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Imprison'd WranglersThe Rhetorical Culture of the House of Commons 1760-1800$
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Christopher Reid

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199581092

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199581092.001.0001

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Rhetorical Spaces

Rhetorical Spaces

(p.23) 2 Rhetorical Spaces
Imprison'd Wranglers

Christopher Reid

Oxford University Press

Building on recent discussions of the idea of rhetorical space, Chapter 2 looks closely at the speaking geography of St Stephen's Chapel, the medieval structure that housed the House of Commons in the eighteenth century. The chapter makes extensive use of contemporary topographical and satirical engravings of the interior of the chamber and illustrates the close connection between contemporary speaking practices and parliamentary architecture. In the House of Commons orators speak from their places on the benches rather than from a rostrum. The chapter discusses how this convention has shaped parliamentary debate and how in the eighteenth century particular positions in the chamber become associated with the great rhetorical occasions of the past. In more general terms it shows how speakers such as the Elder Pitt situated their utterances in the chamber's time and place, and made the chapel a rallying point for an argument or an emotion.

Keywords:   rhetorical space, speaking practices, parliamentary architecture, St Stephen's Chapel, the Elder Pitt

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