Department of English

Diane Davis


Professor

Professor of Rhetoric & Writing; Director of Digital Writing & Research Lab
Diane Davis

Contact

  • Phone: 512-471-8735
  • Office: FAC 17
  • Office Hours: M 1-3p, T 2-3p, & by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: B5500

Interests


My work is situated at the intersection of rhetorical theory and continental philosophy.

Biography


My work is situated at the intersection of rhetorical theory and continental philosophy. I hold the Kenneth Burke Chair of Rhetoric & Critical Media Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and my research and teaching interests include rhetorical theory, critical theory, digital culture, and continental philosophy.

I am the author of Breaking Up [at] Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter (Southern Illinois UP, 2000) and Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations (University of Pittsburgh, 2010), co-author of Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition(with Michelle Ballif and Roxanne Mountford, Routledge, 2008), and editor of The ÜberReader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell (U of Illinois P, 2008) and Reading Ronell (U of Illinois P, 2009). I co-edited, with Michelle Ballif, a special issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric (2014), entitled “Extrahuman Rhetorical Relations: Addressing the Animal, the Object, the Dead, and the Divine.”

Courses


RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44090 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 9

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethospathoslogos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330E • Animal Rhetorics

44140 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM FAC 9

Traditionally, rhetoric has been defined as a specifically human art or science in which human beings use language to persuade one another to take up particular attitudes or behaviors. For Plato rhetoric was “the art of winning souls by discourse,” for Cicero it was “speech designed to persuade,” and for Quintilian it was “the good man speaking well.” For the so-called father of modern rhetorical studies, Kenneth Burke, rhetoric’s most basic function is “the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents” (Rhetoric 41). Rhetorical theorists traditionally presume that rhetorical ability, in fact, is the definitive distinction between human beings and all the other animals—Burke actually defines the human being as “the symbol using (and abusing) animal.”

In 1992, however, a respected translator of Aristotle, George A. Kennedy, scandalously proposed that rhetoric is not simply a human art but pre-verbal energy that is evident in all animal life. All animals engage in various sorts of rhetorical exchange, according to him, epideictic, deliberative, and forensic. Indeed, the conviction that there is a single, definitive capacity that distinguishes all human beings from all nonhuman animals—a capacity for language or reason or culture or tool-use or altruism or self-knowledge—has been systematically debunked by recent discoveries in a wide array of disciplines, including primatology, neurobiology, psychology, and anthropology. Certain animals, for example, pass the same mirror test used to determine self-recognition in human children; many more use tools, share distinct languages and complex social interactions, have a sense of past and future, pass knowledge from one generation to the next, and indicate varying propensities for laughter, grief, deception, empathy, and shame. We now know that human beings are not the only “rational animals,” in other words, nor are they the only symbol using animals. Many animals, we’ll see, are quite successful rhetors.

In this course we will study both animal rhetorics and rhetorics of “the animal.” We’ll engage recent animal studies research, where we’ll meet, for instance, apes who “write,” prairie dogs who use sophisticated grammatical patterns, elephants who mourn and bury their dead, dogs who “read” human gestures, magpies and dolphins and gorillas who recognize themselves in a mirror, rats who starve themselves to prevent a buddy from being harmed, and African Grey parrots who can count, discern shapes and colors, and use many English words. We will also study philosophers and rhetoricans who interrogate the fuzzy line between human beings and nonhuman animals, and the ways in which any understanding of “the human” is already dependent on a rhetoric of “the animal,” as if that descriptor covered every nonhuman entity, from a sea sponge to a great ape.

 

Texts

  • George Kennedy, “A Hoot in the Dark: The Evolution of a General Rhetoric”
  • Jeremy Rifkin, chapter three from The Empathic Civilization
  • Irene M. Pepperberg, selection from Alex and Me
  • Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin, selection from Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind.
  • Con Slobodchikoff, selection from Learning the Language of Animals: Chasing Doctor Doolittle.
  • Nature Channel’s Documentary, Secret Life of Crows https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89C5gsdaSXg
  • Barbara J. King, selections from How Animals Grieve
  • Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, selections from The Genius of Dogs
  • Marc Beckoff and Pierce, selections from Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.
  • Marc Beckoff, selections from The Emotional Lives of Animals.
  • Frans De Waal “Morally Evolved,” from Primates and Philosophers
  • Temple Grandin, selections from Animals Make Us Human.
  • JM Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
  • Cary Wolfe, “Flesh and Finitude: Thinking Animals in (Post)Humanist Philosophy.”
  • Karl Steel, “How to Make a Human”
  • Several videos

Assignments and Grading

  • Semi-weekly Reading Posts on class discussion board. Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings + at least one thoughtful response to a classmate’s post. 10 x 2pts = 20%
  • Three Summary/Response papers. Formal, very rigidly defined one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers devoted to summarizing and responding to the assigned text. 3 x 10pts = 30%
  • One short digital (visual or aural) argument based on course texts.  20%

One final, 5-6 page researched paper devoted to some aspect of the course theme. 30%

E 387M • Extrahuman Rhetrcl Relation

34880 • Spring 2016
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM FAC 9

This seminar will attend to the scene of responsive engagement with or among nonhuman others. Traditionally, rhetoric names a specifically human art or science, requiring at least one discrete human subject at the center of its operations. Even what the discipline of communication studies calls “extrapersonal communication,” which involves communication with a nonhuman other (an animal, a plant, a deity, a ghost, an object, a machine, etc.), presumes first of all a preexisting human subject who uses rhetoric to establish the connection. However, we will honor this weighty inheritance in the tradition of what Avital Ronell calls the noble traitor, taking it up in order to expose its limits and presumptions.

We will, for example, examine the ways in which “the human” is produced through ahuman or inhuman communications very broadly conceived; attend to a generalized notion of rhetoricity—a fundamental affectability, persuadability, or responsivity—that remains irreducible to “speech” and symbolic exchange more generally; interrogate the predicament of addressivity or responsivity in the face of (or among) animals, objects, deities, and the dead—but also deconstruct the clean distinctions implied in such designations as “the animal,” the object,” “the dead,” and “the divine,” exposing the ways in which these dangerous supplements are mobilized in the name of the collective noun “the human.”

Probable Requirements:

  • Semi-Weekly Talking Points: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings. 
  • One short paper, to be read aloud and then handed in, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and handed in
  • A 4-6 page review of a work associated with the theme of the course written for a journal of your choice in rhetorical studies.

A Few of the Potential Readings

  • Philosophy and Rhetoric, Special Issue, 2014. “Extrahuman Rhetorical Relations: Addressing the Animal, the Object, the Dead, and the Divine.” Ed. Diane Davis and Michelle Ballif. Contributors: Avital Ronell, Cary Wolfe, Laurence Rickels, Joshua Gunn, Elissa Marder, Thomas Rickert, James Brown, Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis, Steven Mailloux, Michael Bernard-Donals.
  • Rickert, Thomas. Ambient Rhetorics.
  • Jane Bennett. Vibrant Matter.
  • Martin Heidegger. Basic Philosophical Writings.
  • Emmanuel Levinas. Existence and Existents.
  • Michael Marder. Plant Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life.
  • Jacques Derrida. The Animal That Therefore I Am, selections from Specters of Marx and The Gift of Death. Cary Wolfe. Zoontologies.
  • Michelle Ballif. “Historiography as Hauntology: Paranormal Investigations into the History of Rhetoric.” Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Ed. Michelle Ballif. SIUP, 2013.
  • Avital Ronell. Selection from “The Kant Satellite” in Stupidity on Abraham’s relation to God.

 

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

43305 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 9

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethospathoslogos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330E • Pathos

43360 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 9

Aristotle held that there were three basic appeals by which to persuade an audience: appeals to reason (logos), to the speaker’s character (ethos), and to the audience’s emotions (pathos). In contemporary western society, however, the latter is often considered to be a bit unsavory, a slimy way to move an audience to action or attitude—appeals to fear, anger, pity, or shame, it is presumed, line up on the side of seduction and ruse rather than on the side of reason and truth. This prejudice enjoys a long and proud history that is associated with the classical definition of man as a rational animal (animale rationale). The capacity for reason is considered by many to be unique to human animals; indeed, it is considered the means by which humans transcend their animality. Emotional appeals, which shoot for the less lofty realms of sensual reaction, are therefore considered superficial and dangerous, manipulative tactics that lead audiences away from a more objective truth. But Aristotle situated the pathé (the passions or emotions) within the realm of reason, considering them crucial not only to sound judgment but to thinking itself. And contemporary thought in such diverse disciplines as rhetoric, philosophy, neuroscience, and affect theory backs Aristotle on this one: all suggest that emotions fundamentally orient one’s existence in the world, and that there is no disinterested or dispassionate reason—indeed, that thinking itself depends upon the passions.

In this course, we will follow Aristotle’s lead and study the ways in which thinking and judgment are intricately tied up with passion. We will read a broad spectrum of texts on emotional life in order to better understand both how we, as people, are moved to action or attitude through our affective engagement, and how we, as rhetors, might use that understanding to craft successful appeals.

Texts:

Readings (available online and on reserve in the library) may include, for example:

  • Aristotle. Rhetoric. Book II.
  • Cicero. De Oratore. Book 2, sect 185-216.
  • Quintilian. Institutes of Oratory. Book 6.
  • Gorgias. “Encomium of Helen.”
  • Amélie Oksenberg Rorty. “Structuring Rhetoric.” (on the pathé)
  • Crowley and Hawhee. “Pathetic Proofs”
  • Leighton, Steven. “Aristotle and the Emotions.”
  • Smith, Craig, and Michael Hyde. “Rethinking ‘the Public’: The Role of Emotion in Being-with-Others.”
  • Striker, Gisela. “Emotions in Context: Aristotle’s Treatment of the Passions in the Rhetoric and His Moral Psychology.”
  • Nussbaum, Martha. “Aristotle on Emotions and Rational Persuasion.”
  • ---. Selections from Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions.
  • Katule, Richard. “Quintilian on the Art of Emotional Appeal.”
  • Ahmed, Sara. “Affective Economies.”
  • Damasio, Anthony. Selections from Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.
  • Brennan, Theresa. Selections from The Transmission of Affect.
  • Helmers, Marguerite. The Elements of Visual Analysis.
  • Denise Riley. Impersonal Passion
  • Gregg, Melissa and Gregory J. Seigworth, ed. Selections from The Affect Theory Reader.
  • Walton, Douglas. Appeal to Pity.
  • Stewart, Kathleen. Ordinary Affects

Potential Assignments and Grading: 

  • Analysis of a photograph: 5% 
  • Written enargeia (vivid description): 10%
  • Analysis of an ad: 10%
  • Analysis of a visual text: 15% 
  • Semi-weekly reading notes: 15%
  • Written pathetic appeal: 20%
  • Visual pathetic appeal (written explication): 25%

E 387M • Performative Rhetorics

36045 • Fall 2014
Meets T 5:00PM-8:00PM FAC 9

In the beginning was the deed.

  –Goethe Faust

 

Speech is in fact a gift of language, and language is not immaterial. It is a subtle body, but body it is.

  –Jacques Lacan, "The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis"

 

Valerie Solanas, who took no prisoners, took pleasure in the injurious effects of language and, with Lacanian precision, understood that words are bodies that can be hurled at the other, they can land in the psyche or explode in the soma. A hurtful utterance can give you hives, make you want to throw up, put a dent in your appetite, or summon up any number of somatic responses and physical collapses.

   –Avital Ronell, "Deviant Payback: The Aims of Valerie Solanas"

 

In his 1955 Harvard lectures, published posthumously in 1962 as How to do Things With Words, J. L. Austin outlined the basic tenets of speech-act theory in its contemporary form, offering a tentative but perhaps necessary distinction between the "constative" and "performative" functions of language. While the constative utterance offers a statement that describes or articulates "what is," the performative utterance produces, transforms, institutes. Austin for the most part located performative language within the realm of intentional consciousness and limited his analyses to instances of "relative purity," excluding citations of performative speech (e.g., those by "an actor in a play")—a position Derrida famously deconstructs. Nonetheless, Austin's lectures demonstrated that performative utterances collapse the distinction between saying and doing, severely problematizing the conception of language as a transcendental structure of meaning (what Saussure calls langue). Again. What currently goes by the name speech-act theory, in other words, can be understood as the latest articulation in a centuries old debate between philosophy and rhetoric. What's in question, to paraphrase Nietzsche, is whether there is any (transcendental) being behind concrete acts of saying (what Saussure calls parole). Whereas John Searle attempts in Speech Acts to systematize Austin's subversive insights within a logical framework, arguing that "an adequate study of speech acts is a study of langue," many of the most influential contemporary thinkers have resisted this effort, situating Austin's lectures on the side of (sophistic) rhetoric, as a re-affirmation of the awesome and undeniable positing power of language (as parole).

In this course, we will zero in on rhetoric's substantializing effects, on its capacity for concrete manifestation via, for example, hate speech, (psycho)analytic speech, poetic speech, and political speech. We won't attempt any sort of comprehensive approach but will instead begin with Gorgias and Plato, leap ahead to Austin and his contemporary interlocutors, and then spread out into linguistic avenues not explicitly associated with speech-act theory. Freud, for example, had his own theory of performative language (language that institutes as much as refers), as did Levinas, Athusser, and Heidegger. 

Probable Requirements:

  • Semi-Weekly Talking Points: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings. 
  • One short paper, to be read aloud and then handed in, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and handed in

Probable Readings:

J. L. Austin. How to do things with Words.

John Searle. Selections from Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language, and “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Jacques Derrida. Limited Inc., “Declarations of Independence,” and “Performative Powerlessness”

Judith Butler. Excitable Speech

Shoshana Felman. The Scandal of the Speaking Body.

Avital Ronell. “The Rhetoric of Testing,” from Stupidity

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. "Postulates of Linguistics" from A Thousand Plateaus.

Paul de Man, “Autobiography as Defacement”

Sigmund Freud. Selections from Three Case Histories and Studies in Hysteria

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. “Analytic Speech: From a Restricted to a General Rhetoric.”

J. Hillis Miller. “Performativity as Performance /Performativity as Speech Act: Derrida’s Special Theory of Performativity.”

 

 

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44815 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 9

 "What then is truth? A moveable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms"

–Friedrich Nietzsche

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day. Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly trans-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric are consistently employed not only in literary analyses but in linguistics, philosophy, history, law, anthropology, political science, education, and religion—as well as in all of the so called "natural sciences." There is no body of knowledge, and this includes scientific knowledge, that is not already a product of rhetorical transactions. Throughout the semester, we will examine, among other things, the gigantic implications of this revelation.

Aims of the course: The primary objective of this course is to develop a rhetorical perspective through which to compose, interpret, and present “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic. To that end, we will learn to identify and make use of common rhetorical principles (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, etc.) as well as the standard rhetorical figures (metaphor, metonomy, synecdoche, etc.) and the five rhetorical canons (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery). We will read a handful of canonical and non-canonical works from “the rhetorical tradition” in order to spotlight the ancient and contemporary dispute between philosophy and rhetoric—a dispute which philosophers tend to describe as a choice between logic and persuasion, existence and representation, science and magic. We will be interested not only in what happens to the terms of this dispute when it is examined and described from a rhetorical perspective but also in what happens to our understanding of “reality” itself when logic, existence, and even science turn out to be effects of language rather than the other way around. Whereas philosophers seek the truth, in this class we rhetoricians will examine the way language is working to produce what functions as truth.

Assignments and Grades. This course has a "substantial writing component," and each major assignment is designed to help you improve your effectiveness as a writer and a rhetor. Informal assignments will include active participation in an online discussion forum or listserv and semi-weekly "talking points" that summarize and explore key issues in the readings (10%). Your three major assignments, each of which will go through multiple drafts and at least one peer review, will include a rhetorical analysis of a current event/issue of your choice presented orally (30%), and two other substantial writing projects designed either for a print or an electronic medium (30% each). Grades for all assignments will be tied to explicit criteria, which will be discussed at length before the fact.

Probable Texts. We'll use Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee's Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students as our textbook in this class, plus we'll have a coursepack of selected readings from Plato to Nietzsche to Bush.

RHE 330E • Pathos

44870 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 9

Aristotle held that there were three basic appeals by which to persuade an audience: appeals to reason (logos), to the speaker’s character (ethos), and to the audience’s emotions (pathos). In contemporary western society, however, the latter is often considered to be a bit unsavory, a slimy way to move an audience to action or attitude—appeals to fear, anger, pity, or shame, it is presumed, line up on the side of seduction and ruse rather than on the side of reason and truth. This prejudice enjoys a long and proud history that is associated with the classical definition of man as a rational animal (animale rationale). The capacity for reason is considered by many to be unique to human animals; indeed, it is considered the means by which humans transcend their animality. Emotional appeals, which shoot for the less lofty realms of sensual reaction, are therefore considered superficial and dangerous, manipulative tactics that lead audiences away from a more objective truth. But Aristotle situated the pathé (the passions or emotions) within the realm of reason, considering them crucial not only to sound judgment but to thinking itself. And contemporary thought in such diverse disciplines as rhetoric, philosophy, neuroscience, and affect theory backs Aristotle on this one: all suggest that emotions fundamentally orient one’s existence in the world, and that there is no disinterested or dispassionate reason—indeed, that thinking itself depends upon the passions.

In this course, we will follow Aristotle’s lead and study the ways in which thinking and judgment are intricately tied up with passion. We will read a broad spectrum of texts on emotional life in order to better understand both how we, as people, are moved to action or attitude through our affective engagement, and how we, as rhetors, might use that understanding to craft successful appeals.

Texts:

Readings (available online and on reserve in the library) will include:

  • Aristotle. Rhetoric. Book II.
  • Cicero. De Oratore. Book 2, sect 185-216.
  • Quintilian. Institutes of Oratory. Book 6.
  • Gorgias. “Encomium of Helen.”
  • Amélie Oksenberg Rorty. “Structuring Rhetoric.” (on the pathé)
  • Crowley and Hawhee. “Pathetic Proofs”
  • Leighton, Steven. “Aristotle and the Emotions.”
  • Smith, Craig, and Michael Hyde. “Rethinking ‘the Public’: The Role of Emotion in Being-with-Others.”
  • Striker, Gisela. “Emotions in Context: Aristotle’s Treatment of the Passions in the Rhetoric and His Moral Psychology.”
  • Nussbaum, Martha. “Aristotle on Emotions and Rational Persuasion.”
  • ---. Selections from Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions.
  • Katule, Richard. “Quintilian on the Art of Emotional Appeal.”
  • Ahmed, Sara. “Affective Economies.”
  • Damasio, Anthony. Selections from Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.
  • Massumi, Brian. Selections from Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation.
  • Brennan, Theresa. Selections from The Transmission of Affect.
  • Helmers, Marguerite. The Elements of Visual Analysis.

Assignments and Grading: 

Analysis of a photograph: 5% 

Written enargeia (vivid description): 10%

Analysis of an ad: 10%

Analysis of a visual text: 15% 

Semi-weekly reading notes: 15%

Written pathetic appeal: 20%

Visual pathetic appeal (written explication): 25%

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44370 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 9

"What then is truth? A moveable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms"

–Friedrich Nietzsche

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day. Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly trans-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric are consistently employed not only in literary analyses but in linguistics, philosophy, history, law, anthropology, political science, education, and religion—as well as in all of the so called "natural sciences." There is no body of knowledge, and this includes scientific knowledge, that is not already a product of rhetorical transactions. Throughout the semester, we will examine, among other things, the gigantic implications of this revelation.

Aims of the course: The primary objective of this course is to develop a rhetorical perspective through which to compose, interpret, and present “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic. To that end, we will learn to identify and make use of common rhetorical principles (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, etc.) as well as the standard rhetorical figures (metaphor, metonomy, synecdoche, etc.) and the five rhetorical canons (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery). We will read a handful of canonical and non-canonical works from “the rhetorical tradition” in order to spotlight the ancient and contemporary dispute between philosophy and rhetoric—a dispute which philosophers tend to describe as a choice between logic and persuasion, existence and representation, science and magic. We will be interested not only in what happens to the terms of this dispute when it is examined and described from a rhetorical perspective but also in what happens to our understanding of “reality” itself when logic, existence, and even science turn out to be effects of language rather than the other way around. Whereas philosophers seek the truth, in this class we rhetoricians will examine the way language is working to produce what functions as truth.

Assignments and Grades. This course has a "substantial writing component," and each major assignment is designed to help you improve your effectiveness as a writer and a rhetor. Informal assignments will include active participation in an online discussion forum or listserv and semi-weekly "talking points" that summarize and explore key issues in the readings (10%). Your three major assignments, each of which will go through multiple drafts and at least one peer review, will include a rhetorical analysis of a current event/issue of your choice presented orally (30%), and two other substantial writing projects designed either for a print or an electronic medium (30% each). Grades for all assignments will be tied to explicit criteria, which will be discussed at length before the fact.

Probable Texts. We'll use Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee's Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students as our textbook in this class, plus we'll have a coursepack of selected readings from Plato to Nietzsche to Bush.

RHE 330E • Modern Rhetorical Criticism

44425 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 9

Rhetorical criticism involves the investigation, interpretation, and explanation of rhetorical acts and artifacts for the purpose of grasping the means by which they affect attitudes and behavior.  Whereas the literary critic sticks to specifically literary texts, the rhetorical critic may zero in on any rhetorical “text,” from a political speech or journal article to a billboard image, a Facebook status, a rock concert, or a video game. The rhetorical critic finds these “texts” worthy of analysis not because they are beautifully written or particularly enduring, but because they reveal cultural values, social trends, and a diversity of persuasive appeals—verbal, aural, and visual.

 This course will introduce you to a range of contemporary critical methods. We will begin by defining fundamental terms, interpreting and evaluating texts according to their basic rhetorical features (ideas, arguments, form, and style), and focusing in on the most traditional critical approach to rhetorical analysis, neo-Aristotelian criticism. We will, however, move very quickly into the investigation and application of more flexible, contemporary critical approaches that embrace the inherent “rhetoricality” of language, including, for example, dramatistic types of criticism associated with Kenneth Burke (cluster, fantasy-theme, genre, narrative, pentadic) and socio-political/psychosocial types of criticism associated with social movements and twentieth century intellectual developments (Marxist, feminist, deconstructive, post-colonial). This course will involve both theory and application. First, we’ll strive to understand the methodology of each critical approach and what is at stake in it, interrogating the ways in which an act of rhetorical criticism reproduces and institutionalizes as well as challenges and transforms cultural values. And second, we’ll practice rhetorical criticism ourselves, applying diverse critical approaches to various rhetorical artifacts throughout the semester.

Probable Texts

Sonja K. Foss. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, 4th Edition. Waveland press, 2009.

Jennifer Richards. Rhetoric. Routledge, 2008.

Probable Assignments

This is a writing flag course, which means that we will attend carefully to writing. Informal assignments will include semi-weekly reading notes posted to the class wiki in which you will consider ways to apply the critical approach we’re currently addressing to a rhetorical artifact; you will also be expected to respond to your classmates’ readings. Formal assignments will include three papers and a presentation: two 5-6 page papers in which you will summarize as tightly as possible two critical approaches we’ve studied in class and then read one “across” the other to assess the focus, value, and stakes of each; one 7-8 page application paper in which you will apply one of the critical approaches we’ve discussed to an approved rhetorical artifact; and a Prezi presentation of the major insights and discoveries you detail in your application paper. Each paper will go through multiple drafts and a formal peer review.

Probable Grade Breakdown

  • Semi-Weekly Reading Notes: 20%
  • Comparison papers (2 x 20pts): 40%
  • Application paper: 30%
  • Prezi presentation: 10%

E 387M • Rhetorical Theory And Ethics

35800 • Fall 2012
Meets T 5:00PM-8:00PM FAC 9

Though he was a masterful rhetorician himself, Plato famously ranted against sophistic rhetoric because it, unlike the “true dialectic,” was not an ethical use of language: it aimed at (evil) seduction rather than (good) truth. Centuries later in the Ethics of Rhetoric, Richard M. Weaver argues, in Plato’s footsteps, that rhetoric is ethical only when it urges commitment to dialectically secured principles, e.g. truths. The notion that rhetoric is ethical (or good) only when it operates in the service of previously established truths continues to dominate our ethico-political scene. However, once such metaphysical prejudices dissolve, once both “the good” and “the true” are understood—even to the tiniest degree—as effects of language, this clean, supplemental relation between rhetoric and ethics gets complicated. How are we to understand an ethics that is dependent upon language? How are we to understand this relation between rhetoric and ethics once the iffiness of doxa comes to replace the certitudes of episteme? What is left of ethics once its traditional “grounds” become a function of the interplay of rhetorical elements: audience, exigence, context, tone, arrangement, delivery, timing, etc.? Does this leave the ethical imperative impotent? Purely relative? In Postmodern Ethics, Sygmunt Bauman attempts to counter this putative relativity by proposing that ethics today, after the “fall,” takes place when I choose to be responsible, in the instant that “I assign the right to make me responsible” (86). But this position presumes to answer all the questions we will hold open in this course: it presumes a knowable other and a self who has both the freedom to choose and the knowledge of what it means to be responsible.

In this course, we will begin with the presumption that ethics and language are indissociably linked in the question of responsibility, which, etymologically speaking, comes from the Latin respondere (to respond, to answer to) and suggests the obligation to respond to the call of the other. However, we will not presume to understand ahead of time either the origin or the effects of this “call.” In Altérités, Jacques Derrida admits that what leaves him "reticent" about all current discourses on ethics is that they operate on the presumption that the "other" is necessarily another "myself"—a(nother) rational subject, a(nother) speaking consciousness, even another Dasein, just like me—that they fail to attend to the question of the "other," to the otherness of the other, proceeding instead on the basis of an unquestioned appropriation. Emmanuel Levinas proposes, further, that responding to the other is not a choice I get to make but an imperative that gives me to be: the priority of the other, according to him, is not a function of my generosity; it is my existential predicament. And yet, responding to the other’s call, as Avital Ronell has repeatedly shown, consists simultaneously in a deracinating experience of being-called that interrupts the presumption of spontaneity and in an experience of undecidability, as you can never be sure the call is a call or that it's meant for you: "How, precisely, can we know?" (Stupidity). The question that remains for the infinitely obligated addressee, as Lyotard puts it in The Differend, is whether what is coming through as a call really is a call--rather than, for example, a "fantasy."

In this seminar, we will hold ourselves within the complex intersections of rhetoric and ethics, where decisions are necessary but the “grounds” for making them cannot be secured, where the trial of decision involves an encounter with the undecidable. 

Probable Requirements:

  • Semi-Weekly Talking Points: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings. 
  • One short paper, to be read aloud and then handed in, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and handed in
  • One conference panel and paper proposal utilizing the ideas you glean from the course

A Few Probable Readings:

Aristotle, Alain Badiou, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Immanuel Kant, Luce Irigaray, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-François Lyotard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Avital Ronell, Clarice Lispector 

 

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44185 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 9

"What then is truth? A moveable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms" –Friedrich Nietzsche

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day. Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly trans-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric are consistently employed not only in literary analyses but in linguistics, philosophy, history, law, anthropology, political science, education, and religion—as well as in all of the so called "natural sciences." There is no body of knowledge, and this includes scientific knowledge, that is not already a product of rhetorical transactions. Throughout the semester, we will examine, among other things, the gigantic implications of this revelation.

Aims of the course: The primary objective of this course is to develop a rhetorical perspective through which to compose, interpret, and present “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic. To that end, we will learn to identify and make use of common rhetorical principles (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, etc.) as well as the standard rhetorical figures (metaphor, metonomy, synecdoche, etc.) and the five rhetorical canons (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery). We will read a handful of canonical and non-canonical works from “the rhetorical tradition” in order to spotlight the ancient and contemporary dispute between philosophy and rhetoric—a dispute which philosophers tend to describe as a choice between logic and persuasion, existence and representation, science and magic. We will be interested not only in what happens to the terms of this dispute when it is examined and described from a rhetorical perspective but also in what happens to our understanding of “reality” itself when logic, existence, and even science turn out to be effects of language rather than the other way around. Whereas philosophers seek the truth, in this class we rhetoricians will examine the way language is working to produce what functions as truth.

Assignments and Grades

This course has a "writing flag," and each major assignment is designed to help you improve your effectiveness as a writer and a rhetor. Informal assignments will include active participation in an online discussion forum or listserv and semi-weekly "talking points" that summarize and explore key issues in the readings (10%). Your three major assignments, each of which will go through multiple drafts and at least one peer review, will include a rhetorical analysis of a current event/issue of your choice presented orally (30%), and two other substantial writing projects designed either for a print or an electronic medium (30% each). Grades for all assignments will be tied to explicit criteria, which will be discussed at length before the fact.

Probable Texts

We'll use Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee's Ancient Rhetoric for Contemporary Students as our textbook in this class, plus we'll have a coursepack of selected readings from Plato to Nietzsche to Bush.

RHE 330E • Modern Rhetorical Criticism

44240 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 9

Rhetorical criticism involves the investigation, interpretation, and explanation of rhetorical acts and artifacts for the purpose of grasping the means by which they affect attitudes and behavior.  Whereas the literary critic sticks to specifically literary texts, the rhetorical critic may zero in on any rhetorical “text,” from a political speech or journal article to a billboard image, a Facebook status, a rock concert, or a video game. The rhetorical critic finds these “texts” worthy of analysis not because they are beautifully written or particularly enduring, but because they reveal cultural values, social trends, and a diversity of persuasive appeals—verbal, aural, and visual.

This course will introduce you to a range of contemporary critical methods. We will begin by defining fundamental terms, interpreting and evaluating texts according to their basic rhetorical features (ideas, arguments, form, and style), and focusing in on the most traditional critical approach to rhetorical analysis, neo-Aristotelian criticism. We will, however, move very quickly into the investigation and application of more flexible, contemporary critical approaches that embrace the inherent “rhetoricality” of language, including, for example, dramatistic types of criticism associated with Kenneth Burke (cluster, fantasy-theme, genre, narrative, pentadic) and socio-political/psychosocial types of criticism associated with social movements and twentieth century intellectual developments (Marxist, feminist, deconstructive, post-colonial). This course will involve both theory and application. First, we’ll strive to understand the methodology of each critical approach and what is at stake in it, interrogating the ways in which an act of rhetorical criticism reproduces and institutionalizes as well as challenges and transforms cultural values. And second, we’ll practice rhetorical criticism ourselves, applying diverse critical approaches to various rhetorical artifacts throughout the semester.

Probable Texts

Sonja K. Foss. Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice, 4th Edition. Waveland press, 2009.

Jennifer Richards. Rhetoric. Routledge, 2008.

Probable Assignments

This is a writing flag course, which means that we will attend carefully to writing. Informal assignments will include semi-weekly reading notes posted to the class wiki in which you will consider ways to apply the critical approach we’re currently addressing to a rhetorical artifact; you will also be expected to respond to your classmates’ readings. Formal assignments will include three papers and a presentation: two 5-6 page papers in which you will summarize as tightly as possible two critical approaches we’ve studied in class and then read one “across” the other to assess the focus, value, and stakes of each; one 7-8 page application paper in which you will apply one of the critical approaches we’ve discussed to an approved rhetorical artifact; and a Prezi presentation of the major insights and discoveries you detail in your application paper. Each paper will go through multiple drafts and a formal peer review.

Probable Grade Breakdown

•    Semi-Weekly Reading Notes: 20%

•    Comparison papers (2 x 20pts): 40%

•    Application paper: 30%

•    Prezi presentation: 10%

E 387M • Rhetoric And The Animal

35600 • Fall 2011
Meets T 5:00PM-8:00PM FAC 9

Rhetoric and “the Animal”

In a 1917 essay, Freud noted that modern science had dealt three devastating blows to human pride: the Copernican revelation that the earth revolves around the sun, the Darwinian revelation that man shares a common ancestor with apes, and his own revelation that consciousness is mostly ruled by the unconscious. Of these narcissistic wounds, each still gaping today, the second will be the focus of this course, specifically inasmuch as its panicked deflection continues to ground contemporary theories of rhetoric. The myth of the knowing and speaking subject who understands the world and communicates that understanding with eloquence and grace has been massively and probably permanently interrupted by, among other things, the first and third of these revelations. However, even the most sophisticated posthumanist theories of symbolic exchange, those fully embracing the Copernican and Freudian revelations, tend (explicitly or implicitly, consciously or unconsciously) to refuse the Darwinian revelation, along with its philosophical and—more to the point for us—rhetorical implications. Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, for example, each articulates a strictly human(ist) description of the language relation, presuming that the gulf that separates “the human” from “the animal” is uncrossable, having something to do with the former’s capacity for language and the latter’s captivation by its environment, or by the imaginary, or by its own "being," respectively. And rhetorical studies on the whole agrees: rhetoric, at the very least, requires an engagement with the symbolic. This engagement, while it defines man (“the symbol-using animal,” “the rational animal”), is what nonhuman animals purportedly lack.

In this course, we will first of all question the certainty of this conviction—and so the putatively solid border between “the human” and “the animal” that grounds the history of philosophy from Plato to Levinas and the history of rhetoric from Plato to Burke, not to mention all Judeo-Christian religions, even western culture itself. We will examine the ways in which this conceptual border has both enabled and constrained theories of persuasion and identification in rhetorical studies, and we will consider the implications (for rhetorical studies, for ethics, for politics) of the deconstruction of this dichotomy.

Potential Texts:

The tentative reading list includes works by ancient philosophers and rhetoricians, including Gorgias, Plato, and Aristotle; works by continental philosophers, including Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, and Gilles Deleuze;  works by contemporary theorists and rhetoricians, possibly including Matthew Calarco, Brett Buchanan, Donna Haraway, Cary Woolfe, Luanne T. Frank, George A. Kennedy, John Muckelbauer, Gerard Hauser, and Debra Hawhee; and works by contemporary primatologists, ethologists, and animal trainers, including Frans de Waal, Jane Goodall, and Vickie Hearne.

Probable Requirements:

  • Semi-Weekly Reading Notes: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings, to be shared online.
  • One short paper, with an annotated bibliography, to be read aloud and then submitted, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course.
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and then submitted.
  • One short, 10 page seminar paper.

RHE 330C • Rhetorics Of Cyberculture

44785 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 7

In this course we will listen carefully to the rhetorics both on and in cyberspace, and we will attempt to assess some of the social, ethical, and political implications of this technocultural construct. Specifically, we will look at the ways cyburbia is currently being represented, experienced, critiqued, and employed by exploring several genres of cyberdiscourse: science fiction novels, hypertexts, and films; ethnographies of cybercultures; materialist critiques of high tech society, and activist appropriations of the cybersphere. Because it’ll be important to check things for ourselves, we will meet in a computer classroom and devote part of our class time to hands-on activities. We will spend some time in cyberspace evaluating the potential promise and risks of “computer society” and producing our own cybercultural representations for the web. Three interrelated issues/topics will guide our both inquiry and our productions:

1.    Identity and the Body. Is virtual identity “fake” identity? Do politics associated with bodily “markers” such as race, sex, gender, etc., evaporate in cyberspace or do they show up there, too? What’s up with the this drive to “escape” the material body, to download consciousness and/or acquire prosthetic everything? And what happens to the very notion of "the human" when the borders between meat and metal (body and machine) disappear?

2.    Social Relations and the Public Sphere. Online, there is no real way to verify whom (or even what) you’re talking to: how does this effect your relations there? And do online activities/relations affect your offline relationships? Does electronic culture signal the end of “privacy” and “individual freedom?” What kind of activism does cyburbia make possible? What are the connections between 60s drug culture and contemporary cyberculture? What are the connections between the “war on drugs,” the war on “art,” and technophobia?

3.    Literacy and Intellectual Property. What are the "literacy" requirements in various online communities? How do they differ from typical offline literacy requirements? How do hypertextual writing/reading spaces alter print-centric understandings of the relations between the writer, the reader, language, and reality?  

Potential Texts
David Bell, An Introduction to Cyberculture; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl (hypertext); online hypertexts and essays; Films: eXistenZ; The Thirteenth Floor

Assignments and Grading
This course has a "substantial writing component." Assignments will include semi-weekly participation in an online discussion forum or listserv, an individual presentation on a cybercultural news item, 3 one-page reading response papers shared orally with peers, and two substantial writing projects, both of which will go through multiple drafts and peer review.

3 S/R Papers (graded as a whole): 30%
Cybersubculture Report: 30%
Individual Presentation: 10%
Final Project: 30%

RHE 330E • Pathos

44810 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM FAC 7

Aristotle held that there were three basic appeals by which to persuade an audience: appeals to reason (logos), to the speaker’s or writer’s character (ethos), and to the audience’s emotions (pathos). In contemporary western society, however, the latter is often considered to be a bit unsavory, a slimy-smarmy way to move an audience to action or attitude. Appeals to fear, anger, pity, or shame, it is presumed, line up on the side of seduction and ruse rather than on the side of reason and truth—that is to say, they line up on the side of the body rather than the mind. The mind is putatively the arena of pure rational thought, diametrically opposed to unruly bodily spasms, such as blood-boiling anger or self-shattering shame. The prejudice against all things “body” enjoys a long and proud history that is associated with the classical definition of man as a rational animal (animale rationale). The capacity for reason is considered by many to be unique to human animals; indeed, it is considered the means by which humans transcend their animality. Emotional appeals, which shoot for the less lofty realms of sensual reaction, are therefore considered superficial and dangerous, manipulative tactics that lead audiences away from a more objective truth. But Aristotle situated the pathé (the passions or emotions) within the realm of reason, considering them crucial not only to sound judgment but to thinking itself. And contemporary thought in such diverse arenas as rhetoric, philosophy, neuroscience, and affect theory backs Aristotle on this one: all suggest that emotions fundamentally orient one’s existence in the world, and that there is no disinterested or dispassionate reason—indeed, that thinking itself depends upon the passions.

In this course, we will follow Aristotle’s lead and study the ways in which thinking and judgment are intricately tied up with passion. We will read a broad spectrum of texts on emotional life in order to better understand both how we, as people, are moved to action or attitude through our affective engagement, and how we, as rhetors, might use that understanding to craft successful appeals.

Some Potential Texts, many available online or on reserve in the library:

•    Plato. Selections from The Republic.
•    Aristotle. Rhetoric. Book II
•    ---. Selections from the Politics
•    Cicero. De Oratore. Book 2, sect 185-216
•    Quintilian. Institutes of Oratory. Book 6
•    Gorgias. “Encomium of Helen.”
•    Amélie Oksenberg Rorty. Selections from Essays on Aristotle's Rhetoric
•    Crowley and Hawhee. “Pathetic Proofs”
•    Hauser, Gerard A. “The Passions.”
•    Walker, Jeff. “Pathos and Katharsis in ‘Aristotelian’ Rhetoric: Some Implications.”
•    Smith, Craig, and Michael Hyde. “Rethinking ‘the Public’: The Role of Emotion in Being-with-Others.”
•    Nussbaum, Martha. “Aristotle on Emotions and Rational Persuasion.”
•    ---. Selections from Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions.
•    Katule, Richard. “Quintilian on the Art of Emotional Appeal.”
•    Ahmed, Sara. “Affective Economies.”
•    Damasio, Anthony. Selections from Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.
•    Daniel Goleman. Selections from Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
•    Massumi, Brian. Selections from Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation.
•    Brennan, Theresa. Selections from The Transmission of Affect.
•    Helmers, Marguerite. The Elements of Visual Analysis.

Assignments and Grading:  

Analysis of a photograph or ad - 5%  
Written enargeia (vivid description) - 10%
Analysis of an written text - 10%
Screencapture Analysis of a visual text - 20%  
Semi-weekly reading notes - 10%
Written pathetic appeal - 20%
Visual pathetic appeal (written explication) - 25%

E 387M • Performative Rhetorics

35005 • Fall 2010
Meets W 5:00PM-8:00PM FAC 9

In the beginning was the deed.  –Goethe Faust

Speech is in fact a gift of language, and language is not immaterial. It is a subtle body, but body it is.
 –Jacques Lacan, "The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis"

Valerie Solanas, who took no prisoners, took pleasure in the injurious effects of language and, with Lacanian precision, understood that words are bodies that can be hurled at the other, they can land in the psyche or explode in the soma. A hurtful utterance can give you hives, make you want to throw up, put a dent in your appetite, or summon up any number of somatic responses and physical collapses.
 –Avital Ronell, "Deviant Payback: The Aims of Valerie Solanas"

In his 1955 Harvard lectures, published posthumously in 1962 as How to do Things With Words, J. L. Austin outlined the basic tenets of speech-act theory in its contemporary form, offering a tentative but perhaps necessary distinction between the "constative" and "performative" functions of language. While the constative utterance offers a statement that describes or articulates "what is," the performative utterance produces, transforms, institutes. Austin for the most part located performative language within the realm of intentional consciousness and limited his analyses to instances of "relative purity," excluding citations of performative speech (e.g., those by "an actor in a play")—a position Derrida famously deconstructs. Nonetheless, Austin's lectures demonstrated that performative utterances collapse the distinction between saying and doing, severely problematizing the conception of language as a transcendental structure of meaning (what Saussure calls langue). Again. What currently goes by the name speech-act theory, in other words, can be understood as the latest articulation in a centuries old debate between philosophy and rhetoric. What's in question, to paraphrase Nietzsche, is whether there is any (transcendental) being behind concrete acts of saying (what Saussure calls parole). Whereas John Searle attempts in Speech Acts to systematize Austin's subversive insights within a logical framework, arguing that "an adequate study of speech acts is a study of langue," many of the most influential contemporary thinkers have resisted this effort, situating Austin's lectures on the side of (sophistic) rhetoric, as a re-affirmation of the awesome and undeniable positing power of language (as parole).

In this course, we will zero in on rhetoric's substantializing effects, on its capacity for concrete manifestation via, for example, hate speech, (psycho)analytic speech, poetic speech, and political speech. We won't attempt any sort of comprehensive approach but will instead begin with Gorgias and Plato, leap ahead to Austin and his contemporary interlocutors, and then spread out into linguistic avenues not so explicitly associated with speech-act theory. Freud, for example, had his own theory of performative linguistics, as did Althusser.

Probable Requirements

  • Semi-Weekly Talking Points: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings.
  • One short paper, to be read aloud and then handed in, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and handed in

Potential Readings

Gorgias. "Encomium of Helen" (rhet as drug)
Plato. Phaedrus (rhet as seduction)
J. L. Austin. How to do things with Words.
John Searle. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.
Jacques Derrida. Limited Inc.
Lloyd Bitzer. "The Rhetorical Situation"
Richard E. Vatz. "The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation"
Barbara Biesecker. "Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation"
Kenneth Burke. Selections from Language as Symbolic Action and Rhetoric of Motives
Judith Butler. Excitable Speech
Avital Ronell. Selections from The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech
Martin Heidegger. “The Question Concerning Technology.”
Foucault. Fearless Speech
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. "Postulates of Linguistics" from A Thousand Plateaus.
Sigmund Freud. Three Case Histories and Studies in Hysteria
Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. “Analytic Speech: From a Restricted to a General Rhetoric.”
Ruth Leys. “Freud and Trauma.”

E 321K • Intro To Criticism-Honors-W

34995 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM FAC 7

TBD

Publications


Books

Philosophy and Rhetoric. Special Issue on “Extrahuman Rhetorical Relations: Addressing the Animal, the Object, the Dead, and the Divine.” Co-edited with Michelle Ballif. Vol 47.4, 2014.

Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and Foreigner Relations. University of  Pittsburgh Press, 2010. 214 pp.

Reading Ronell. Edited collection with an introduction. University of  Illinois Press, 2009. 254 pp.

Women's Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition. With  Michelle Ballif and Roxanne Mountford. Routledge, 2008. 342 pp.

The UberReader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell. Edited collection with  introduction. University of Illinois Press, 2008. 342 pp.

Breaking Up [at] Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter. Rhetorical Theory and  Philosophy Series. Southern Illinois University Press, 2000. 312 pp.

 

A Few Recent Articles and Chapters

“Writing-Being: Another Look at the ‘Symbol-Using Animal.’” Writing Posthumanism, Posthuman Writing. Ed. Sidney Dobrin.  Parlor Press, 2015. 56-78.

“Autozoography: Notes Toward a Rhetoricity of the Living.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 47.4 (2014): 532-352.

“Breaking Down Man.” An interview with Avital Ronell. Philosophy and Rhetoric 47.4 (2014): 354-387.

“Performative Perfume.” Performatives After Deconstruction. Ed. Mauro Senatore. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. p 70-85.

“Writing With Sound.” Editor’s introduction. Currents in Electronic Literacy (2011): 8pp.http://currents.dwrl.utexas.edu.

“Creaturely Rhetorics.” Special forum on rhetoric and the question of the animal.Philosophy and Rhetoric 44.1 (2011): 88-94.

“After Community: An Interview with D. Diane Davis.” Interview by James J. Brown Jr.Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. Vol. 8 (October 2010):http://enculturation.gmu.edu/after-community.

Review of Amit Pinchevski’s By Way of Interruption: Levinas and the Ethics of CommunicationPhilosophy and Rhetoric 43.3 (2010): 289-95.

“Greetings: On Levinas and the Wagging Tail.” JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory. Special issue on Levinas. 29.1 (2009): 711-748.

“Identification: Burke and Freud on Who You Are.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 38.2 (2008): 123-147.

“The Fifth Risk: A Response to John Muckelbauer’s Response.” Philosophy and Rhetoric40.2 (2007): 248-256.

“Addressing Alterity: Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and the Non-Appropriative Relation.”Philosophy and Rhetoric 38.3 (2005): 191-212.

 

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