Thomas J. Derrick

My education and college teaching career have been shaped by the seven liberal arts. (1) Editing Thomas Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique (1553) immersed me in the classical methods of invention, organization, verbal ornament, memory, and delivery. That antique division of the persuasive art has been almost wholly replaced in my practical criticism, with the purpose of rhetoric expressed by I. A. Richards in his Interpretation in Teaching: "...by exercise in comparisons [to give] an insight into the different modes of speech and their exchanges and disguises." My current project is a co-authored manuscript (with Ann Berthoff), a pragmatic guide to Invention entitled Writing It Down, Out, Up. This unconventional textbook incorporates considerable matters of (2) Logic in its applications to thinking critically and (3) Grammar in the sense of the manipulating punctuation, sentence forms, in order to articulate intention. So much for the trivial arts, that were the primary trio in a classical education and its remnants as I studied them in graduate school.

The quadrivium. I was never very quick at (4) Arithmetic or number in itself, but mathematical principles affected my comprehension of binary logic and in my dim comprehension of C. S. Peirce's triadic semiotics. (5) Geometry, or number in space, has fascinated me since I learned Euclid's theorems in junior high school, and in post-doctoral investigations, an almost geometrical arrangement of words and images informed my interest in Renaissance emblem books. As an occasional web editor, the design of pages further involves this art. (6) I can't remember when Music, or number in time, has not influenced my amateur guitar and banjo playing or luthier hobby. (7) Astronomy, or number patterned in space and time, represents my star-gazed admiration for certain ancient luminaries such as Milton, Shakespeare, Donne and modern lights of learning including Einstein, Sam Clemens who birthed and died with Halley's comet, and Robert Penn Warren.