This advanced course in the study of
persuasion takes as a foundation the classical western understanding of
rhetoric as enabling citizen participation in the democratic enterprise. A
review of the histories of rhetorical practice and study in classical Greece
and Rome will provide the underpinnings for an advanced investigation into
contemporary rhetorical theories, which take as their subject, among others:
world rhetorics, digital, globlized rhetorics, and multi-modal forms of
To begin to understand how the shape and
form of public debate, and thus citizen participation, is shifting under the
pressures of new technologies, social media, and globalization, students will
read from contemporary rhetorical scholarship as well as scholarship from the
related field of cultural studies, which address emerging forms of on-line
argumentation. Students will respond to these readings in short papers.
Students will also perform a rhetorical analysis of an on-line discourse
community, formulating arguments about how these emerging sites for
identification, interpretation, commentary, and information gathering/seeking
are changing the landscape of citizen participation and thus the democratic
process. Assigned readings and prior writing assignments will prepare students
to write the final project for the course: a real-world, digital document or
set of documents that responds to a particular, situated rhetorical need.
Papers: You will be required to write
a series of short papers as a way to process the readings and class
discussions; each of these will be posted to a digital forum for other
students to read and comment on.
Analysis: Your first formal assignment
in the course will be a traditional academic essay, in which you
rhetorically analyze a particular on-line community’s discursive practices,
looking specifically at major appeals from classical rhetoric, fundamental
elements from contemporary genre studies, and key concepts from multimodal
Digital Argumentation: You will produce a
digital, perhaps multi-modal, document (or set of documents) that responds
to a need for rhetorically situated persuasion.
yet-to-be determined textbook will be assigned. I will also assign relevant
articles and/or on-line texts as necessary.