In virtually every epoch of its history, the theory of rhetoric has been associated with large, anonymous groups of people. They appear sometimes as crowds and at other times as mobs. At still other times, these large, anonymous groups of people are figured as herds, (counter)publics, imagined communities, “the people,” the audience, or social imaginaries. In whatever guise they appear, these anonymous groups of people have played a major role in the development of the idea of rhetoric.

A few examples will make my point. Plato (2001) defined rhetoric as discourse that would persuade an ignorant crowd (94). Augustine (2001) tailored rhetoric to the “multitude of the wise” (459). In the sixteenth century, Castiglione (2001) calibrated rhetoric to the tastes of “ladies or gentlemen” (663). In the eighteenth century, David Hume (2001) suggested that discourse must account for “man in general” (836)....

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