English 362 Rhetorical Traditions
Tues/Thurs. 9:30-10:45, Bio West 219
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Professor Thomas Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
Modern Languages 460,
Tues. 11-12:30 and Wed. 1:30-3:00
Copy of Syllabus
January 11: What does it mean to read rhetorically, as opposed to thinking as an engineer or writing as a journalist, for example?
I will introduce the requirements of the course and the principles of rhetorical analysis, and then we will discuss how they apply to several political texts.
Handout from class
January 16: Why is rhetoric more classically oriented than other liberal arts?
Before reflecting upon why classical rhetoric continues to dominate how rhetoric is defined and studied in the academy, we will survey the broader history of rhetorical theory and study.
For class: Read Bizzell and Herzberg’s “General Introduction” (pp. 1-16).
January 18: What are we to make of those written out of the history of rhetoric?
We will turn from surveying the rhetorical tradition to examining the major developments in Ancient Greek rhetoric, and then we will look past the major theorists to consider the case of Aspasia, an influential female figure of whom few traces remain.
For class: Read B&H’s Introduction (pp. 19-39) and the selections about Aspasia (pp. 56-66). Also acquaint yourself with Sappho by looking her up the Wikipedia and read the first three poems included under "Some Favorites" on the Divine Sappho page of Peitho's Web. Also helpful is this more scholarly collection of Sappho fragments from Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World, and you might also find this page on the lsle of Lesbos interesting from this lesbian poetry website.
January 23: The poetics of Sophistic rhetoric, and Platonic philosophy?
We will examine how the Sophists translated the poetic power of oral traditions into public discourse, and then we will turn to assess how Plato dramatized the conflict between the Sophists and Socrates over whether rhetoricians or philosophers were to inherit the legacy of the poets.
For class: Read B&H’s introductions, Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, and the first part of Plato’s Gorgias (B&H, pp. 42-55 and 80-96—until Polus begins to speak).
January 25: What’s the good in being rhetorical?
Plato’s dialogues are rich in irony, for he dramatized discussions of how writing weakens memory and remains silent when questioned. What are we to make of such ironies, and how are we to make use of his opposition of truth telling to base appeals to popular opinion?
For class: Read the rest of Plato’s Gorgias (B&H, pp. 96-138)
January 30: Civic humanism and the humanities
Isocrates founded the humanities on the assumption that public deliberations can bring out the best in human nature. How is it possible to think like that without being completely impractical?
For class: Read B&H’s Introduction and their selections from Isocrates Against the Sophists and Antidosis along with their selections from the writings of Chaim Perelman (H&B, pp. 67-80, 1372-1396—up to “Quasi-Logical Arguments”)
February 1: Why does Arisotle’s Rhetoric remain the most vital work on the subject?
We will discuss Aristotle’s categories for analyzing and composing rhetoric, and then we will reflect upon why his writings have been critiqued for being sexist, racist, and classist.
For class: Read B&H’s Introduction to Aristotle and the first part of his Rhetoric (pp. 169-213). You will find this reading much easier to do if you do not try to do it all at one sitting.
February 6: Aristotle’s practical philosophy of rhetoric
We will discuss how Aristotle can help us to understand rhetoric as a practical mode of critical engagement with the collaborative process of deliberative inquiry and purposeful action.
For class: Read the second two parts of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (B&H, pp. 213-240).
February 8: Cicero, Ciceronianism, and Civic Humanism
We will discuss what was involved in the transition from Greek to Roman rhetoric and how Cicero came to represent central elements of humanism and the humanities
For class: Review B&H’s introduction to classical rhetoric, their introduction to Cicero, and the first Book of Cicero’s De Oratore (pp. 32-41, 283-88, and 289-320).
February 13: The classical origins of the liberal arts tradition
Cicero came to virtually personify the humanities, but it was Quintilian who set out an education in the liberal arts as the means to prepare the educated citizen, though the republic of letters had already replaced the Republic as the domain for civic action. Given that the liberal arts were by definition reserved for the elite, we will need to raise some pointed questions about the values of a liberal arts education, and those questions should have some relevance for how you think about your own education.
For class: Read the rest of Cicero’s De Oratore and selections from Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory (read B&H, pp. 320-39, 359-63, and 369-73; skim the headings for 363-69, 373-384).
February 15: How is it possible to think of the study of rhetoric as a moral pursuit?
Quintilian clearly considered the craft of rhetoric as having a humanizing impact. What does that mean, and does it still make sense to us, now that even most of the learned do not accept the notion that the less literate are any less human? We will consider this question to conclude our studies of the classical tradition and prepare for the exam on the unit.
For class: Read and skim the last part of the selections from Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory (B&H, pp. 384-428).
Exam on classical rhetoric unit
Review exam and introduce rhetorical analysis
February 27: Contemporary modes of civic engagement
A New Engagement?: Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen will provide us with a bridge between classical theories of civic rhetoric and contemporary civic life. The book focuses on the differing political engagements of various generations of Americans and should be able to help us inquire into how your generation views political actions such as voting, community work, and other modes of civic engagement. One mode of inquiry that we will use will be rhetorical analyses of the dynamic interactions between audiences, situations, and purposes with respect to issues that you select to write about and the issue that we have selected to work with in class--the conflict in the Middle East.
For Class: Read the preface and introduction to A New Engagement (pp vii-ix, 3-16). Also read and print off Guidelines for Rhetorical Analysis and "The True, Peaceful Face Of Islam," an editorial that we will use as a model for rhetorical analysis.
March 1: Developing historical contexts for rhetorical analyses and responding to drafts rhetorically
Whether one is writing a news report, a literary analysis, or even a short story, framing is important to set up a context for how an event, text, or figure is to be interpreted. The second chapter of A New Engagement? contrasts the experience of the "DotNets" generation with those of previous generations such as the Baby Boomers.
For Class: Read chapter two of A New Engagement? (pp. 17-49). Also, familiarize yourself with our Caucus webpage, and review the sample papers. Scan the sample papers and responses, and then read the model responses to the other two sample papers. After you have read the models, go back and choose one of the sample papers and write a response to it as if you were in the student's group and were trying to offer him or her help. Bring the first two sample papers and your written response to class.
The first draft of your rhetorical analysis due on the Caucus page by midnight on March 3. Late postings will be penalized.
March 6: Analyzing how history figures into news reports
We will review this framing as a model for thinking about how you will set out a context for your analyses, and then we will use the historical context provided by the New York Times' "Secret History of the CIA" to do a comparative analysis of two articles, "Reversal in Iran" (1953) and "Cheney Warns of Iran as a Nuclear Threat" (2005)
For Class: Respond to the drafts by midnight on March 5. Come to class with questions for the respondents to your drafts. For our continuing discussions of rhetorical analyses of issues in the Middle East, you should browse around in the "Secret History of the CIA." Read and print off "Reversal in Iran" (1953) and "Cheney Warns of Iran as a Nuclear Threat" (2005). Be ready to talk about how historical contexts are set out in the two news articles, and also the other rhetorical strategies that are used to frame the events that are reported. Consider how what we now know about the coup that installed the Shah did or did not figure into the news reports of the time, and reflect upon how a broader historical context might be used to frame news reports on Iran. For an accessible overview of this chapter in Iranian history, you may also want to scan the Wikipedia's chapter on Operation Ajax or this History of Iran page of the nonpartisan Pars Times.
March 8: Researching rhetorical contexts
In class we will discuss how you will follow through to expand your rhetorical analysis by researching the historical, intellectual, and social contexts of a political figure, movement, or issue. We will develop a rhetorical analysis of "Learning to Think like an Arab Muslim: A Short Guide to Understanding the Arab Mentality" by considering how this text would have been received if the term Arab were replaced by terms for other ethnic groups such as Italians or Jews. After we consider how we might respond to a text that purported to explain how all Italians think, we will brainstorm on how we would follow through from doing rhetorical analysis of such a text to research related issues.
For Class: Your paper is due in class. Read and brainstorm on how you might do a rhetorical analysis of "Learning to Think like an Arab." Also explore our Resources page to consider how you will follow through to do your research, especially the Library Resource Page that was created for this course. Be ready to talk about the line of research that you are going to follow so that we canl form the research groups in class.
March 20: Presentation on document design and workshop on presentations
Class meets in Computer Center 311 (map)
For Class: Review Design Principles for Exceptional Documents and The Four Basic Principles of Document Design. Please print them off and bring them to class.
March 22: No class. Please make plans to meet with your group in one of computer labs on campus or in the Information Commons area of the Library.
March 27: Civic engagement and civil society
Class meets in Computer Center 311 (map)
We will spend the first half of class finalizing your presentations, and then we will use the third chapter of A New Engagement? on various modes of community involvement as a context for assessing the political issues that you are researching.
For Class: Read the third chapter of A New Engagement? (pp. 49-89)
March 29: Presentations on the rhetorical strategies used to represent public figures and issues
1) Mediating the Politics of Privacy: Stephen, Bryan , and Lille
2) The Politics of Race & Gender: Obama and the Other Clinton: Marissa and Mary
3) What’s Political about Playing Ball? David and Jess
The presentations will use the assigned reading as the context for considering how politicians and political groups attempt to enlist support from various constituencies.
For Class: Read the fourth chapter of A New Engagement? (pp. 89-120)
April 3: Presentations on generational politics
The presentations that we will schedule for this class will focus on issues and figures that are particularly relevant to the needs and aspirations of the "DotNet" generation
4) Mediated Perspectives on Alternative Lifestyles: Noelle, Jenna, and Renato
5) Sex, Abstinence, and Prevention: Chris R., Lisa, Loriann, Angela, and Sarah
6) The Politics of Popular Culture: Frank and Anna
For Class: Read the fifth chapter of A New Engagement? (pp. 121-54).
April 5: Assessing Political Standpoints
The presentations that we schedule for this day will be related to the issues surveyed in the sixth chapter of A New Engagement?, including such issues as national security, race, and welfare.
7) Media Perceptions of Bush and the War: Genevieve, Katherine, and Daniel
8) Media Manipulations of Attitudes to Iran and the Patriot Act: Chase, Patrick, Scott, and Vanessa
9) Taking a Byte out of Global Problems: Walter, Chris W., Peter, and Shelby
For Class: Read pages 155 to 185 of A New Engagement?
The draft of your researched rhetorical analysis is due on April 6 by midnight.
April 10: Civic engagement?
We will discuss the concluding chapter of A New Engagement? and reflect back over the arguments of the book. We will also review grammar and punctuation, and you will work in groups to talk about your style.
For Class: Read pages 185-211 of A New Engagement? Please bring 5 copies of your draft to class.
April 12: Introduction to Rhetorical Autobiography unit
We will work with style and punctuation and introduce the final unit of the course.
For Class: Your researched analysis paper is due in class.
April 17: How do the languages, texts, and literacies that you use define who you are?
We will use Anzaldua's writing as a case in point for talking about how the languages and literacies with which we identify shape our sense of self, our thinking, our interactions with others, and our visions of the world. You will also work in groups to talk about the materials that you are working with in your final essay.
For class: Read the introduction and excerpts from Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera (Bizzell and Herzberg pp. 1589-1604). Come to class ready to do a close analysis of the readings and talk about the ways that the excerpts can serve as a model for your essay. Also come with notes on incidents from your life, themes from our readings that you want to use to frame your essay, and other materials comparable to what Alzaldua works with in her essay.
April 19: How did the ways you learned to write, speak, and read shape who you are?
We will use Douglass's writings about his extraordinary experiences with learning to read and write to talk about the politics of instruction in literacy and your own experiences in school.
For class: Read the introduction and excerpts by Frederick Douglass (B&H 1061-1078), and use them to help you think about how you can develop your ideas from last time by using your education to frame your attitudes to language, literature, and literacy.
The draft of your reflective essay is due to the Caucus Site by midnight on 4/20, and your responses are due to your peers by noon on 4/23.
April 24: How can you use the class readings to deepen your reflections on your writing, reading, and learning?
For class: review A New Engagement? We will discuss several drafts that you have posted. Also review documentation formats. Bring your papers to class along with a draft of your cover memo to workshop in groups. Also, use the numbers on “Most Commonly Occurring Errors” to correct the sentences in the survey in “Not All Errors are Created Equal.” Mark each of the sentences with the number of the rule that applies.
April 26: One last time on the virtues of paying attention
Your papers are due in class, which will be devoted to a quiz on punctuation and mechanics. Review “Most Commonly Occurring Errors” and the survey from “Not All Errors are Created Equal.”
May 1: Teacher-Course Evaluations and Discussion of Portfolios