Michele Kennerly

Nov 5, 2021

Editorial Bodies

Perfection and Rejection in Ancient Rhetoric and Poetics

University of South Carolina Press 2018

Though typically considered oral cultures, ancient Greece and Rome also boasted textual cultures, enabled by efforts to perfect, publish, and preserve both new and old writing. In Editorial Bodies: Perfection and Rejection in Ancient Rhetoric and Poetics (University of South Carolina Press, 2018) Michele Kennerly argues that such efforts were commonly articulated through the extended metaphor of the body. They were also supported by people on whom writers relied for various kinds of assistance and necessitated by lively debates about what sort of words should be put out and remain in public. 

Spanning ancient Athenian, Alexandrian, and Roman textual cultures, Kennerly shows that orators and poets attributed public value to their seemingly inward-turning compositional labors. After establishing certain key terms of writing and editing from classical Athens through late republican Rome, Kennerly focuses on works from specific orators and poets writing in Latin in the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E.: Cicero, Horace, Ovid, Quintilian, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger. The result is a rich and original history of rhetoric that reveals the emergence and endurance of vocabularies, habits, and preferences that sustained ancient textual cultures. This major contribution to rhetorical studies unsettles longstanding assumptions about rhetoric and poetics of this era by means of generative readings of both well-known and understudied texts.

Lee M. Pierce (she/they) is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Geneseo specializing in rhetoric, race, and U.S. political culture. They also host the Media & Communications and Language channels for New Books Network and their own podcast titled RhetoricLee Speaking.

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Lee Pierce

Lee M. Pierce (she/they) is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Geneseo specializing in rhetoric, race, and U.S. political culture. They also host the Media & Communications and Language channels for New Books Network and their own podcast titled RhetoricLee Speaking.
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