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Rhetoric


Teaching faculty

Teresa Heinz Housel
Jim Herrick
Christian Spielvogel

Courses Offered

Comm 160. Analytic Skills

This course seeks to develop the analytic skills involved in effective reasoning and communication. In developing these skills, the course introduces students to various types of arguments, the tests to which each is susceptible and the characteristics of a reasonable argument: validity, evidence, and linguistic consistency. Analysis of sample arguments is stressed throughout. The course also considers the ethics of advocacy, and the qualities of a reasonable person.

Four Credits, Herrick, Both Semesters


Comm 260. Rhetoric and Public Culture

This course explores the rhetorical strategies, argumentative approaches, and definitional techniques embedded in the texts of popular culture. Contrasting current theories of rhetorical analysis and cultural studies with those of the classical period, the course aims to familiarize students with the rhetorical elements in the symbolic world we inhabit, and to sharpen their critical skills as consumers of persuasive messages. The course will also introduce students to some of the basic qualitative research approaches commonly employed in the field of communication studies, including Burkean analysis, culture-centered criticism, and narrative criticism.

Four Credits, Housel, Herrick, Spielvogel, Both Semesters


Comm 463. Rhetorical Theory

This course surveys the history of rhetoric, the oldest of several disciplines making up the field of communication. Public persuasive discourse has exerted an unparalleled influence on the western world’s direction and development.
Philosophers, politicians, lawyers, theologians, poets — all have tried to determine what takes place when one person sets out to persuade another by the use of symbols, and in particular by means of rational aesthetic and emotional appeals. The tradition of their thought on the subject makes up the discipline known as “rhetoric,” a discipline dating back more than 2,000 years, and a topic of study currently undergoing an important renaissance. Prerequisites: Communication 101, 160, 260, and 280.

Four Credits, Herrick, Spring Semester