Introduction to Rhetorical Studies Course

In the spring, I'm teaching a new course; that is to say, not only is it new to me, but to the university as well. It was proposed a couple of years ago, but I'll be the first one ever to teach it, thereby setting a precedent and possibly affecting enrollment patterns in the course for years to come (pressure!). It's an elective, and I'm trying to make it work with my teaching philosophy, which I'm coming to realize more and more is a Lazerian civic literacy with some Roberts-Miller thrown in, and make it appeal to students in a variety of majors. I think it would be most interesting to English, Journalism/Communication Studies, Political Science, and History majors, but hopefully anyone can get something out of it.

As always, I would love to hear suggestions!

English 3030: Introduction to Rhetorical Studies

This course will bring classical and modern rhetorical concepts to
bear on recent U.S. civic discourse, particularly great orations of
the recent past, such as those found in's online
speech bank, and present-day television political commentary. Opinion
writing in newspapers will also be used.

In the first half of this course, students will learn foundational
concepts of rhetorical studies, including:

• The canons (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery)
• The species (deliberative, judicial, epideictic)
• The appeals (ethos, pathos, logos)
• Stylistic devices
• Informal fallacies (bandwagon; red herring; post hoc, ergo propter hoc; etc.)

The second half of the course will be devoted to exploring the variety
of texts rhetoric scholars study and the approaches they take to those
texts. We will cover visual rhetoric; feminist and critical race
rhetorics; authorship/intellectual property; and rhetorical studies of
communication technologies including weblogs, wikis, and social
networking tools such as MySpace and Facebook.

The course is designed to provide students with foundational knowledge
of the art of rhetoric. A transferential approach to the material will
be encouraged; in other words, students will be urged to apply the
critical thinking skills afforded by rhetorical studies to their own
areas of interest.

Readings (Partial and Tentative):

Booth, Wayne, The Rhetoric of Rhetoric

Aristotle, On Rhetoric

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States

Bulworth. Dir. Warren Beatty. Perfs. Warren Beatty, Halle Berry. Film.
20th Century Fox, 1999.


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re transference

When I taught a similar 300-level course at ODU, one of the texts I used was Nelson, McCloskey, and Megill's Rhetoric of the Human Sciences. Chapters each on a whole range of disciplines, with the writers looking at how rhetoric illuminates each one. Seeing how history, math, biology, etc., were all rhetorical seemed to work pretty well, and this is a good text for that. The chapters are extended/revised conference presentations, I think, so they're fairly accessible too...


A question: Why this book by

A question: Why this book by Booth? It may be the most accessible of his work, but it is also the weakest.

Yellow Dog

Love Lazere!


We're using _Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy_ by Lazere in my rhetoric class at UTK. It's a great book! He explains concepts well. His political views are fairly liberal, which might be difficult for some students to accept.

(I graduated in 2002 with my degree in Lit., but I decided to go back for Tech. Comm. Now that I'm in classes again, I'm thinking about applying to grad. school. We'll see. Glad you're doing well, congrats on your marriage, and kudos on your new job!)



You could go with The Rhetoric of Irony. Or An Ethics of Fiction.

It's tentative

I need to decide soon, so maybe I'll reconsider the Booth book. Accessibility is key, though. I thought of the Booth book because of the accessibility, the focus on ethics, and the "rhetrickery" concept, which I thought students might find interesting.

Maybe I will go ahead and use the Lazere book; I've been going back and forth on it for a while now. Another contender is Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. What do you think? Unfortunately I don't have time to review your suggestion, Collin.

rhetorical pedagogy

Curious--How will you address rhetorical pedagogy (I realize maybe not the venue, but I'm just plain interested)--

Rhetorical pedagogy

I haven't decided yet exactly how I'll approach it, but I know that I probably won't spend more than a day or two on it, and it will probably entail having them reflect on their experiences in writing classes and how they compare to the paideia model of rhetorical pedagogy.

This looks like it's gonna

This looks like it's gonna be a good one. A very intriguing and useful course in my opinion. Rhetoric eh? If this was offered during my time in college, I'd be signing up immediately! I hope you post how this turns out! Good luck!

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