Computational Rhetoric is an idea whose time has come. The discipline of rhetoric has, for literally millennia, concerned itself with pragmatic function, style, and affect in language—topics that have recently become important to Computational Linguistics and the wide range of automated pursuits that have grown out of Computational Linguistics—voice interfaces, argument mining, text summarization, authorship attribution, sentiment detection, even the diagnosis and monitoring of pathologies like dementia.

More significantly yet, the pragmatic, stylistic, and affective dimensions of language have been charted in rhetoric by specific linguistic patterns, called rhetorical figures, and computers are remarkably good at finding patterns.

Bringing together an international vanguard of scholars—computer scientists, rhetoricians, philologists, literary critics, information scientists, cyberneticists—who work on the detection and understanding of rhetorical figures, these workshops represent a key moment in forging this new field, Computational Rhetoric.

The Computational Rhetoric workshops have been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the University of Waterloo (Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Math, Office of Research, Department of English Language and Literature, and the David Cheriton School of Computer Science), and the University of Dundee’s Centre for Argument Technology, to all of whom we express our gratitude.