Seminar in Rhetoric (CR, HAP)

Rhetoric East/West

One can go through
an entire graduate program in English, even while specializing in rhetoric and
composition, and still encounter very few non-Western texts in rhetoric.
Attention is sometimes given to the impact that immigration patterns are having
on reading and writing practices in America and around the globe, but such
attention is still scant and addresses only immediate pedagogical goals, and
often consists of truisms or generalities about various cultural understandings
of literacy or communication.

This seminar
encourages a wider, more representative array of rhetorical theories and
practices, particularly those with ancient roots in Europe and Asia, and those
that are creating current conversation about their importance in our schools
and universities today. The course is designed

  • to examine these rhetorics and
    specific Asian authors such as Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Han Fei;
  • to compare them via a thorough study of traditional
    Western rhetorics such as those of Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and Burke;
  • to discover what, if any, “deep”
    or universal rhetoric is theorized, or is practiced today;
  • to examine hybrid forms,
    especially Asian American rhetorics;and to relate this work through
    critical texts to a pedagogical context in which theories of rhetoric and
    composition can be revised.

Your rhetoric––as
speakers, writers, teachers, and citizens––will be analyzed through different
cultural lenses and will, I hope, profit from additions to your rhetorical
repertoires. One important challenge facing our non-Western focus is
terminology: we have only English, and Western rhetorical vocabulary, with
which to start and, for the most part, to do the hard work of analysis. I hope
that this challenge can itself be a subject for debate and discussion, and for
creative solutions.

For some of you,
the course will be a refresher in western rhetoric, for others, an introduction
to the western tradition; for all, I suspect, the course will serve as an
exciting opening of several cultures’ rhetorical traditions (if traditions they are––another point of

Selected Texts: Aristotle, On Rhetoric;
Burke, “Lexicon Rhetoricae” and from A
Rhetoric of Motives
; Cicero, On the
Ideal Orator
; Confucius, from Analects;
Han Feizi, from Basic Writings; Lao
Tzu, Tao Te Ching; LuMing Mao, Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie; LuMing
Mao and Morris Young, eds., Representations:
Doing Asian American Rhetoric
; Quintilian, from The Orator’s Education.

three papers (two short, one long), oral reports, discussion-leading.