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MARZLUF, Phillip P.

Fall 2008, 38:4, pages 385-407

Originating Difference in Rhetorical Theory: Lord Monboddo's Obsession with Language Origins Theory  

ABSTRACT: Historians of rhetoric have largely neglected eighteenth-century Language Origins Theory (LOT). Yet, as a theory that interconnects language, human nature, and human difference, LOT is an important and central inquiry to modern formations of rhetoric, particularly in how they engage with ethics of difference. Examining how the Scottish rhetorician and Enlightenment intellectual, Lord Monboddo, bases his rhetoric on an ethically problematic version of LOT, this article urges historians and students of rhetoric to be wary of the traces of LOT in canonical rhetorical histories as well as in contemporary theories and pedagogical practices.

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