From Oratory to Writing

An Overview of Chinese Classical Rhetoric (500 BCE–220 CE)

Authored by: Hui Wu

The Routledge Handbook of Comparative World Rhetorics

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  June  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367409029
eBook ISBN: 9780367809768
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides a brief overview of Chinese rhetoric from the Warring States period to the neoclassical (Han) period (500 BCE-220 CE). Just as classical Greek rhetoric that has enduring influence on Western academic and literary practices, so too has classical Chinese rhetoric. Examining classics, including Guo Yu (Expositions of the States), Zuo Zhuan, the Analects (of Confucius), Guiguzi, Hanfeizi, and other treatises, as well as those by women teachers of rhetoric, this study demonstrates that the transformation of rhetorical genres of oratory and writing in the Chinese tradition remains fluid in response to the changing sociopolitical environments of time. The Chinese case study proves that an unbiased historical examination of indigenous rhetorical artifacts can prevent applying Western traditional rhetorical concepts universally across the cultures, revealing meaningful dimensions of rhetorical actions for comparative studies on an equal ground.

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