Communication and Culture | Introduction to Rhetoric and Public Culture
C501 | 27843 | Terrill, R.
W, 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, C2 272
Open to Graduates Only!
Instructor: Robert Terrill
Office: C2 231
Spanning from ancient Greece to the contemporary context of the
United States, this course offers a rigorous survey of how
rhetorical theory and practice have been and could be mobilized in
order to analyze, interpret, and critique political life. As such,
rhetoric is explored as a critical mode of cultural production that
addresses collective social and political democratic discourses,
tensions, and imaginaries as they are negotiated through a wide
range of communicative performances, including language, embodied
gesture, and visual image.
Among the goals of this course, two are primary. First, it orients
students to the particular approach brought to the study of rhetoric
by the Rhetoric and Public Culture faculty within the Department of
Communication and Culture. Rhetoric may refer to different things
depending on its context and purpose; this course will bring to the
foreground the contexts and purposes of rhetoric as we understand
them. The first part of the course presents an overview of some of
the key voices in pre-modern rhetorical tradition — including those
from the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and Cicero — and
emphasizes the tensions and problematics within those texts that are
particularly salient with regards to our orientation to the study of
Second, this course orients students to the broader articulation of
rhetoric as an academic discipline. In the second part of the
course, we will focus on particular controversies within rhetorical
studies, as they have been played out in the form of refereed
publications, as moments wherein the discipline addresses issues
including purpose, method, and object within an ongoing project of
self-identification. Our goal will be to cultivate a critical
understanding of, and engagement with, the discipline of rhetorical
studies, together with a nuanced appreciation of the particular
contribution of the orientation of Rhetoric and Public Culture at IU.
Themes that may be engaged include: Contesting Canons &
Historiography; Ideographs and Performative Language; Political
Styles; Publics and Counterpublics; Antagonisms and Democracy;
Embodied and Material Rhetorics; and Memory Studies.
NOTE: There are no prerequisites other than an investment in this
undertaking and the willingness to expend the time and energy it
requires. The course fulfills a requirement for the CMCL department
(as one of three introductory courses needed for the M.A. degree;
and a highly recommended course for the Ph.D. program) and will
qualify as the main requirement for the IU Cultural Studies Program.