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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Leah M. Ceccarelli
COM 435
Seattle Campus

Historic American Public Address

Rhetorical criticism of historical public speeches, essays, and declarations. Includes readings of public texts in their historical and political context to increase understanding of those texts, their rhetorical construction, and the culture from which they arose. Covers the beginnings of the nation to the middle of the twentieth century.

Class description

Students in this course will learn how American public address has been designed to influence belief and action. We will apply rhetorical criticism to the study of significant public speeches, essays, and declarations, engaging close readings of public texts in their historical context in order to better understand those texts, their rhetorical construction, and the culture from which they arose. This quarter covers public address from the founding of the nation to the beginning of WWII.

Student learning goals

Engage in a close rhetorical reading of historic American public address.

Recognize and describe a rhetorical puzzle relating to a text, and then develop a new interpretation of that text in its context to resolve that puzzle.

Identify, define and use rhetorical concepts in the analysis of a text.

Identify similarities in rhetorical strategy between different texts.

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion.

Recommended preparation

N/A

Class assignments and grading

To prepare for each class, students will read primary texts (mostly speeches), and short context previews that summarize the historical background for those texts. All of this material will be available on the course website. There is no textbook to purchase. Students will work toward the development of a final paper.

There will be a midterm examination and a final examination mostly made up of short answer questions. There will be daily reading quizzes made up of multiple choice questions that assess the depth of students' reading of the assigned primary texts. There will be a paper, graded in two parts: a 3-4 page "puzzle development" section, then a 6-8 page final paper that revises the previous section and adds a "solution" section to it.


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 Leah M. Ceccarelli
Date: 03/28/2013