418 Physics-Atmospheric Sciences, Monday 3:00-5:30 Thomas Miller, tpm@email.arizona.edu                             For appointments, please call Kat Francisco at 626-0202

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Rhetoric has been defined by its engagement with controversies since ancient times, in the assumption that arguing for and against public issues enables citizens to develop their higher capacities.  While the dualistic and hierarchical dimensions of such assumptions need to be critiqued, the arts of rhetoric provide powerful heuristics for exploring teaching and writing, both in the academy and in diverse communities. 

Drawing on works from the RCTE Common Preliminary Reading List, our course units will focus on four loci or topoi (places of controversy that have generative capacity): experience, craft, representation, and praxis.  We will use these generative themes to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • In The Problematics of Experience, you will use works by Freire and Dewey to write a five-page essay in which you examine how your “personal” experiences can be used to advance your understanding of rhetoric as a philosophy of praxis concerned with situated, provisional, and contested transactions. 
  • In Recrafting Teaching and Writing, we will read hooks and Canagarajah, and we will discuss how rhetoric’s concern for audience, situation, and purpose can deepen our engagement with teaching and writing.  You will examine your translingual experiences in a second short essay on how you learned to transact differences in language, culture and cognition. 
  • In our Representing Others unit, we will follow through to discuss rhetorical criticism and ethnographic methodologies, and you will write a ten-page paper about how five works on the RCTE reading list and several related readings address a problem or issue that you would like to research.
  • In Rhetoric as a Field of Vision, we will consider how studies of rhetoric as a philosophy of praxis can help us improve our teaching, writing, and critical engagement with civic issues.  In the final unit, you will revise your prior essays to compose a first draft of your Statement of Specialization.





The Problematics of Experience

Dewey’s Experience and Education and Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed present  dialectic philosophies of reflection in action.  In our discussions and in your paper for this unit, we will examine the pragmatics of experiences that have shaped your development as writers, teachers and intellectuals.  We will use Freire’s concept of generative themes to reflect upon how we theorize from experience, and we will use Dewey’s pragmatism to examine situations and events that have helped you develop a rhetorical awareness of the contested and situated dynamics of understanding.   From these reflections, you will write a literacy narrative much like the ones you worked with in your composition courses.  To help us assess the problematics of experience and representations of the personal, we will also read Lu’s chapter from Feminism and Composition Studies (FACS).

Recrafting Teaching and Writing

We will consider teaching and writing as modes of rhetorical praxis.  Building on our discussions of Freire, we will read hooks and Canagarajah and discuss how rhetoric can provide heuristics for reflecting upon our thinking, teaching, and writing in ways that enrich critical pedagogy.  Rhetoric presents a three-dimensional model for how logic, emotion, and ethos figure into knowledge in the making.  In our discussions and your essays, we will examine how translingual strategies such as code meshing are used to mediate differences in multimodal and hybrid genres.  We will also discuss the chapters by Logan, Hesford, and Stygall in FACS.

Representing Others

We will use Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies to consider how ethnographic methodologies can help us develop a rhetorical stance on thinking, teaching, and writing through differences.  For case studies in assessing research methodologies, we will discuss the chapters by Brody, Reynolds, and Caughie in FACS.  We will examine how methodologies identify contributing factors, frame problems, and position them within contexts that define their significance.  You will write an essay that draws upon five or more readings from the RCTE Reading List to assess how methodologies shape your understanding of a topic worth researching.

Rhetoric as a Field of Vision

We will conclude the course by considering what a rhetorical stance on cultural studies can contribute to undergraduate curricula.  We will read Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera along with Baca’s “Rethinking Composition, Five Hundred Years Later,” Fleming’s “Rhetoric as a Course of Study,” and Ritchie’s and Malinowitz’s articles from FACS.  These discussions will help you fill in the gaps between your graduate studies and your first-composition courses by providing you with an opportunity to envision undergraduate programs of study for you and your students.  In the final unit, you will draw upon your essays on your intellectual development, teaching, and research interests to draft your Statement of Specialization, which you will workshop in your Inquiry and Innovation class.



Becoming Rhetorical—A literacy narrative (Approx. 5 pages): Draft due dates below.

In the first essay, you will reflect upon how you developed a rhetorical awareness of an issue that figures into your research and writing.  Focus on narrating an experience or series of experiences that enacts a cultural assumption, institutional practice, or social tendency that has implications for issues that you are seeking to understand in your work. 

Consider experimenting with the form of your essay.  Rather than relying on a traditional thesis-driven exposition, try organizing your essay around a problem, question or series of questions.  Whatever approach you take, you should focus on showing, not telling as you describe the details of the experience.  Try to include at least two perspectives on the experience, for example by noting the assumptions of one or more of the participants or by contrasting your perspectives as a scholar, woman, student or teacher. 

While you should spend most of the essay on describing the experience, you should also position it within a theoretical context or line of research, for example one of the aspects of critical pedagogy that we examine in the unit.  Conclude by using details of the experience and the theory or research to revise the questions you opened with.  For an example of this pattern of development, look at the beginning of Canagarajah’s Translingual Practice (pp. 1-6).  Other examples are provided by the introduction to Morris Young’s Minor Re/Visions: Asian American Literacy Narratives as a Rhetoric of Citizenship, which is available on Amazon and Ellen Gil-Gomez’s recollections of on pages 200-2 in FACS.

What Do You Know about Writing, and Teaching It?  (Approx. 5-7 pp.) Due dates below.

In this essay, you will examine a specific aspect of the craft of writing and/or teaching that is related to how we transact differences.  For example, how do you engage students in critiquing cultural assumptions about race or gender, and what does work in critical pedagogy teach us about engaging students in such critiques?   Or how can we draw upon the range of linguistic backgrounds in our classes to help students develop translingual rhetorical strategies in their writing?  After you select a research question, consider how you can test it against experience, and how you could refine it through further research, theory, and practice. 

Be as specific as possible in defining the topic, and then use at least two sources to define one or more factors involved with the aspect of craft you discuss.  Continue working on the strategies that we worked in the first essay.  Consider beginning with a short description of how the topic comes up in the classroom, and then review the sources to refine the issue.  You should cite specific findings or assumptions from the sources. Conclude by suggesting some ways you would research the topic, refine your theoretical frame, and examine the impact of the factors involved.

Representing Others: Research Proposal (10 pp.): You will write a ten-page proposal addressing a problem or issue that you would like to research with a supporting literature review that includes five works on the RCTE reading list and several related readings.  

OR  Revision of Seminar Publication for Publication (@ 20 pp.): you will revise a paper from a previous class to prepare it for submission to a journal following the specifications from the 2012-13 RCTE Handbook comprehensive exams section. 

Deadlines: Research teams will lead the class discussions of their collaborators’ drafts and related readings in class.

  • Groups 1 and 2: Drafts 4/10, Class Discussion 4/13 and Revision 4/24
  • Group 3: Drafts 4/17, Class Discussion 4/20 and Revision 4/24 

Rhetoric as a Field of Vision: Statement of Research Specialization (3-5 pp.): You will revise your prior essays to compose a first draft of your Statement of Specialization. 

OR  Framing Paragraphs and Research Questions (3-5 pp.): If you are working with the 2012-13 RCTE Exam format, or another comprehensive exam format, you will need to draw up your reading lists, and you will need to think about major areas and guiding questions to focus your reading.  This assignment will help you work on that.

Deadlines: Research teams will lead the class discussions of their collaborators’ projects and related readings in class.  Drafts 5/1, Class Discussion 5/4 and Revision 5/11


Writing Resources:

Craig Waddell's Basic Prose Style and Mechanics

10 Ways to Improve Your Style

Joan Behling's Downshifting

Materials on writing effective introductions:

Writing a Literature Review

Lessons on Cohesion

Additional handouts on style, cohesion, and introductions and conclusions will be uploaded soon.


The Problematics of Experience

1/26  How does your experience figure into your education?

We will begin by discussing Dewey’s Experience and Education.  Be prepared to work from Dewey’s contrast of progressive and traditional education to consider how you understand the educational dynamics of your own experience.  How do your various domains of experience factor into your education?  What aspects and areas of your experience have the most generative capacities?  In our second hour, we will be joined by Professor Joyce Locke Carter to discuss her chapter “Mind the Gap(s): Modeling Space in Online Education.”

2/2  What does it mean to be practical?

We will use the first two chapters of Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to explore how we develop our understanding of abstract terms such as “oppression” and “liberation” by examining them through experience and relating them to practice.  We will also discuss Min-Zhan Lu’s “Reading and Writing Differences” (FACS 230-51).

2/9  How do we practice freedom?

We will discuss the third and fourth chapters of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and we will also use the heuristic of “generative themes” to explore the experiences you’re writing about in the first paper.  Be ready to discuss the experience your writing about and the ways you’re positioning it.  Consult the “Writing a Literacy Narrative” chapter from the Norton Field Guide to Writing for more details on the assignment, and be prepared to discuss pages 1-6 from Canagarajah’s Translingual Practice and Ellen Gil-Gomez’s recollections on pages 200-2 in FACS.

  • 2/12 Drafts of Literacy Narrative due to Google Docs and 2/14 responses to drafts due to Google Docs

Recrafting Teaching and Writing

2/16  What are the key concepts and guiding assumptions of critical pedagogy?

We will follow up on our discussions of Freire’s critical pedagogy to discuss the first half of hooks’ Teaching to Transgress (pp. 1-92).  We will apply the readings to your drafts and your responses to them, and we will use your work with the essays to consider basic questions about what we know about writing and teaching, and how we know what we know.  Be prepared to discuss the argument, key terms, and practical applications of one of the six chapters (Dorothy and Daniel for chapter 1, Christopher and Maria for 2, Sarah and Eric for 3, Shane for 4, Marijel and Camilla for 5, and Irene and Joanna for 6).

  • 2/19 Revision due with responses to your paper in pocket folder to my box in English Dept.

2/23  What do we claim to know about writing as experts in rhetoric and composition?

After we consider the CCCC’s Principles for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing, we will discuss the second half of Teaching to Transgress.  You should be prepared to discuss the practical applications of critical pedagogy to a particular strategy, curricular practice or formal consideration (such as an aspect of a particular genre or a general aspect of writing such as style or invention).  While Brian Sutton does not draw upon critical pedagogy in the ways we will, you should consider his “Writing in the Disciplines, First-Year Composition, and the Research Paper” as an example of the focused analysis of pedagogy and writing that we are doing in this unit.

3/2  Sounds good, but does it work, and if so how?

We will use the first five chapters of Canagarajah’s Translingual Practice to provide theoretical framing for thinking about how we transact cultural and social differences in writing and teaching.  Be prepared to work in groups of three or four to brainstorm on analyses of what we know and need to know about the topic you have selected for your paper.  For points of reference for your paper, we will also apply these analyses to Hesford’s and Stygal’s chapters in FACS (132-152 and 252-275).

  • 3/6 Drafts due to Google docs and 3/8 Responses to drafts due to Google Docs

3/9  What do we want to do with literacy, and literacy studies?

Finish reading Canagarajah.  As he discusses, literacy can seem either too expansive or too narrow of a frame for work in rhetoric and composition, insofar as we have defined composition more specifically by the teaching of writing, and we have limited literacy to writing and reading.  We will explore these constraints as we continue to discuss the aspects of teaching and writing that you have selected for further study.  We will also discuss how Shirley Logan discusses pedagogy in her chapter in FACS (45-57)/

  • 3/13 Revision due with responses to your paper in pocket folder to my box in



Representing Others

3/23 Critiquing the Research Enterprise

We will continue our discussion of the organization of the last two units and the writing groups.  We will examine how Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies sets out a theoretical framework, frames problems with historical analyses and ideological critiques, and then advances lines of inquiry into those issues.  We will use her analyses of “indigenous” peoples as a reference point for reflecting upon how universities and researchers treat students and others from traditionally underrepresented communities.  We will also use Brady’s article as a model for considering how to work with sources in the upcoming writing assignment.  Finally, we will spend a few minutes reviewing stylistic elements using one of your papers from the last unit.

  • Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies: Introduction (1-19 in the 2nd ed.), “History, Writing and Theory” (20-41), “Colonizing Knowledges” (just first opening and first two sections 44-9), and “Colonizing Knowledges” (just from “Disciplining the Colonized” to the end of the chapter pp. 71-78).
  • Brady’s “The Reproduction of Othering” in Feminism and Composition Studies.
  • Basic Prose Style and Mechanics


3/30 Ethnography as a Multimodal Methodology

We will consider how ethnography can provide us with multi-perspectival methods for examining thinking, teaching, and writing through differences.  As we have noted, ethnographic methods are consistent with rhetoric’s situated, provisional, recursive and multidimensional modes of analysis.  Following upon these discussions, we will loop back to continue our discussions of Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies as an example of participant-action research.  We will also continue the discussion of style from the last class by analyzing the readings’ syntax and paragraph development.  Be ready to discuss what you like and dislike about the style of each of the readings.


4/6 A Rhetorical Stance Agency and Affect                                        (Drafts of groups 1 and 2 research proposals due 4/10)

We will be joined in this class by Adela Licona, Anushka Peres, and Lizzie Bentley, who will lead us in a discussion of their independent study of the cultural politics of emotion.  We discuss a chapter from Sara Ahmed’s The Cultural Politics of EmotionIn the second half of the class, we will turn to the second and third readings listed below to continue our discussions of how our research represents others’ experiences.  We will use the issue of agency to shift to the questions about language that we will discuss in the next class.  Following up on our previous discussions, please be ready to parse the style and cohesive strategies in the readings.


4/13 Speaking out of turn—in and out of class                                  (Drafts of group 3 research proposals due 4/17)

Groups 1 and 2 will lead this class discussion, including the discussions of the drafts of their papers that will be posted in our Google Docs site by midnight on 4/10.  Everyone should be ready to draw on the previous readings on craft to do close analyses of the style and development of the drafts.  The discussion of the drafts will take up much of class.  Our discussions will range from the overall structure of the essays, to the topical development within paragraphs and to the style of the sentences.  Each group will select one reading from prior classes for re-reading.


Rhetoric as a Field of Vision

4/20   Re-envisioning Our Field of Study                                              (Revisions of research proposals due 4/24)

Group 3 will lead the class discussion, and the discussion of their drafts.  We will continue to work with the elements of craft from the last class.  We will follow through on our discussions of translingualism to consider Anzaldua as a model for how to weave together personal and cultural histories into hybrid forms of writing that range from poetic to academic registers.  Group 3 will choose at least two readings for re-reading to help us loop in prior discussions.

  • Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera: Introduction and first three chapters (25th ed. 3-61) and the poems beginning on pages 130, 138, 165 and 218


4/27                     Strategies for Writing Hybrid Articles (and getting them published)          (Drafts research statements due 5/1)

We will conclude our reading of Borderlands/La Frontera and connect our discussion of Azaldua with the focus of this unit on reimagining our field, in part by integrating your experience into your academic work, including your personal experiences with family, faith, sexuality, ethnicity and class affiliations.  As we will discuss, these experiences are part of what ethnography can help us to think through in our writing and teaching.  To help us getter better sense of how to compose and publish hybrid pieces in rhetoric and composition, we will read Anzaldua along with Victor Villaneuva’s essay, which like Anzaldua draws on personal and cultural histories to critique prevailing ideologies


5/4   Concluding Discussion of Our Class and Your Research                         (Revised research statements due 5/11)

This class will be devoted to the readings selected by groups and to discussions of their projects.  Each group should select two articles or chapters for us to reread.  We will touch on the drafts of the last paper, but our discussion will be more generally focused on the research program that individuals are planning to advance through their comprehensive exams.