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What Is Rhetorology?

Rhetorology is a Boothian neologism that did not gain the critical traction that his other neologisms (think "implied author") have, which is a shame. The site is aptly named after this particular neologism, because the term remains a largely unknown but is enormously useful and poignant, much like Wayne Booth himself. In an essay about Booth's crisis of faith, Booth defines his approach to rhetoric as more than a study of persuasion but a means to connect those who seem stuck in oppositional ideologies; that is, Booth's rhetorology asks us to use rhetoric to truly listen to one's opponent and try to find a way to communicate on common ground:

 I've been learning the kind of rhetorical practice that these days I risk labeling with a neologism, "rhetorology": not rhetorical persuasion but rather a systematic, ecumenical probing of the essentials shared by rival rhetorics in any dispute--whether about religion or about other important matters. Though rhetorology shares many features with other "dialogical" efforts, what it perhaps most resembles is political diplomacy. But unlike skillful diplomats, rhetorologists do not just try to discover the rival basic commitments and then "bargain." Nor do they just tolerate, in a spirit of benign relativism. Instead, they search together for true grounds then labor to decide how those grounds dictate a change of mind about more superficial beliefs. Any genuine rhetorologist entering any fray is committed to the possibility of conversion to the "enemy" camp.

Our goal with this website is to engage with and spread Booth's idea of communication and rhetoric: inclusive, pluralistic, and community oriented. 

Wayne Booth smiling