ENG 362: Rhetorical Traditions

banner imageEnglish 362 Rhetorical Traditions
Tues/Thurs. 9:30-10:45, Bio West 219

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Professor Thomas Miller tpm@u.arizona.edu
Modern Languages 460,
Tues. 11-12:30 and Wed. 1:30-3:00
Copy of Syllabus

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"Rhetoric" is commonly defined as "the art of persuasion." The political dimensions of that art have been central to the civic humanist tradition in rhetoric. That tradition emerged out of arguments between Plato and the Sophists over whether rhetoricians or philosophers would inherit the legacy of the poets as educators and speakers of shared wisdom. By most accounts, Plato won the argument, but it was the Sophists who founded the humanities. We will spend the first third of the semester learning about classical conceptions of political deliberations (including the theories of Isocrates, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian), and then in the second unit, we will shift our focus to examine contemporary civic life. We will draw on the issues and theories we discussed in the first unit to examine contemporary political figures, advocacy groups, and social movements.  We will spend the last third of the course reflecting upon how our values and experiences are shaped by our identifications with social groups that shape how we view and use language.


Bizzell, Patricia and Bruce Herzberg, eds. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present.  2nd ed.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

Zukin, Cliff, et al.  A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Regular access to a computer, printer and the internet: for information on public access computers on campus, visit http://www.oscr.arizona.edu/


The course is divided into three units: Reviewing Classical Theories of Rhetoric, Exploring Contemporary Applications of Rhetoric, and Reflecting on your Own Civic Engagements.

  • In the first, you will read Greek and Roman rhetoricians such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, and then you will write summaries of two of the texts.  The unit will conclude with a final exam.
  • In the second, you will write rhetorical analyses of a selected figure, group, or social movement, and you will give a group presentation.
  • In the third, we will analyze how several authors’ language has been shaped by their political experiences, and you will write an essay on the politics of language in your own experience.


  • You will demonstrate your understanding of the basic principles of classical rhetoric on an in-class exam at the end of the first unit.
  • You will learn to succinctly summarize the claims and reasoning of texts by providing effective oral and written summaries.
  • You will write two short essays showing your ability to analyze the strategies that authors use to address their intended audiences and the constraints of their situational contexts.
  • You will learn to work effectively with a group to develop multimedia presentations.
  • You will improve the style, development, and correctness of your writing by revising in response to feedback.
  • You will write a reflective essay that effectively examines how your attitudes to language, writing, and reading have been shaped by your prior experiences and the groups with whom you identify.      


  • One oral and two written summaries, with writtens by 1/25 and 2/8  15 pts.
  • Exam on classical rhetoric on 2/20 20 pts.
  • Rhetorical analysis of a political text, with draft 3/3 and final 3/8 10 pts.
  • Group presentation on a figure, group, or movement  beginning 3/27 10 pts.
  • Researched analysis of a political figure, group, or movement, with draft 4/6 and final 4/12 15 pts.
  • Rhetorical autobiography and portfolio with portfolio, with draft on 4/27 and final 5/3 15 pts.
  • Quizzes and additional class assignments 10 pts.
  • Responses to drafts posted to our Colloquium page 5 pts.
  • 10 hours of service for a civic group you select, extra credit +5 pts.
  • Details on Individual assignments


Your final course grade will be determined by the points you receive on the above assignments:
      A: 100-90 points; B: 89-80 points; C: 79-70 points; D 69-60; and E: below 60 points


  • You are required to attend class.  This is a workshop class that includes hands-on work with readings and writing, peer group work, and conferences.  Students who miss more than three classes may be dropped with an E.  Absences will also affect the grade you receive for your in-class work and assignments.
  • If you submit a major essay after the class when it is due, you will be penalized one letter grade for each day it is late.
  •  In-class and out-of-class writing will be assigned throughout the course.  Students not in class when writing is assigned must still complete the assignment when due; however, assignments are due at the beginning of class and will be marked as late if you are late for class or miss the class.
  • We will have group conferences in the week of 3/6, and you may schedule conferences during or outside of office hours.  You should come to conferences prepared to discuss your work.  A missed conference counts as an absence.
  • You should retain copies of all the essays that you submit.  All writing done for the course should be kept for the portfolio in the third unit.
  • Drafts and assignments must be turned in with all essays.  Drafts should show significant changes in purpose, audience, organization, or evidence.
  • Final copies should be typed or printed and double-spaced with numbered pages unless otherwise specified.
  • As with all students, you must uphold the Code of Academic Integrity (see http://dos.web.arizona.edu/uapolicies/cai1.html).  Prohibited behaviors include using sources without citing them appropriately, submitting assignments written by others, and handing in “work that has previously been submitted without fair citation of the original work or authorization by the faculty member supervising the work.”  If you have questions about using sources or other issues related to the Code, ask before you submit an assignment.
  • You must also observe the provisions on classroom behavior in the Student Code of Conduct (see http://web.arizona.edu/~dos/uapolicies/scc5308f.html).  The Code is based on the assumption that "the educational process is ideally conducted in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, openness to constructive change and respect for the rights of individuals."  “Disruptive and threatening behavior” are specifically proscribed (see http://web.arizona.edu/~dos/studentbehavior.html; see also http://web.arizona.edu/~dos/uapolicies/scc5308f.html).
  • All students, faculty and university personnel are also required to observe professional standards in sending email, as detailed in the Uof A Email Policy (http://w3.arizona.edu/~records/efinal.htm). Misuse includes but is not limited to harassment, defamation, and obscenity.  Anyone may stop another user from sending him or her e-mail by making such a request to the other user.  Failure to honor such a request is a violation of the Policy.
  • Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to fully participate in course activities or meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center.  If you qualify for services through DRC, give your letter of accommodations to me as soon as possible (see http://fp.arizona.edu/affirm/uada.htm).