David L. Marshall, PhD

1417 Cathedral of Learning
Virtual Office Hours: By Appointment


PhD, The Johns Hopkins University


Associate Professor


David L. Marshall is an intellectual historian of early and late modernity.  He is particularly interested in the receptions and reinventions of rhetorical theory from the Renaissance to the present.  For him, rhetoric lies at the intersection of a diversity of theoretical interests: aesthetic, psychological, historical, political.

Initially, Marshall worked extensively on Italian iterations of rhetorical thought.  His first book, Vico and the Transformation of Rhetoric in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), traced what he termed a “sublimation of rhetoric” in the work of the Neapolitan rhetorician, Giambattista Vico.  The book argued that Vico repurposed the terms and tactics of ancient rhetoric for what would later come to be thought of as modern forms of society.  In this reading, Vico becomes a key figure who reveals the senses in which rhetoric migrated into a series of other fields—history, anthropology, aesthetics, law, and others—at the dawn of modern disciplinarity.


At present, he is finishing a second book on twentieth-century German intellectual initiatives, titled “The Weimar Origins of Political Theory.”  In this book, he is working at the intersection of rhetorical and political thought in Germany between 1918 and 1933.  His gambit is to say that, when one comes to modern German intellectual history from an early modern and rhetorical background, a slew of new connections comes into view.  Discerning nineteenth-century points of origin and sketching twenty-first-century continuations, he lays out a new account of the political theory’s origins.

In the course of writing the Weimar book, Marshall came to work intensively on Aby Warburg.  Warburg has been tremendously influential in the history and theory of art, but rhetoricians have not been particularly aware of him.  Marshall is currently working on a book that would affiliate Warburg with the rhetorical tradition and that would articulate the implications of Warburgian art sensibilities for contemporary theory and practice in visual rhetoric.  This project establishes surprising connections between elements of the rhetorical tradition such as the ars topica and recent technological innovations in computer vision.  At the same time, it explores the contemporary political resonances of a Warburgian approach with gestures such as “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”


Most recently, Marshall has been putting together a “Creativities” project as a future Senior Fellow in the Humanities Center at Pitt.  This will be a series of conversations among Pitt faculty and invited guests that asks how we conceptualize and narrate creativity.  Coming at the issue from a number of directions, it will examine creativity via “Ideologies” (following the concept of creativity from its origins in theology, moving through art, exploding into the biological sciences, and being imported into politics and law).  It will analyze creativity via “Tropes” (tracing the metaphoric and analogical generativities that produce new configurations as well as the practices of imitation that make exemplary operations mobile—in poetry, in music, but also in the brain sciences).  It will narrate creativity via “Translations” (where literary historians trace the movement of artworks geographically and linguistically, where historians think about the creative recontextualizations of older traditions, and where philosophers think about what shifts between indirect and direct speech mean for the mutability of meaning).  And it will scope out creativity via “Spaces” (because the digital archive, the art studio, the library, the city, and other such collections are all combinatorial architectures).


  • Author: David L. Marshall, PhD


----             “Warburgian Maxims for Visual Rhetoric,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly (forthcoming)

----             “Giambattista Vico, Aphorism, and Aphoristic Machines,” The Italianist (forthcoming)

2017         “Intellectual History, Inferentialism, and the Weimar Origins of Political Theory,” Journal of the Philosophy of History 11 (2017): 170-195

2017         “Rhetorical Trajectories from the Early Heidegger,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 50.1 (2017): 50-72

2016         “Max Harold Fisch, A Paradigm for Intellectual Historians,” European Journal of Pragmatism and Philosophy 8.2 (2016): 248-74

2013         “The Intrication of Political and Rhetorical Inquiry in Walter Benjamin,” History of Political Thought 34.4 (2013): 702-37

2013         “The Implications of Robert Brandom’s Inferentialism for Intellectual History,” History and Theory 52.1 (2013): 1-31

2010         “The Origin and Character of Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Judgment,” Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy 38.3 (2010): 367-93

2010         “The Polis and its Analogues in the Thought of Hannah Arendt,” Modern Intellectual History 7.1 (2010): 123-49

2009         “The Transformation of Rhetoric in G. B. Vico’s De nostri temporis studiorum ratione,” Italian Quarterly 46 (2009): 123-37

2006         “The Impersonal Character of Action in Vico’s De Coniuratione Principum Neapolitanorum,” New Vico Studies 24 (2006): 81-128

2005         “Prophecy and Poetry in Vico’s Scienza Nuova: Towards the Manifold Quality of Time,” Bruniana & Campanelliana 11 (2005): 519-49

2004         “La Congiura dei Principi Napoletani di Giambattista Vico,” Napoli Nobilissima: Rivista di Arti, Filologia e Storia, 5th ser., 5, nos. 3-4 (2004): 105-20

2003         “Questions of Reception for Vico’s De Antiquissima Italorum Sapientia,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 33 (2003): 35-66

Review Essays

Marshall, D. L. (2011).  “The Current State of Vico Scholarship,” Journal of the History of Ideas 72(1): 141-60.

Marshall, D. L. (2010).  “Intellectual History of the Weimar Republic—Recent Research,” Intellectual History Review 20(4): 503-17.

Marshall, D. L. (2010).  “Recent Research on Roman Rhetoric,” The European Legacy 15(1): 75-8.

Marshall, D. L. (2009).  “The Problem of Language in Early Modern Thought,” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 27(2): 225-30.

Marshall, D. L. (2007).  “Early Modern Rhetoric: Recent Research in German, Italian, French, and English,” Intellectual History Review 17: 75-93.

Courses Taught


  • Archiving, Mapping, Inventing (COMMRC 3306)
  • Cannibalizing Rhetoric (COMMRC 3317)
  • Rhetoric and the Modal (COMMRC 3317)


  • Rhetorical Process (COMMRC 0310)
  • Rhetoric and Culture (COMMRC 1103)
  • Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (COMMRC 1731)
  • Theories of Persuasion (COMMRC 1111)