Rhetoric research guide

This guide has been designed as a starting point for research involving Rhetoric.

If you need help, please contact Ivana Niseteo, Liaison Librarian for English, French, French Programs (FASS), Humanities, Linguistics, and World Languages & Literatures at 778.782.6838 or iniseteo@sfu.ca or Ask a librarian.

Reference works

Consult some of these reference works if you need to find background information, such as definitions, overviews and concepts.

  • Oxford reference online
    • Search this collection by KW ‘rhetoric’ to find records in encyclopedias and reference works.
  • Oxford bibliographies online
    • An annotated bibliography of the best available scholarship. Use the KW ‘rhetoric’ to find discussions in various sections, such as ‘rhetoric and communication’, ‘Greek rhetoric’, ‘rhetoric culture theory’, etc.

Encyclopedias & companions

  • Encyclopedia of rhetoric [online]
  • Encyclopedia of communication theory [online]
  • Encyclopedia of political communication [print and online]
  • 21st century communication: A reference handbook [online]
  • The Cambridge companion to ancient rhetoric (online)
  • The Rhetorical tradition : readings from classical times to the present (print)
  • The SAGE handbook of rhetorical studies (online)

Glossaries & dictionaries


All SFU library print and online books are listed in the Library Catalogue.  Start with a keyword search, and then use the subject headings provided in each book record to find other similar books. 

Some subject headings relevant for the materials in rhetoric:
Rhetorical criticism
Persuasion (Rhetoric)

For more tips and tricks on searching within the Catalogue, please check our Library Catalog search guide for help.

Below is a selection of books that may be useful for your topics in rhetoric.

Ancient rhetoric

  • Ancient rhetoric: from Aristotle to Philostratus (print)
  • Homeric speech and the origins of rhetoric (online)
  • Passions and persuasion in Aristotle's rhetoric (print)
  • The presocratics (print)
  • Rhetoric and irony: Western literacy and Western lies (oline)
  • The rhetoric of Plato's Republic: democracy and the philosophical problem of persuasion (print)

Modern rhetoric

  • Persuasive communication, 3rd ed.  (print)
  • Rhetoric in popular culture, 4th ed. (print)
  • Rhetorical audience studies and reception of rhetoric: Exploring audiences empirically (online)

Theory of rhetoric

  • History and theory of rhetoric: an introduction (print)
  • The language of persuasion in politics: An introduction (print)
  • Modern rhetorical criticism, 4th ed. (print)
  • The new rhetoric : a treatise on argumentation (print)
  • Rhetoric : the art of persuasion (print)
  • SAGE handbook of rhetorical studies (online)
  • The Oxford handbook of rhetorical studies (online)
  • A rhetoric of motives (print)
  • The rhetorical power of popular culture : considering mediated texts 2nd ed. (print)
  • The Routledge reader in rhetorical criticism (print)

Digital rhetoric 

  • Digital rhetoric: Theory, method, practice (online)
  • Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities (print)


A selection of journals that publish in rhetoric, argumentation, and communication:

Key databases

Scholarly journal articles on rhetoric can be found in the Library Catalogue, or in relevant journal article databases.  If you want to be more precise in your search for articles on your topic, use these recommended databases, rather than the Library Catalogue:

  • MLA International Bibliography
    • Major database for all aspects of English literature, including rhetoric and composition
  • Communications and Mass Media Complete.
    • Journal articles in communications field, which overlap to a high degree with those relevant to rhetoric.
  • Humanities Source
    • Contains articles on rhetoric and persuasion as well as articles with a more specific focus, such as rhetorical devices, rhetoric & culture, science & rhetoric, rhetoric in literature, ancient rhetoric, etc.
  • Philosopher’s Index.
    • Good source of articles on classical rhetoric.
    • Excludes issues from the most recent 2-5 years.
  • Google Scholar
    • Access this database from the Library’s homepage to get the best results.

Primary texts

Primary texts can be found in the Library Catalogue and on the web.

Ancient primary texts

  • Loeb Classical Library (Harvard UP). 
    • A large collection of ancient primary texts (Greek and Latin) with parallel English translations.  All items from this collection are listed in the Library Catalogue. Here are some examples:
    • Aristotle : the "Art" of rhetoric / translated by John Henry Freese (print)
    • Cicero : De oratore (online - books I & II;  print - books I, II & III in two volumes)


  • In the Catalogue advanced mode select ‘Books’ and enter a combination of a ‘name’ AND ‘speeches’ (or ‘oratory’).
  • American Rhetoric Speech Bank
    • Database of over 5,000 full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, etc.
  • Presidentialrhetoric.com
    • Current & historic speeches and information relating to American presidents, political communication, and rhetorical criticism.
  • Canadian Prime Ministers’ speeches 
    • From the Library and Archives Canada. This page is archived, but it still contains a large number of speeches.


  • Silva rhetoricae: The forest of rhetoric
    • A guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric.  Provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University.
  • CompPile 
    • A bibliographic database of publications relevant to rhetoric and discourse studies from 1939 to the present.

Rhetorical societies