Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
rhetoric masthead rhetoric masthead
Jeffrey Walker, Chair PAR 3, Mailcode B5500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-6109

Patricia Roberts-Miller

Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric, 1987, University of California, Berkeley

Patricia Roberts-Miller

Contact

  • Phone: 471-8378
  • Office: PAR 21
  • Office Hours: M1-3; T 10-12; also by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: B5500

Biography

If, as theorists as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Aristotle, Wayne Booth, and Kenneth Burke have argued, rhetoric is the art that provides diverse communities the means to make decisions together in the presence of uncertainty, then how do we teach students to value such a practice, to engage in it, and to demand it, especially when in historical or cultural situations that promote violence and authoritarianism, while demonizing reason, diversity, and uncertainty? My  historical research has functioned, I hope, as a series of case studies--when does rhetoric fail to function as such an art?--while my (somewhat) theoretical work has been an attempt to identify the strengths and weaknesses of various theories of argumentation.

My teaching goals are not especially original, as they're more or less the traditional goals of a liberal arts education in a democracy: to foster skills fundamental to citizenship. Rhetoric has long claimed to teach two aspects of argumentation: textual analysis and textual production. That is, students learn to read argumentative texts critically, and to produce their own. What makes the recent "return to rhetoric" (as some scholars have called it) different from nineteenth and early twentieth century rhetoric is that the presumption is that most texts are, in some sense, argumentative.

But, to say that students learn to read historical, scholarly, or analytical texts rhetorically is not to say that those texts are "mere" rhetoric--as a consequence of scholars like Wayne Booth and Kenneth Burke, rhetoric has returned to an earlier sense of persuasion (one that, as my colleague Jeff Walker argues, was the conventional view through the classical era, albeit not shared by Plato). On topics about which experts disagree, the solution is not to get different experts, but to learn to deliberate in the midst of uncertainty, and, I hope, that is what rhetoric teaches.

Interests

History, Theory, and Pedagogy of Public Argumentation

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44745 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 306
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an SWC/writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330D • History Of Public Argument

45140 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 206
show description

If rhetoric really is the art of public deliberation, then there ought to be some kind of connection between how people theorize rhetoric in a given historical moment and the political deliberation of that same time and culture. But is there?

This course will focus on three historical moments to examine the connection (or lack thereof) between rhetoric as a scholarly discipline and a political practice: 4th century BCE Greece, Western Europe in the Renaissance, and 18th century England and the US.

From the classical era, we will read and discuss Plato and Aristotle's theories of both rhetoric and politics, using them to consider contemporary practicing political rhetors like Demosthenes, Isocrates, and various speakers in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. We will read selections from Cicero's rhetorical handbook De Inventione in the light of various political speeches of his, especially what are called the Catilinian orations.

For the Renaissance, students will read both primary and secondary material, and apply them to political and theological debates (such as Erasmus and Luther's debate over free will).

From the 18th century, we will read Adam Smith on rhetoric and Edmund Burke on the sublime and beautiful. We will read selections from Burke's political speeches, as well as selections from contemporary political debates, including the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate and, if students are interested, speeches from the French Revolution.

Course Requirements

Students will write and substantially revise three researched papers, each one between 1750 and 3000 words. There will be short writing assignments for every class, and there may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.

Texts

Course packet to include work from Plato, Isocrates, Aristotle, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Cicero, Erasmus, Castiglione, Luther, Wilson, Rainolds, Smith, Burke, Hamilton, and Madison

Grading

Paper 1: 30%

Paper 2: 30%

Paper 3: 30%

Short Writing Assignments, Peer Reviews, and Tests: 10%

RHE 330E • Demagoguery

45160 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 206
show description

When Dogbert decided to become a national figure, he laid out the first step: become a demagogue. He told Dilbert, "I'll find some issue that appeals to the emotions and blind prejudices of the masses, then I'll whip it into a media frenzy." Given the events of the twentieth century, that's a pretty good plan. It has certainly worked for lots of other political figures. Adolf Hitler blamed all of Germany's problems on a Jewish conspiracy; anyone who disagreed with him he called a Jew. Joseph McCarthy did the same thing with communists; Josef Stalin did it with capitalists; Osama bin Ladn does it with the "Zionist-Crusader Alliance." This class will focus on three main questions about demagoguery: What is it? Who is a demagogue? Why does it work?

We'll begin by reading some politicians who were unquestionably racist, offensive, and damaging, but troublingly effective. We will also read some demagogues who didn't (or don't) engage in racist rhetoric, but whose rhetoric relies heavily on scapegoating and hate-mongering. The second unit will focus on controversial politicians, writers, and rhetors that some people have called demagogues and other have claimed are not. The point is not to identify who really is and is not, but to learn how to make an argument without engaging in subtle forms of demagoguery – how to argue with passion and commitment, but without insulting, dismissing, or denigrating an opposition. The final unit of the course will consider the possible causes of demagoguery. How have social psychologists, historians, psychoanalysts, ethnographers, students of religion, and political theorists explained the attractions of hate-mongering? Why does it seem to work so well? Does it work better under some conditions than others? Why?

Course Requirements

Students will write and revise three papers, each one between 1750 and 2500 words. There may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.

Grading Policy

Paper 1, 1st submission (1.1) 10% / Paper 1, 2nd submission (1.2) 20%

Paper 2, 1st submission (2.1) 10% / Paper 2, 2nd submission (2.2) 20%

Paper 3, 1st submission (3.1) 10% / Paper 3, 2nd submission (3.2) 20%

Drafts, thesis statements, lists of sources, microthemes, and other in-class and short work 10%

[If there is a midterm or final, it will take the place of the drafts and thesis statements.]

Required Texts

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx

Things Your Grammar Never Taught You, Maurice Sharton and Janice Neuleib

Various essays, articles, and selections available on ERES

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44810 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 304
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as a writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330D • Deliberating War

44860 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 301
show description

Thucydides' Pelopponesian Wars tells the story not only of the war that Athens fought with Sparta (off and on from 431 to 404 B.C.), but of how Athenians came to various decisions along the way. How were they persuaded to get into the fight in the first place? How did political figures keep the Athenians' spirits up, including during a horrific plague that devastated the city? How did they persuade allies to join them? How did political figures persuade the citizens to restart the war, to treat enemies, and to engage in some highly questionable tactics?

In other words, Thucydides recognized something slightly paradoxical – war depends on rhetoric. His history of the war is as much a history of rhetoric as it is a history of military tactics. And Thucydides has a clear argument: that certain ways of deliberating enabled the Athenians to come to good decisions, but other ways caused them to come to bad ones. For that reason, his book is a good place for this course to start, as the central topic of the course is the one raised by Thucydides: what approach(es?) to rhetoric helps a people come to a good decision, and what approach(es?) contributes to their getting into a horrible mess?

Like Thucydides' book, this course is not a military history course – we will rarely (if ever) discuss the tactical and logistical issues of any particular conflict. Instead, we'll focus on the rhetorical questions about persuasion and decision-making.

 The first unit will focus on Thucydides' book. The second will look at World War II, and the rhetoric and deliberation on the part of Hitler, FDR, and Churchill. All three leaders had relentlessly pro-war rhetoric, but of very different kinds, and with very different consequences. The third unit will focus on The Pentagon Papers, which is the Department of Defense's 1971 assessment of the history of public rhetoric and semi-public decision-making over the Vietnam conflict.

Texts:

Pelopponesian Wars by Thucydides

The Pentagon Papers

Course Packet, including writings by Hitler, Churchill, FD Roosevelt, and others

RHE 330D • Rhetoric Of Racism

44420 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 203
show description

This course, in the history of rhetoric, will focus on the deep past of what we now call racism. When Isocrates, in the fourth century B.C.E., argued that the Athenians should lead Greek culture rather than Spartans because Athenians were "pure in blood", was that a "racist" argument? How was Isocrates' appeal to group stereotypes like, or unlike, Cicero's argument that the witnesses in a case were unreliable because they were Jewish? How was the "blood libel" (that the blood of a young boy was used in religious ceremony) used against early Christians? Was that libel changed when Christians began using it against Jews? Why were so many nineteenth century Americans persuaded by Samuel Morse's bizarre argument that the Jesuits were at the center of a Catholic conspiracy to take over the United States? Why did people find persuasive the argument that the Irish could not be trusted with the vote?  How did so many nineteenth century ministers use Scripture to defend slavery, and so many twentieth century ministers use the same texts in defense of segregation? How did so many twentieth century political leaders persuade large numbers of people that genocide was necessary, let alone ethical?

Ranging from fourth century B.C.E. to twentieth century arguments for segregation, this course will explore the rhetorical aspects of appeals to essentialist group identities. Why are they persuasive? When are they most effective? Which aspects recur across cultures and eras, and which ones seem historically and culturally contingent? What is the role science and pseudo science in their effectiveness? What are the most effective methods for countering such appeals?

Course Requirements

Students will write and substantially revise three papers, each one between 1750 and 2500 words. There may be a midterm or final, depending upon student performance. There will be daily short writing assignments.

Texts

Students will read primary texts (including objectionable and racist material), rhetorical theory, historical secondaries, and sociological treatments of racism. Primary readings will include Isocrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Chaucer, Morse, defenders of slavery, advocates of segregation, eugenicists, and proponents of genocide. Secondary material will include George Fredrickson's _Racism: A Short History_, Ervin Staub's _The Roots of Evil_, Hannah Arendt's _Eichmann in Jerusalem_, and selections from Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman, and George Lakoff.

Course grading:

Paper #1 - 30%

Paper #2 - 30%

Paper #3 -  30%

Exam, short work - 10%

RHE 330E • Demagoguery

44440 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 203
show description

When Dogbert decided to become a national figure, he laid out the first step: become a demagogue. He told Dilbert, "I'll find some issue that appeals to the emotions and blind prejudices of the masses, then I'll whip it into a media frenzy." Given the events of the twentieth century, that's a pretty good plan. It has certainly worked for lots of other political figures. Adolf Hitler blamed all of Germany's problems on a Jewish conspiracy; anyone who disagreed with him he called a Jew. Joseph McCarthy did the same thing with communists; Josef Stalin did it with capitalists; Osama bin Ladn does it with the "Zionist-Crusader Alliance." This class will focus on three main questions about demagoguery: What is it? Who is a demagogue? Why does it work?

We'll begin by reading some politicians who were unquestionably racist, offensive, and damaging, but troublingly effective. We will also read some demagogues who didn't (or don't) engage in racist rhetoric, but whose rhetoric relies heavily on scapegoating and hate-mongering. The second unit will focus on controversial politicians, writers, and rhetors that some people have called demagogues and other have claimed are not. The point is not to identify who really is and is not, but to learn how to make an argument without engaging in subtle forms of demagoguery – how to argue with passion and commitment, but without insulting, dismissing, or denigrating an opposition. The final unit of the course will consider the possible causes of demagoguery. How have social psychologists, historians, psychoanalysts, ethnographers, students of religion, and political theorists explained the attractions of hate-mongering? Why does it seem to work so well? Does it work better under some conditions than others? Why?

Course Requirements

Students will write and revise three papers, each one between 1750 and 2500 words. There may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.

Grading Policy

Paper 1, 1st submission (1.1) 10% / Paper 1, 2nd submission (1.2) 20%

Paper 2, 1st submission (2.1) 10% / Paper 2, 2nd submission (2.2) 20%

Paper 3, 1st submission (3.1) 10% / Paper 3, 2nd submission (3.2) 20%

Drafts, thesis statements, lists of sources, microthemes, and other in-class and short work 10%

[If there is a midterm or final, it will take the place of the drafts and thesis statements.]

Required Texts

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx

Things Your Grammar Never Taught You, Maurice Sharton and Janice Neuleib

Various essays, articles, and selections available on ERES

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44210 • Fall 2012
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 101
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an SWC/writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330E • Propaganda

44255 • Fall 2012
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 308
show description

My goal in writing this course description is to persuade students to enroll who want a challenging, interesting class that will improve their writing. Does the fact that I'm trying to get my intended audience to do something mean this course description is propaganda? What I want them to do -- enroll in my course -- benefits me. After all, if I succeed rhetorically, then I have a class full of interesting students who are willing to work hard. What if, in the course of trying to persuade students, I promised certain benefits to the students -- your writing will improve, you'll learn a lot about propaganda, you'll learn a lot about how to do research -- does that make it propaganda?

Or is it only propaganda if I appeal to the emotions of my potential audience? I could have a fear-inducing paragraph about the horrors of propaganda -- the ways that people have been persuaded to go to war, support corrupt politicians, buy dangerous products, put their money in worthless investments, all through effective propaganda. Or, perhaps, I could appeal to greed, and claim that this course will enable students to sell anything to anyone, as some books claim.

But, if my claims are accurate -- if propaganda really has done harm, and if students really will improve their writing (the course won't really enable you to sell anything to anyone) -- then is it still propaganda?

Obviously, this course will raise a lot of questions about the concept of propaganda -- if it's even a useful concept, how scholars have tried to distinguish among kinds of rhetoric, what seems to make propaganda effective, what seem to be the marks of unethical propaganda.

Course Requirements

Students will write and substantially revise three researched papers, each one between 1750 and 3000 words. There will be short writing assignments for every class, and there may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.

Grading

Paper 1: 30%

Paper 2: 30%

Paper 3: 30%

Short Writing Assignments, Exams, Peer Reviews: 10%

Texts

Pratkanis, Anthony R. and Elliot Aronson, _Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion_

RHE 330D • Deliberating War

44225 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 203
show description

Thucydides' Pelopponesian Wars tells the story not only of the war that Athens fought with Sparta (off and on from 431 to 404 B.C.), but of how Athenians came to various decisions along the way. How were they persuaded to get into the fight in the first place? How did political figures keep the Athenians' spirits up, including during a horrific plague that devastated the city? How did they persuade allies to join them? How did political figures persuade the citizens to restart the war, to treat enemies, and to engage in some highly questionable tactics?

In other words, Thucydides recognized something slightly paradoxical – war depends on rhetoric. His history of the war is as much a history of rhetoric as it is a history of military tactics. And Thucydides has a clear argument: that certain ways of deliberating enabled the Athenians to come to good decisions, but other ways caused them to come to bad ones. For that reason, his book is a good place for this course to start, as the central topic of the course is the one raised by Thucydides: what approach(es?) to rhetoric helps a people come to a good decision, and what approach(es?) contributes to their getting into a horrible mess?

Like Thucydides' book, this course is not a military history course – we will rarely (if ever) discuss the tactical and logistical issues of any particular conflict. Instead, we'll focus on the rhetorical questions about persuasion and decision-making.

The first unit will focus on Thucydides' book. The second will look at World War II, and the rhetoric and deliberation on the part of Hitler, FDR, and Churchill. All three leaders had relentlessly pro-war rhetoric, but of very different kinds, and with very different consequences. The third unit will focus on The Pentagon Papers, which is the Department of Defense's 1971 assessment of the history of public rhetoric and semi-public decision-making over the Vietnam conflict.

Assignments and Grading:

Students will write and substantially revise three medium-length (five to ten page) researched papers that will count for 90% of the final grade. Various short assignments will count for 10% of the grade. Depending on student performance, there may be a midterm or final examination.

Texts:

Pelopponesian Wars by Thucydides

The Pentagon Papers

Course Packet, including writings by Hitler, Churchill, FD Roosevelt, and others

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44030 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am MEZ 1.202
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an SWC/writing flag course.At the end of the term, students should be able to:

(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.

(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.

(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)

(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.

(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330E • Demagoguery

44083 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm MEZ 1.120
show description

When Dogbert decided to become a national figure, he laid out the first step: become a demagogue. He told Dilbert, "I'll find some issue that appeals to the emotions and blind prejudices of the masses, then I'll whip it into a media frenzy." Given the events of the twentieth century, that's a pretty good plan. It has certainly worked for lots of other political figures. Adolf Hitler blamed all of Germany's problems on a Jewish conspiracy; anyone who disagreed with him he called a Jew. Joseph McCarthy did the same thing with communists; Josef Stalin did it with capitalists; Osama bin Ladn does it with the "Zionist-Crusader Alliance." This class will focus on three main questions about demagoguery: What is it? Who is a demagogue? Why does it work?

We'll begin by reading some politicians who were unquestionably racist, offensive, and damaging, but troublingly effective. We will also read some demagogues who didn't (or don't) engage in racist rhetoric, but whose rhetoric relies heavily on scapegoating and hate-mongering. The second unit will focus on controversial politicians, writers, and rhetors that some people have called demagogues and other have claimed are not. The point is not to identify who really is and is not, but to learn how to make an argument without engaging in subtle forms of demagoguery – how to argue with passion and commitment, but without insulting, dismissing, or denigrating an opposition. The final unit of the course will consider the possible causes of demagoguery. How have social psychologists, historians, psychoanalysts, ethnographers, students of religion, and political theorists explained the attractions of hate-mongering? Why does it seem to work so well? Does it work better under some conditions than others? Why?

Course Requirements

Students will write and revise three papers, each one between 1750 and 2500 words. There may be a midterm or final exam, depending on student performance.

Grading Policy

Paper 1, 1st submission (1.1) 10% / Paper 1, 2nd submission (1.2) 20%

Paper 2, 1st submission (2.1) 10% / Paper 2, 2nd submission (2.2) 20%

Paper 3, 1st submission (3.1) 10% / Paper 3, 2nd submission (3.2) 20%

Drafts, thesis statements, lists of sources, microthemes, and other in-class and short work 10%

[If there is a midterm or final, it will take the place of the drafts and thesis statements.]

Required Texts

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx

Things Your Grammar Never Taught You, Maurice Sharton and Janice Neuleib

Various essays, articles, and selections available on ERES

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44750 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 208
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an SWC/writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:
(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.
(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.
(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)
(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.
(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330D • Deliberating War

44800 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 203
show description

Thucydides' Pelopponesian Wars tells the story not only of the war that Athens fought with Sparta (off and on from 431 to 404 B.C.), but of how Athenians came to various decisions along the way. How were they persuaded to get into the fight in the first place? How did political figures keep the Athenians' spirits up, including during a horrific plague that devastated the city? How did they persuade allies to join them? How did political figures persuade the citizens to restart the war, to treat enemies, and to engage in some highly questionable tactics?

In other words, Thucydides recognized something slightly paradoxical – war depends on rhetoric. His history of the war is as much a history of rhetoric as it is a history of military tactics. And Thucydides has a clear argument: that certain ways of deliberating enabled the Athenians to come to good decisions, but other ways caused them to come to bad ones. For that reason, his book is a good place for this course to start, as the central topic of the course is the one raised by Thucydides: what approach(es?) to rhetoric helps a people come to a good decision, and what approach(es?) contributes to their getting into a horrible mess?

Like Thucydides' book, this course is not a military history course – we will rarely (if ever) discuss the tactical and logistical issues of any particular conflict. Instead, we'll focus on the rhetorical questions about persuasion and decision-making.

The first unit will focus on Thucydides' book. The second will look at World War II, and the rhetoric and deliberation on the part of Hitler, FDR, and Churchill. All three leaders had relentlessly pro-war rhetoric, but of very different kinds, and with very different consequences. The third unit will focus on The Pentagon Papers, which is the Department of Defense's 1971 assessment of the history of public rhetoric and semi-public decision-making over the Vietnam conflict.

Assignments and Grading:

Students will write and substantially revise three medium-length (five to ten page) researched papers that will count for 90% of the final grade. Various short assignments will count for 10% of the grade. Depending on student performance, there may be a midterm or final examination.

Texts:

Pelopponesian Wars by Thucydides
The Pentagon Papers
Course Packet, including writings by Hitler, Churchill, FD Roosevelt, and others

RHE 321 • Principles Of Rhetoric

44075 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 208
show description

The study of rhetoric, one of the original seven Liberal Arts (along with logic, grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), has a  long and proud history, stretching back to the 5th century BCE and up to the present day.  Both a productive and interpretive art, it is decidedly cross-disciplinary: the principles of rhetoric (audience, context, kairos, exigency, ethos, pathos, logos, and so forth) are consistently employed, for example, not only in literary analysis but in law, politics, education, science, and religion.

This course introduces students to common rhetorical principles and to the disciplinary history of rhetoric and writing studies.  Assignments in the class will offer students the chance to identify and apply these rhetorical principles while composing, interpreting, and presenting “texts”—oral, print, and/or electronic.   The course will meet all necessary requirements to qualify as an SWC/writing flag course.

At the end of the term, students should be able to:
(1) Write an effective rhetorical analysis.
(2) Write a responsible argument relevant to a contested issue.
(3) Discourse about some of the major issues in the field (such as: What is the relationship between truth and language? How do technologies of communication affect discourse? What is "good" public argument? What constitutes a quality rhetorical education? and so on.)
(4) Situate the significance of some of the canonical figures in rhetorical studies.
(5) Apply the basic principles of rhetorical study, as mentioned above, to contemporary situations.

RHE 330D • Deliberating War

44120 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 206
show description

Thucydides' Pelopponesian Wars tells the story not only of the war that Athens fought with Sparta (off and on from 431 to 404 B.C.), but of how Athenians came to various decisions along the way. How were they persuaded to get into the fight in the first place? How did political figures keep the Athenians' spirits up, including during a horrific plague that devastated the city? How did they persuade allies to join them? How did political figures persuade the citizens to restart the war, to treat enemies, and to engage in some highly questionable tactics?

In other words, Thucydides recognized something slightly paradoxical – war depends on rhetoric. His history of the war is as much a history of rhetoric as it is a history of military tactics. And Thucydides has a clear argument: that certain ways of deliberating enabled the Athenians to come to good decisions, but other ways caused them to come to bad ones. For that reason, his book is a good place for this course to start, as the central topic of the course is the one raised by Thucydides: what approach(es?) to rhetoric helps a people come to a good decision, and what approach(es?) contributes to their getting into a horrible mess?

Like Thucydides' book, this course is not a military history course – we will rarely (if ever) discuss the tactical and logistical issues of any particular conflict. Instead, we'll focus on the rhetorical questions about persuasion and decision-making.

The first unit will focus on Thucydides' book. The second will look at World War II, and the rhetoric and deliberation on the part of Hitler, FDR, and Churchill. All three leaders had relentlessly pro-war rhetoric, but of very different kinds, and with very different consequences. The third unit will focus on The Pentagon Papers, which is the Department of Defense's 1971 assessment of the history of public rhetoric and semi-public decision-making over the Vietnam conflict.

Assignments and Grading:
Students will write and substantially revise three medium-length (five to ten page) researched papers that will count for 90% of the final grade. Various short assignments will count for 10% of the grade. Depending on student performance, there may be a midterm or final examination.

Texts:
Pelopponesian Wars by Thucydides
The Pentagon Papers
Course Packet, including writings by Hitler, Churchill, FD Roosevelt, and others

bottom border