Abstract: Historians of rhetoric and composition have agreed that the eighteenth century saw the demise of a pedagogy of invention. Bacon's scientific method and faculty psychology together led to the end of the topoi as generational devices and of rhetorical inventio. Invention, dependent on individual genius, could not be taught. However, An Essay on Genius, by eighteenth-century associationist Alexander Gerard, suggests that inventio was less abandoned than transformed. Accordingly, we need to refine our understanding of eighteenth-century thinking about composing to include the notion that rhetoricians were aware that invention was a necessary part of composing and that associationism itself included invention.
- Copyright 1993, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric