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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Lauren R. Archer
COM 431
Seattle Campus

Rhetorical Criticism

Study of approaches to rhetorical inquiry that aid in the description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of discourse. Applies various critical models to a chosen artifact.

Class description

This course provides an overview of techniques for describing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating rhetorical artifacts. Over the course of the quarter we will work together to build the necessary skills for engaging in critical readings of texts while developing an understanding of the historical development of rhetorical criticism as a practice. One way to think about rhetorical criticism is to imagine you are holding a magnifying glass up to a text to closely analyze how it “works.” In this class you will learn about various approaches you can use and questions you can ask to guide you in your interrogation of texts.

Student learning goals

Define rhetoric and explain key rhetorical concepts

Understand the development of rhetorical criticism as a practice

Provide thorough and detailed descriptions of rhetorical artifacts and the messages they convey

Understand the artifact-context relationship and how it influences message production and reception

Analyze and interpret rhetorical artifacts critically, attending to both manifest and latent messages

Cultivate the necessary communication skills (both oral and written) to present your rhetorical analysis and critical evaluation in a persuasive manner

General method of instruction

This course will involve a mixture of lecture and class discussion to achieve the objectives listed above. Out of class readings and writing assignments will supplement material covering during class meetings.

Recommended preparation

No prior knowledge of rhetoric or rhetorical criticism is necessary for this class. However, students should have previously taken a writing course.

Class assignments and grading

Most assignments will be written. There will be several smaller writing assignments (1-2 pages) regularly throughout the quarter. Additionally, over the course of the quarter students will work to develop a longer paper that presents their rhetorical analysis and interpretation of a selected rhetorical artifact. Quizzes will also be used throughout the quarter to assess student comprehension.

Grades will be assigned based on total point accumulation, with each assignment worth a certain number of points.


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 Lauren R. Archer
Date: 04/18/2012