Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Matthew Chovanec

B.A. International Relations, American University

Matthew Chovanec



Modern Arabic and Turkish Literature, Language Ideology, History of the Left in the Middle East, Socialist Realism and the Literature of Engagement


RHE 309K • Rhet Of Islam In America

44030 • Fall 2017
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 308

RHE 309K: Rhetoric of Islam in America

Islam and Muslims figured prominently in the public discourse of the United States these days, from Donald Trump's controversial "Muslim ban", to the unbridled Muslim feminism of the "I Wrap my Hijab" rap video. However, this is nothing new. Islam has appeared frequently in American political and popular culture, going back even to discussions over religious liberty in the colonial period. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans have engaged in an ongoing, controversial debate about their country’s relationship to  the global and national Muslim population. Much of this conversation is based upon uncritical assumptions about the nature of Islam, including those regarding gender roles, support for violence and terrorism, Islamic law ("shari'a"), religious authority, cultural and ethnic origins, and its inherent compatibility with democracy.   

This course will explore popular representations of Muslims in the American imagination. After examining the history of Islam in America, and the use of Muslims as the ‘Other’ in the West more broadly, students will examine contemporary debates over Islam in the American media. Students will be challenged to think critically about the political expediency of specific representations of religion and cultures:  how dominant narratives are engineered and when and how they are challenged. Through this historical exploration of the history of Islam in American rhetoric, students will also learn how to identify and analyze a text’s relation to historical, political, and rhetorical contexts; conduct original research using UT library resources and online search engines; approach media and journalism using tools of critical analysis referred to broadly as “media literacy”; assess the credibility of a variety of digital sources; develop a thoughtful writing practice through peer reviews and revisions; identify rhetorical strategies across a range of multimedia texts; write cohesive, analytical papers that contribute to larger conversations about Muslims and their treatment in American culture, politics, and media; and present clear and persuasive written arguments.

Students will be graded on the following assignments for the term:

  • Oral Presentations (3) and in-class participation 20%
  • Research summaries (2) 10%
  • Short Assignments: 20%  
  • Timeline/TimeMap 5%
  • Rhetorical Appeals Summary/Analysis 5%
  • Analysis of a Cultural Object 5%
  • Proposal 5%
  • Major Assignments: 50%
  • Definition Paper 10%
  • Rhetorical Analysis Essay 15%
  • Cultural Object and Reflection 25%


List of Required Texts:

  • Everything’s an Argument – Andrea Lunsford, John Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters
  • A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order, Kambiz GhaneaBassiri
  • Compass - Mathias Énard  

RHE 306 • Rhetoric And Writing

43945 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM BEN 1.104

Multiple meeting times and sections. Please consult the Course Schedule for unique numbers.

This does NOT meet the Writing Flag requirement.

This composition course provides instruction in the gathering and evaluation of information and its presentation in well-organized expository prose. Students ordinarily write and revise four papers. The course includes instruction in invention, arrangement, logic, style, revision, and strategies of research.

Course centered around the First-Year Forum (FYF) selected readings. Students focus on the foundational knowledge and skills needed for college writing. In addition, they are introduced to basic rhetoric terms and learn to rhetorically analyze positions within controversies surrounding the FYF readings.

RHE 306 is required of all UT students. Contact the Measurement and Evaluation Center, 2616 Wichita (471-3032) to petition for RHE 306 credit.

Profile Pages

External Links

  •   Map
  • Middle Eastern Studies

    The University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street Stop F9400
    Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528
    Austin, TX 78712