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The Rhetoric Against Rhetoric: The Avant-Garde Manifesto

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes that the manifestos of the so-called canonised avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s became highly rhetorical by taking advantage of the anti-rhetorical spirit of the age. Rhetoric as part of the education system and topic of learned treatises had become a &t;cultural survival&t;, an abandoned discipline which fostered conservative tendencies. Nevertheless, the use and misuse of traditional forms (sermons, lectures, forensic speeches) in the manifesto became a way of showing the maturity of language itself and a mission against naive belief in the unmanipulated content of a message. By recycling conventional forms, the manifesto questioned the author's authority and cherished both the plurality of writing subject and the crucial role of audience. It is important to emphasise this variation of modes, even when focussing on the most traditional and conventional means.

Keywords: avant-garde manifesto; cultural survival; rhetoric

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