the man


Community, Critical Understanding, and Rhetoric

(This site is still somewhat provisional-- fairly well populated, but not fully functional, and not yet ready for prime time; all comments are welcome at Booth-site-admin. It is the by-product of a class taught by Randy Harris in the Spring of 2003, at the University of Waterloo. It was spear-headed by three students of that class--Sara Humphreys, Karin Ikavalko, andJulie-Ann Stodolny--but everyone in that class contributed to it in various ways, with David Hoff responsible for much of the design and technical implementation. Wayne Booth was aware of this site before his death, and appreciated what we were trying to do with it, but he was in no way responsible for it.)

Wayne Clayson Booth (1921 - 2005) is one of the most consistently interesting, but also one of the most consistently underestimated, critics of the latter 20th C. A rhetor and rhetorician, a philosopher, pluralist, literary critic, editor, and English professor, his driving theme was the rhetorical resources that encourage, obstruct, or refine agreement: and, therefore, belief, knowledge, and action.

In this site we overview a range of his books, engage his issues, and seek agreement about the value of his critical pluralism, not only for understanding texts, but also for understanding each other.

One site cannot possibly encompass all aspects of Booth’s interests and expertise; therefore, this site focuses on the texts and essays produced by Booth over the course of his career and on Booth as (in his terms) a “career author.” Accordingly, the texts we discuss are primarily those by Booth, although there are also a few sections that consider theoretical engagements of Booth's work by other critics and rhetoricians.