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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael C. Souders
COM 331
Seattle Campus

The Rhetorical Tradition in Western Thought

Analysis of the major theories that prescribe and describe the use of symbols to change attitudes and behavior. Principal emphasis is placed upon defining the nature and scope of rhetoric and upon analyzing the art's underlying assumptions about human beings as symbol users. Some background in history, philosophy, and literature is desirable.

Class description

The 2400 year-old disagreement over whether ideas (philosophy) or language (rhetoric) are separate and which matters more is a bloody one. The goal of this course is to introduce and survey some of most significant ideas and developments in the history of rhetorical theory. Investigations will begin with the Socratic Greeks and end by in the contemporary era. By highlighting some of the most vital developments and innovations we attempt to understand key questions surrounding rhetoric, which we will define as the use of symbols to influence the thoughts or actions of other humans beings.

Student learning goals

Have a basic understanding of the historical arc of the study of rhetoric.

An understanding of the relevance of Greek, Roman, Medieval, Early Modern, and Contemporary rhetorical theory to today’s problems.

Understand the basic conflicts in rhetoric, including rhetoric’s historical disagreement with philosophy, its role as cultural developer, and it growth away from public address and writing to a more comprehensive study.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Argument paper and responses, examinations.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Michael C. Souders
Date: 03/03/2014