"Western culture, after the invention of writing and before the industrial revolution, made a science or 'art' of its orality. . . . From antiquity through the Renaissance and to the beginnings of romanticism, under all teaching about the art of verbal expression there lies the more or less dominant supposition that the paradigm of all expression is the oration."
1. According to Ong, traditional training in rhetoric, which emphasizes combativeness and advocacy, had benefits for literature, since it tended to create the excitement of clashing ideas, but it also set limits to what literature could do. For example, "students were almost never taught objective description or reportorial narration: the object of education was to get them to take a stand, as an orator might, and defend it, or to attack the stand of another" ("Oral Residue in Tudor Prose Style," 28).
2. Ong further emphasizes that rhetorical training also creates a kind of style characterized by formulae and their accumulation (Oral Residue in Tudor Prose Style," 34-35).
3. The formulaic aspects of rhetoric led to the deveopment of complex classifications of the tropes and other devices.
Last modified 1988