Book Reviews in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric

In its book reviews section, the Journal for the History of Rhetoric publishes reviews of individual books, review essays, and special forums. The book reviews section aims to draw attention to new book-length scholarship in rhetorical history, broadly construed. JHR welcomes book reviews on all fields of rhetoric, but especially reviews of books that address rhetorical history or that have a significant historical dimension. Books in related fields that have a bearing on rhetorical history are also welcome. Reviews may undertake to discuss more than one book if the books are recent and relevant, though review essays are typically solicited by the book review editor. 

Authors wishing to contribute a book review are welcome to contact the book reviews editor, Vessela Valiavitcharska

Review Types

JHR micro-reviews make the case for reading widely in rhetorical studies. Responding to the growing number of books being published in rhetorical history and related fields, micro-reviews help rhetoricians keep abreast of recent publications and consider how to take up new work in their own teaching and scholarship. In that spirit, micro reviews provide a 400-500-word “quick take” on a book. Including only minimal summary, micro reviews offer a brief but solid assessment of the book’s major contributions and particularly relevant ideas. Micro-review writers are encouraged to foreground the kind of information that they would want if they were updating themselves on a particular body of scholarship or trying to decide whether to assign a text in a class. JHR micro-reviews, in other words, are designed for usability with the aim of increasing uptake of our field’s growing scholarship.

Standard Reviews
JHR Standard reviews offer 1,500 to 2,000 word accounts of a single book. Reviews should succinctly provide readers with a sense of the book’s contents and primary moves, including its objects of analysis, overall arc of argument, and chapter topics. While some summary of the book is necessary, the best reviews place the book in the context of other related works and use summary to illustrate the book’s major contributions and arguments. Standard reviews should give readers a thorough understanding of what the book contributes to rhetorical studies, how it builds on existing knowledge, and how the author(s) positions themselves in relation to scholarly controversies (as relevant). Where appropriate, the review may call attention to lingering questions about the book or reflect on further work the field might do in light of its insights. The review may also articulate potential applications for the book and its insights (pedagogical, public, or scholarly).

Review Essays
JHR Review Essays (approx. 2,000-2,500 words) assess the state of scholarship in a specific area or sub-field of rhetorical studies. They work across three to four recently-published books to outline trends, assess contributions, and—crucially—make an argument about the larger conversation to which those books contribute. Typically, the book reviews editor solicits review essays, but authors with expertise in an area who wish to do a review essay should feel free to contact Vessela Valiavitcharska.

JHR Scholars-in-Dialogue (2,000-2,500 words) offers an opportunity for a discussion-based engagement with a new book. Two (or three at most) scholars agree on a set of questions to consider and produce a dialogic exchange, offering their perspectives and addressing each other’s points. They work together to engage with the book’s contributions (and/or weaknesses) from different perspectives, from an assessment of its approach (if appropriate) to possible pedagogical implications. This format works best for the type of scholarship that charts new directions or offers new paradigms to the field. The review is intended to stimulate an open-ended conversation about the book. 

On Criticism

It is natural and expected that book reviews will include evaluative statements about the work reviewed. Disagreement on scholarly matters is essential to intellectual growth. Reviews that engage in ad hominem attacks or dismiss a book based solely on disagreements over style, approach, or mode of argument, however, will be rejected. The book reviews editor expects that criticism can be given in ways that treat both the book reviewed and its author with dignity while also making the case for the reviewer’s position—whether that position is about sources, approach, argument, conclusions drawn, or style.


First Line
Book Author’s Name. Book Title [italicized]. Place of publication: Press. Date. Number of pages.

Body of Review
Typescript should be double spaced, with margins justified left; 12 point font. First paragraph is not indented; subsequent paragraphs indented five spaces.

End of Review
Review Author’s Name, Institutional Affiliation (if relevant)

Avoid footnotes or endnotes. Use parenthetical documentation. Include a “Sources Cited List” only if absolutely necessary. Follow JHR style guidelines for bibliographic entries.


Please contact the book reviews editor for approval before submitting a review. Approved and completed reviews should be sent to the book reviews editor by email attachment. The review should be in .doc or .docx format.

Any questions about the format of reviews can be directed to the book reviews editor, Vessela Valiavitcharska.