Our #RacerScholar this week is Professor Andrew Black in the English and Philosophy department at Murray State University. His article, “Spacious Fields Alexander Hamilton and the Rhetoric of Sentence Architecture,” was published in the quarterly journal, Style.
In this paper, I challenge the common contention that The Federalist is sophisticated political philosophy packaged in an abstruse style. Rather, lengthy constructions and strings of modifiers aid the rhetorical ends of Publius, and particularly Alexander Hamilton, by mirroring the political and social challenges his readers were experiencing. Through a cooperative interaction between form and meaning, Hamilton’s sentence structure becomes a vehicle to encode Federalist ambitions and initiatives and to respond to the pervasive negativity of his opponents with a persuasive formal subtlety.