In this study of thirteenth-century poetry and prose composition, William M. Purcell corrects the tendency of classical historiography to marginalize the contributions of medieval rhetoric and, specifically, to obscure the importance of ars poetriae. Defining the genre as a unique hybrid of rhetoric and grammar, he contends that it should be understood as a development important for its time and pertinent to the evolution of rhetorical theory. Purcell suggests that the medieval genre holds contemporary significance as a model for rhetorical concerns brought to light by the critiques of post-modernism and feminism.
Purcell examines the six Latin artes poetriae, or works intended to instruct students in the composition of prose and poetry. He contends that because of their position in the shift from oral to written communication, the treatises reveal much about the nature of rhetoric and grammar. Purcell comments on both their collective and individual significance and on their value for the contemporary rhetor.
William M. Purcell is associate professor of communication at Seattle Pacific University. He earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University and has served on the faculties of Augustana College and the University of Washington.
"Probes the intricacies of the ars poetriae in ways which should help the reader explore the problems of and possibilities in medieval poetics."—Paul Prill, David Lipscomb University