Recovering Purpose: Teaching the Common Topics of Invention

Schorlemer, Blake
Access rights
Worldwide access
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

This thesis considers the principles of persuasion that are at work in a wide variety of cultural contexts, from Super Bowl advertisements to ancient epics. The tradition of classical education offers a rich approach to rhetoric through the topics of invention. The topical approach is a way of discovering arguments and is presently being taught to some extent in modern, classical schools. I contend, however, that rhetorical educators need to improve their attention to the differing purposes of forensic, demonstrative, and deliberative arguments. The purposes provide a guiding framework for rhetorical invention and make understanding the topics of invention easier for the modern student. I present three important passages from Homer's Odyssey as examples of topical mastery. I demonstrate in this thesis how the topics of invention greatly aid the creation of arguments and, furthermore, how they can help the reader uncover the deeper meaning of a text.