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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christine L Harold
COM 333
Seattle Campus

Contemporary Rhetorical Theory

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.

Class description

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

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Christine L Harold
Date: 09/14/2012