EH 4317 -- SYLLABUS
EH 4317 Rhetorical Theory
Cynthia Walker, Professor
The primary objective of the course is to provide an historical survey of the development of rhetorical theory in the western world. Secondary objectives, however, include acquiring some familiarity with specific rhetoricians and their views on rhetoric, as well as with the conceptual and technical problems that prompted the characteristic development of rhetoric in the classical, medieval, renaissance, modern, and contemporary periods. Finally, the course is designed to help students in understanding how philosophical questions about the nature of language and human communication are still important in today's technically mediated society.
- COURSE OBJECTIVES:
- Familiarize one's self with rhetorical theory, the debates within it, and its critical application.
- Develop a more precise vocabulary with which to describe the functions and forms of communication.
- Learn how to summarize vast theoretical tracts in order to develop a heuristic vocabulary with which to analyze texts.
- COURSE PREMISE, PHILOSOPHY, and METHODOLOGY:
This seminar will engage a range of critical and theoretical literature so that students may develop a broad acquaintance with this foundational construct of rhetorical and political theory. Questions we will engage include: What is the public? Is the public a space? A mode of communication? Does it really exist? What happens "in public"? How best should we conduct deliberation? What are the relationships among the public, private, and technical realms of discourse? What is the role of mass media in framing our ideas about the public? What modes of citizenship are enabled or disabled by the ways we choose to live in public? To what alternatives might we turn to better describe and explain how democratic discourse actually works? How do we best characterize political expression that seems to happen on the "margins" of "traditional" public discourse?
In exploring these questions, a number of tensions will emerge, including those between public and private, facts and norms, inclusion and exclusion, consensus and dissent, civil society and the state, rational and spectacular, visual and verbal/textual, unity and division, wholeness and oneness, dominance and acquiescence, private and intimate, bourgeois and proletarian, action and contemplation... and a bunch of other ones we haven't even figured out yet.
Because the goal of this course is to introduce you to concepts that are core to rhetorical studies, the assignments emphasize reading, understanding, questioning, and synthesizing existing material rather than conducting original research.
This course is an upper-level course and students will be expected to demonstrate ingenuity and expertise in completing the course assignments.
- 1.REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS:
Herrick, James. The History and Theory of Rhetoric. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005.
- 2.SUPPLEMENTARY/SUGGESTED TEXTS/RESOURCES:
- Jasinski, James. Sourcebook on Rhetoric (Sage, 2001).
- Sloan, Thomas, ed. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric (Oxford, 2000).
- Kennedy, George. Aristotle on Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse (Oxford, 1991).
- Bizzell, Patricia & Herzberg, Bruce, eds. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present 2nd ed, (Bedford, 2001).
- Lanham, Richard, ed. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms 2nd ed. (U of California P,1992)
- Lunsford, Andrea, ed. Reclaiming Rhetorica: Women in the Rhetorical Tradition (U of Pittsburgh P, 1995).
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND EVALUATION
- FORMAL ASSESSMENT:
- Four Exams will be administered. Exams #1 & #2 will each be worth 10%. Exam #3 will be worth 15% and Exam #4 (final exam) will be worth 20%.
- Two oral presentations will be required. Presentation #1 will be worth 10% and presentation #2 will be worth 15%
- INFORMAL ASSESSMENT:
- Journals 10%
- Group Assignments 10%
- Participation 5%
- COURSE GRADING