‘Approaches to rhetoric’ addresses some fundamental questions about how the study and practice of rhetoric should be approached. Using examples from the work of Alfred Hitchcock; George Orwell; the ‘New Critics’ of the mid-twentieth century — W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley; Roland Barthes; and the speeches of George H.W. Bush, the various approaches to rhetoric bring us back to the problem of meaning and intention. Speech-act theory and ‘New Rhetoric’ are also considered. It concludes that if speakers' intentions are often opaque and in the ultimate sense unknowable, their rhetoric can still provide a window to the values of the societies in which they originate.