Rhetoric arose during Antiquity. At that time, rhetoric was the same as the practical art of speaking, the ability to find the most suitable means of being convincing, in social, political and legal contexts. Even then, teaching in rhetoric quickly gained popularity, and this popularity has, except for a few periods in history, lasted.

Rhetoric is now an extensive academic subject. At Södertörn University, we define rhetoric as knowledge of argumentation; i.e. the foundation of how people create meaning by negotiating with each other about the meaning of linguistic and other social expressions. This is reflected in our primary areas of research – rhetoric for contemporary influence, rhetoric as a form of education and historical rhetoric.

Classical rhetoric and rhetoric in later period are the natural foundation of all research in rhetoric. Research in historical rhetoric at Södertörn University primarily related to Sweden’s Great Power era, and the rhetorical theory used at the time. The focus is on analysing different texts and genres from the period, as well as the role of rhetoric in the schools of the time. Contemporary research into rhetoric and education covers issues relating to civic education, critical thinking, writing research, textual analysis and research into active student influence. The research area of politics and society primarily investigates, in text and speech, issues of sustainability, democratic citizenship, rhetoric and power and gender and identity.

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