1. Principles of Rhetorical Reading

  1. James Phelan

Published Online: 1 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch1

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

Reading the American Novel 1920-2010

How to Cite

Phelan, J. (2013) Principles of Rhetorical Reading, in Reading the American Novel 1920-2010, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118512876.ch1

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631230670

Online ISBN: 9781118512876



  • novel;
  • rhetorical reading


This chapter discusses seven related principles of rhetorical reading. Then, it presents a detailed account of the general model that the author employs throughout his analyses of the individual novels. The goal of rhetorical reading is neither to establish the brilliance of the implied author and the perfection of the novel, nor to establish the superiority of the critic's politics, ethics, or general world view to those of the implied author. Its goal is to illuminate the potential for productive, multi-layered communicative exchanges between implied authors and actual audiences, and its strategy is to respect the implied author and the novel without unduly disrespecting or over-respecting them. In this sense, rhetorical reading's chief ethical value is justice.