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Editorial Bodies in Ancient Roman Rhetorical Culture

Kennerly, Michele Jean (2011) Editorial Bodies in Ancient Roman Rhetorical Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The template of the body—swollen or emaciated, weak or strong, gangly or graceful—forms and informs rhetorical composition and criticism throughout antiquity. Driving this corporeal tendency is the papyrus book-roll, which makes fully palpable the size of a written discourse and allows for the careful scrutiny of its parts and their arrangement. This dissertation focuses on several key episodes when rhetoric's evaluative corporeal vocabulary becomes explicitly editorial, as demonstrated by representations of "corpus care." In a bodily idiom, certain ancient writers purport to reveal the time and labor they have spent preparing a text for publication or to demean writers who do not bother with textual polish. These representations participate in larger stylistic debates of their respective days and pertain to the rhetorical negotiation of public standards of aesthetic accountability in the wide wake of the book-roll. The study starts in fifth and fourth century Athens and by showcasing Isocrates' "philoponic rhetoric," a network of terms through which Isocrates draws attention to the exhaustive editorial efforts required to produce his political discourses. From there, the study moves to Rome. Catullus puts forth an "abrasive poetics," a harsh approach to his own poems and to the rough pages of others that he deems unfit for circulation. The next chapter transitions into the Octavian/Augustan era and to Horace, whose endorsement of the editing file is a statement of authorial principle to which he gives civic charge by appealing to Octavian's/Augustus' sensitivities about Roman supremacy in matters military and literary. Lastly, I turn to Ovid, relegated from Rome by Augustus to the outskirts of Roman influence. Across the miles, Ovid sends numerous book-rolls, all of which use dimensions of textuality—most poignantly, editing—to attempt to get their writer recalled to Rome. The study concludes by emphasizing the importance of understanding the papyrus book-roll as a rhetorical medium in and of itself and when represented in ancient writings.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kennerly, Michele
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPoulakos, John
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordon
Committee MemberLyne, John
Committee MemberSmethurst, Mae
Committee MemberPossanza, Mark
Date: 30 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 August 2010
Approval Date: 30 January 2011
Submission Date: 6 December 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: book-roll; corporeality; editing; literary criticism; materiality; poetics
Other ID:, etd-12062010-223728
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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