Communication And Culture | Introduction to Rhetorical Studies
C501 | 1206 | John Louis Lucaites


This course is designed as a first course in rhetorical theory for
graduate students interested in exploring the relationship between
public discourse and society. The course will begin by asking: What
can a rhetoric be in late- or postmodernity? Or, to put it a bit
differently: What does (or might) it mean to think/act rhetorically
in contemporary times? To address these questions we will explore
three separate but related conceptions of rhetoric as (a) practical
reasoning, (b) the constitution and performance of self/society, and
(c) socio-political critique/judgment. In each instance we will
examine the connections between premodern and late or postmodern
rhetorical theory as they implicate and are implicated by the
problematics of contemporary social and political theory (e.g.,
power, agency, ideology, hegemony, mediation, subjectivity, etc.).
Particular attention will focus on the remediation of rhetorical
practices manifested by the movement from oral to print to electronic
to digital and hypermediated technologies of expression and
interaction. So, for example, we might ask how the shift from an oral
to a print culture (or from a televisual to a hypermediated culture)
affects the role on invention and style or the importance and
centrality of memory in the crafting of individual and collective
identity, social and political ideologies, "the" public sphere, etc.
Alternately we might ask how the conventions of prevailing rhetorical
practices limit and constrain the possibilities for both employing
new technologies and/or the enactment and construction of new and
different identities, ideologies and publics. By the end of the term
students should have a clear sense for the range of problems and
possibilities of thinking and acting rhetorically in contemporary
times.