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Indiana University Bloomington

Rhetoric and Public Culture | Courses

C636: Reading the Text

This seminar hones students’ skills of close reading, explication and commentary, textual analysis and interpretation, in relation to one or two books central to the academic study of communication and culture. The books studied will be determined in each iteration of the seminar.

C505: Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric

This course conceptualizes rhetoric as an act of engaged cultural critique, focusing on the problem of the scapegoat, or demonized Other, and the corresponding challenge of articulating a more inclusive democratic culture. Drawing on Kenneth Burke's dramatism, we ask how the scholarship of the rhetorical critic might contribute to a more democratic practice.

C511: Pre-Modern Rhetorical Theory

Survey of key texts, emphasizing rhetorical theory and practice, in the Greek and Latin traditions. Focus on contextualizing these materials within a continually developing intellectual history of rhetorical studies. Of particular interest is the potential for pre-modern theory to frame, interpret, and critique contemporary rhetorical practice.

C512: Rhetorical Theories of Cultural Production

Examines theories of rhetoric as a primary source of cultural production. Features Giambattista Vico on eloquence, tropes, and the poetic wisdom of culture, Friedrich Nietzsche on rhetoric, metaphor, and the will to power, Chaim Perelman on the realm of rhetoric and the problem of justice, and Kenneth Burke on rhetoric, identification, and the drama of human relations.

C513: Rhetorical and Sociopolitical Judgement

Exploration of the role that rhetoric plays in the production and performance of collective or socio-political judgment. The focus will be on the tension between modern and late or postmodern conceptions of judgment as they implicate the problems and possibilities of rhetorical praxis (i.e., negotiating the relationship between knowledge, understanding, and action) in contemporary democratic polity. [more...]

C608 Images and Critique in Public Culture

The course examines and assesses some contemporary critical thought about images, especially the role of images in politics. Rather than only pursuing various strategies for the critique of images that have become familiar as ideology critique, the course explores the possibility of thinking critically through images.

C611: Topics in Rhetoric and Public Culture

Contemporary issues in rhetoric and public culture. Topics vary by semester and may add address questions of theory and/or critique.

C612: Constituting Democracy in Rhetorical Discourse

Compares the role of rhetoric in liberal, deliberative democracy to its function in radical, participatory, and agonistic democracy. Considers problematic constructions of democracy in U.S. political culture and their relationship to exaggerated perceptions of national vulnerability. Explores the rhetorical potential of myth and metaphor for reconstituting the image of democracy from a diseased to a healthy political practice.

C614: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Hegemony

Examination of the relationship between rhetoric, ideology, and hegemony in contemporary social and political thought. The emphasis will be on conceptions of "hegemony" as a site of praxis for negotiating the tensions between rhetoric and ideology in the production of social and political change (or permanence) in late or postmodernity. Primary readings will draw from 20th century rhetorical theory, Marxism, critical theory, and psychoanalysis.

C615: Problem of Protest in America

This course presents key instances of protest discourse both in their historical contexts and through the lenses of rhetorical theories of dissent. Specifically, we attend to the ways that various tropes, figures, and attitudes characterize United States protest discourse as manifest across electronic and print media. The American Revolution, Southern Secession, Feminisms, and Black Liberation will receive particular attention.

C616: Rhetorical Critiques of War

Rhetoric as a heuristic for critically engaging discourses of war and transforming the legitimization of war into a cultural problematic. Focuses on the problem of war in U.S. political culture. May critique in any given semester the discourse of a single war (such as Vietnam), some combination of wars (such as independence and civil war), war in a historical era (such as nineteenth-century manifest destiny and mission), a sustained period of international tension (such as the Cold War era), a recurrent motive for war (such as freedom and democracy), or some current cause for international conflict.

C617: Rhetoric and Visual Culture

Examination of the relationship between rhetoric and visual culture as manifest in everything from cartography to photography and from architecture and interior design to public memorials and museums. Particular attention will be directed at the symbolic and performative dimensions of visual practices as they implicate the production of late modern public culture. Key topics to be considered include the relationship between visual rhetoric and collective memory, social and political controversy and dissent, political style and representation, postmodern media communities, race, gender, identity politics, etc. [more...]

C619: Feminism in Rhetorical Theory

This seminar explores the relationship between feminism and rhetoric by examining advocacy by/for women, patriarchal patterns of oppression, and the development of critical perspectives that have arisen out of desires to politically re-evaluate contemporary gendered norms. It may be structured either as a survey of a wide range of intersections between feminisms and rhetorical theory or as an in depth critical engagement with a specific tension, theme, or trajectory, such as "the body."

C636: Reading the Text

This seminar hones students’ skills of close reading, explication and commentary, textual analysis and interpretation, in relation to one or two books central to the academic study of communication and culture. The books studied will be determined in each iteration of the seminar.

C661 Environmental Communication and Public Culture

This seminar focuses on how nature and the environment more broadly understood is articulated, represented, and engaged within public culture. Assuming symbolic and natural systems are mutually constituted, this course aims to foster a closer examination of communication practices that impact the environment and cultural perceptions of it such as tourism, social movement advocacy campaigns, corporate and government discourses, popular media, and public participation in decision-making processes.

C705: Research Seminar in Rhetoric and Public Culture

Original research on current problems in rhetoric and public culture. Topics vary by semester.

Recent topics include:

Aestheticized Politics: Postmodernism and Democracy

Political Emotion

Democratic Dissent