Embodied Rhetorics in the long Eighteenth Century (Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
September 17, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
ASECS (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)
contact email: 

Where and why do we find examples of “embodied rhetoric” in the eighteenth century? We might think of Defoe’s description of Friday’s gesture placing his head beneath Robinson Crusoe’s foot signifying voluntary servitude and its relation to the supplicating figure of “Am I not a Man and a Brother” emblem, memoralized by Wedgewood. Or we might consider Trim’s gesture with his hat in Tristram Shandy describing how we pass from life to death, and onwards to Gilbert Austin’s Chironomia as a handbook for speaking gesture (building upon Bulwer’s Chirologia) as figures for something like “embodied rhetoric” or an emphasis on gesture and persuasive or signifying postures.

How do we think about literary descriptions, elocutionary training, satirical prints, theatrical portraits, or historical paintings as exemplifying and figuring rhetorical delivery and effective speaking? How was ‘rhetoric’ in the sense of performed speech or persuasive writing divorced from or dependent upon embodiment? Which bodies were ‘speaking bodies’ and under what conditions?

Presentations that engage literary works, visual images, or ekphrastic moments are invited to help us think about the relation of embodiment to persuasion and effective representation. 


NOTE: Roundtables are shorter presentations, aro 7-10 minutes depending on the number of presenters with more extensive discussion expected.