Classical Rhetorics Schedule

banner imageClassical Rhetorics

Thomas P. Miller
ML 473 (T. 11-12:30 and W 8:30-10)

Syllabus & Assignments | Schedule | Resources

1.  (Aug. 23): rhetorical traditions?

            Greek SchoolReading: You should read the general introduction and the introduction to the classical section in Bizzell and Herzberg’s Rhetorical Tradition (1-17, 17-42). To get a sense of the ancient rhetorical practices that provided models for classical theorists, we will begin by discussing the speeches from Book Nine of the Iliad in which Nestor argues that Agamennon must persuade Achilles to rejoin the fight against Troy and Agamenon's response. Browse through these speeches to get a sense of the literary traditions that formed the cultural background for the formation of rhetoric. Educated Greeks would have memorized these speeches. The best known example of early Greek oratory is Pericles' funeral oration from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Please copy and print samples of these texts, especially Pericles' funeral speech, which we will subject to rhetorical analysis in class.

:  In class we will begin by considering the examples of the deliberative and ceremonial discourse that are recorded in Homer as a point of reference for thinking about how we define rhetorics and their histories.  How did the rhetorics contained within Homeric traditions change as rhetoric became a formal art, a theoria, and then a literate discipline?  How were evolving conceptions of public discourse shaped by the transition from orality to literacy and by other developments in political structures, gender categories, and educational practices?  How does the standpoint of rhetorical study shift from a performative stance to pedagogical, theoretical, critical, and comparative perspectives?

Writing: Your first memo is due via email to me by 5:00 on August 29.  This email will give us points of discussion in our individual conferences, which we will schedule in class on August 30.  Please write several well-developed paragraphs responding to the course assignments and structures, raising questions if you have them, and setting out goals for what you want to achieve and how it will advance your overall program of work (you may draw upon your annual review or qualifying exam for your description of your program of work).

Additional resources
: A good place to begin is with definitions of rhetoric from American Rhetoric and a reaction to the definition question by Victor Vitanza.  To get oriented to the classical world, review the materials on the resource page, and also Exploring Ancient World Cultures, The Greeks (a PBS series multimedia homepage), and the Works of Homer from Perseus.

2.  (Aug. 30): the sophists, isocrates, humanism and the humanities

Reading: Read Gorgias's Defense of Helen and the anonymously authored Dissoi Logoi  (BH 42-55).  Also read the Isocrates selections in The Rhetorical Tradition (67-79).

Class: After taking note of broader historical developments, we will return to defining rhetoric and then begin to outline some of the basics of classical rhetorical theory and pedagogy.  We will also discuss how the sophists have been defined as inheritors of the oral mastery of the poets and as relativistic critics of Platonic Truth. I will survey the sophists' formative contributions to the emergence of humanism and to the debates between philosophers and rhetoricians over who would claim the educational centrality of the poets.  Depending on your individual interests, be prepared to start discussing the practical and pedagogical applications of ancient rhetoric and/or the vagaries and significance of sophistic rhetoric.

Other: For the individual conferences, be prepared to talk about your emerging program of work in the course and the ways you want to use the sequence of assignments.  Please come to the conference with specific books that you are thinking of reviewing.

Additional resources: Explore the definitions, timelines, and summaries found on the left menu bar of Gideon Burton's Silva Rhetorica site.  See also the Sophists and Greek Philosophy entries in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  If you are interested in civic humanism, look at the full text of Antidosis.  Those of you who are interested comparative studies will be interested in the militant panhellenism that Isocrates develops in 4.47 through about 4.8.  You can use the dialogue window on the page to move to that part of the text.

3.  (Sept. 6): sappho, aspasia, and the limits of the rhetorical tradition

Reading: Read Sappho's poetry and browse around in the rest of the archival fragments in Women's Life in Greece and Rome by Mary R. Lefkowitz and Maureen B. Fan.  Read about Aspasia in The Rhetorical Tradition (pages 56-66).  Reflect upon what sort of rhetorical tradition might be composed from such fragmentary records.  As you consider how to compose histories about those who have been erased from The Rhetorical Tradition, also scan the representations of women's experience in the Ancient History Sourcebook and Halsell's "Lesbian and Gay Histories: Defining the Fields." To help you think about the first writing assignment, read and print out Sarah Pomeroy's review of Prisoner of History: Aspasia of Miletus and Her Biographical Tradition. Please read the review closely and use it is a model to think about the possibilities of the genre.

Class:  Before stepping into the Rhetorical Tradition, we will continue our reflections on what we want to achieve from our historical reflections by examining alternative points of reference and historical modes of thinking.  I will bring copies of some of your memos to advance our deliberations on the course (please email them to me by midnight on the 30th).  After reflecting upon the erasure of women's discourse that has been associated with the formalization of rhetoric as a techne, we will turn to begin discussing the oral arts of persuasion and the composition of theories of rhetoric at the end of the fifth century.

Writing: In class we will draw up criteria and response groups for the drafts of your book reviews, which are due to the Caucus website on September 8.   The portal page for Caucus includes links that can help you post your drafts.  If you have problems, email me.  Here are drafts of book reviews from this book review assignment from 2000.  You should respond to the drafts in your group by September 10.  Hard copies of the revision are due to my box by 5:00 on September 14.

Additional Resources: In addition to the materials on the history of women on the resource page, you may want to consult Paul Halsall’s People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History.

4.  (Sept. 13):  plato on epistemology, rhetoric, and politics

Reading: Read introduction to Plato and the Gorgias from The Rhetorical Tradition (pp.80-137).  Also read John Gage's "An Adequate Epistemology for Composition: Classical and Modern Perspectives" in on-line reserves.  Please print out Gage's article for class.
Writing: A hard copy of your revised book review is due to my box by 5:00 on September 14.

5.  (Sept. 20): plato's writings as philosophy, rhetoric and literature

Reading: Read and then review Plato's Phaedrus in The Rhetorical Tradition (138-168) with an eye to working our close reading strategies.  Read Donald Stewart's "The Continuing Relevance of Plato's Phaedrus" on-line reserves.

Writing: You should post the draft of the influence study to Caucus by Sept. 22 and respond to the drafts in your group by Sept. 24. Click here for examples of influence studies from a prior semester.

Additional references: Jane E. Hindman's "Authorizing Anger"

6.  (Sept. 27): aristotelian rhetoric

Reading: Read the introduction to Aristotle and the first book of the Rhetoric in The Rhetorical Tradition (169-213) and the articles on Aristotle in on-line reserves: Janet Atwill and Janice Lauer's "Refiguring Rhetoric as an Art: Aristotle's Concept of Techne"  and Jeffrey Walker's "Body of Rhetoric" in on-line reserves.

Writing: Your influence study and cover memo should be turned in to my mailbox by October 1.

Additional references:  Aristotle (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and a more extenstive page on Aristotle.

7.  (Oct. 4): politics, ethics and rhetoric

Reading: Read books two and three of Aristotle's Rhetoric (Bizzell and Herzberg 213-42).   Read books 1 and 6 of the Ethics, and scan the opening chapter of book 1 and book 8 of the Politics.   Also read James Kinneavy's "Translating Theory into Practice in Teaching Composition: A Historical View and a Contemporary View" in on-line reserves.

Writing: Your mid-term assessment memo should be sent to me via email by October 9.  This memo should critique and suggest improvements in both your own work and in our collaborative work in the course.  You should also give me a progress report on your work with your independent research in the course with an eye to the upcoming annotated bibliography and later assignments.

Additional references:  Aristotle's Politics and ancient political philosophy from Stanford Encyclopdia of Philosophy.

8.  (Oct. 11): burke, perelman, and toulmin--neoaristotelians?

Reading: Scan the selections from Burke and Toulmin and read those of Perelman in Bizzell and Herzberg (1295-1347, 1410-1432 and 1372-1409).

Class: We will discuss three very different figures who can be identified with Aristotle.  We will discuss Burke in general terms, review the basics of Toulmin argument, and spend a bit more time with Perelman's explications of practical reasoning about values.

Writing: The draft of your annotated bibliography and cover memo are due to our Caucus site by October 16, and your responses are due on the 18th.

9. (Oct. 18): reflect upon classical rhetoric's implications

Writing: Your revised bibliography and cover memo are due to my box by 5:00 on 10/23.

10.  (Oct. 25): cicero and civic humanism

Reading: Read the first book of Cicero's Of Oratory from Rhetorical Tradition (283-343) and Michael Carter's "Stasis and Kairos: Principles of Social Construction in Classical Rhetoric" in on-line reserves.  Also, this handout should be useful in considering the transition from Greek to Roman rhetorics.

Writing: Your revised bibliography and cover memo are due to my box by 5:00 on 10/23.

Additional References: Gideon Burton has developed an incredible set of summaries and overviews on his Silva Rhetorica site (on menu on left click on Rhetorical Pedagogy and progymnasmata for materials on classical method of teaching and a translation of Aphthonius's "Progymnasmata"), Marcus Tullius Cicero homepage, Cicero entry from Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

11.  (Nov. 1): the republican tradition and republican motherhood

Reading:   Read the introduction to Quintilian and the selection from Institutes of Oratory in The Rhetorical Tradition (359-428).  Scan Valerius Maximus's "Memorable Deeds and Sayings," Hortensia's Speech, and six short poems by Sulpiciae, and in on-line reserves.

Class:  We will review how rhetoric became formalized as a central part of an education in the liberal arts, and then we will look beyond the confines of civic humanism to consider how the ideology of "republican motherhood" opened up social and cultural spaces for women.

Writing:   The draft of your controversia essay is due to Caucus on November 3, with responses due on 11/5.

Additional ReferencesDiotima (the major site on women in the ancient world).  Silva Rhetorica site (this site provides overviews of the canons of rhetoric--invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery--as well as information on such topics as topoi and rhetorical figures).

12.  (Nov. 8): publicizing rhetoric (presentation/discussion leaders: Jennifer, David, Denise, and Elise)

Reading: Read David Fleming's "Becoming Rhetorical," Thomas Miller's "Changing the Subject," and Ellen Cushman's "Beyond Specialization: The Public Intellectual, Outreach, and Rhetoric Education" in on-line reserves.

Writing: The revision of your controversia essay is due to my box by 5:00 on November 9.

Class: In this class, the first group will present on issues related to their work with theories of the public sphere.

13. (Nov. 15): comparative historiographies (presentation: Erica, Faith, Adrienne, and Rebecca)

Reading: All the readings on Muslim rhetorical traditions and orientalism are available on line.  Please read Philip Halldén “What is Arab Islamic Rhetoric? Rethinking the, History of Muslim Oratory Art and Homiletics" and Raka Shome's "Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon," Edward W. Said’s “Orientalism Reconsidered,” and Gyan Prakash’s “Orientalism Now" in on-line reserves.

Class: This class will focus on comparativist studies in the history of rhetoric.  The group who presents on this theme may select other traditions and frames, but I have tentatively focused on Arab rhetoricians and the influential critique of orientalism by Edward Said.

Writing: The draft of your proposal is due to Caucus on 11/18, with responses due on 11/21.   

14. (Nov. 29): undisciplined philosophies and poetics (presentation: Ben, Sarah, and Jessica)

Reading: Read Elizabeth Ervin's "Interdisciplinarity or 'An Elaborate Edifice Built on Sand'? Rethinking Rhetoric's Place" and Richard McKeon’s "The Uses of Rhetoric in a Technological Age: Architectonic Productive Arts” (on-line reserves).

Class: The readings and lines of discussion for this class will be shaped by the group who decides to present on this theme.  I have framed this class around a concluding discussion of rhetoric as an interdisciplinary or "architectonic" study.

Writing: You should submit hard copies of your cover memo, research proposal, and portfolio with the revisions of all your previous papers (including your responses to your peer's drafts) in class, unless your presentation is on 11/29, and then your portfolio is due to my box on 12/3.