Enargeia in Classical Antiquity and the Early Modern Age

The Aesthetics of Evidence


The present study provides an extensive treatment of the topic of enargeia on the basis of the classical and humanist sources of its theoretical foundation. These serve as the basis for detailed analyses of verbal and pictorial works of the Classical Antiquity and the Early Modern Age. Their theoretical basis is the tradition of classical rhetoric with its principal representatives (Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian) and their reception history. The ‘enargetic’ approach to the arts may be described as rhetoric of presence and display, or aesthetics of evidence and imagination. Visual imagination plays a major role in the concepts of effect in oratory, poetry, and drama of the Classical Antiquity and the Early Modern Age. Its implementations are manifested in the Second Sophistic and in the Early Modern Age, there above all in the works of William Shakespeare.

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Heinrich F. Plett was Professor of English at the University of Essen (1972-2004) where he founded the Center for Rhetoric and Renaissance Studies. He co-founded the International Society for the History of Rhetoric in 1977. He has organized many conferences on rhetoric, poetics, and Renaissance literature and has published extensively on the same topics.
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