Rhetoric and Kairos

Essays in History, Theory, and Praxis

Edited by Phillip Sipiora & James S. Baumlin

Subjects: Comparative Religion
Paperback : 9780791452349, 272 pages, January 2002
Hardcover : 9780791452332, 272 pages, January 2002

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Table of contents


Carolyn R. Miller

Introduction: The Ancient Concept of Kairos
Phillip Sipiora

1. A New Chapter in the History of Rhetoric and Sophistry
Augusto Rostagni
translated by Phillip Sipiora

2. Time and Qualitative Time
John E. Smith

3. Kairos in Classical and Modern Rhetorical Theory
James L. Kinneavy

4. Inventional Constraints on the Technographers of Ancient Athens: A Study of Kairos/ Richard Leo Enos

5. Kairos in Gorgias' Rhetorical Compositions
John Poulakos

6. Hippocrates, Kairos, and Writing in the Sciences
Catherine R. Eskin

7. Kairos: The Rhetoric of Time and Timing in the New Testament
Phillip Sipiora

8. Kairos and Decorum: Crassus Orator's Speech de lege Servilia
Joseph J. Hughes

9. Ciceronian Decorum and the Temporalities of Renaissance Rhetoric
James S. Baumlin

10. Chronos, Kairos, Aion: Failures of Decorum, Right-Timing, and Revenge in Shakespeare's Hamlet
James S. Baumlin and Tita French Baumlin

11. Ralph Waldo Emerson and the American Kairos
Roger Thompson

12. In Praise of Kairos in the Arts: Critical Time, East and West
Gregory Mason

13. Changing Times in Composition Classics: Kairos, Resonance, and the Pythagorean Connection
Carolyn Eriksen Hill

14. On Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time: Toward an Ethics of Kairos
Amélie Frost Benedikt

15. A Bibliography on Kairos and Related Concepts
Tanya Zhelezcheva and James S. Baumlin



The first comprehensive discussion of the history, theory, and practice of kairos: that is of the role “timeliness” or “right-timing” plays in human deliberation, speech, and action.


This collection offers the first comprehensive discussion of the history, theory, and pedagogical applications of kairos, a seminal and recently revised concept of classical rhetoric. Augusto Rostagni, James L. Kinneavy, Richard Leo Enos, John Poulakos, and John E. Smith are among the international list of scholars who explore the Homeric and literary origins of kairos, the technologies of time-keeping in antiquity, the role of "right-timing" in Hippocratic medicine, the improvisations of Gorgias, as well as the uses of kairos in Isocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the New Testament. Broad in its scope, the book also examines the distinctive philosophies of time reflected in Renaissance Humanism, Nineteenth-Century American Transcendentalism, Oriental art and ritual, and the application of kairos to contemporary philosophy, ethics, literary criticism, rhetorical theory, and composition pedagogy.

Phillip Sipiora is Professor and Associate Chair of English at The University of South Florida. He is the coeditor, with Fredric G. Gale and James L. Kinneavy, of Ethical Issues in College Writing. James S. Baumlin is Professor of English at Southwest Missouri State University. He is the author of John Donne and the Rhetorics of Renaissance Discourse and coeditor, with Tita F. Baumlin, of Ethos: New Essays in Rhetorical and Critical Theory.


"What is most commendable about this book is the broadness of its scope, embracing in some fashion or another all the disciplines of the humanities, its essays covering topics as diverse as biblical references to kairos to the place of kairos in medicine and writing in the sciences. Worthy of special note is the effort to apply the idea of kairos to the practical aspects of writing in the composition classroom. " — Bernard A. Miller, Eastern Michigan University