, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 277-294

Quintilian and the Pedagogy of Argument

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Abstract

Originating in the Sophistic pedagogy of Protagoras and reflecting the sceptical practice of the New Academy, Quintilian's rhetorical pedagogy places a special emphasis on the juxtaposition of multiple, competing claims. This inherently dialogical approach to argumentation is referred to here as controversia and is on full display in Quintilian's own argumentative practice. More important to this paper, however, is the role of controversia as an organizing principle for Quintilian's rhetorical curriculum. In particular, Quintilian introduces the protocols of controversia through a series of progressively more complex exercises in imitation, role-playing, and declamation (now referred to as situational games). All of these exercises are open for adaptation by contemporary teachers who would promote a dialogical approach to argument, i.e. argument with its methods of inquiry, invention, and judgment based on direct interaction with opposing parties.