If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

"The Crown of All Our Study": Improvisation in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria

Chris Holcomb
Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer, 2001), pp. 53-72
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3886042
Page Count: 20
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Preview not available

Abstract

All but ignored by historians of rhetoric, Quintilian's meditations on improvisation not only allow us to situate the Institutio Oratoria more firmly in its historical context but also require us to confront issues of performance, issues which (again) have been largely overlooked in historical studies of rhetoric. Quintilian's many references to extemporaneous speech participate in a broader argument the author advances against what he sees as the unscrupulous activities of the delatores (informers working in the service of the Emperors) and the theory of oratory implicit in their oratorical practices. In particular, Quintilian uses the topic of improvisation as an argumentative vehicle to reject the dependence of the delatores on natural ability, to parody their artless attempts at extemporization, and to promote his own educational program based on study, training, and art. Quintilian's discussion of improvisation also invites consideration of oratorical performance: the occasions upon which an orator should switch from a scripted to an improvised mode of performance, the psychological and affective experience of the orator who speaks extemporaneously, and the response of listeners who (according to Quintilian) regard the extemporized oration as more credible, more engaging, and more authentic than the one prepared in advance. For Quintilian, improvisation is the mode of performance to which all oratory should aspire.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
53
    53
  • Thumbnail: Page 
54
    54
  • Thumbnail: Page 
55
    55
  • Thumbnail: Page 
56
    56
  • Thumbnail: Page 
57
    57
  • Thumbnail: Page 
58
    58
  • Thumbnail: Page 
59
    59
  • Thumbnail: Page 
60
    60
  • Thumbnail: Page 
61
    61
  • Thumbnail: Page 
62
    62
  • Thumbnail: Page 
63
    63
  • Thumbnail: Page 
64
    64
  • Thumbnail: Page 
65
    65
  • Thumbnail: Page 
66
    66
  • Thumbnail: Page 
67
    67
  • Thumbnail: Page 
68
    68
  • Thumbnail: Page 
69
    69
  • Thumbnail: Page 
70
    70
  • Thumbnail: Page 
71
    71
  • Thumbnail: Page 
72
    72