The Rhetoric of the Open Fist
Abstract: This essay reads John Bulwer’s seventeenth-century gesture manuals Chironomia and Chirologia. Bulwer advances a theory of invention as an inherently gestural form. The frequent consignment of gesture to delivery is rooted in a persistent tendency to treat motions as ornaments that may be taken or left. Bulwer’s gesture theory refuses the separation of action and invention from which this tendency derives. From this refusal, I argue for a model of animate eloquence that can be used to collapse distinctions among mind and body and reason and emotion in the production, transmission, and reception of persuasive claims.