A frivolous argument or inflated claim is often dismissed with the reply, "That's just rhetoric!" But as Scott Crider explains in The Office of Assertion, the classical tradition of rhetoric is both a productive and a liberal art. The ability to employ rhetoric successfully can enable the student, as an effective communicator, to reflect qualities of soul through argument. In that sense, rhetoric is much more than a technical skill.
Crider addresses the intelligent university student with respect and humor. This short but serious book is informed by both the ancient rhetorical tradition and recent discoveries concerning the writing process. Though practical, it is not simply a "how-to" manual; though philosophical, it never loses sight of writing itself. Crider combines practical guidance about how to improve an academic essay with reflection on the final purposes —educational, political, and philosophical—of such improvement.
What They're Saying...
“Mr. Crider’s Office of Assertion is the best guide to the writing of essays that I have ever seen, in many years of college and university teaching at Columbia and Dartmouth. It is designed for good students at either of those levels. It goes beyond the essential preliminaries to the elements that produce a genuinely good writer, and, far from being dogmatic, it is exploratory and immensely practical.”
— Jeffrey Hart, Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College and author of Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe: Toward the Revival of Higher Education
“Scott Crider has done what I thought impossible: he has found the strong elements of current composition theory and folded them into crisp, cogent account of traditional rhetoric. The result is a brief, lucid, yet thorough introduction to rhetoric for students, as well as a handy refresher for their professors.”
— R.V. Young, Professor of English, North Carolina State University
"In The Office of Assertion: the Art of Rhetoric Scott Crider has written a brief, elegant text on a topic all too often treated esoterically. He adjures readers, in a reference to Wendell Berry, to 'stand by' their words, proceeding to demonstrate the way in which clarity and conviction, logos and lexis, can be welded together in 'soul-leading.' The process makes of rhetoric a liberal art as well as a formidable instrument of persuasion. Particularly helpful is his chapter on revision, in which he makes clear that style is no mere decoration but a final result of both insight and labor. Though primarily intended for college students charged with creating that 'small universe' of the academic essay, The Office of Assertion becomes in the end a guide to truthful utterance on all levels, with skill in language leading to fuller participation in culture and a nobler concept of the human."
— Louise Cowan, Professor of English , University of Dallas co-author of Invitation to the Classics