Historical Rhetorics/Should We Read Quintilian?/*Nash Smith, Jessica. “(Dis)membering Quintilian’s Corpus: Ramus Reads the Body Rhetoric.”
Nash Smith, Jessica. “(Dis)membering Quintilian’s Corpus: Ramus Reads the Body Rhetoric.” Exemplararia 11.2 (1999): 399-429. Print.
Nash Smith explores how Quintilian’s creation of a rhetorical body metaphorically directs his entire project.
Nash Smith discusses Ramus's desires to “[unravel] the social web from which Quintilian sees rhetorical acts suspended” (403); Quintilian’s text emphasizes the power of social forces to transform language, and, consequently, the principles of Institution oratoria threaten Ramus’s view of a “firm” truth that “cannot be refuted or disproved” (qtd. In Nash Smith 407).
By casting rhetoric in language of the body, Quintilian expands the role of rhetoric to include human growth and development. Nash Smith refers to Quintilian’s argument for a more holistic rhetoric in Book I. There Quintilian describes rhetoric’s current condition with words, such as “impair,” “cripple,” “lifeblood,” “bare bones,” and “ligaments,” clearly establishing a body-rhetoric link. As a child grows, so does language.
In conclusion, Nash Smith posits that Ramus and Quintilian are, in some ways, after the same thing—a type of stabilized meaning delivered with emotion and beauty. For Quintilian, the "de-stabilizer" is the vir bonus. For Ramus, it is a truth "disentangled" from social order.