Abstract Beginning with Roland Barthes' “The Old Rhetoric: an aide-mémoire” (1964–65), semioticians have shown a remarkable interest in the history of rhetoric. Writers like Barthes, Tzevtan Todorov, Gérard Genette, and Paul Ricoeur have offered accounts of rhetoric's past that invariably concluded with rhetoric's demise and its replacement with semiotics. These writers typically portray rhetoric's history as one of a brief rise followed by a very long decline, a pattern, says Todorov, of “splendor and misery.” This essay examines the semioticians' predictions of rhetoric's demise as well as semiotics' attempt to claim elements of rhetoric as its own. The essay concludes by considering the present state of semiotics' aspiration to supersede rhetoric as a theory of language and human affairs.
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