English 396A American Political Rhetoric
[Meeting days] [times], [bldg/room]
1) A Rhetorical Analysis of a Campaign Speech (3 pages, draft due 1/27, revision due in class 1/31)
2) Three Responses to Daily Readings (1 page each, with one due any class before 2/14, 3/6, and 4/1)
3) Proposal with Annotated Bibliography for Seminar Paper (2 pp., due to listserv on 3/26 and in class on 3/27)
4) Seminar Paper (15 pages, draft to Caucus 4/3, responses 4/5, revised draft 4/8, and final draft 4/10)
5) Group Presentation on Political Campaign (with 2-4 page handout for group, 5/1 and 5/6)
6) Final Reflective Essay (3 pages, draft due 4/22 and revision due in class on 4/24)
7) Portfolio with revision of previous essay (5/1)
1/17 We will introduce course overview, assignments, and rhetorical analysis using Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream” as a point of departure.
1/22 We will continue discussing "I Have a Dream” using Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” to assess how King draws upon traditional values, texts, and styles. You may also want to watch the video of King's "I Have a Dream." Read the sections on ethos, pathos, and logos in William Banks’ “Short Handbook to Rhetorical Analysis.” Other materials on rhetorical analysis are on our Resources Page.
You should also begin exploring presidential campaigns.
1/24 We will discuss primary campaign themes and form groups for draft workshops and informal presentations on the campaigns as they come to a head with Super Tuesday on 2/5. Please read George Lakoff's "Simple Framing" and Chris Werry’s “Rhetorical Analysis of Framing Devices in John Kerry’s Testimony Before the Senate Relations Committee." Print them off and bring them to class. Werry's essay provides a good rhetorical analysis for discussion. While the essay has significant strengths, it is also in need of revision to bring the various analyses together into a unified argument. Come to class ready to talk through the overall argument and the ways you would improve it.
1/29 You will workshop the drafts of your rhetorical analysis of a speech by a presidential candidate. You can find speeches on the candidates’ websites, which can be accessed using the Elections 2008 website of the University of Michigan, which is linked to our course website. As detailed on the assignment on the website, your drafts are due by noon on 1/27 to our Caucus website, which includes essays from previous classes. Class meets in Electrical and Computer Engineering 229.
1/31 Your first rhetorical analysis is due in class. We will continue discussing the rhetorical strategies used by various candidates. Be ready to talk about the specific policies proposed by your candidate, and consider how their positions are shaped by public opinion. For benchmarks on that, scan the Pew Research survey of public opinion entitled "An Even More Partisan Agenda." We will focus particularly on the Issues page of Senator McCain's campaign, with an eye to how he draws on republican values and assumptions (that's republican with a small "r"). Next week we will turn to begin exploring American republican rhetoric, beginning with the no taxation without representation debates that launched the American Revolution. How does Romney draw upon broader American assumptions about taxation, representation, national identity, and related matters?
2/5 Return papers and discuss sample drafts and revised papers. The class is invited to attend the performance of Professor Vay Young on “Code Meshing” in Optical Sciences 410. Professor Young, who is being considered for a position in the English Department, will be addressing how race affects style and other aspects of rhetoric.
2/7 We will review the historical context of the debates that led up to the American Revolution, with a particular focus on the debates over the relations of taxation and representation as a case study in arguments over the relations of individual rights and public obligations. Read Great Issues in American History (hereafter GI) pages 3-14, 16-31, 40-43, and 46-62 and review the sample papers that will be posted on 2/5. Be ready to talk about the arguments of each of the papers, and also be ready to talk about the framing of the lines of argument in the debates over taxation and representation. Review the materials on the Revolutionary Rhetoric on the Resources page.
2/12 Read Alan Grimes’s “Conservative Revolution and Liberal Rhetoric: The Declaration of Independence” and the Declaration itself (GI 70-74). The article is password protected because it is copyrighted. If you have forgotten the password that I gave out, email me. Be ready to talk through Grimes’s argument and do a rhetorical analysis of the Declaration as well as the speeches from Pitt and Burke (pages 16-21 and 40-3). Review the materials on the Declaration of Independence on the Resources page, and be ready to raise questions about the handout from the last class, Rhetoric as a method and object of historical study.
2/14 We will explore the debates that shaped the Constitution, particularly the discussions of how to limit the powers of government. Read GI 75-124, scanning the Constitution itself ( 88-110), which we will discuss more closely in the next class.
2/19 Be ready to discuss the Constitution in more detail. Read the text more closely, and work back and forth from the printed text to this interactive website: The Founder's Constitution. Come to class ready to discuss at least three points of reference from the website, and also to discuss the differences between how you read printed texts and websites.
2/21 We will continue to develop our rhetorical analysis of the United States Constitution by following through to examine subsequent Constitutional interpretations, including McCain's position on “judicial activism” and other topoi drawn from constructionist and other schools of interpretation (see related resources at the end of the Revolutionary Rhetoricians Resources. Read Federalist essays #10 and 15 (Great Issues 124-41).
2/26 We will start with the reader responses that we did not get to in the last class. We will also review The Principles of Constitutional Interpretation and Constitutional Interpretation that we did not get a chance to discuss last time. We will also explore how the Bill of Rights has been used by advocacy groups concerned with
- 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech (and related article from usinfo.gov),
- 2nd Amendment right to bear arms (and related Wikipedia entry on gun rights), and
- extensions of the Bill of Rights to privacy rights.
2/28 We will discuss the first historic challenge to the Bill of Rights, the Alien and Sedition Acts. We will use it to explore arguments over the relations of individual rights and national security, including the responses of Madison and Jefferson at the time (Great Issues 176-84). This challenge resonates with current debates over the Patriot Act as a response to threats to national security. Comparing the Alien and Sedition Acts with the Patriot Act is from Helium, a writers’ collective that is something like a wiki. While such analyses may be identified with liberal perspectives such as those of the American Civil Liberties Union, similar stances have been advocated by conservatives, as in the Cato Institute’s recommendations on Terrorism bills and others cited at the end of the Helium article.
3/4 Rather than continuing with my original plan to follow through with the development of deliberative rhetoric into the emergence of party politics, we will move away from national politics and focus on the politics of letters, using Ralph Waldo Emerson as a point of reference for considering two African American rhetoricians, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. Print out and read Emerson’s “American Scholar” and “Eloquence.” Also read David Smith’s “Representative Emersons: Versions of American Identity” and be ready to talk through the arguments of both Emerson’s essays and Smith’s analysis.
3/6 We will begin discussing the abolitionist movement with Sojourner Truth as a representative figure. Start by reviewing
“I will be heard!” Abolitionism in America, especially In their Own Words: Slave Narratives and “I will be heard!”: Prominent Abolitionists. Also browse around in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, and copy and read Truth’s two best known speeches: Ain’t I a Woman and Keeping the Thing Going While Things Are Stirring (printer-friendly version).
3/11 Read “The American Slave Narrative” and browse around in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Pay particular attention to how the work is framed in the Preface and Letter by leading abolitionists, and then read and print off these selected chapters from Douglass’s Narrative and his later Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
3/13 Read and print out Douglass’s “What the Black Man Wants” and “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Be ready to talk about the line of research that you are going to undertake for your seminar paper.
Please type your responses to these questions in the dialogue box below. Your responses will be emailed anonymously to me.
1. What have we done well, and what do we need to work on to improve the course?
2. What's your response to the suggestion that we eliminate the exam and expand the weight and length of the essay?
3/25 Read and print out Douglass’s “What the Black Man Wants” and “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Be ready to talk about the line of research that you are going to undertake for your seminar paper.
3/27 Your proposal and annotated bibliography are due in class. Read and print off Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions" at the Woman's Rights Convention in 1848 (printer friendly version) and Stanton's "Solitude of Self" (printer friendly version). For background information, explore the links on Suffragist Rhetoric on our Resources page, including timelines for the abolition, women's rights, and temperance movements and "Abolition and Suffrage." (which can be reached by clicking on "Articles" on the sidebar on the Solitude of Self page and then scrolling down through the interesting articles on several related concepts).
4/1 We follow through from our last class to use your research interests to develop the class discussion. Be ready to talk through some analyses and ask questions that you think will prompt discussion on the reading that your group is assigned, but make sure to read all the assigned readings.
- The Abolitionist Group will lead a discussion of the parallels between the abolitionist and suffragist movements using the background materials you were to look at for the last class: timelines for the abolition, women's rights, and temperance movements and "Abolition and Suffrage." (which can be reached by clicking on "Articles" on the sidebar on the Solitude of Self page and then scrolling down through the interesting articles on several related concepts).
- The Constitutional Rhetoric group will lead the discussion of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions" at the Woman's Rights Convention in 1848 (printer friendly version).
- The Suffragist Rhetoric group will lead the discussion of the Trial and Writings of Susan B. Anthony as a case study in suffragist rhetorics.
- The Bill of Rights group will lead the discussion of social movement theory using the assigned article. "What Are Social Movements and What is Gendered about Women's Participation in Social Movements?" (printer friendly version).
- And everyone should be ready to talk about the framing strategies used in Anthony's "Is it a Crime for a Citizen to Vote?"
4/3 No class. Drafts of your papers are due to Caucus on 4/3, and responses are due by noon on 4/5.
4/8 Your full drafts are due to Caucus before class. Be ready to talk about how you frame your analysis by setting out an historical and theoretical context for the issues you address. For a practical point of reference, review Guidelines for Writing Introductions and Conclusions and How Introductions and Conclusions Work Together. For a theoretical point of reference, be ready to talk about "The Radicalism of the Suffragist Movement." Class meets in Computer Center 311.
4/10 Your final revision of your seminar paper is due in class. We will begin discussing A New Engagement? Read the first two chapters, and be ready to talk about how you view the events that are used in the second chapter to benchmark the development of the political consciousness of your generation (pp. 1-48).
4/15 Continue discussion of A New Engagement? Read the next three chapters and be ready to discuss how you understand the distinctions between civic and political engagement (pp. 49-154). We will also discuss the reader responses that were posted to Caucus by noon on 4/13. Please bring copies.
4/17 We will conclude our discussion of A New Engagement and reflect upon how the changes it surveys have affected your thinking about political and civic engagement in order to brainstorm on lines of discussion for the reflective essay. Read the last two chapters (155-211). We will also discuss the reader responses that were posted to Caucus by noon on 4/16. Please bring copies.
4/22 The draft of your Reflective Essay is due to Caucus before class. Class meets in Electrical and Computer Engineering 229. For your responses to the drafts, read Principles of Writing Clear Sentences and Principles of Clarity in Action (printer friendly version). The criteria for responding to the drafts will be based in part on these principles.
4/24 The revision of your Reflective Essay is due in class. As an example of the group discussions that you will lead, we will use Barack Obama's speech on race to reflect back over some of the themes in the course, including how differing generations view such political issues. For context, review Obama's campaign webpage on Civil Rights, and then read Obama's noted speech on race. This issue was raised when attention was focused on Obama's association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Excerpts of Reverend Wright's sermons are on YouTube, and elsewhere on the internet.
4/29 Workshop on presentations. Class meets in Electrical and Computer Engineering 229.
5/1 Your portfolios are due with your revised essay. Group presentations.
5/6 Conclude group presentations. Your portfolios will be returned, and you will complete the course evaluations.