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Instructor Class Description

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Lindsay R Russell
ENGL 306
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Rhetoric

Introduces rhetorical theory from the classical period to the present, including an overview of core issues, vocabulary, and concepts in rhetorical theory; a discussion of methods for studying rhetoric, and a consideration of the social importance of studying rhetoric in the contemporary moment.

Class description

English 306: Introduction to Rhetoric

Plato called it "the art of winning the soul by discourse"; Aristotle practiced it by "discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion"; Cicero theorized it as "one great art comprised of five lesser arts: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, and ponunciatio"; and Demosthenes trained for it by speaking with pebbles in his mouth.

Rhetoric is an ancient idea which has animated civic life and scholarly study for more than two dozen centuries. This course introduces rhetorical theory and practice from the classical period to the present, including an overview of core issues, vocabularies, and concepts in rhetorical theory; a discussion of methods for teaching and training in rhetoric; opportunities to put rhetorical theory and analysis into practice; and a consideration of the social importance of studying rhetoric in the contemporary moment.

Because we will consider both the consequences of rhetoric, as well as how rhetoric might be deployed as a tool for social action and intervention, coursework will ask students to build their own rhetorical toolboxes. We will begin by exploring and experimenting with theories of invention, imitation, elocution, identification, genre, and visual and new media, to name a few. Students will also have the opportunity to identify, explore, and respond to the rhetorical contours of salient public issues of their choosing.

This course will be particularly beneficial to individuals interested in rhetorical studies, rhetoric and composition, and graduate-level English work, but also to those entering professions such as law, education, business, public relations, and journalism.

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 Lindsay R Russell
Date: 01/30/2012