ENGL487 - Principles and Practices of Rhetoric

Credit only granted for: ENGL487 or COMM401.

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.

This course has a twofold goal: 1) to familiarize you with some of the best-known texts in rhetoric that claim to define its nature, subject, tools, and function, and 2) to familiarize you with the tools for rhetorical analysis and invention. We will read selections from the Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and Cicero and will discuss the emergence of rhetoric as a discipline in the context of fierce debates about truth, justice, persuasion, education, and civic leadership. We will then consider the tools for the critique of arguments that we have inherited from that tradition in selections from Aristotle and the Peripatetic tradition as well as Cicero, Quintilian, and Hermogenes. We will also discuss the metamorphosis of the classical rhetorical tradition in the texts of twentieth-century rhetoricians Chaim Perelman and Kenneth Burke as well as the re-orientation of rhetoric toward ethics. At every step we will try to use the rhetorical theory we read as a practical analytical tool of both classical Greek and contemporary texts, and will discuss its applicability in the analysis and production of modern texts.