Historical Rhetorics/Rhetoric During the Birth of the Modern University/Mailloux, Steven. “Humanist Controversies: The Rhetorical Humanism of Ernesto Grassi and Michael Leff.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 45.2 (2012). 134-147.
Mailloux, Steven. “Humanist Controversies: The Rhetorical Humanism of Ernesto Grassi and Michael Leff.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 45.2 (2012). 134-147.
In this article, Steven Mailloux considers the work of Ernesto Grassi and Michael Leff as successful interpretations of rhetorical humanism in comparison to Martin Heidegger’s anti-humanism. He provides context for the work of both scholars by contrasting Heidegger and Grassi, followed by a comparison to Leff. Heidegger believes humanism boils down to the distinction between being and Being, while Grassi and Leff have a deeper interpretation. Grassi believes Heidegger’s stance is invalid and does not apply to Italian humanism (137-138). Mailloux presents Leff’s concerns with humanistic rhetoric and agency, saying there is a “productively ambiguous notion of agency” that creates space for the orator to be both a leader and member of the audience (141). Ultimately Mailloux argues Grassi and Leff “not only revitalize rhetorical humanism in the present age but also provide valuable resources for its extension into the foreseeable future” (144).
Questions: • Mailloux references Leff’s application of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches in which Leff states Lincoln used both agency and tradition in his rhetorical argument when he called the Declaration of Independence “immortal emblem of Humanity” to speak out against slavery (143).
Can we think of examples within our texts this semester that exemplify this interpretation of humanistic rhetoric?
• The article is concluded by drawing attention to this “foreseeable future” that we could apply his and Grassi/Leff’s work to (144). Although this was published fairly recently (2012), do we see the impacts of their work today? What are the implications of Grassi (and what we know about Leff) in our own writing? In our classrooms?