American Studies | Colloquium in American Studies: Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric
G620 | 27714 | Ivie, R
Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric
M 2:30p - 5p
Professor: Robert Ivie
Office Phone and E-mail: 855-5467; firstname.lastname@example.org
Course meets with CMCL -C505
Purpose of the Course
We conceptualize rhetoric in this course 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. We ask how the scholarship of the
rhetorical critic might contribute to a more democratic practice,
that is, how an agonistic rhetoric might enact democratic pluralism.
We draw on Kenneth Burke’s dramatism as a framework for rhetorical
critique of tragic rituals of victimization and rites of redemptive
violence. Burke’s treatment of the comic corrective is complemented
by Lewis Hyde’s representation of the mythic trickster and by Michel
de Certeau’s treatment of the tactical tricks of everyday life, and
is extended by Frank Lentricchia into the realm of social criticism.
In addition to conceptualizing a practice of culturally engaged
rhetorical critique, we undertake individual projects in productive
criticism designed for presentation and publication in scholarly
Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History, 3rd. ed. (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1984).
Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form, 3rd ed. (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1974).
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1984).
Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art (New
York: North Point Press, 1998).
Frank Lentricchia, Criticism and Social Change (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1983).
Schedule of Meetings
Note: Please complete your reading of the designated essays and
books before each class meeting in order to facilitate optimum
discussion of the material.
1/8 Democracy, Dehumanization, and Engaged Rhetorical Critique
Read: Robert L. Ivie, “Productive Criticism Then and Now,” American
Journal of Communication 4 (Spring 2001): on line
Kenneth Burke, “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s ‘Battle,’” in The Philosophy
of Literary Form, pp. 191-220.
Robert L. Ivie, “The Rhetoric of Bush’s ‘War’ on Evil,” KB Journal 1
(Fall 2004): on line http://www.kbjournal.org
Martha Solomon (Watson), “The Rhetoric of Dehumanization: An
Analysis of Medical Reports of the Tuskegee Syphilis Project,”
Western Journal of Speech Communication 49 (1985): 233-47.
(Available through IU library’s online full-text journals)
Robert L. Ivie, “Savagery in Democracy’s Empire,” Third World
Quarterly 26.1 (2005): 55-65. (Available through IU library’s online
1/15 MLK Day (reading but no class meeting): Intellectual Roots
of Engaged Rhetorical Critique
Read: William L. Nothstine, Carole Blair, and Gary A. Copeland,
Critical Questions: Invention, Creativity, and the Criticism of
Discourse and Media (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), pp. 3-70.
Terry Eagleton, “Political Criticism,” in Literary Theory, 2nd ed.
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 169-89.
Elizabeth Walker Mechling and Jay Mechling, “American Cultural
Criticism in the Pragmatic Attitude,” in At the Intersection:
Cultural Studies and Rhetorical Studies, ed. Thomas Rosteck (New
York: The Guilford Press, 1998), pp. 137-67.
James F. Klumpp and Thomas A. Hollihan, “Rhetorical Criticism as
Moral Action,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 75 (1989): 84-97.
Raymie E. McKerrow, “Critical Rhetoric: Theory and Praxis,”
Communication Monographs 56 (1989): 91-111.
Michael Calvin McGee, “The ‘Ideograph’: A Link Between Rhetoric and
Ideology,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980): 1-16.
Philip Wander, “The Ideological Turn in Modern Criticism,” Central
States Speech Journal 34 (1983): 1-18.
Philip Wander and Steven Jenkins, “Rhetoric, Society, and the
Critical Response,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (1972): 441-50.
1/22 Rhetorical Agonistics and Democratic Pluralism: The Problem
of the Other
Read: Iris Marion Young, “Communication and the Other: Beyond
Deliberative Democracy,” in Intersecting Voices (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1997), 60-74.
Chantal Mouffe, “For an Agonistic Model of Democracy,”
Chapter 4 of her The Democratic Paradox (London: Verso, 2000), pp.
Robert L Ivie, “Speaking Democratically in the Backwash of
War: Lessons from Brigance on Rhetoric and Human Relations,”
Erik Doxtader, “Reconciliation—A Rhetorical Conception,” Quarterly
Journal of Speech 89 (November 2003): 267-292.
More Intellectual Roots:
Read: Thomas Rosteck, “Form and Cultural Context in Rhetorical
Criticism: Re-reading Wrage,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 84
Ernest J. Wrage, “Public Address: A Study in Social and Intellectual
History,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, 33 (1947): 451-457.
1/29 Burkean Criticism for Social Change
Read: Frank Lentricchia, Criticism and Social Change
Raymie E. McKerrow and Jeffrey St. John, “Review Essay: The Public
Intellectual and the Role(s) of Criticism, Quarterly Journal of
Speech 92 (August 2006): 310-319.
2/5 Project Proposals: Presentations and Discussion
More Intellectual Roots, Continued
Read: Michael C. Leff, “Things Made by Words: Reflections on
Textual Criticism,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992): 223-231.
Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “Object and Method in Rhetorical
Criticism: From Wichelns to Leff and McGee,” Western Journal of
Speech Communication 54 (1990): 290-316.
Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “Deconstruction and Theoretical
Analysis: The Case of Paul de Man,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 73
James Arnt Aune, “Beyond Deconstruction: The Symbol and
Social Reality,” Southern Speech Communication Journal 48 (1983):
2/12 Project Proposals: Presentations and Discussion Continued
Read: Deepa Kumar, “Media, War, and Propaganda: Strategies of
Information Management During the 2003 Iraq War,” Communication and
Critical/Cultural Studies 3 (March 2006): 48-69.
Michael L. Buterworth, “Ritual in the ‘Church of Baseball’:
Suppressing the Discourse of Democracy after 9/11,” Communication and
Critical/Cultural Studies 2 (June 2005): 107-129.
Bradford Vivian, “Neoliberal Epideictic: Rhetorical From and
Commemorative Politics on September 11, 2002,” Quarterly Journal of
Speech 92 (February 2006): 1-26.
Michael Kaplan, “Imagining Citizenship as Friendship in The
Big Chill,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 91 (November 2005): 423-455.
2/19 Group Discussion (WSCA)
Read: Stephen John Hartnett and Daniel Mark Larson, “’Tonight
Another Man Will Die’: Crime, Violence, and the Master Tropes of
Contemporary Arguments about the Death Penalty,” Communication and
Critical/Cultural Studies 3 (December 2006): 263-287.
Jeffrey A. Bennett, “Seriality and Multicultural Dissent in the Same-
Sex Marriage Debate,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 3
(June 2006): 141-161.
Darrel Enck-Wanzer, “Trashing the System: Social Movement,
Intersectional Rhetoric, and Collective Agency in the Young Lords
Organization’s Garbage Offensive,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 92
(May 2006): 174-201.
Stephanie Houston Grey, “Ally McBeal as Allegory: Setting
the Eating Disordered Subject in Opposition to Feminism,”
Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 3 (December 2006): 288-
2/26 Rhetorical Critic as Trickster
Read: Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World
John Arthos, Jr., “The Shaman-Trickster’s Art of Misdirection: The
Rhetoric of Farrakhan and the Million Men,” Quarterly Journal of
Speech 87 (February 2001): 41-60.
Robert L. Ivie, "Democratic Dissent and the Trick of Rhetorical
Critique," Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies 5 (August
Sheldon S. Wolin, “Fugitive Democracy,” in Democracy and Difference:
Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib
(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 31-45.
3/5 Rhetorical Critique and the Tactics of Democratic Dissent
Read: Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life
Robert L. Ivie, “Academic Freedom and Antiwar Dissent in a Democratic
Idiom,” College Literature 33 (Fall 2006): 76-92.
Sheldon S. Wolin, “Postmodern Democracy: Virtual or Fugitive?” in
his Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western
Political Thought, Expanded ed. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press, 2004), pp. 581-606.
3/12 Burke’s Comic Corrective
Read: Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History, pp. 3-175
Steven Schwarze, “Environmental Melodrama,” Quarterly Journal of
Speech, 92 (August 2006): 239-261.
William H. Rueckert, “Comic Criticism: Attitudes toward History,
1937-84,” in Encounters with Kenneth Burke (Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 1994), pp. 110-31.
3/19 Burke on Analyzing Symbolic Form
Read: Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History, pp. 179-344,
3/26 Spring Break; no class
4/2 Burke on Analyzing Symbolic Form, continued
Read: Kenneth Burke, Philosophy of Literary Form, pp. 1-
190; 234-57; 293-304.
4/9 From Metaphor to Archetype, Myth, and Ritual
Read: Robert L. Ivie, “Metaphor and the Rhetorical Invention of
Cold War ‘Idealists,’” Communication Monographs 54 (1987): 165-182.
Robert L. Ivie, “Fighting Terror by Rite of Redemption and
Reconciliation,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10 (2007): forthcoming.
Michael Osborn, “Archetypal Metaphor in Rhetoric: The Light-
Dark Family,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 33 (1967): 115-126.
Janice Hocker Rushing, “Evolution of ‘The New Frontier’ in
Alien and Aliens: Patriarchal Co-optation of the Feminine
Archetype,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 75 (1989): 1-25.
Martha Solomon (Watson), “The ‘Positive’ Woman’s Journey: A
Mythic Analysis of the Rhetoric of STOP ERA,” Quarterly Journal of
Speech 65 (1979): 262-274.
Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz, “The Gods Must be
Crazy: The Denial of Descent in Academic Scholarship,” Quarterly
Journal of Speech 85 (August 1999): 229-246.
Joshua Gunn, “Refiguring Fantasy: Imagination and Its
Decline in U.S. Rhetorical Studies,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 89
(February 2003): 41-59.
4/16 Panel #1: Paper Presentations
4/23 Panel #2: Paper Presentations
Weekly Discussion Participation and Reading Summaries (25%)
You are asked to participate actively in the weekly discussions of
the assigned readings and will be assigned to present a three-minute
synopsis of one of the assigned readings on all or most of the
scheduled class meetings. The synopsis should be designed to
stimulate class discussion of the reading.
Project Proposal and Final Paper Presentation (25%)
The project proposal should be submitted to me in written form the
day you are assigned to discuss it in class (either 2/5 or 2/12).
Your presentation in class should be designed to take 10-15 minutes,
preferably in an extemporaneous manner (as distinguished from an
impromptu or manuscript presentation), covering the subject of your
study, your guiding question and/or the working thesis you would like
to test, the documents and other materials you plan to examine, the
issues of dehumanization/othering, democratic pluralism, rhetorical
agonistics, etc. that are being featured in your study, the scholarly
literature most relevant to your study, and an explanation of the
critical approach you expect to adopt as your method of study. The
paper version of your presentation should be 2,500 – 3,000 words.
Your presentation of the final paper should be 15 minutes in length
in the style of a convention presentation. You will be assigned to
speak on either 4/16 or 4/23
Term Paper (50%)
As a project in engaged rhetorical critique designed for presentation
at a professional conference and submission to a scholarly journal,
this paper should be 7,000 – 8,000 words plus endnotes or list of
sources cited if using parenthetical documentation style (follow MLA
or Chicago Manual of Style). This paper should reflect the
orientation of the course in its selection of problem, topic, and
approach. It is due on the day you are assigned to make your panel
presentation (4/16 or 4/23).