Christine L Harold
Introduces major Western theories about the relationship between humans and their symbol systems. Emphasizes themes that have preoccupied 20th and 21st Century thinkers on the subject of rhetoric: the public, identity, ethics, difference, the "masses", and persuasion.
In this class, we will explore in depth both the concepts “rhetoric” and “theory.” Although today it is often associated negatively with bombastic or disingenuous speech, rhetoric is one of the oldest and most studied human arts in Western civilization. In this course, we will survey contemporary perspectives on the art of rhetoric since its often-troubled encounter with post-modernism, and as its domain has expanded in an era of mediated texts and networked audiences. Toward this end, we will approach “theory” as a “way of seeing,” but we will also begin from the premise that theory, like rhetoric, is a practice, a conceptual interface through which one engages the world. We will read both prominent and emerging 20th and 21st Century thinkers on the subject of rhetoric and weigh the possibilities and limitations of the theoretical tools they offer. Themes that will govern our exploration include: “the public,” “the text,” “identity,” “community,” “persuasion,” “difference,” and “ethics.”
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading