Honors | Argumentation and Public Advocacy (CMCL)
C228 | 26956 | John Lucaites


Lecture MW 12:20-1:10pm
Discussion F 11:15am-12:05pm

Argumentation and Advocacy is an introductory level course on the
theory, practice, and criticism of public advocacy - the use of
propositions, evidence, reasons, and the general rhetorical
strategies of symbolic action to promote and advance one's public or
civic interests. The course operates with the assumption that
liberal-democratic polity relies on the ability of its citizens to
be active and critical producers and consumers of public arguments
as part of a reasoned process of collective decision-making. This is
not to suggest that public or political decision making in a liberal-
democratic society is always rational or reasonable - or even that
reason and rationality are the only or most productive ways to
effect social and political change - but it is to suggest that we
would all be better off if we were to master the fundamental skills
of rhetoric and argumentation as a primary means to represent and
protect our own best interests as members of the polity. The course
also operates with the assumption that one can best learn the skills
of public advocacy through a rigorous combination of theory and
practice. Accordingly, the course will be divided between lectures
and discussions.  Lectures will take place on Mondays and
Wednesdays, designed to identify and elaborate the theoretical
precepts of public advocacy, i.e., the norms and assumptions that
tend to guide successful public argumentation.  Discussions will
meet on Fridays to explore common readings and to practice the
fundamental skills of public argumentation through formal and
informal exercises. Course assignments for the honors section of
C228 will include two 4-6 pp. argumentative papers and one 6-8 page
argumentative paper, plus midterm and final examinations.  Papers
will emphasize the ability to employ the skills of argumentation to
advance propositions of fact, value, and policy; exams will
emphasize the ability to analyze and critique the usage of arguments
by others. Attendance is mandatory. Readings for the honors section
of C228 will include Annette Rottenberg’s The Structure of Argument
plus a collection of articles and book chapters from classical and
contemporary theorists of argumentation including Aristotle, Kenneth
Burke, Chaim Perelman, and Stephen Toulmin.