|Abstract||Contemporary rhetorical criticism should attempt to integrate all that is gained from a literary work into one workable critical frame whose foundation is rhetoric as the study or use of language symbols that persuade through identification. To gain the greatest amount of knowledge about a work of art, the rhetorical critic should work through a process made possible by the contributions to literary criticism of the New Critics, I. A. Richards, and Kenneth Burke. This process analysis moves from inside the text to reader response to the writer's world. What the contemporary rhetorical critic does with these forms of criticism is to make interrelationships clear by revealing the identification that interlocks the triangle of work-reader-writer. Rhetorical criticism concerns itself not only with what the work is but what it might be. The rhetorical critic's quest, then, is to discover not how good the work is but what its significance is and how it achieves that significance. Just as contemporary rhetoric reflects the intellectual and social values of its age, twentieth-century rhetorical criticism should reflect the contemporary problems and values of its age. Because today's world of specialized knowledge can offer few certainties or common values, ethos, how man articulates his own self, is an important concern of rhetorical criticism. The theories of the New Critics, Richards, and Burke reveal this progression from attention to work to bringing in the reader, then consciously including the writer and his intentions, his ethos. The New Critics' intense intellectual approach to literature fixes limits where adherence to the text checks the reader's imagination and minimizes concern with historiography and biography, thus forcing attention upon relationships within the work itself. Although the New Critics did advance interest in literary criticism, their main critical failure is equating three separate relationships: work, reader, writer. With the New Critical close textual reading, I. A. Richards combines psychological theory, approaching literature as a psychological investigation in an attempt to analyze the reader's experience. To Richards, a literary work is a stimulus, which produces a particular state in its reader. The reader reacts to the words he reads, and then attempts to find out what in the work stimulates the particular response. That a work of literature inherently is a communication between writer and reader becomes the basic tenet of his reader response theory; thus, his theory admits the reader as a determiner of meaning (what the work means to him) as well as the meaning of the work itself. Kenneth Burke methodizes Richards' theory, particularly that literature is rhetoric because it exerts a transforming force on life as it begins in the life of the writer and moves into the life of the reader. Advancing from a concern with the meaning of the text and its meaning to the reader into the writer's inventive world that also includes the writer as a determiner of meaning, Burke comes closest to forming a complete critical theory--a critical theory that is rhetorical--and its methodology--rhetorical analysis. Rhetorical criticism should function mainly to show readers how to understand and use words so that they not only illumine literature but also give a greater understanding of human relationships, an understanding of the work's significance in order to form morally right attitudes, attitudes that realize Burke's goal of the "good life." Because rhetorical criticism concentrates on discovering interrelationships through identification, it comes closer to bridging gaps among work-reader-writer than any other form of criticism. Rhetorical analysis has great moral value for modern man in his attempt to articulate self.