Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 9(2), pp. 63 - 72
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2021.090203
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Tracing and Refining the Inventional Topoi

Zhengying Guo *, Ying Yuan
School of Foreign Languages, Soochow University, China


The Greek word topos (Latin counterpart, locus) means literally a "place" or "region" for arguments to reside in. Although it is one of the essential tools for rhetorical invention, the evolution of its meaning and function has suffered neglect. By systematically exploring topos in a chronological order, this essay reveals its varying focal points: from formal and material categorizations in the Greco-Roman era to theological aspect in the Medieval time, from stylistic topos in the Renaissance to moral orientation in the Enlightenment, and then to argumentation scheme in the contemporary time. Through examining the related classical and modern scholarship, this inquiry finds that the two inventional tools — topos and stasis (a system of controversial issues) — richly complement each other. Focusing on the generative common topoi/topics, this study finally integrates the closely related elements of Cicero's stasis into the popular topical system of Corbett and Connors (1999) to justify a richer and more reasonable topos model. The refined model consists of 5 major topoi/topics properly subcategorized: Definition with conviction, genus, essence, division; Comparison with similarity or difference, superiority or inferiority, more or less; Relationship with cause and effect, antecedent and consequence, opposites; Circumstance with past fact and future fact, possible and impossible; and Testimony with authority, testimonial, statistics, maxims, laws, precedents. This investigation contributes to strengthening the theoretical basis for the application of topos in the field of composition, argumentation, and rhetorical criticism.

Topos, Invention, Argumentation, Stasis, Topos Model

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Zhengying Guo , Ying Yuan , "Tracing and Refining the Inventional Topoi," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 63 - 72, 2021. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2021.090203.

(b). APA Format:
Zhengying Guo , Ying Yuan (2021). Tracing and Refining the Inventional Topoi. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 9(2), 63 - 72. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2021.090203.