ENGL487 Principles and Practices of Rhetoric
A seminar examining foundational concepts and approaches in the theory and practice of rhetoric in civic, professional, academic, and interpersonal settings; focusing on key issues in persuasion, argumentation, and eloquence in historical and contemporary contexts.
Everywhere we go in our daily lives, we encounter rhetoric (the available means of persuasion) that aims to influence how we should think, believe, and act. From a speech delivered at the White House, a billboard on Route 1, to a fifteen second YouTube clip, we are frequently influenced by someone else’s attempt to shape our thoughts and perceptions through the strategic use of persuasion. This course provides the theoretical and historical foundation to help you critically reflect on and understand how rhetoric functions to shape our “realities,” lives, and most significantly, social futures. We will learn the fundamentals of canonical rhetorical theory from the Euroamerican tradition, alongside non-traditional perspectives from women, ethnic minorities, and non-Western cultures to help you develop a rhetorical consciousness that enables you to critically analyze and produce effective discourses in a variety of genres, print and digital. In particular, we will focus on how to use rhetorical theory to make sense of various forms of discourses surrounding our lives, drawing upon contemporary examples in pop culture, the D.C. area, and digital spaces. Additionally, we will examine the relationship between rhetorical theory and the teaching of writing—how rhetoric can inform how we teach composition in the digital age. In sum, this course aims to provide you with the theoretical tools for becoming a more rhetorically and critically informed citizen, audience, author, and teacher of “texts” in the 21st century. Course requirements might include concept application blogs, interactive presentation, essays, and an exam.