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Title "That the Truth of Things May Be More Fully Known:" Understanding the Role of Rhetoric in Shaping, Resolving, and Remembering the Salem Witchcraft Crisis
Publication Date
Date Available
Date Accessioned
University/Publisher Texas A&M University
Abstract This project investigates how rhetorical texts influenced the witch trials that were held in Salem in 1691-1692, how rhetoric shaped the response to this event, and how rhetorical artifacts in the twentieth and twenty first centuries have shaped American public memory of the Salem witchcraft crisis. My analysis draws from three different chronological and rhetorical viewpoints. In Chapter II, I build upon work done by scholars such as McGee, White, and Charland in the area of constitutive rhetoric to address the question of how the witchcraft crisis was initiated and fueled rhetorically. Then, as my examination shifts to the rhetorical artifacts constructed immediately after the trials in Chapter III, I rely on the tradition of apologia, rooted in the ancient Greek understanding of stasis theory to understand how rhetorical elements were utilized by influential rhetors to craft a variety of different explanations for the crisis. And finally in Chapter IV, I draw from individuals such as Halbwachs, Kammen, Zelizer, and Bodnar, working in the cross-disciplinary field of public memory, to respond to the questions of how we remember the trials today and what impact these memories have on our understanding of the themes of witchcraft and witch hunting in contemporary American society. Therefore, this project uses the lens of rhetorical analysis to provide a method for examining and understanding how individuals, both in the seventeenth century and today, have engaged in the act of updating their reflections about this facet of American history.
Subjects/Keywords Rhetoric; Constitutive Rhetoric; Apologia; Public Memory; Salem Witchcraft Trials
Contributors Aune, James A. (advisor); Dubriwny, Tasha (committee member); Jones Barbour, Jennifer (committee member); Katz, Claire (committee member)
Language en
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2010-05-7936
Repository tamu
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2017-09-06
Issued Date 2011-08-08 00:00:00

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…140 The Rhetoric of the Salem Apologists ................................................... 166 A Final Thought: Assessing the Work of the Salem Apologists .............. 201 V INTERLUDE: THE SCHOLARLY ASSESSMENT OF THE SALEM WITCHCRAFT CRISIS…

…of the late seventeenth century, witchcraft was both a crime and a This dissertation follows the style of Rhetoric and Public Affairs. 2 sin. Brian P. Levack writes that during this period, “a witch was a person who not only performed harmful magic…

…inherently rhetorical course of action. This work will examine the rhetoric surrounding the Salem witchcraft crisis to consider the role that rhetoric played in beginning and ending the crisis at Salem, and how American public memory has represented (and…

…field of study, rhetoric has always been closely linked to the practice of magic. In his Ethics of Rhetoric, Richard Weaver wrote that “rhetoric moves the soul with a movement which cannot finally be justified logically.”9 This brief statement concisely…

…acknowledged the mysterious nature of rhetoric that centuries of scholarship have attempted to define and explain. Indeed, hundreds of scholars, from Ancient Greece to modern times have devoted their lives to the elusive pursuit of a definitive understanding of…

…reasoning. Instead, these scholars often acknowledged the intangible, and even magical qualities of rhetoric in identifying speeches as “spellbinding” and speakers as “charismatic.” The fifth century Sophist, Gorgias of Leontini is often cited as the first…

…this line of reasoning, numerous rhetorical scholars have concluded that Gorgias viewed the power of rhetoric as a form of magic or witchcraft.11 Indeed, rhetorical historian Thomas Conley states that in the Gorgianic view, “the relationship between…

…from the Encomium. As this text begins, the character Socrates asks Gorgias: “what, of the things that are, does rhetoric happen to be about?”13 After a rather long analysis of the topic, Socrates rightly concludes that Gorgias believes the power of…