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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Leah M. Ceccarelli
COM 436
Seattle Campus

Contemporary American Public Address

Rhetorical criticism of contemporary public messages. Includes reading of public texts in their context to increase understanding of those texts, their rhetorical construction, and the culture from which they arose. Covers mid-twentieth century to the present.

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 contemporary 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 WWII to the present.

Student learning goals

Engage in a close rhetorical reading of contemporary 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 speech texts), 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.

There will be a midterm examination and a final examination mostly made up of short answer questions. There will also be daily reading quizzes made up of multiple choice questions that assess the depth of your reading of the assigned primary texts.


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: 02/28/2013