ENGL487 - Foundations of Rhetoric

Credit only granted for: ENGL487 or COMM401.

Principles and approaches to the theory, criticism, and historical understanding of rhetorical discourse.

In this course we will read texts of the rhetorical tradition, the theories and guides for speaking and writing persuasively, from the beginning to 1900. We will study the canonical theories of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, Erasmus, Campbell and others. But we will also read communication theory by women outside the canon, by Pan Chao, Sei Shonagon, Margaret Fell, Mary Astell, and the Black elocutionist Hallie Quinn Brown. We will learn traditional rhetorical categories, such as invention and levels of style, and apply them in rhetorical analysis. We will discuss the issues of classical rhetorical theory, such as the moral use of rhetoric, and art vs. nature. We will also examine the ways rhetorical theory changes when it is adapted to new, less privileged groups of speakers--such as women's emphasis on conversation rather than public speech.  Class will be mainly discussion, with student reports on crucial topics. Requirements include a mid-term and final examination, three one-page reports (written and oral) on theoretical topics, a 5-page paper using rhetorical analysis, and a longer 7-8 page research paper either comparing two theories or using a theory to analyze a text from the time it was widely taught.