Sem Rhetoric (Rhetoric of Popular Culture) (CR)


purpose of this course is to extend your understandings of contemporary
rhetorical theory and practice, particularly in relation to the production,
distribution, and circulation of “popular culture.”  The course will work towards developing
complex definitions of both rhetoric and culture, drawing on critical theories
of rhetoric as it is construed in a fairly broad sense: films, books,
magazines, websites, music, and television shows are all potentially
rhetorical, arguably so when contextualized within a definable rhetorical
situation and recognizable as contributive to an ongoing debate or social
imaginary.  Thus you will read theories
of rhetoric and cultural (re)production by such scholars as Stuart Hall, Sut
Jhally, Kyle Bishop, Raymond Williams, John Fiske, and others.  Even more specifically, you will also read
work by rhetoricians of popular culture, such as Barry
Brummett, bell hooks, Henry Giroux, and Analee Ward.  Finally, you will apply such theories by
analyzing artifacts of popular culture, the specifics of which will be offered
by you and your peers. While we will examine a range of local and global pop
cultural productions, you should feel free to bring to the discussion
productions that can be identified as functioning within a local/global matrix
relevant to Hawai‘i.

Assignments and Approach:

course will involve you in a combination of collective inquiries and
individualized scholarship. We will study the material and explore the
interconnections among rhetoric, culture, and the evolution/maintenance of
social knowledge/power through lectures, discussions, presentations, online
dialogues, and sustained scholarly projects. 
Most in-class time will be devoted to seminar-style discussions.  You and your peers will have common readings
to write about through a series of blog articles (25%), as well as separate works
to summarize, reflect upon, and present to the class (25%). Each of you will
produce a seminar paper for the course, doing so with an eye toward
publication, the process for which will not only involve multiple drafts but
analyses of extant published articles in target journals (50%).


No prior knowledge of Composition and Rhetoric or
Cultural Studies is absolutely required, but it will certainly serve as an
effective foundation, as will previous study across each of the concentrations.


Likely Readings:

addition to a course packet, we will make our way through much of the following
list of books.  (** Please do not purchase these in advance; the list
is a work in progress, and probably not all of the following books will be used
in full.  Moreover, some might be
available as electronic readings from our library.  In short: wait.)

  • Bishop, Kyle. American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall
    (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture
    . Jefferson: McFaraland
    and Company, 2010.
  • Blakeseley,
    David, ed. The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film, 2003.
  • Brummett, Barry. Rhetorical Dimensions of Popular Culture.  Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991.
  • Brummet, Barry. The World and How We Describe it: Rhetorics
    of Reality, Representation, Simulation.
  • Dyer-Witheford,
    Nick., and Greig de Petuer. Games of
    Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games.
    Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota
    Press, 2009.
  • Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The
    Meaning of Style.
  • Jhally,
    Sut. The Spectacle of Accumulation.
  • McAllister, Ken. Game Work: Language, Power, and Computer
    Game Culture
    . Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004.
  • Ward,
    Annalee.  Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Films. 2002.
  • Zukin, Sharon. Point of Purchase: How Shopping Changed
    American Culture
    . 2004.