COLLOQUIUM: Rita Copeland, UPENN, "Aristotle’s Rhetoric and the Medieval Preacher"

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

What did Aristotle’s Rhetoric mean to medieval preachers?  Clerical readers certainly absorbed it, as patterns of manuscript ownership tell us.  But what did it offer them that was new?  The Rhetoric offered a new kind of art of persuasion when it came on the scene in the Latin West at the end of the thirteenth century.  Its distinctive treatment of emotion would certainly speak to the professional needs of preachers, and they would see their own pragmatic knowledge of human behavior reflected there. For preachers, the Rhetoric articulated a theory of affective appeal and explained the technical devices that make emotional argument successful.  This new theoretical resource shaped pastoral outlooks, as revealed in the careers of some outstanding preachers, including Bridget of Sweden’s own confessor and early apologist.