Rhetorical Origins


Rhetorical Origins

Diary of Samuel “Peeps” Pepys

"Samuel Pepys of Brampton in Huntingdonshire, Esq., Secretary of the Admiralty to his Matr. King Charles the Second: Descended from ye antient family of Pepys of Cottenham in Cambridgeshire."

1663/February 21

Among other talk this evening, my lady did speak concerning Commissioner Pett's calling the present King bastard, and other high words heretofore; and Sir W. Batten did tell us, that he did give the Duke or Mr. Coventry an account of that and other like matters in writing under oath, of which I was ashamed, and for which I was sorry, but I see there is an absolute hatred never to be altered there, and Sir J. Minnes, the old coxcomb, has got it by the end, which troubles me for the sake of the King's service, though I do truly hate the expressions laid to him.

Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647

CHAPTER XXII; Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calleth God to witness what he asserteth, or promiseth; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.

II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence. Therefore, to swear vainly or rashly, by that glorious and dreadful Name; or, to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred. Yet, as in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old; so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters ought to be taken.

III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act; and therein to avouch nothing, but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to anything but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet is it a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.

IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to sin: but in anything not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man's own hurt. Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.

V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.

Term “Creative Nonfiction” Rhetorical Origin from “Switchbacks

Seymour Krim and The New Yorker put the final polish on Literary Nonfiction in the 1960s. J.R. Humphreys, from Columbia University, coined the term “imaginative nonfiction” to distinguish it from journalism and to describe the kind of writing that Seymour Kim, one of the best and earliest practitioners of the form, was doing in the late 1970s. When Krim came to Columbia to teach a writing course, Humphreys observed his methods and suggested the term “creative nonfiction” to make it clear that the form Krim was teaching was creative writing. Michael Stephens, “A Different Kind of Two-fisted, Two-breasted Terror: Seymour Krim and Literary Nonfiction,” wrote that when Krim taught the form, he framed it as something more than “creative and good”; he believed that “American letters would be found in this gap in which facts merged with fictional technique” (49). Stephens traces the progression of Krim’s writing to come to an understanding of the term Creative Nonfiction (55). Krim called Creative Nonfiction “the real truth” and what newspapers journalist wrote “the official truth” (55). Humphreys said that Creative Nonfiction was “prose writing with a voice, voice being the foundation of all creative writing” (56). Imaginative writing, Creative Nonfiction, as Krim called it, was “the self revealed“ (60). He believed that nonfiction prose had to be as good as poetry. This trace of the term and its meaning is an important fact for Literary Nonfiction practitioners. This, coupled with Krim’s own trace of the practice as beginning in and emerging through The New Yorker, defines, once and for all, the form’s modern origin.

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