ENGL487 - Foundations of Rhetoric

This course has a twofold goal: 1) to familiarize you with some of the best-known texts from the Graeco-Roman tradition, claiming to define the nature, substance, tools, and function of rhetoric, as well as with the appropriations and modifications of that tradition in the twentieth century, and 2) to apply those concepts in practical rhetorical analysis. We will read selections from the Older Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, and Isocrates and will discuss the emergence of rhetoric as a discipline, in the light of an existing tradition of training students to become fluent speakers as a way of training them for civic leadership. We will then consider the pedagogical modifications of that tradition in selections from Hermogenes (and pseudo-Hermogenes), Cicero, and Quintilian and the definition of a rhetor as a “good person speaking well,” that is, a person capable of ethical, civic, and philosophical deliberation on a number of private and public issues and of expressing them cogently and forcefully. We will also discuss the presence and modifications of the classical rhetorical tradition in the texts of twentieth-century rhetoricians I. A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, and Chaim Perelman and their penchant for defining rhetoric as a mode of analysis rather than production of discourse. 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 both the analysis and production of contemporary texts. 

Credit will be granted for only one of the following: ENGL487 or COMM401.