Recanonizing Rhetoric: The Secret in and of Discourse

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Challenges to rhetoric’s canon often occur under the rubric of revising that canon and its foundational, shared meaning. Read through the strategies of deconstruction, the secret offers a common ground for recanonizing approaches by centering either a concealed quantity in ancient rhetoric’s granular archive (the secret in discourse) or an unfolding idea whose transformation has rendered it unrecognizable to its original version (the secret of discourse). This article draws on Jacques Derrida’s “White Mythology” (1974) and A Taste for the Secret (2001) before addressing how the secret’s registers in and of discourse animate de- and recanonizing readings of ancient Greek and Roman rhetoric. Its implications address scholars distressed by the durable forms of oppression ensconced in rhetoric’s ancient canon.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-370
Number of pages24
JournalJournal for the History of Rhetoric
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 15 2022


  • secret
  • revisionist historiography
  • ancient rhetoric
  • deconstruction
  • metaphor


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