‘Generating Applause: A Study of Rhetoric and Response at Party Conferences’, The American Journal of Sociology, 92, pp. 110-157.

McLean, Iain (2001) Rational Choice and British Politics: An analysis of rhetoric and manipulation from Peel to Blair, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Myers, Frank (2000) Harold Macmillan's "Winds of Change" Speech: A Case Study in the Rhetoric of Policy Change, Rhetoric & Public Affairs 3.4, pp. 555-575.

McLean, Iain (2001) Rational Choice and British Politics: An analysis of rhetoric and manipulation from Peel to Blair, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Mack, Peter (2002) Elizabethan Rhetoric: Theory and Practice, Cambridge University Press. 

Musolf, Karen (1999) From Plymouth to Parliament: A Rhetorical History of Nancy Astor's 1919 Campaign, London, Macmillan.

Studying Political Language

Within the field of linguistics one can find a range of studies of political language and some of the best work takes Britain as its focus. 

Beard, Adrian (1999) The Language of Politics, Routledge.

Chilton, Paul (2003) Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice, Routledge

Charteris-Black, Jonathan (2004) Politicians and Rhetoric: The Persuasive Power of Metaphor, London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Rhetoric and Psychology

Billig, Michael (1987) Arguing and Thinking: A Rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Billig, Michael (1991) Ideology and Opinions, London, Sage.

Potter, Jonathan (1996) Representing Reality: Discourse, Rhetoric and Social Construction, London, Sage.

Potter, Jonathan and Margaret Wetherell (1987),  Discourse and Social Psychology: Beyond Attitudes and Behaviour, London, Sage.

Theories of Rhetoric

Bender, J. and Wellbery, D.E. (eds.) (1990) The Ends of Rhetoric; History, Theory, Practice, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Fish, Stanley (1989) Doing What Comes Naturally: Change, Rhetoric and the Practice of Theory in Literary and Legal Studies, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Grassi, Ernesto (2001) Rhetoric as Philosophy: The Humanist Tradition, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 

Hart, Roderick P. (1997), Modern Rhetorical Criticism, Allyn and Bacon.

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1980) Metaphors We Live By, London: University of Chicago Press.

Lucaites, John et. al. (eds.) Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, London: Guilford Press.   

McGee, Michael (1980) 'The "Ideograph": A Link between Rhetoric and Ideology', Quarterly Journal of Speech 66, pp. 1-16.

McGee, Michael (1982) ‘A Materialist's Conception of Rhetoric’ in  Ray E. McKerrow (ed.) Explorations in Rhetoric: Studies in Honor of Douglas Ehninger, Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, pp. 23-48.

Nelson, John. S., Megill, Allan and McCloskey, Donald (eds.) (1991), The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences: Language and Argument in Scholarship and Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin Press.

Perelman, C. and  Olbrechts-Tyteca, L (1969) The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation, London: University of Notre Dame Press.

Richards, I.A. (1936) The Philosophy of Rhetoric, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rhetoric and the Media

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall (1990) Eloquence in an Electronic Age : The Transformation of Political Speechmaking, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Practical Rhetoric

Lakoff, George (2004) Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, Chelsea Green Pub Co.

Atkinson, Max (1984) Our Masters’ Voices: The Language and Body Language of Politics, London: Methuen. 

Atkinson, Max (2004) Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know About Making Speeches and Presentations, London: Vermilion.

Rhetoric and Political Leadership

Hariman, Robert (1995) Political Style: The Artistry of Power, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall and Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs (1990) Deeds Done in Words : Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of Governance, Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.

Medhurst, Martin J. (1994) Eisenhower's War of Words: Rhetoric and Leadership, Michigan State University Press.

Medhurst, Martin J. (2006) The Rhetorical Presidency of George H. W. Bush, Texas A&M University Press.

Zarefsky, David (2004) ‘Presidential Rhetoric and the Power of Definition', Presidential Studies Quarterly, 34, 3, pp. 607-619.

Rhetoric and Political Theory

Brown, Richard Harvey (1997) ‘New Roles for Rhetoric: From Academic Critique to Civic Affirmation’, Argumentation, 11, pp. 9-22.

Chambers, Simone (2009) ‘Rhetoric and the Public Sphere: Has Deliberative Democracy Abandoned Mass Democracy?’, Political Theory, 37, 3, 323-350;

Dryzek, John (2010) ‘Rhetoric in Democracy: A Systemic Appreciation’, Political Theory, 38, 3, 319-339. 

Lakoff, George (2002) Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think,  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Norval, Aletta (2000) ‘Review Article: The Things We Do With Words: Contemporary Approaches to the Analysis of Ideology’, British Journal of Political Science, 30, pp. 313-346.

Palonen, Kari (2003) Quentin Skinner: History, Politics, Rhetoric, Cambridge: Polity Press. 

Skinner, Quentin (1999) Rhetoric and Conceptual Change. Finnish Yearbook of Political Thought, 3, pp. 60-73. 

Skinner, Quentin (1996): Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Shapiro, Michael J. (1981) Language and Political Understanding: the Politics of Discursive Practices, London: Yale University Press.

Shapiro, Michael J. (ed.) (1984) Language and Politics, Oxford: Macmillan. 

Skinner, Quentin (2002) Visions of Politics: Regarding Method Vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Yack, Bernard (2006) ‘Rhetoric and Public Reasoning: An Aristotelian Understanding of Political Deliberation’,
Political Theory, 34, pp. 417-438.

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