A list of topics covered in the course is available in the calendar.
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
What is rhetoric? What are the ethical and social implications of using rhetoric? These are the ultimate questions that we will consider this semester. Studying rhetoric teaches us not only how to write and speak persuasively but also how to understand the rhetorical efforts of others. Understanding rhetoric gives us the means of judging whose opinion about issues is the most accurate, useful, or valid, because such knowledge allows us to see beyond the persuasive techniques to the essence of the ideas. Further, understanding rhetoric is the best way of understanding the assumptions of and the points made by those who disagree with our positions. Further still, understanding rhetoric is the best way for us to deepen and refine our own positions and beliefs by exploring our own assumptions and our cultural contexts. In short, rhetoric teaches us how to find the limits of our own positions, how to argue effectively against others' positions, and how to create powerful and persuasive arguments for our own beliefs.
At its best, rhetoric is used ethically by people of good will who wish to present their ideas forcibly but fairly to their communities. At its worst, however, rhetoric is used unethically by people to manipulate us instead of enlightening us, to spread propaganda instead of seeking truth, to make palatable those ideas and products whose adoption actually runs counter to our best interests. Understanding rhetoric, then, is our best defense against its abusers--e.g., political "spin doctors," advertisers, demagogues, apologists for immoral business practices, and hate mongers. Using rhetoric in an ethical manner is our best method for becoming agents for positive change in our society.
"Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him [sic]; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself [sic] against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress." - Kenneth Burke
Note: Written work must be emailed to me before the class meeting when it is due. Email it to me as a Microsoft® Word attachment (no other format) plus copy-and-paste it into the email itself. Work not emailed to me before class will receive a late penalty.
This course requires your attendance, participation, and on-time production. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused cuts: if you're not in class, you are not contributing.
As the writer, bring a written list of specific questions about your content and organization. As a reader, give specific advice about how to deepen and clarify ideas, organization, etc.
The top of the first page of each of your essays must follow this format:
Meaningful Essay Title
March 14, 2006
Essay: Ethical Argument
The Case For Letting Deer Vote in Elections
Essay itself starts here (2 spaces below title)
Your essays must have 2 versions, and you have the option of writing a third
Your essays will be evaluated for their:
Issues about which intelligent, well informed, educated people of good will disagree.
Postwrite is your explanation of your rhetorical decisions (i.e., rhetorically analyze your own essay). A Postwrite must accompany each Mandatory and Optional Revision. It has the following headings:
i. My Essay's Overall Purpose(s)
ii. My Rhetorical Strategies and Techniques
iii. What I Am Proudest of in this Essay
iv. If I Had More Time, I Would Have ...
v. Questions for Steve (optional)
I correct the way technical editors do-namely, I correct the first occurrence of an error and explain how to fix it, then I leave it up to you to go through the rest of your essay and make similar corrections.
There are no penalty-free extensions. Please do not ask. If you have to pass something in late, then you have to pass it in late. There will be a 1-point penalty for each class meeting that the assignment is late.
I use an easy-to-figure system: each task is worth a certain number of points which, when all added together, equal 100 points. I use the standard scale to determine your course grade:
Here are the values of each activity:
|Self Intro Speech (Oral)||5|
|Self Intro Speech (Written)||5|
|Ethical Argument Essay||15|
|Critical Rhetorical Analysis||15|
|Rhetorical and Ethical Analysis Project||25|
|Final Persuasive Speech (Oral)||10|
|Final Persuasive Speech (Written)||10|
The sum of the total points is your grade for the course: i.e., a total of 89 is a B; a total of 90 is an A. I cannot push a final grade of 89 up to an A, nor can I round off (so an 89.9 is still a B).
Writing a thoughtful and coherent essay (250 words) on any one of the topics/questions at the end of any of the assigned readings in One Hundred Great Essays (or in handouts) or the "Additional Case" in Ethics and College Student Life: A Case Study Approach will add anywhere from 0-2 points to your final total (depending on the quality of the essay). It must be emailed to me before the beginning of the class for which the essay is assigned. I cannot accept it later than that-please do not even ask. A maximum of 3 extra credit essays for the semester.
Attendance: If you have no cuts for the whole semester, I will add 3 points to your grade total.
In all academic writing, then, you must give citations each time you use
Further, you show appropriate respect for other writers and thinkers by giving them credit for their ideas, their structures, their phrasings, and their information. In Western culture, not giving credit is an insult as well as an act of dishonesty.
In other words, never take credit for someone else's words, ideas, or style (this prohibition includes material found on the Web). Although the material on the Web is free, you did not create it; someone else thought it, researched it, wrote it-and that someone must be given credit.
There are 4 guidelines for using sources in your academic writing:
In sum, your essays should always be your own work (but you are encouraged to seek writing advice from the Writing Center and from workshops). Your essays should always be your new work created specifically for this course. Using work written for other courses will result in an unchangeable zero.
If I so request, you must hand in hard copies of all the sources that you used for writing an essay, as well as your notes and rough drafts. If you cannot produce these materials when requested, the essay will receive a zero and will not be allowed to be replaced by another essay. Also, you are responsible for ensuring that others do not copy your work or submit it as their own.