Textual Bodies: Rhetorical Appeals in Thirteenth-century Spanish Letters

By Richard McNabb.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

During the late Middle Ages, a new rhetorical art developed to teach ecclesiastic and secular clerks the art of writing letters, or the ars dictaminis. One of the rhetorical manuals to emerge from Spain was Juan Gil de Zamora’s Dictaminis Epithalamium, or The Marriage Song of Letter Writing (c1277). Juan Gil (c1240-c1318) was among the first writers, specifically in Castile and León, to compose a treatise on the literary and technical elements of epistolary composition.

Although there has been a series of articles outlining the precepts of Juan Gil’s dictaminal theory, there has been little analysis of the model letter collection he includes as part of the Dictaminis Epithalamium. Translated recently from the Latin, the letters are a rich site of rhetorical moments in medieval religion, diplomacy, education, and gender. The purpose of my paper is to examine some of these rhetorical moments to identify how Juan Gil seeks to influence others through language. In particular, how he uses appeals to the body to persuade a recipient of a letter to grant his request—whether the request involves issues of justice, obedience, aid, or retribution.

Keywords: Rhetoric, Letter Writing, Juan Gil de Zamora

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.141-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 802.713KB).

Dr. Richard McNabb

Associate Professor, Department of English, Long Island University, New York, NY, USA


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