This dissertation is a revisionist history of the art of memory in rhetoric. Chapter One argues for the need for such a history and introduces some issues and problems inherent in revising accounts of the role of memory and its arts historically in rhetoric and in developing a modern rhetorical theory of memory. Chapter Two describes the two major mnemonic systems, the loci and the textual strategies, which developed in classical rhetorical texts. As a whole, this study shows that the two arts of memory were not ignored after the classical period. Rather they have been influencing rhetorical practices throughout the historical periods that follow their introduction. This study also shows that the source of this influence has been ignored or forgotten while the use of mnemonic adaptations in rhetoric and other fields has flourished.
Chapter Three describes the medieval and renaissance periods during which the arts are adapted in the work of Aquinas, Camillo and Ramus, and are used in the visual arts, commonplace books, and the emblem books. Chapter Four treats the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when memory’s arts are used in the rhetorics of Bacon and Vico, and Campbell introduces an associative theory of memory to inform his rhetorical system. Chapter Five discusses the nineteenth century when the classical arts of memory appear in style and arrangement rhetorics and in popular mnemonics. Chapter Six examines the twentieth century, by describing how the arts are being studied in research on learning, creativity, schema, and reading theories and by arguing for modern uses of the two classical arts of memory and for the viability of both external and internal memory storage systems. It also suggests how modern rhetorical theory and current pedagogical practices might benefit from application of both the loci and the textual classical mnemonic arts to increase retention of information, to promote good thinking skills, and to enhance creativity.