Communication and Culture | Pre-Modern Rhetorical Theory
C511 | 1169 | Terrill
This graduate-level course provides a survey of key texts in the
ancient Greek and Latin rhetorical traditions. While most of our
attention will be directed toward the primary texts, we also will read
and discuss some significant receptions of these texts into modern
times. And while the course is organized in a roughly chronological
manner, it is not intended to be inclusive. Our purpose is to begin
to describe the premodern underpinnings of a continually developing
intellectual history of rhetorical studies. Our emphasis will be on
exploring the potential of these premodern theories and attitudes as
frames through which to critique contemporary rhetorical practice.
The class will be conducted as a seminar in which all students are
expected to make substantial regular contributions. Each week, each
member of the class will prepare a brief reaction to the readings,
taking the form of a 1-2 page short essay. Some possible forms for
these short essays include: an detailed explication of some
particularly significant but difficult passage; a "conversation"
between the current reading and another reading from this course; an
application of the rhetorical ideas presented in the reading to some
exemplar of public address (speech, film, TV show, etc.).
The major paper at the end of the semester will comprise an extended
version of the "application" option. This will consist of a sustained
example of rhetorical criticism that makes use of the theoretical
insights and/or interpretive strategies presented within the ancient
readings. In short, you will be expected to apply ancient rhetorical
theory to contemporary rhetorical practice. These papers should be
between 10 and 15 pages in length, and should be submitted for
presentation at an academic conference.