Department of Rhetoric & Writing
Department of Rhetoric & Writing

RHE 306 • Rhetoric And Writing

42655 • Ho, Xuan
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 3.116
show description

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 Student Testing Services at (512)-232-2662 to petition for RHE 306 credit.

RHE 309K • Rhet Of Conspiracy Theories

42770 • Heermans, Andrew
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM FAC 7
show description

What is a conspiracy theory, and why do people believe in them? At this point, it is easier to name an example, be it the “moon landing hoax”, the JFK assassination, 9/11 as an “inside job”, or “pizzagate”, than it is to define the essential qualities that all conspiracy theories share. Studies suggest that nearly half the American population believes at least one conspiracy theory, yet the accusation of being a “conspiracy theorist” can put one on the fringe of normalcy, and is often shorthand for lack of credibility, corrupted reasoning and/or paranoia. The question of conspiracy theories presents two paradoxical facts: that humans do conspire, and that people believe things patently false through rhetorics of conspiracy.

This course takes a closer look at a number of conspiracy theories and “conspiratorial thinking” more broadly to have students think critically about the conspiratorial rhetoric they encounter and/or participate in. The course focuses broadly on two questions: what makes conspiracy theories persuasive to those who believe them, and how is giving the title of conspiracy theory or theorist itself a rhetorical act? Approaching conspiracy theories from the standpoint of rhetorical theory allows students to develop the skills needed to write persuasively across intellectual boundaries and engage in ethical argumentation at a historical moment when conspiratorial thinking has particularly high visibility and rhetorical efficacy in American socio-political conversations. 

Assignments :

  • Annotated Bibliography (15%)
  • Figures of Conspiracy Theories Dictionary (10%)
  • Rhetorical Analysis (single source) (15%)
  • Revision (15%)
  • Final Argument (10%)
  • Revision (15%)
  • In-Class / Short Writing Activities, & Participation (20%)

Required Text(s) 

  • Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, Losh and Alexander, 2nd edition.
  • Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz, 7th edition

RHE 309K • Rhet Of Documentary Films

42815 • Bursztajn-Illingworth, Zoe
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM FAC 9
show description

Seeking to find a voice in which to speak about subjects that concern them, filmmakers, like the great orators of the past, speak from the heart in ways that both fit the occasion and issue from it.

-Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary. 

 “I think I got their trust because I was not looking at them like insects I would film,” states Agnes Varda, a documentary filmmaker and nouvelle vague icon, while discussing her 2006 film on consumption and recycling, The Gleaners and I. How does documentary film, with its roots in anthropological observation and propaganda, eventually come to persuade, move, and build trust with its subjects and audience in the twenty-first century? In this course, we will investigate how documentary filmmakers argue for structural change, open an audience’s eyes to marginalized experiences, and reveal everything from wrongful conviction to the human need to create art. In doing so, we will use the tools of rhetoric to analyze and research documentary films ranging across a multitude of topics and the genre’s history from 1921 to 2018. To aid us in our rhetorical inquiry, we will also read theory on the documentary film as a genre, criticism concerned with particular documentary films, and interviews with documentary filmmakers. Students will have an opportunity to create arguments concerning our core documentary films or to create short documentary films that put into practice the rhetorical strategies we have discussed throughout the semester. 

Assignments with Grading Breakdown

10% Participation: based on short writing assignments, group work, and in-class discussion
20% Rhetoric of a Scene Papers 
5% Revision Letter for the Revised Rhetoric of a Scene Paper  
5% Research Summary 
5% Contextual Paper 
15% Annotated Bibliography 
10% Audience and Media / Venue Paper
10% Opposition Paper or Story Board
20% Argument Paper or Documentary Film with Accompanying Peer-Review Revision Letter

Course Reading List

 Documentary films available on Kanopy through the library website or on reserve at the UT Fine Arts Library. Additional course readings available on Canvas. 

RHE 309K • Rhet Of Utopia/Resistance

42830 • Mack, Rosemary
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM FAC 7
show description

Arundhati Roy — 'Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.'

Where do we find hope if everything seems to be falling to pieces? How do we become optimists about our own ability to change the world? It may seem like the end-times, but moments of pessimism have produced some of the most innovative and persuasive visions of the future. Utopia is the space where activist knowledge and belief in the capacity of human action meets the invention of other worlds. In this course we will explore various strands of utopian cultural production and the movements which give rise to them. We will investigate the two faces of utopia: challenging the world as it is and imagining what the world could be. We will begin by defining what utopia has meant and can mean through short visual texts, fiction, manifestos and theoretical works. We will work together to ask: what do they critique and how? What are the relationships between utopian thought and activism? We will then choose our own utopian texts, working individually to locate them in their historical and political contexts and analyze their rhetorical techniques. Possible texts choices could include televisual utopias, such as Black Mirror’s ‘San Junipero,’ Neil Gaiman’s comic Miracleman, or excerpts from novels like Nisi Shawl’s Everfair and Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Finally, we will use utopian rhetorical techniques to invent our own utopian imaginaries, either in the form of a persuasive manifesto, or a piece of short fiction accompanied by a commentary. 

  • Project 1: Annotated Bibliography (15%)
  • Peer Review
  • Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis (10%)
  • Peer Review
  • Revision (15%)
  • Project 3: Utopian vision or manifesto (15%)
  • Peer Review (5%)
  • Revision (15%)
  • Short Writing Assignments (20%)
  • Class Presentation (5%) 

Required Texts:

  1. The Rhetoric of Literate Action, Bazerman, Charles, Parlor Press (open source), 2013
  2. All other readings will be provided on Canvas by the instructor.

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Aliens And Ufos

42825 • Gauggel, Laura
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM FAC 7
show description

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Did aliens crash in Roswell in 1947? Do the “Men in Black” visit those who witness strange phenomena? Are lizard people from outer space masquerading as politicians? Aliens and UFOs have become prominent figures in urban legends, conspiracy theories, and science fiction. When aliens appear in popular culture, they invite us to question our own worldviews. In this course, we will examine arguments made about and through aliens. It is not enough to argue whether or not aliens exist; rather, we will explore what the alien means. For example, we will investigate the rhetoric of alien conspiracy theories to understand modern anxieties surrounding invasion and surveillance. In the realm of science fiction, we will examine how artists use aliens to dissect human society. We will analyze how the alien becomes a symbol of the Other, the “them” that stands in opposition to “us.” How do we define the alien? How do we define the human? Are the two categories mutually exclusive? These questions (and many more) will provide students the opportunity to develop skills in critical thinking, college-level writing, and responsible argumentation.


  • Project 1 – 10%
  • Project 2.1 – 10%
  • Project 2.2 – 15%
  • Project 3 – 15%
  • Project 4 – 10%
  • Short writing assignments and quizzes – 30%
  • Participation – 10%

Possible Course Texts:

  • Rhetoric textbook: Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz
  • Grammar resource (available online): Purdue OWL
  • Reading selections (provided via Canvas) may include but are not limited to: Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within, Neil Badmington; Chariots of the Gods, Erich von Däniken; The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin; The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells; “Story of Your Life,” Ted Chiang; Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
  • Film and television selections (available in class and/or out of class) may include but are not limited to: Star Wars, Star Trek, Arrival, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ancient Aliens, Doctor Who, Stargate

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Comics

42810 • Hanson, Tristan
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM PAR 104
show description

On November 2, 2011, the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, was firebombed. Reportedly, the bombing was a response to an as yet unpublished issue of the magazine renamed “Charia Hebdo” and listing Muhammed, the founder and Prophet of Islam, as the “Editor-in-Chief.” Leaked in advance of publication, the cover of the issue featured a cartoon caricature of Muhammad with a speech bubble that said (here translated from the French) “A hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing!” The same day as the bombing, Hebdo’s website was hacked and a message was left for the editor’s of the magazine: “You keep abusing, Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech…. Be God’s Curse On You!” (my emphasis).


In making comics, creators—including writers, cartoonists, letterers, editors, etc.—have to make decisions about what to depict (“moment”), how to depict it (“framing” and “imaging”), how to caption that depiction (“word”), and in what sequence it should appear (“flow”) (thank you to Scott McCloud for the vocabulary). These decisions are essentially rhetorical in that they must always account for an audience of potential readers and the potential contexts in which they will be read. What the Charlie Hebdo incident described above shows is how important those decisions could potentially be. This course will ask you to explore the ways by which comics of all kinds move us, the ways by which they persuade us to think, feel, and act. It will ask you to think about how you might make comics move others, how you might make them act to change things in the world. Finally, it will ask you to use the rhetorical knowledge you gain from your explorations to create your own comic in an attempt to persuade others. While it may not be your purpose to incite anger or violence, or to “curse” someone, you will seek to harness the undeniable force of comics to do things. In the end, hopefully you will have a sense of how you might use comics as a force of responsible action and how it might inspire that same sense of responsibility in others.


  • Annotated Bibliography 5%
  • Topic Synthesis Paper 10%
  • Text-Image Juxtapositions 15%
  • Series Pitch 10% (written and presented)
  • Comics Script/Illustrated Comic 15%
  • Short Writing Assignments 10% (comic description, research summary, rhetorical analysis of primary source, rhetorical analysis of secondary source)
  • Participation 10% (discussion board posts, in-class writing assignments, peer reviews, etc.)
  • Revisions 25% (synthesis, text-image juxtapositions, comics script/illustrated script)

Required Text:

  • Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Country Music

42820 • Fickling, Teri
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 6
show description

Randy Travis once said that “country music tells a story about, and deals with, the way people live their lives and what they do.” This course investigates how the narratives in country music make implicit arguments about the broader culture from which they arise. Spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, country music has often been considered the genre for authentic working class expression. This course will consider how this music’s instrumental content establishes mood and tone, and how lyrical content changes through time in response to shifting norms. Organized by major topics in the genre, this course will encourage students to interrogate how country musicians weigh in on discussions of class, gender, race, sexuality, regionalism, and rural vs. urban life. To examine such topics, students will gain a thorough understanding of the basics of classical rhetoric. Starting with the rhetoric within individual country songs, students will learn to wield the tools of rhetorical analysis. This analytical work will provide the foundation for students to research a topic in country music more extensively before making their own argument about how the genre promotes a particular rhetorical stance in response to a broad culturally relevant topic. 

List of Assignments and Grading Percentages

  • Short writing assignments 25%
  • Rhetorical Analysis 10%
  • Revision of Rhetorical Analysis 15%                             
  • Annotated bibliography 15%
  • Topic in Country Music Paper 10%
  • Revision of Topic in Country Music Paper 15%                             
  • Participation (Peer reviews, Quizzes, In-class Assignments) 10% 

Required Texts 

  • Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers, Mark Longaker and Jeffery Walker, Pearson, 2010. 
  • (Additional course readings and musical selections will be posted to Canvas)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Fashion

42805 • Harris, Patrick
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 304
show description

“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them”—Marc Jacobs

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”—Rachel Zoe

“I don’t do fashion, I am fashion”—Coco Chanel

                  When we talk about “fashion statements” we are usually describing the clothing someone might wear to call attention to themselves. What would it mean, though, to think of all fashion as making a statement? All of us use clothing, makeup, jewelry and other accessories as a way of expressing our interests, values, and beliefs. Fashion is a way of saying (and showing) who we are. At the same time, all of us encounter the fashion industry and are susceptible to the way designers and advertisers play on our desires to belong, to live luxuriously, or to be seen as beautiful. We are constantly filtering messages and images meant to tell us what to look like and who to be.

In this class, we will use fashion as a medium for learning and practicing the elements of effective argumentation. As our primary “texts” we will read like fashion journalism and style reviews, but we will also watch clips from films, television, music videos, and video blogs to see what arguments people make about fashion or with fashion. Students will also maintain a blog that they will update regularly in response to prompts. These blogs will allow students to practice critical writing skills and to learn how to use images and graphic design persuasively. The course will culminate in a final research project of the students’ own making (with instructor approval) that critiques fashion’s role in shaping our individual and interpersonal lives.

Grading Breakdown:

  • 10 Blog Posts (25%)
  • Major Projects (75%)
  • Project 1: Defining “Fashion” Essay (15%)
  • Project 2: Rhetorical Analysis (15%)
  • Project 3.1: Aesthetic Argument (20%)
  • Project 3.2: Aesthetic Argument Revision (25%)

Required Texts:

  • Everything’s an Argument, 7th (2016)—paperback or ebook
  • Textiles and Clothing Sustainability: Sustainability, Fashion, and Consumption (ebook available thru UT Libraries)
  • Rules for Writers, 8th

Other major texts will include clips from: The Devil Wears Prada, Paris is Burning, Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Queer Eye/Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Optional Texts:

  • 20,000 Years of Fashion (1987)—available through UT Libraries

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Human Rights

42795 • Mohseni Sisiruca, Monica
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 104
show description

The purpose of this course will be to analyze how human rights and their abuses are presented to us by a variety of different sources, from the media to NGOs. The popularization of human rights into mass media in the late 20th century has raised awareness about the abuses and discriminations that occur both at home and abroad. But how does the presentation of human rights abuses affect our understanding of global and domestic issues? Can we distinguish arguments genuinely advocating for disenfranchised peoples from those advancing institutional agendas? 

What comes to mind when we think about human rights and their abuses? Internationally, we may think of the crises of mass-migration in South and Central America, or perhaps LGBT discrimination and abuse in North Africa and South-East Asia. At home, we might think about the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, or even the horrifying cases of police violence happening throughout the country. Human rights abuses are shown everywhere: on IG ads and tweeted by politicians, advocates, and celebrities alike. They seem unavoidable in mediated sources of information. How can we build an accurate understanding of these tragedies given the sheer amount of voices? This course equips students with the rhetorical tools to analyze reports of abuses and injustices around the world. We will explore how a biased framing of human rights abuses can slant our understanding of global and domestic issues. Throughout the semester students will be encouraged to research a human rights issue of their choice, with the goal of developing and polishing a final project advocating for their topic.   

  • Major Assignment 1: Annotated Bibliography (5%)
  • Major Assignment 1.2: Revised Annotated Bibliography (15%) 
  • Major Assignment 2.1: Proposal (5%)
  • Major Assignment 2.2: Revised Proposal (15%)
  • Major Assignment 3.1: Final Project (10%)
  • Major Assignment 3.2: Revised Final Project (30%)
  • Short Writing Assignments (10%)

Participation grade will be divided into:

  • Peer-reviews (mandatory)  (5%)
  • Weekly Canvas posts (required) (5%)

Required Course Readings

  • Jodie Nicotra, Becoming Rhetorical: Analyzing and Composing in a Multimedia World (required)
  • Little Longhorn Handbook (required)
  • William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style (required)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Rap

42800 • Karnes, Martha
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM FAC 7
show description

In 2017, Nielson reported that rap & hip-hop music had surpassed rock music to become the most consumed genre. Artists like Drake and Future were streamed over 4 billion times in 2017. Rap music is more than just making it rain and dabbing; there is serious attention to history, culture, style, delivery, and performance. Rap, at its most basic level, is rhetorical. This course will challenge students to think critically about the rhetoric of and surrounding rap music. We will investigate how rap music and performances work rhetorically and intertextually, making use of music videos, live performances, lyrics and lyrical interpretations, and interviews with artists. This will also require us to enter conversations about rap music, culture, and history, and ask questions such as: How does rap make arguments about oppression, privilege, and relationships to the community? What role do rappers play as storytellers in a community? What role should rap play in politics or social justice movements? Is rap music misogynistic, and what does it mean to be a female rapper? This course will also task students with thinking about writing in new ways, as we discuss how rappers use various strategies and media to (re)invent and (re)mix.


Assessment Breakdown

  • Rap Genius Essay: 10%
  • Rhetorical Analysis Essay: 10%
  • Rhetorical Analysis Essay Revision: 15%
  • Final Essay: 15%
  • Final Essay Revision: 20%
  • Short Writing Assignments: 20%
  • Participation: 10%

Required Texts:

Everything’s an Argument. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz, Bedford/St. Martin’s

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Reality Tv

42765 • Rabe, Michelle
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 6
show description

In 1992, one brave TV show cut the script, lost the actors, and stopped being polite. With the premiere of MTV’s The Real World, TV started being real. Since The Real World’s first season, reality TV shows have come to dominate cable and network television alike, all featuring real lives in real situations with real implications. From fly-on-the-wall shows to competition shows to dating shows, reality TV programming has continued to expand and diversify, much to critical dissatisfaction. Reality TV shows have come under scrutiny by critics who ask who puts the “real” in reality TV, whose “realities” are being represented, and whether there is really any “reality” in the shows at all. They question both the ethics of putting people’s lives under extreme, surveilled situations and the shows’ allegedly unaltered realities.

In this class, students will interrogate these critical questions about the genre of reality TV to understand how different reality shows are manipulated for particular viewing audiences and to think about how these manipulated narratives are persuasive to them. This course will confront a variety of opinions about the production behind reality TV and the programming it creates with a specific focus on the rhetorical strategies reality TV shows employ, such as confessionals, narration, analogy, editing, and sequencing. Students will analyze a reality show’s portrayal of “real life” issues, form their own argument concerning the potentially beneficial or problematic nature of having reality shows act as representations of reality, and write their own reality TV show premise to attract an audience. In short, they will stop being polite, uncritical observers and start being real rhetorical.

Assessment Breakdown

  • Project 1: Annotated Bibliography — (10%)
  • Project 2.1: Rhetorical Analysis — (10%)
  • Project 2.2: Rhetorical Analysis Revision — (15%)
  • Project 3: Argumentative Paper — (25%)
  • Project 4: Multimodal Assignment — (10%)
  • Five Research Summary Short Writing Assignments — (20%)
  • Peer Reviews — (Mandatory)
  • Participation — (10%) 

Required Texts

Bullock, Richard, Michal Brody, and Francine Weinberg. The Little Longhorn Handbook. 2nd

Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 2014. (required purchase)

Nicotra, Jodie. Becoming Rhetorical: Analyzing and Composing in a Multimedia World. Cengage Learning,

  1. (required purchase)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of The New South

42785 • Jarman, Cody
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 304
show description

“Tell about the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.”—William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom

In this course we will consider how southerners have used rhetoric to answer Faulkner’s questions. We will study a variety of mediums, including essays, political speeches, popular music, film, and television and how works in these mediums attempt to define what southerness is. The class will focus on three definitive stages in the development of the ‘idea’ of the south: debates about the future of southern culture in the rapidly industrializing U.S. immediately after World War I, the struggle against racial oppression during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and contemporary depictions of the south, particularly following recent debates regarding confederate flags and monuments. We will discuss works from notable southerners like Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Penn Warren as well as many outspoken voices of the contemporary south like Beyoncé and the southern rock band The Drive-By Truckers. We will devote special attention to the relationship between different versions of the south, discussing how they intersect, comment on one another, and collide.
This course will prepare students to recognize and analyze both the overt argumentation of political speeches and social commentary and the implicit arguments embedded in popular culture. We will work together to better understand the ways the south is mobilized in our national discourse and develop the necessary persuasive and analytical writing skills to contribute to that conversation.
NOTE: This course will address challenging topics. We will be discussing problematic and even blatantly racist perspectives. Students in this class should be prepared to engage with these texts critically and with one another respectfully.
  • Everything’s an Argument
  • W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction (excerpts)
  • Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
  • Robert Penn Warren, Segregation (excerpts)
  • Duck Dynasty, selected scenes
  • OutKast, selected songs
  • The Drive by Truckers, selected songs
  • Beyoncé, selected songs and music videos
  • Queer Eye, selected scenes
Grade Distribution:
  • Participation: 5%
  • Research Summaries: 10%
  • Rhetorical Analysis: 15%
  • Comparative Rhetorical Analysis: 20%
  • Final essay 1: 10%
  • Final essay 2 (revision): 20%
  • Semester blog: 20% (Must produce 5 posts. The blog will be graded for completion at 4% a post)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of The Wire

42790 • Piekarski, Krzysztof
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM FAC 7
show description

“It ain’t about right, it’s about Money” ~ The Wire

The art and craft of criticism goes beyond telling others whether you liked or disliked a book or movie or tv show. The aim is to provide the reader with hard-won insights into the meanings, values, and consequences of what they’ve experienced. In this sense, intelligent criticism corroborates with the original work of art to make it even more impactful. Attaining insights, however, requires following a difficult process of thinking called the analytical method that is rarely taught because thinking is hard.

This class will introduce students to the theory and practice of the analytic method by watching some of the greatest television shows of all time––reading criticism as models of intelligent viewing, thinking, and writing, and using what we learn to write our own collection of criticism about The Wire.

The Wire will be a central focus for the duration of the class because of its complexity and dramatization of many of our most urgent social, political, educational, and economic issues. Even though it ran on HBO from 2002-2008, over ten years later its insights into how urban systems work to argue in favor of those in power is essential watching and thinking for everyone interested in social reform, justice, corruption, inequality, and a deeper understanding of the forces that act upon all modern humans. So even though it might ostensibly look like a tv show about cops chasing drug dealers, its scope is far wider and more impactful than any other television show before or since. This course will teach you how to think hard and write skillfully about complex and polarizing issues.

Course Materials

  • Better Living Through Criticism ~A.O. Scott
  • I Like to Watch ~ Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution
  • Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion
  • Writing Analytically ~David Rosenwasser
  • The Wire: Seasons 1,2,3,4,5
  • Mad Men: Season 1
  • The Sopranos: Season 1
  • Additional TV episodes and critical essays TBD


  • 40% Class participation
  • 25% Papers
  • 25% Quizzes
  • 10% Editing/Peer Review Assignments 

RHE 309S • Crit Read/Persuasive Writ-Nsds

42840 • Buckley, Tom
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 103
show description


The aim in this course is to develop a better understanding and mastery of rhetoric-the art of persuasion-an art that's essential not only for your college work, but also for your participation as a citizen in a democracy. You already know this art instinctively: every day, all day, you're immersed in rhetoric. But our goal in this course is to become more consciously and effectively rhetorical.

To accomplish this goal, we'll use a number of approaches. We'll complete a number of assignments addressed to specific audiences for specific purposes; we'll engage ourselves in additional assignments involving analysis and evaluation; we'll read rhetorically, with a critical awareness of the techniques and strategies adopted by writers; and we'll involve ourselves in discussions about what we read.

The course-and its assignments-will challenge you to think differently, to question age-old assumptions, and to engage in argument as part of a larger community. This course isn't for the faint of heart. If you're not prepared to be challenged in your thinking, or if you're not comfortable participating in conversations with others, you best not sign up. But if you're a hard worker, you like to share your thoughts, and you're open to a slightly different approach to learning, then this is the place for you.

RHE 312 • Writing In Digtl Environments

42845 • Welsh, Sarah
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 104
show description

What does “celebrity” mean after Twitter and Instagram? How do you get attention when there’s so much noise, and similarly, how do you make people forget something you’ve said online when you want them to? In this course, we’ll talk about internet celebrity and digital personas, and examine questions about virality, privacy, and managing your own ethos. In so doing, we’ll think about how we build identities online, how we direct (and redirect) attention, and why we trust these platforms in the first place.

In the first unit, we’ll look at how celebrity is curated on the internet and what methods are used to stay in the spotlight. In the second unit, we’ll look at what happens when celebrity goes wrong and how reputations are ruined. Finally, we’ll consider how those reputations can be reclaimed and managed, even when it comes to our own personal and professional goals. While each unit has a multimedia assignment, no prior facility with technology is required: some classes will be devoted to workshops that will help build these skills.

Required Texts

  • A course packet on Canvas will include selections from the following texts:
  • Abidin, Crystal. Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018.
  • Hennessy, Brittany. Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media. Citadel Press, 2018.
  • Marwick, Alice E. Status update: Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age. Yale University Press, 2013.
  • Rettberg, Jill. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology. Palgrave Pivot, 2014 

Assignments and Grading

  • Project 1 | Writing a digital history of fame—webtext/essay (20%)
  • Project 2 | Analysis of a social media disaster—video (20%)
  • Project 3 | Personal branding project—website or social media rehab (20%)
  • Reading Responses (30%)
  • Participation and Attendance (10%)

RHE 314 • Comptr Programmg Humanities

42850 • Boyle, Casey
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM FAC 9
show description

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of computer programming and provides exploratory practice in computation as a rhetorical activity. Working through in-class lectures, readings,  discussions, exercises, and course projects, students will gain familiarity with programming concepts and practice in computational processes. Designed for Liberal Arts majors with no programming experience, the course aims to introduce computational processes through exercises in encoding (Markup/Markdown); programming (Python); and physical computing (Arduino and Processing). In addition to the hands-on exercises, students will also participate in readings and discussions that will help orient the Liberal Arts major towards understanding computation as a rhetorical practice. 

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

42855 • Boyle, Casey
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM FAC 9
show description

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 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

42860 • Longaker, Mark
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 104
show description

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 328 • Magazine Writing/Publishing

42870 • Buckley, Tom
Meets W 4:00PM-7:00PM PAR 101
show description

This course is designed to give students an understanding of the magazine field from the perspective of both writers and editors. The course offers a broad core of practical knowledge while also exploring issues related to the field. In the first part of the course, students will learn how to generate story ideas; research appropriate magazine markets to pursue; conduct interviews; sell their ideas (and themselves) in query letters; develop the best format for presenting their information; and, finally, organize the materials, write, and revise the article itself, and send it off for publication.

In the second half of the course, students will publish an issue of a magazine, acting as writers, editors, and designers responsible for its content – and beholden to a publisher. They'll identify a niche audience, formulate an editorial vision, and write, revise, edit, fact-check, and generally take part in all aspects of the publication. In short, they'll perform all the editorial functions of a magazine staff. They'll work individually and in teams, devising departments, assigning stories, gathering art, selling ads. They'll write headlines and captions, crop pictures, fit copy, and design layouts. And they'll engage in discussions about issues of advertising, media ethics, and publisher control.

No previous journalistic experience is necessary.

Course Requirements

Three articles during the first half of the course (profile, issue of conflict, feature); various tasks associated with publishing a magazine in the second half of the course. During the second half, students will also continue to revise the three articles from the first half of the course. 

Grading Policy

  • Three articles, with revisions: 25% each
  • Shorter exercises: 15%
  • Participation in second half of the course: 10%

Required Texts

  • Writer's Market 2010, Robert Lee Brewer (Editor)
  • Writing for Magazines: A Beginner's Guide, Cheryl Sloan Wray

RHE 328 • Tech Comm & Wicked Problems

42865 • Graham, Samuel
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 104
show description

Learn Tech Comm. Save the world.

Urban food deserts, opioid abuse, chronic drought, obesity epidemics, global climate change—the stuff of everyday headlines. We are increasingly confronted with vastly complex problems that offer no easy solution. These "wicked problems," as they have become known, are so difficult to address that they require the coordinated efforts of scientists, politicians, community leaders, and industry partners. However, bringing such a diverse array of people together to tackle a specific problem is no easy task. Success will require "the formation of new professional roles: translators, mediators, facilitators of debates and negotiations, and political organizers" (Callon, Lascoumes, and Barthe).

Subsequently, the Spring 2019 edition of RHE 328 is devoted to preparing aspiring technical communicators for these new professional roles. Specific course units will focus on: 1) the nature of wicked problems and the roles for technical communicators, 2) practical approaches to translating scientific and technical information for diverse audiences, 3) effective strategies for engaging public audiences around wicked problems, and 4) best practices for facilitating productive stakeholder dialogue.

Course Requirements and Grades

This course has six major assignments:

  • Socio-Technical Network Analysis: Students will identify a wicked problem of interest and prepare a report detailing and analyzing the social, environmental, and/or technical causes of that problem. (20%)
  • Artifact Analysis Packet: Students will identify and analyze three communication artifacts designed to inform or engage public audiences about the chosen wicked problem. (20%)
  • Public Engagement Project: Using their analysis of preexisting public engagement materials as a guide, students will create a custom public engagement project designed to catalyze stakeholder engagement with the identified wicked problem. (30%)
  • Facilitation Plan and Briefing Books: Students will propose an event designed to catalyze a coordinated scientific and community response to an identified wicked problem. The plan will detail specific events designed to foster dialogue among diverse stakeholders and will include appropriate briefing books for included audiences. (30%)

Required Texts

  • Tackling Wicked Problems, Brown, Harris & Russell
  • Acting in an Uncertain World, Callon, Lascoumes & Barthe
  • A packet of readings provided on Canvas

RHE 328 • Writing For Entrepreneurs

42875 • Spinuzzi, Clay
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 303
show description

Peter Drucker once said, “the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” Entrepreneurs discover and conceptualize problems, then look for opportunities to solve those problems with innovative solutions—solutions that could involve new products, services, processes, or principles. Such innovations can range from household gadgets to industrial processes to viral phone apps.

To be successful in achieving her or his vision, an entrepreneur must develop, extend, and hone complex arguments to interest stakeholders in the vision (and to adapt that vision to the needs of the stakeholders). From developing an idea to researching the market, from sketching out the business model to describing the value proposition, from gathering customer feedback to pitching a product, entrepreneurs must perform many small arguments that form a larger coherent argument.

How do they do that? In this class, we will learn, analyze, and practice some of the many types of arguments that entrepreneurs use. We will apply basic rhetorical concepts to these arguments to better analyze and construct them, and we will read articles from rhetoric, marketing, management, and related fields to better understand their context.

Students do not need an entrepreneurship background, nor do they need to have a winning idea. Our focus won't be on creating the next big thing (although you might!) but on figuring out how successful entrepreneurs argue and what texts they use to make those arguments successful.

Course Requirements and Grades

This course has 5 major projects:

  • Project 1: Develop an innovative idea using the Design Thinking approach, resulting in a set of prototypes and other process documents. Write a 4-page report describing your choices and how the results suggest an innovation. The innovation can be a product, service, or process. Include all process documents as an appendix. (15%)
  • Project 2: Develop and describe a business model built around the innovation, using heuristics (at minimum, the Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, Environment Analysis, and SWOT analysis). Write a 1500-word report discussing the heuristics and any changes you made to the innovation as a result. Include all heuristics as an appendix. (25%)
  • Project 3: Research possible markets for the innovation, using primary and secondary research. Iterate the P1 idea and P2 heuristics based on the results. Write a 6-page report describing the results of your market research. Include all revised heuristics as an appendix. (20%)
  • Project 4: Develop and test an MVP. Develop a minimally viable product (MVP) and collect data. Write a 1500-word report describing your MVP, how you tested it, and how these results led you to iterate. (15%)
  • Project 5: Pitch the business and innovation to potential investors, partners, or distributors, using an appropriate slide deck; a 6-minute presentation; and a 3-minute Q&A. (Group project, 15%

In addition, 10% of your grade will be based on reading responses.

Required Texts

  • Blank, The Startup Owner’s Manual
  • Day, Innovation Prowess
  • Osterwalder & Pigneur, Business Model Generation
  • Reis, The Lean Startup
  • Design Thinking “mixtapes” at
  • Course packet of readings (in Canvas and linked on schedule)


RHE 330C • Information Design

42880 • Sackey, Donnie
Meets MWF 8:00AM-9:00AM PAR 6
show description

This course covers fundamental principles of document and information design. Over the course of the semester students will learn practical and theoretical skills related to desktop publishing, visual communication, and publication production.
 Using industry-standard software applications, you will learn to create, from scratch, visually attractive and functional documents that are used in corporate and non-profit environments. By the end of the course, you can expect to understand:
 (1) How culturally-specific design principles affect readability, functionality, interpretation, and communication of information; (2) How software applications from the Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator work together; (3) How to create professional-quality, user-centered designs, including logos, brochures, pamphlets, and infographics; and (4)How to use design and technology terminology to communicate effectively with design professionals.

No prior design experience is required. This will be a project-based workshop that emphasizes project management and collaboration. 

Required Materials

Students will be asked to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud for the duration of the class (The Campus Computer Store sells $75.00 yearly subscriptions). It is recommended that you have a digital camera or smartphone for capturing high-quality photos. You will need a means of electronic backup and file storage (e.g., Dropbox, portable external hard-drive). Finally, you’ll need to reserve $50 for personal printing costs. No texts are required for this course.

Assignments and Grading

  • Presentation: What is Good/Bad Design - 10%
  • Participation: Design Collection - 5%
  • Participation: Ideas & Contributions to Class - 5%
  • Project One: Visual Rhetorical Analysis - 15%
  • Project Two: Designing Symbols - 15%
  • Project Three: Designing Data - 15%
  • Project Four: Designing Type - 15%
  • Project Five: (Re)designing Voting - 20%

RHE 330C • Networked Writing

42890 • Spinuzzi, Clay
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 6
show description

Writing is perhaps our most flexible tool. Since its invention in 3200 BCE, this tool has been used for a remarkable range of activities—and has been combined with other technologies to shape what is possible in different societies and contexts. And the current information and communication technologies—such as social media, instant messaging, and collaborative writing spaces—are certainly making their mark, changing how we read, write, compose, and argue.

In this class, we’ll examine writing as a tool that interacts with various information and communication technologies, and we’ll try out various information and communication technologies to better understand how they interact.

Assignments and Grading

Project 1: Offline writing. (20%)

Not only has writing been offline for almost all of its history, it has been done in specific media: fired clay, bones, papyrus, marble, paper, sticky notes. In fact, it’s hard to go an hour without encountering some kind of offline writing. As Karlsson shows in her article, even trades that seem to have nothing to do with writing actually involve writing. In a highly literate society, writing is applied to most of our problems.

Find and analyze four pieces of offline writing that are related to each other in a specific activity. Examples might include:

  • a shopping list, a printed circular for a grocery store, a sticker on an apple, and a sign advertising a sale.
  • a flyer for a Greek event, a ticket for the event, a sign at the event, a t-shirt commemorating the event.
  • a course syllabus, course notes, an assignment for the course, a picture of the whiteboard during a lecture.
  • the Starbucks menu, a chalkboard showing today’s specials, a receipt, a paper coffee cup with the customer’s name written on it.

Analyze the pieces of offline writing in these terms:

  • Purpose. What does each piece of writing do within the activity? What role does it play in comparison with other examples of writing?
  • Medium. Why is each piece of writing in this medium rather than others? How does this medium help it to achieve its purpose?
  • Links. How does this piece of writing link up with other pieces? For instance, the barista may take a name for the receipt, but also may write it in marker on a Starbucks cup. In what ways do these pieces of writing become associated?
  • Strengths and weaknesses. In becoming associated, these different texts may reinforce each others’ purposes or roles in the activity. but they may also undermine them. Discuss some ways in which the four pieces of writing reinforce or undermine each other.

Include pictures or scans of each piece of writing, either as embedded figures or as separate uploads.

Project 2: Social writing. (25%)

We’ve done offline writing for a long time, but two trends—universal literacy and widespread access to digitally based information and communication technologies—have radically increased both the variety and the interactivity of writing. We can now keep in close, interactive contact with a variety of relationships via social networking (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus) and messaging (e.g., SMS/texting, instant messaging, GroupMe, Skype, Google Hangouts). And as the Haas et al. piece illustrated, this new (historically speaking) affordance has led to behavior that older people might find bizarre—such as texting someone who is in the same space.

How have information and communication technologies changed the nature of relationships, either close or distant? Write a paper that explores this question. For this paper:

  • Interview 2-3 people who has grown up with, and uses, social media or messaging. Specifically, find people who have used social media or messaging since high school (at the latest). Discuss the following:
    • What do they use social networking or messaging to do? Under what conditions? Ask for specific examples that you can capture, either via screen capture or by writing verbatim.
    • How do they use social networking or messaging to interact? For instance, do they comment on others’ status? Do they monitor how others feel or what others are doing?
  • Interview 1-2 people who did not grow up with social media or messaging. These could be relatives, employers, professors, etc. Discuss the following:
    • Do they use social media or messaging? If so, how do they use it? If not, why not?
    • What have they found most counterintuitive about social media?

Based on the research above, write a paper that compares and contrasts the expectations of the two groups. Compare both sets of expectations to your own.

Project 3: Collaborative writing. (30%)

Collaborative writing has become increasingly important in endeavors from entertainment to business to education, helped along by new and powerful ways to collaborate. As Zachry et al. show, publicly available online services have created an additional collaborative layer over businesses; as Sherlock demonstrates, collaborative texts such as wikis are key to making certain activities in World of Warcraft happen. And of course Wikipedia is the poster child for massive collaboratively written endeavors.

This project involves examining such collaborative writing spaces, but it also involves using them.

In groups of 3-4 people, select a collaboratively written text to examine and evaluate. You might consider texts such as

  • a wiki for an online game or a Wikipedia page
  • a Google Doc for an open source software project
  • a piece of documentation in a content management system

As you examine the text, you’ll collaborate on an evaluation of the text. Specifically, you’ll look at features such as:

  • Identity. Are collaborators identified? How are they identified—with full names, pseudonyms, etc.?
  • History. Does the system show the history of changes? How do you get to it, and to what degree does it show the changes?
  • Controls. Who controls the text? What levels of control are embedded in the software? What roles are established? How do people move from one role to another?
  • Contributions. What features allow people to make contributions? Are these features easy or hard to use? Speculate on how the qualities of these features affect the quantity and quality of the contributions.

Collaboratively write a paper based on the evaluation.

  • Use collaborative writing software (such as Google Docs, a wiki, or a content management system) to write and submit the paper..
  • Use a project management tool (Basecamp, Asana, Wrike, Google Sheets, etc.) to plan, track, and adjust writing tasks.

Project 4: Networked writing and alliances. (25%)

In their book The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Ronfeldt et al. describe how the Zapatistas took advantage of relatively new information and communication technologies (new in 1998, anyway) to network different actors with different agendas, resulting in alliances that quickly changed the dynamics of revolution. We see similar tactics being used with more recent actions leveraging more recent technologies: the Arab Spring used Facebook and Twitter; Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party use social media and discussion boards; the Syrian rebels use Skype; Anonymous uses a variety of channels.

Select one instance—possibly from these, possibly from other instances—and research it. Specifically, examine how entities with different agendas meet and network those agendas via information and communication technologies.

Required Texts and Course Readings

  • Baten, J., & Van Zanden, J. L. (2008). Book production and the onset of modern economic growth. Journal of Economic Growth, 13(3), 217–235.
  • Bender, E. M., Morgan, J. T., Oxley, M., Zachry, M., Hutchinson, B., Marin, A., Zhang, B., et al. (2011). Annotating Social Acts : Authority Claims and Alignment Moves in Wikipedia Talk Pages. LSM  ’11: Proceedings of the Workshop on Languages in Social Media (pp. 48–57). Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computational Linguistics.
  • Ferro, T., Divine, D., & Zachry, M. (2012). Knowledge Workers and Their Use of Publicly Available Online Services for Day-to-day Work. SIGDOC  ’12:Proceedings of the 30th ACM international conference on Design of communication (pp. 47–53). New York: ACM.
  • Hutchins, E. (1995). How a cockpit remembers its speeds. Cognitive Science, 19(3), 265–288.
  • Karlsson, A.-M. (2009). Positioned by Reading and Writing: Literacy Practices, Roles, and Genres in Common Occupations. Written Communication, 26(1), 53–76. doi:10.1177/0741088308327445
  • Law, J. (1986). On the methods of long distance control: Vessels, navigation and the Portuguese route to India. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 234–263). Boston: Routledge.
  • Morgan, J. T., & Zachry, M. (2010). Negotiating with angry mastodons. In Wayne Lutters & Diane H. Sonnenwald (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th ACM international conference on Supporting group work - GROUP  ’10 (pp. 165–168). New York: ACM.
  • O’Leary, M., Orlikowski, W., & Yates, J. (2002). Distributed work over the centuries: Trust and control in the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670-1826. In P. J. Hinds & S. Kiesler (Eds.), Distributed Work (pp. 27–54). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Oxley, M., Morgan, J. T., Zachry, M., & Hutchinson, B. (2010). “What I Know Is …”: Establishing Credibility on Wikipedia Talk Pages. WikiSym  ’10: Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (pp. 2–3). New York: ACM.
  • Ronfeldt, D., Arquilla, J., Fuller, G. E., & Fuller, M. (1999). The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.
  • Sherlock, L. (2009). Genre, Activity, and Collaborative Work and Play in World of Warcraft: Places and Problems of Open Systems in Online Gaming. Journal Of Business And Technical Communication, 23(3), 263–293.
  • Schmandt-Besserat, D., & Erard, M. (2008). Origins and Forms of Writing. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 7–22). New York: Erlbaum.
  • Smart, G. (2008). Writing and the social formation of economy. In C. Bazerman (Ed.), Handbook of research on writing: History, society, school, individual, text (pp. 123–135). New York: Erlbaum.

RHE 330C • Rhetorical Metrics

42885 • Graham, Samuel
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 104
show description

Did you know that Outkast and Wu-Tang Clan use a larger vocabulary in their lyrics than Shakespeare did in his plays? It's true. How do we know this? Because someone actually measured the number of unique words used by different hip hop artists and compared those figures to Shakespearean plays. Hip hop vocabulary is, of course, not the only rhetoric we can measure. Recent studies of Facebook disinformation campaigns and their effects on polarizing the US electorate have found that the actual content overwhelmingly involved feel-good, positive messaging. Most people assumed it was negative, because it was polarizing. But when you actually measure the emotional content of the posts, it turns out that's not true. Do you know that who used the most sophisticated language of any of the candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign? Apparently, it was Ted Cruz. Is that what you would have guessed?  

Much of our popular understanding of rhetoric, language, and persuasion is based on instinct and intuition. Rhetorical training offers one very good way of honing that intuition to make it better and more sophisticated. Nevertheless, even the best instincts and intuitions can lead us astray, and sometimes you need to check the numbers behind your ideas about rhetoric in the world. Accordingly, this edition of RHE 330C will provide students with hands-on experience measuring language according to different theories and approaches. This means figuring out what to measure, how to measure it, and then actually measuring it. But, how do you measure the entire collected works of the Wu-Tang Clan and compare it to Shakespeare? Ain't nobody got time for that. You're going to need some help. You're going to need something that can read a whole lot faster than you can.

So, in this course, students will teach computers to read. In so doing, students will explore how to use, create, and analyze computational technologies that assess 1) the complexity and difficulty of persuasive texts, 2) the emotional content of bodies of discourse, and 3) the content itself of persuasive language.   

No prior experience is required to complete this course.

Assignments and Grading

  • Take-Home Exercises (20%)
  • Two Practicum Exams (20%)
  • Rhetorical metrics project
    • Custom metric proposal (10%)
    • Metrics tool development (30%)
    • Project report (20%)

Required Texts and Readings

  • Text Mining with R: A Tidy Approach by Julia Silge and David Robinson
  • Additional readings provided on canvas

RHE 330D • Augustine And Christian Rhe

42895 • Longaker, Mark
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 103
show description

Augustine, bishop of Hippo is widely acknowledged as a major figure in the early Catholic church. He was also a practitioner and teacher of rhetoric. In this class, we will compare Augustine's writings on rhetoric and Christian doctrine with the works of other rhetoricians such as Libanius of Antioch and Marcus Tullius Cicero. We will situate all of these works in the context of the late imperial Roman empire, and we will ask whether Augustine's work should be understood as a rejection of pagan rhetoric, an effort to theorize and practice a Christian rhetoric), or an extension of the ancient rhetorical and philosophical traditions.


Augustine's “De Doctrine Christiana”, “Contra Academicos”, “De Magistro”, and sermons on the Christian. gospels. The anonymous “Rhetorica. ad Herennium”, selected orations by Libanius of Antioch, and Cicero's “Academica”.

Major Assignments:

  • One theoretical essay, peer-reviewed in class and revised according to instructor feedback: 20% of final grade
  • One comparative essay, peer-reviewed in class and revised according to instructor feedback: 20% of final grade
  • One analytical digital project: 40% of final grade
  • Daily discussion forum.posts: 20% of final.grade

RHE 330D • History Of Public Argument

42905 • Roberts-Miller, Patricia
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 306
show description

If rhetoric really is the art of public deliberation, then there ought to be some kind of connection between how people theorize rhetoric in a given historical moment and the political deliberation of that same time and culture. But is there?

This course will focus on three historical moments to examine the connection (or lack thereof) between rhetoric as a scholarly discipline and a political practice: 4th century BCE Greece, Western Europe in the Renaissance, and 18th century England and the US.

From the classical era, we will read and discuss Plato and Aristotle's theories of both rhetoric and politics, using them to consider contemporary practicing political rhetors like Demosthenes, Isocrates, and various speakers in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. We will read selections from Cicero's rhetorical handbook De Inventione in the light of various political speeches of his, especially what are called the Catilinian orations.

For the Renaissance, students will read both primary and secondary material, and apply them to political and theological debates (such as Erasmus and Luther's debate over free will).

From the 18th century, we will read Adam Smith on rhetoric and Edmund Burke on the sublime and beautiful. We will read selections from Burke's political speeches, as well as selections from contemporary political debates, including the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate and, if students are interested, speeches from the French Revolution.

Course Requirements

Students will write and substantially revise three researched papers, each one between 1750 and 3000 words. There will be short writing assignments for every class, and there may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.


Course packet to include work from Plato, Isocrates, Aristotle, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Cicero, Erasmus, Castiglione, Luther, Wilson, Rainolds, Smith, Burke, Hamilton, and Madison


  • Paper 1: 30%
  • Paper 2: 30%
  • Paper 3: 30%
  • Short Writing Assignments, Peer Reviews, and Tests: 10%

RHE 330D • Women's Rhet Traditions

42900 • Ferreira-Buckley, Linda
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM PAR 208
show description

This course examines women’s rhetorical traditions in 19th and early 20th century America. We will focus on the diverse ways that rhetoric was studied and practiced. Our aim will not be to map out a comprehensive history but rather to investigate the range of rhetorical sites:  debating societies, literary circles and salons, speaking societies, libraries, writing groups, letter writing manuals, and classrooms. We will always consider how these grew out of particular social, cultural, and historical contexts to meet the needs and desires of African-American and white women. Finally, we will examine and evaluate the bases for the work that historians present.

Students will work with the instructor to design and complete a project that investigates a topic of their choice. Sequenced exercises and writing assignments will help participants develop and complete their project.


  • 15% book review           
  • 15% short essay (3-4 pages)
  • 35% longer essay (7-10 pages)
  • 05% annotated bibliography
  • 10% homework
  • 20% quizzes


Excerpts from the following: *

  • 19th and early 20th-century speeches, short essays, and letters by women
  • Rhetoric, elocutionary, and letter manuals for girls or women
  • McHenry, Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies (2002)
  • Miller et al, Rhetorical Women: Roles and Representations (2006)
  • Ronald and Ritchie, Teaching Rhetorica: Theory, Pedagogy, Practice (2006)
  • Royster and Kirsch, “Re-visioning History, Theory, and Practice” & “Conclusion,” Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies (2012)
  • Royster, Traces Of A Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women (2002)
  • 19th and early 20th-century speeches, short essays, and letters by women

Rhetoric, elocutionary, and letter manuals for girls or women

RHE 330E • Nonargumntatv Rhet In Zen

42920 • Piekarski, Krzysztof
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM FAC 7
show description

“Don’t go searching for the Truth. Just let go of your opinion.” ~ Hsin Shin Ming

American rhetoric is strongly grounded in argument and persuasion, and infused with judgments of good and bad, right and wrong. This is true not only for public discourse in the media, academic discourse in schools, and professional writing and speaking, it is also true in everyday conversation. We are constantly trying to convince someone of our judgments, or that something or someone is good or bad, right or wrong—a restaurant, a movie, a car, a teacher. Everything is evaluated and every conversation is full of assertions of value. But what if there were a different, equally “real” way to talk about the world and each other that didn’t create antagonistic relationships? What if we believed that each person is capable of waking up to the reality around her, and responding appropriately, without being converted to some position or belief? What kind of language would we use, and how would we use it?

Zen training begins by kicking the props out of our customary ways of understanding and talking. It subverts value distinctions, challenges our habitual ways of expressing ourselves, and denies the superiority of rationalist, linear logic. It does not do this merely to "deconstruct" language, or to tear down all meaning. It has a radical project of waking us up out of the trance we create for ourselves and others through our habitual uses of language. This class will explore how contradiction, negation, story, surprise, gesture, and silence are used in Zen training as resources for awakening to reality, rather than as assertions or arguments about it. The cryptic pronouncements of Zen masters seem impenetrable. They appear to defy our western rhetorical traditions that depend on logic and formal reasoning as the key to building knowledge. Zen teachers complicate the issue by insisting that language is only "the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself." If you have ever tried to write about a meaningful experience, you will recognize the problematic relationship between language and reality. This course engages students in exploring the surprising uses of language and image to create meaning in Zen tradition and practice. 

Students do not need any prior experience or knowledge of Zen rhetoric or Zen practices. The first part of the class will provide background on Zen concepts including ethical precepts and koans, then consider the emergence of the American Zen rhetorical tradition. This class is not an introduction to Zen practice, but rather an exploration of an alternative rhetoric, a different method of using language to construct meaning and shape relationships that help foster care and respect rather than antagonism and aggression.

Grading Policy: Grades in this course are determined on the basis of the Learning Record, which accompanies a portfolio of work presented at the midterm and at the end of the course. These portfolios present a selection of student work, both formal and informal, completed during the semester, ongoing observations about student learning, and analysis of student work and interpretations with respect to the student's development across five dimensions of learning: confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, use of prior and emerging experience, and reflectiveness. This development centers around the major strands of work in the course: rhetoric and composition, research, technology, and collaboration. The criteria for grades are posted at the Learning Record web site. Please also notice the RHE policy on absences, which can affect your grade. Three unexcused absences will lower your final grade, four unexcused absences results in automatic failure of the course.


Joko Beck, Everyday Zen; Perle Besserman and Manfred Steger, Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers; Norman Fischer and Susan moon, What is Zen?; Mu Soeng, Trust in Mind; Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind; John Tarrant, Bring be the Rhinoceros; Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth about Reality; Dale Wright, Philosophical Meditation on Zen Buddhism; 

RHE 330E • Pathos

42925 • Davis, D
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM PAR 6
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In the Rhetoric, Aristotle defines emotion (pathos) as a bodily change brought about by external causes that modifies judgment and motivation. When an encounter makes you feel angry or fearful, for example, you may be motivated to do and to believe something that you wouldn’t otherwise do or believe—savvy rhetors understand this. However, there are no neutral or feeling-free states; your sensory apparatus, which receives and actively interprets sensory stimuli, constantly exposes your apparent inside to an outside, relating internal feelings to external encounters. So you’re always “in a mood,” even if that mood is very chill. Anything you encounter can operate as a pathetic appeal, inciting feelings that frame judgment and motivate behavior: a heartbreaking image, a peaceful morning, an outraged tweet, a tense atmosphere, a warm smile. Every encounter stirs feelings, and those feelings in turn shape experience and belief, regulate judgment, and inspire action. Feeling states fundamentally orient one’s existence in the world, conditioning rational thought and deliberation.

But feelings are not simply bodily or private: they respond to encounters with others, they are informed by previous experience, and they are somewhat cultivated and disciplined by social practices and normative structures that dictate appropriate affective relations and emotional expression. Affective life is social, through and through, and when it takes a pathological turn, everyone is on the line. That will be the focus of this course.

We’ll engage injurious texts—hate speech, fake news, conspiracy theories—designed to outrage and enrage, to entrench division and tribalize affiliations. We will examine how these texts operate rhetorically and contemplate why, when it comes to such damaging blitzes of pathos, counterarguments that double-down on “the facts” alone prove spectacularly ineffective. We’ll also attempt to invent other, potentially more effective (healing, restorative) ways to respond to pathological texts that do not oppose logos and pathos or pretend to exit the sensorium to make their case.



You will not need to purchase a course pack or books for this course. I will provide you with the readings in pdf format on your secure canvas site under Files in a way that complies with fair use. Video and other online texts will be linked to the syllabus.

  • Ahmed, Sara. Selections from The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
  • Ahmed, Sara. “Affective Economies.” Social Text 79 (Vol. 22, no. 2): 2004. Pp. 117-139.
  • Aristotle, The Rhetoric, Book II, 1-17.
  • Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara. Selections from “A Citizen’s Guide to Fake News.” August 29, 2018.
  • Brennan, Teresa. "Introduction," The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004. 13-23.
  • Davies, William. “How Feelings Took Over the World.” The Guardian. September 8, 2018. Web. May 2, 2019.
  • Gould, Deborah B. “Introduction: Why Emotion?” Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2009. 1-47.
  • Hariman, Robert and John Louis Lucaites. Chapter 5, “Dissent and Emotional Management,” No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy. U. of Chicago P, 2007.
  • Hawhee, Debra. “Rhetoric’s Sensorium.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 101, No. 1, February 2015, pp. 2-17
  • Nussbaum, Martha C. “Aristotle On Emotions and Rational Persuasion.” In Ed. Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Berkeley: U of California P, 1996. 303-323.
  • Rice, Jennifer. “Pathologia,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 101, No. 1, February 2015, pp. 34–45.
  • Rice, Jennifer. “The New ‘New’: Making a Case for Critical Affect Studies,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 94, No. 2, May 2008, pp. 200-212.
  • Richardson, Michael. “There’s Something Going On.” Capacious Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry, 1.2 (2018): 150-154.


Assignments and Grades

This course has 4 major assignments:

  • 10 Reading Discussion Posts (x 5 pts) = 50%
  • 1 Visual Analysis  = 15%
  • 1 Analysis of a Pathological Text  = 20%
  • 1 Restorative Counterargument + Presentation  = 15%

RHE 330E • Persuasion Bible Time/Place

42910 • Charney, Davida
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 208
GCWr (also listed as J S 363, MES 342)
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Strategies for persuading audiences were distilled into the art of rhetoric in ancient Athens, where critical thinking and civic oratory became key parts of democratic governance.  This course employs the concepts of rhetorical theory to examine the distinctive persuasive strategies used around the same time in the cultures of the ancient Near East and in the Hebrew Bible in particular.

Like other ancient Near Eastern texts, the Hebrew Bible contains many examples of human speakers trying to persuade God or trying to persuade other people on God's behalf.  What seems distinctive about the Hebrew Bible is the willingness of Israelites to argue with and challenge God. The assumption that God is open to argument raises fascinating questions: how can one pull off rhetorical tactics with a divine being who is all-powerful and all-knowing? Why should God engage in arguments with humans? How did Israelites discern God's response?

The course is structured around three types of discourses: face-to-face interaction, prayer, and prophecy.  Students will analyze the rhetorical strategies of Biblical passages of each type, consider how these discourses differed across cultures in the ancient Near East, and relate them to versions of these discourses in the U.S. today.


  • JS 363 Topics in Arts and Humanities, new topic: Divine Persuasion in Biblical Times and Places
  • MES 342 Topics in the Middle East: Arts and Humanities, new topic: Divine Persuasion in Biblical Times and Places


  • 15% Participation (posting on discussion boards and peer reviews)
  • 25% Quizzes
  • 15% Rhetorical Analysis Project: 2-3 page rhetorical analysis of each type of text (5% each)
  • 25% Cultural Comparison Paper: 6-8 page comparative analysis across ancient discourses/cultures
  • 25% Rhetorical Implications Paper: 6-8 page paper developing an argument about implicatons of these early texts to religious rhetoric today.

Global Cultures Flag:

This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase

your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a

substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and

histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.

Required Texts:

  • George Kennedy, Comparative Rhetoric: An Historical and Cross-Cultural Introduction, Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.
  • Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, Michael Fishbane, The Jewish Study Bible: Featuring The Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation College Edition, 2003

RHE 330E • Rhet And Gender Violence

42915 • Hill, Angela
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 6
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This course explores gender violence. Specifically, we will study texts that analyze sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking from rhetorical, feminist, legal, and sociological frameworks. Our aim is to understand the diverse forms and effects of gender violence and to examine interventions that can reduce its occurrence. We will also consider the intersections of identity that shape societal responses to violence that is gendered as well as racialized and sexualized. Course texts will include legal cases, films, victim impact statements, and influential scholarly works on gender theory, gender violence, restorative justice, and recent social movements such as SlutWalk and #MeToo.

The course is also designed to enhance your reading and writing skills. Reading might appear to be a straightforward activity requiring no special training, but the close reading expected in many academic contexts is a skill that must be learned. Likewise, writing analytically is a skill that requires instruction and exercise. These two scholarly activities – close reading and analytical writing – are linked: to write well, you must be able to analyze the substance and structure of other people’s arguments. This course will develop and test your skills in these two vital academic areas.

Assignments and Grading

  • Two analytical papers (30 points each, 60 points total)

  • Short assignments (25 points)
  • Participation (10 points)
  • Attendance (5 points)

Tentative Texts include:

Gender Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives / In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Feminist Movement Against Sexual Violence / Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture / Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent / Beyond Blurred Lines: Rape Culture in Popular Media / Sex Panic and the Punitive State / Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights

RHE 360M • Rhet/Writ For Teachers Of Eng

42930 • Buckley, Tom
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM PAR 103
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Designed for students planning a career teaching English, this course will introduce you to scholarship in composition that informs the teaching of writing today. Theories will be examined in terms of their assumptions about the nature of language and learning. Among the topics we'll discuss are the writing process; the rhetorical situation; the relationship between language and identity; the place of grammar and usage; curriculum for basic and developmental writers; collaborative learning; and creating and evaluating assignments.

Although this isn't a methods course, it will have a practical orientation: we'll discuss the implications of each approach for designing courses and for evaluating writing. In addition to reading about writing, you'll write about writing. You'll compose a number of writing assignments, each to be revised after receiving written critiques both from me and from your peers. You'll also write critiques of your peers' work as a way to sharpen your own analytical abilities and to develop the ability to offer writers detailed, pointed, tactful advice. Additionally, you'll keep a reading journal; do writing, style, and grading exercises; and investigate a contemporary educational debate on the issue of your choice. A mid-term exam will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the information studied.

This class is not for the timid or narrow-minded. Participation is a must as we try to hash out in a conversational setting important questions about contemporary education.

RHE 366 • Internship In Rhetoric & Writ

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This course provides an academic foundation and practical support for upper-division students working in DRW-approved internships.

It is designed to help students 1) recognize how rhetoric is applied in the workplace environments, and 2) apply their training and skills in rhetoric and writing professionally.

To meet these objectives, students will participate in a variety of activities: assigned readings, class discussions (in class and online), journal reflections on their workplace experience, university-sponsored workshops about job searching and workplace protocol, and in-class workshops and peer critique sessions designed to further develop their writing skills.

Students will produce 20 pages of writing (which may include Discussion Board assignments and journal entries at an instructor’s discretion) by the end of the semester. Because the amount of on-the-job writing students do will vary per internship, students will consult with the instructor at the beginning of the semester to determine the types of writing they will produce.

This course is offered on a pass/fail basis. It does not count toward the rhetoric major.

It may be repeated once for credit when the internships vary.


Consent of supervising instructor must be obtained. Upper-division standing and twelve semester hours of work in Rhetoric & Writing are required.


A course packet

Others TBA

RHE 368C • Writing Center Internship

42940 • Batt, Alice
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PCL 2.340
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RHE368C is a course designed to prepare you to serve as a peer tutor in the University Writing Center (UWC). During the first part of the term, you will study issues related to writing center theory and practice. You will analyze the goals and practices of writing centers, examine elements of contemporary rhetorical and composition theory, survey syllabi and assignments from various courses, learn and apply research methods, and review grammar, mechanics, and usage. During the final weeks of the term, you will work under supervision for six hours per week as a consultant in the University Writing Center. The class meets twice during that internship period to critically reflect upon your consulting experiences and support each other’s continued learning.


  • Blog Entries
  • Discussion Board Posts
  • UWC Observation Reports
  • Grammar Assignments/Quizzes
  • Research Project
  • Presentation
  • Letter to the Next Class of UWC Interns

BOOKS (Do not buy until after first class)

  • Gillespie, Paula and Neal Lerner. The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, 2e
  • Murphy, Christina and Steve Sherwood. The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, 4e
  • Ryan, Leigh. The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors.
  • Rafoth, Ben. Multilingual Writers and Writing Centers
  • Praxis: A Writing Center Journal