Two disciplinary stories told in mid-eighteenth-century Scotland omit an important plotline. One story is that university teaching of rhetoric transformed into belletristic criticism; another is that ideology and culture transformed to reorient rhetorical theorizing toward everyday practices by non-elites. Untold is a story of how familiar protagonists, such as Hugh Blair, clashed with antagonists, such as John Witherspoon, in the Church of Scotland. Telling that story from the antagonists’ perspectives shows that they reflected on how rhetoric ought to be practiced to manage disagreement in a democratic institution and used what amounted to Kamesian belletrism as a foil.

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