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Jeffrey Walker, Chair PAR 3, Mailcode B5500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-6109

Aaron S Zacks

Lecturer

Contact

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Editing

44597 • Fall 2014
Meets MW 1100am-1230pm PAR 6
show description

Whether or not we’re accepting or conscious of it, we are all editors. In the widest sense of the word, we edit ourselves -- our exterior, our public image, our ethos -- every morning when we dress and we don’t stop editing -- what we write, what we say, what we think, what we are -- until we hit the pillow (at which point editorial responsibility becomes indeterminate).

In this section of RHE 309K, we will spend the first few weeks deliberating over the broad concept of editing before proceeding through units on:

- Casual writing (i.e. email, social media, texting)

- Journalism

- Creative arts (i.e. web video, music, sound)

- Scholarship

- Academic writing

For each discipline, we will explore the various roles of editing and editors play in a text’s rhetoric.

RHE 309K is an introductory-level rhetoric class devoted to teaching principles of argumentation, research, and writing. In service to this goal, students will produce texts in a variety of genres (textual and otherwise) over the course of the semester, all of which will be subject to some mode of editing. Around week 10,  students will compile their best, heavily edited work as a portfolio and begin research toward the Final Project: a thoroughly edited, academic argument.

Grade Breakdown:

Homework: 20%

Peer Review: 20%

Portfolio: 20%

Final Project: 40%

Required Texts:

Easy Writer. Fourth Edition. Lunsford. Longman, 2009.

Everything’s an Argument. Sixth Edition. Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, Walters. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

The majority of course readings will be available through Canvas

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Guilty Pleasure

44705 • Fall 2014
Meets MW 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

“Guilty pleasure" is a commonplace phrase, often used in reference to artifacts of low-brow, popular -- memes, Lady Gaga, Ice Road Truckers. But anything can be, or become, a guilty pleasure, and the phrase does more than reinforce cultural hierarchies. Each of us has our own guilty pleasures, whether they exist in the world of food, the internet, movies, etc. One might infer that humans have always had guilty pleasures, and reason that feeling guilt about our actions or thoughts is what makes us human. But is the guilty pleasure flourishing in the digital era? Are we more guilty about our pleasures now than ever before? Do we have more to feel guilty about? In general, “pleasure” is a personal experience, while “guilt” is typically understood as a social construct. So, how do guilty pleasures reflect an intersection of our inner (psychological) and outer (social) worlds? What do our guilty pleasures tell us about ourselves, our culture, and our interaction with that culture?

This class will begin by studying two central concepts (guilt and pleasure) from a variety of perspectives, including psychology, religion, culture, and of course, rhetoric. Reading from a variety of disciplines will teach students to recognize and analyze rhetorical techniques in different contexts and -- in service to the final project -- teach them to employ solid rhetorical principles in making their own argument. Learning about the history of debate surrounding guilt and pleasure will bring us insights into the way the “guilty pleasure” functions as a commonplace in our culture. Subsequent class periods will be devoted to notable categories of guilty pleasures -- for example, Top 40s music, fast food, and the internet.

Students in this class must be comfortable engaging in self-reflexive thinking and sharing personal insights with their peers.

Assignments and Grading

Homework: 10%

Short Essays: 10%

Paper 1 (Descriptive): 15%

Paper 2 (Analytical): 20%

Paper 3 (Argumentative): 25%

Presentation: 10%

Peer Review: 10%

Required Texts and Course Readings

Lunsford, Andrea A. Easy Writer. 4th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument with Readings. 6th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

Nietszhe, Friedrich. Selections from Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Satire

44715 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

With the bountiful and diverse new media at their disposal in the 21st century, satirists are playing an increased, and increasingly mainstream, role in world culture. Satire’s diversity—of subject-matter, genre, tone, and humor—helps it to cross national and language boundaries, so that a satirical argument about gets picked up quickly by news outlets and spreads, meme-like, among various rhetorical contexts. A few years ago, a Danish newspaper published a collection of cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammed in a variety of controversial scenarios. The subsequent public debate, centering around freedom of speech and religious sensitivity, was taken up briskly by pundits of all kinds, earnest and satirical, from CNN to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and inspired a two-part South Park episode representing the debate in its characteristically zany but targeted brand of argument-making. More recently, during the 2012 US Presidential election process, satire outlets such as The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live brought political issues to a wide audience by supplying an alternate, satirical version of the news cycle. Back in 2004, Ted Koppel admitted, albeit lamentably, that “a lot of television viewers...get their news from the Comedy Channel.”1

Surely that number has grown dramatically in the past eight years. With viewership comes legitimacy, and whether or not the satirist wants to be taken seriously ceases to a matter under his or her control. Unevenness of audience expectations produces a complex rhetorical situation, especially in response to the most serious of world events, most recently Hurricane Sandy and the Sand Hook tragedy. On other, bizarre occasions, we have seen satire misread as earnest argument, such as this past December, when a Chinese news outlet reported that The Onion had named North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jung-un the “Sexiest Man Alive in 2012.” When utilized effectively, satire speaks truth to power through the indirect strategy of irony—saying the opposite of what one means—and can, perhaps, encourage useful public debate. It is also entertaining and, when done well, tremendously funny. This is the central irony of satirical rhetoric that we will dwell on in this course.

What role does satire play in our culture? How are satirists utilizing new media and technology to infiltrate spaces usually reserved for earnest argument? Can satirical argument produce measurable change in the world like other rhetorical modes, such as political speech and news broadcasts? What role do we, as engaged citizens, expect satire to play in our lives? How does satire meet or challenge those expectations? And what on Earth does it mean that a portion of our country believes Jon Stewart is more reliable a reporter than Wolf Blitzer? And, for starters, what is satire, anyway? We will engage these and many other questions over the course of the semester through studying satirical arguments about various subjects (music, sports, politics, etc.) in a wide variety of genres (television, internet, poetry, video games, radio, etc.). Students will apply concepts of rhetorical analysis in our discussions of these texts and learn to move deftly between different media. We will study some classic rhetorical texts, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal (1729) and Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), but, because satire is, above all, topical, most of the course content will be contemporary. As with all rhetorical study, the underlying aim of this course is to hone our sensitivity to the arguments surrounding us, making us more careful interpreters of our society and cultures. This course is writing-intensive and revision-intensive; students will produce and revise approximately 30 pages of original writing over the course of the semester. This course also requires active participation in class discussions and one or more presentations. In the final weeks of the semester, students will produce a piece of satire, in the genre of their choice, accompanied by an essay describing their use of rhetorical strategies.

1 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27439-2004Aug23.html

Assignments and Grading

Research Summaries 10%

Annotated Bibliography 10%

Essay 1.1 (Rhetorical Analysis) 10%

Essay 1.2 (Revision) 15%

Essay 2.1 (Persuasive Essay) 10%

Essay 2.2 (Revision) 15%

Final Project and Essay 15%

In-Class Writing 5%

Homework 10%

Peer Review Mandatory

  Required Texts Course Packet (available the first week of the semester from Speedway Copy in the Dobie Mall) Gray, Jonathan, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson. Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (2009) Scharton, Maurice and Janice Neuleib. Things Your Grammar Never Told You: A Pocket Handbook (2nd Edition, 2001) Sample Satirical Texts Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) Colbert, Stephen, et al. The Colbert Report (2005-) Judge, Mike. Office Space (1999) Kafka, Franz. “A Hunger Artist” (1924) Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (1853) Onion, The (1988-) Stewart, Jon, et al. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-) Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal (1729) Tomorrow, Tom. This Modern World (1988-) Travesty, Texas (1997-)

RHE F325M • Advanced Writing

87250 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm MEZ 2.122
show description

RHE 325M is an advanced-level workshop in writing and editing. Its goal is to make already skilled writers more polished and publishable.  It will introduce you to stylistic analysis, the study of how word choice, sentence construction, audience adaptation and passage arrangement influence the rhetorical effects of texts on their audiences. The examples will come from non-fiction texts and popular, functional genres such as newspapers, blogs, political speeches, ads, music reviews, etc. In addition to one long paper, you will be doing many short exercises on passages of your own or ones you choose.

Assignments and Grading

30% Examples: 7 one-page analyses and/or mark-ups of how a passage illustrates one  or more features.

30% Exercises: 5 two-page rewrites or imitations of a passage.

30% Final Paper: Comparison and evaluation of style of several passages from a particular writer or from several writers on a particular topic.

10% Participation: Daily quizzes, peer reviews, and posts on discussion boards

Texts (tentative)

Fahnestock, Jeanne.  Rhetorical Stylistics, Oxford University, 2012. ISBN: 978-0199764112

Graff, Gerald & Cathy Birkenstein. They Say, I Say, 2nd Edition. Norton, 2009. 978-0393933611

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Guilty Pleasure

44930 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

“Guilty pleasure" is a commonplace phrase, often used in reference to artifacts of low-brow, popular -- memes, Lady Gaga, Ice Road Truckers. But anything can be, or become, a guilty pleasure, and the phrase does more than reinforce cultural hierarchies. Each of us has our own guilty pleasures, whether they exist in the world of food, the internet, movies, etc. One might infer that humans have always had guilty pleasures, and reason that feeling guilt about our actions or thoughts is what makes us human. But is the guilty pleasure flourishing in the digital era? Are we more guilty about our pleasures now than ever before? Do we have more to feel guilty about? In general, “pleasure” is a personal experience, while “guilt” is typically understood as a social construct. So, how do guilty pleasures reflect an intersection of our inner (psychological) and outer (social) worlds? What do our guilty pleasures tell us about ourselves, our culture, and our interaction with that culture?

This class will begin by studying two central concepts (guilt and pleasure) from a variety of perspectives, including psychology, religion, culture, and of course, rhetoric. Reading from a variety of disciplines will teach students to recognize and analyze rhetorical techniques in different contexts and -- in service to the final project -- teach them to employ solid rhetorical principles in making their own argument. Learning about the history of debate surrounding guilt and pleasure will bring us insights into the way the “guilty pleasure” functions as a commonplace in our culture. Subsequent class periods will be devoted to notable categories of guilty pleasures -- for example, Top 40s music, fast food, and the internet.

Students in this class must be comfortable engaging in self-reflexive thinking and sharing personal insights with their peers.

Assignments and Grading

Homework - 10%

Short Essays  - 10%

Paper 1 (Descriptive) - 15%

Paper 2 (Analytical) - 20%

Paper 3 (Argumentative) - 25%

Presentation - 10%

Peer Review - 10%

Required Texts and Course Readings

Lunsford, Andrea A. Easy Writer. 4th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument with Readings. 6th Ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

Nietszhe, Friedrich. Selections from Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and On the Genealogy of Morality (1887)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Satire

44940 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

With the bountiful and diverse new media at their disposal in the 21st century, satirists are playing an increased, and increasingly mainstream, role in world culture. Satire’s diversity—of subject-matter, genre, tone, and humor—helps it to cross national and language boundaries, so that a satirical argument about gets picked up quickly by news outlets and spreads, meme-like, among various rhetorical contexts. A few years ago, a Danish newspaper published a collection of cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammed in a variety of controversial scenarios. The subsequent public debate, centering around freedom of speech and religious sensitivity, was taken up briskly by pundits of all kinds, earnest and satirical, from CNN to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and inspired a two-part South Park episode representing the debate in its characteristically zany but targeted brand of argument-making. More recently, during the 2012 US Presidential election process, satire outlets such as The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live brought political issues to a wide audience by supplying an alternate, satirical version of the news cycle. Back in 2004, Ted Koppel admitted, albeit lamentably, that “a lot of television viewers...get their news from the Comedy Channel.”1

Surely that number has grown dramatically in the past eight years. With viewership comes legitimacy, and whether or not the satirist wants to be taken seriously ceases to a matter under his or her control. Unevenness of audience expectations produces a complex rhetorical situation, especially in response to the most serious of world events, most recently Hurricane Sandy and the Sand Hook tragedy. On other, bizarre occasions, we have seen satire misread as earnest argument, such as this past December, when a Chinese news outlet reported that The Onion had named North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jung-un the “Sexiest Man Alive in 2012.” When utilized effectively, satire speaks truth to power through the indirect strategy of irony—saying the opposite of what one means—and can, perhaps, encourage useful public debate. It is also entertaining and, when done well, tremendously funny. This is the central irony of satirical rhetoric that we will dwell on in this course.

What role does satire play in our culture? How are satirists utilizing new media and technology to infiltrate spaces usually reserved for earnest argument? Can satirical argument produce measurable change in the world like other rhetorical modes, such as political speech and news broadcasts? What role do we, as engaged citizens, expect satire to play in our lives? How does satire meet or challenge those expectations? And what on Earth does it mean that a portion of our country believes Jon Stewart is more reliable a reporter than Wolf Blitzer? And, for starters, what is satire, anyway? We will engage these and many other questions over the course of the semester through studying satirical arguments about various subjects (music, sports, politics, etc.) in a wide variety of genres (television, internet, poetry, video games, radio, etc.). Students will apply concepts of rhetorical analysis in our discussions of these texts and learn to move deftly between different media. We will study some classic rhetorical texts, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal (1729) and Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), but, because satire is, above all, topical, most of the course content will be contemporary. As with all rhetorical study, the underlying aim of this course is to hone our sensitivity to the arguments surrounding us, making us more careful interpreters of our society and cultures. This course is writing-intensive and revision-intensive; students will produce and revise approximately 30 pages of original writing over the course of the semester. This course also requires active participation in class discussions and one or more presentations. In the final weeks of the semester, students will produce a piece of satire, in the genre of their choice, accompanied by an essay describing their use of rhetorical strategies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27439-2004Aug23.html

Assignments and Grading

Research Summaries 10%

Annotated Bibliography 10%

Essay 1.1 (Rhetorical Analysis) 10%

Essay 1.2 (Revision) 15%

Essay 2.1 (Persuasive Essay) 10%

Essay 2.2 (Revision) 15%

Final Project and Essay 15%

In-Class Writing 5%Homework 10%

Peer Review Mandatory

Required Texts

Course Packet (available the first week of the semester from Speedway Copy in the Dobie Mall) Gray, Jonathan, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson. Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (2009) Scharton, Maurice and Janice Neuleib. Things Your Grammar Never Told You: A Pocket Handbook (2nd Edition, 2001) Sample Satirical Texts Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) Colbert, Stephen, et al. The Colbert Report (2005-) Judge, Mike. Office Space (1999) Kafka, Franz. “A Hunger Artist” (1924) Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (1853) Onion, The (1988-) Stewart, Jon, et al. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-) Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal (1729) Tomorrow, Tom. This Modern World (1988-) Travesty, Texas (1997-)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Guilty Pleasure

44681 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

Tina Fey's impressions of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin brought "Saturday Night Live" to the forefront of American consciousness during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Some of us found the impressions accurate and hilarious while others found them mean-spirited and inappropriate, but just about all of us saw them, and Fey's Palin undeniably played a role in last year's election. But what was the nature of this role? Were Fey's performances merely healthy, comedic moments that gave America a chance to laugh at herself, or did they influence the decision-making process of American voters — Republicans or Democrats?

Because satire can make us laugh, it can be easy to disregard the power — or at least the potential power — of this rhetorical technique, which dates as far back as the human record. This course will examine satire as a rhetorical strategy employed by informed and engaged members of society in an effort to elicit specific types of responses from their audience. After covering the core concepts related to rhetoric and satire in our first unit, in our second unit we will examine a series of discrete cultural and historical contexts that have inspired or are currently inspiring satircal response. We will look at non-satirical texts on a variety of subjects (politics, the arts, sports, and human rights, among others) alongside satirical works to consider how satirists working in different media participate in important societal arguments through the indirect tactics of irony, humor, and cynicism. The third unit of the course will focus on the final project; students will conduct research on a contemporary issue of their choosing, write an argumentative paper, and create a piece of satire in support of their argument. In creating their piece of satire, students will be free to work in any medium they like (i.e. graphic design, poetry, video, music, etc.).

Texts

_Things Your Grammar Never Told You: A Pocket Handbook_

Course Packet containing satirical and non-satirical readings

Additional course material will be drawn from television programs, websites, and print publications such as "South Park," "The Colbert Report," theonion.com, and _The Texas Travesty_

Grading

Students will turn in three papers, 16 pages of polished writing in total. Each paper must be revised at least once.

Paper 1.1 5%

Paper 1.2 15%

Paper 2.1 5%

Paper 2.2 20%

Paper 3.1 5%

Paper 3.2 20%

Presentation 10%

Participation 10%

Informal Writing Assignments 10%

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Satire

44703 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 6
show description

With the bountiful and diverse new media at their disposal in the 21st century, satirists are playing an increased, and increasingly mainstream, role in world culture. Satire’s diversity—of subject-matter, genre, tone, and humor—helps it to cross national and language boundaries, so that a satirical argument about gets picked up quickly by news outlets and spreads, meme-like, among various rhetorical contexts. A few years ago, a Danish newspaper published a collection of cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammed in a variety of controversial scenarios. The subsequent public debate, centering around freedom of speech and religious sensitivity, was taken up briskly by pundits of all kinds, earnest and satirical, from CNN to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and inspired a two-part South Park episode representing the debate in its characteristically zany but targeted brand of argument-making. More recently, during the 2012 US Presidential election process, satire outlets such as The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live brought political issues to a wide audience by supplying an alternate, satirical version of the news cycle. Back in 2004, Ted Koppel admitted, albeit lamentably, that “a lot of television viewers...get their news from the Comedy Channel.”1

Surely that number has grown dramatically in the past eight years. With viewership comes legitimacy, and whether or not the satirist wants to be taken seriously ceases to a matter under his or her control. Unevenness of audience expectations produces a complex rhetorical situation, especially in response to the most serious of world events, most recently Hurricane Sandy and the Sand Hook tragedy. On other, bizarre occasions, we have seen satire misread as earnest argument, such as this past December, when a Chinese news outlet reported that The Onion had named North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jung-un the “Sexiest Man Alive in 2012.” When utilized effectively, satire speaks truth to power through the indirect strategy of irony—saying the opposite of what one means—and can, perhaps, encourage useful public debate. It is also entertaining and, when done well, tremendously funny. This is the central irony of satirical rhetoric that we will dwell on in this course.

What role does satire play in our culture? How are satirists utilizing new media and technology to infiltrate spaces usually reserved for earnest argument? Can satirical argument produce measurable change in the world like other rhetorical modes, such as political speech and news broadcasts? What role do we, as engaged citizens, expect satire to play in our lives? How does satire meet or challenge those expectations? And what on Earth does it mean that a portion of our country believes Jon Stewart is more reliable a reporter than Wolf Blitzer? And, for starters, what is satire, anyway? We will engage these and many other questions over the course of the semester through studying satirical arguments about various subjects (music, sports, politics, etc.) in a wide variety of genres (television, internet, poetry, video games, radio, etc.). Students will apply concepts of rhetorical analysis in our discussions of these texts and learn to move deftly between different media. We will study some classic rhetorical texts, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal (1729) and Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), but, because satire is, above all, topical, most of the course content will be contemporary. As with all rhetorical study, the underlying aim of this course is to hone our sensitivity to the arguments surrounding us, making us more careful interpreters of our society and cultures. This course is writing-intensive and revision-intensive; students will produce and revise approximately 30 pages of original writing over the course of the semester. This course also requires active participation in class discussions and one or more presentations. In the final weeks of the semester, students will produce a piece of satire, in the genre of their choice, accompanied by an essay describing their use of rhetorical strategies.

1 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27439-2004Aug23.html

Assignments and Grading

Research Summaries 10%

Annotated Bibliography 10%

Essay 1.1 (Rhetorical Analysis) 10%

Essay 1.2 (Revision) 15%

Essay 2.1 (Persuasive Essay) 10%

Essay 2.2 (Revision) 15%

Final Project and Essay 15%

In-Class Writing 5%

Homework 10%

Peer Review Mandatory

  Required Texts Course Packet (available the first week of the semester from Speedway Copy in the Dobie Mall) Gray, Jonathan, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson. Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (2009) Scharton, Maurice and Janice Neuleib. Things Your Grammar Never Told You: A Pocket Handbook (2nd Edition, 2001) Sample Satirical Texts Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) Colbert, Stephen, et al. The Colbert Report (2005-) Judge, Mike. Office Space (1999) Kafka, Franz. “A Hunger Artist” (1924) Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (1853) Onion, The (1988-) Stewart, Jon, et al. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-) Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal (1729) Tomorrow, Tom. This Modern World (1988-) Travesty, Texas (1997-)

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Satire

44221 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm FAC 9
show description

With the bountiful and diverse new media at their disposal in the 21st century, satirists are playing an increased, and increasingly mainstream, role in world culture. Satire’s diversity—of subject-matter, genre, tone, and humor—helps it to cross national and language boundaries, so that a satirical argument about gets picked up quickly by news outlets and spreads, meme-like, among various rhetorical contexts. A few years ago, a Danish newspaper published a collection of cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammed in a variety of controversial scenarios. The subsequent public debate, centering around freedom of speech and religious sensitivity, was taken up briskly by pundits of all kinds, earnest and satirical, from CNN to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and inspired a two-part South Park episode representing the debate in its characteristically zany but targeted brand of argument-making. More recently, during the 2012 US Presidential election process, satire outlets such as The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live brought political issues to a wide audience by supplying an alternate, satirical version of the news cycle. Back in 2004, Ted Koppel admitted, albeit lamentably, that “a lot of television viewers...get their news from the Comedy Channel.”1

Surely that number has grown dramatically in the past eight years. With viewership comes legitimacy, and whether or not the satirist wants to be taken seriously ceases to a matter under his or her control. Unevenness of audience expectations produces a complex rhetorical situation, especially in response to the most serious of world events, most recently Hurricane Sandy and the Sand Hook tragedy. On other, bizarre occasions, we have seen satire misread as earnest argument, such as this past December, when a Chinese news outlet reported that The Onion had named North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jung-un the “Sexiest Man Alive in 2012.”

When utilized effectively, satire speaks truth to power through the indirect strategy of irony—saying the opposite of what one means—and can, perhaps, encourage useful public debate. It is also entertaining and, when done well, tremendously funny. This is the central irony of satirical rhetoric that we will dwell on in this course.

What role does satire play in our culture? How are satirists utilizing new media and technology to infiltrate spaces usually reserved for earnest argument? Can satirical argument produce measurable change in the world like other rhetorical modes, such as political speech and news broadcasts? What role do we, as engaged citizens, expect satire to play in our lives? How does satire meet or challenge those expectations? And what on Earth does it mean that a portion of our country believes Jon Stewart is more reliable a reporter than Wolf Blitzer? And, for starters, what is satire, anyway?

We will engage these and many other questions over the course of the semester through studying satirical arguments about various subjects (music, sports, politics, etc.) in a wide variety of genres (television, internet, poetry, video games, radio, etc.). Students will apply concepts of rhetorical analysis in our discussions of these texts and learn to move deftly between different media. We will study some classic rhetorical texts, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal (1729) and Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), but, because satire is, above all, topical, most of the course content will be contemporary.

As with all rhetorical study, the underlying aim of this course is to hone our sensitivity to the arguments surrounding us, making us more careful interpreters of our society and cultures. This course is writing-intensive and revision-intensive; students will produce and revise approximately 30 pages of original writing over the course of the semester. This course also requires active participation in class discussions and one or more presentations. In the final weeks of the semester, students will produce a piece of satire, in the genre of their choice, accompanied by an essay describing their use of rhetorical strategies.

1 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27439-2004Aug23.html

Assignments and Grading

Research Summaries 10%

Annotated Bibliography 10%

Essay 1.1 (Rhetorical Analysis) 10%

Essay 1.2 (Revision) 15%

Essay 2.1 (Persuasive Essay) 10%

Essay 2.2 (Revision) 15%

Final Project and Essay 15%

In-Class Writing 5%

Homework 10%

Peer Review Mandatory

Required Texts Course Packet (available the first week of the semester from Speedway Copy in the Dobie Mall) Gray, Jonathan, Jeffrey P. Jones, and Ethan Thompson. Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era (2009) Scharton, Maurice and Janice Neuleib. Things Your Grammar Never Told You: A Pocket Handbook (2nd Edition, 2001) Sample Satirical Texts Bierce, Ambrose. The Devil’s Dictionary (1906) Colbert, Stephen, et al. The Colbert Report (2005-) Judge, Mike. Office Space (1999) Kafka, Franz. “A Hunger Artist” (1924) Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (1853) Onion, The (1988-) Stewart, Jon, et al. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-) Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal (1729) Tomorrow, Tom. This Modern World (1988-) Travesty, Texas (1997-)

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