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Publication Date

Spring 2011


Philip Bishop

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This thesis follows a reproduction of Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric in hopes of assisting undergraduate students of Creative Writing majors. Its model will cast types and utility of reasoning alongside respective emotions in an episodic debate under the same methodology of Aristotle, enthymeme1 and example2, and the emotions of Aristotle's study will be organized by the system of reason they produce, practical, imperfect, or perfect. I have selected this method for, although Aristotle's work studies the various elements which constitute components of emotion, his work is without a cyclic theory of emotions' interconnection.

The advantage of reproducing Aristotle's rhetoric is the opportunity to direct a perceptive study of the mechanics of human behavior, emotions, and types of reasoning to grasp the very roots of literary persuasion, as seen through fictional characters. Ideas and discussion integral to Aristotelian concepts follow three forms of emotional reason (practical, imperfect, and perfect), which will be illustrated and analyzed using excerpts from The Art of Rhetoric as well as challenging opinion.

The conclusions found by this thesis herald closely from postulates, or self-evident assumption, than from any ruling guideline. This work is not meant to say students are without other systematic and orderly procedures for composing fiction, but an Aristotelian process for attaining literary objectives is especially subjected to a multitude of psychological and social influences–– our own characters–– which, from these, helps create students' best work. In short, as a consequence of this thesis, I hope undergraduate students gain a repertoire for building graphic yet authentic characters, as well as an appreciation for literature that exemplifies characters of intense emotions and developed reason.

1 Enthymemes, Aristotle's rhetorical syllogisms; arguments based on probable opinion rather than scientific argument and aim at audience persuasion rather than scientific demonstration. 2 Example, Aristotle's rhetorical induction; a series of specific instances that form a generalization meant to be accepted as a universal conclusion.