Communication and Culture | Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric
C505 | 12003 | Lucaites, J.
M, 2:30 PM-5:00 PM, C2 272
Meets with CULS-C 701 and AMST-G 751
Open to Graduates Only!
Instructor: John Lucaites
Office: C2 245
C505 is an introduction to rhetoric as a mode of engaged or
productive criticism that emphasizes the “sociality of language” as
it contributes to the constitution and performance of democratic
public culture. By “engaged or productive critique” I mean to call
attention to scholarly labor that is aware of its political and
ideological assumptions and which strives to contribute actively to
the development of both disciplinary knowledge and understanding, as
well as an evolving and inclusive democratic pluralism. We will
approach our task in three stages, first (1) giving consideration to
the “anxiety” of critical practice in late modern rhetorical
studies; second (2) focusing attention on Kenneth Burke’s “comic
corrective” as a dramatistic framework for the rhetorical critique
of cultural and ideological practices including specifically tragic
rituals of victimization and rites of redemptive violence; and third
(3) examining “allegory” and “irony” as specific rhetorical
attitudes for animating creative and inventive approaches to the
problems and possibilities of a vibrant democratic public culture.
Core course readings will draw from Kenneth Burke’s Attitudes
Toward History, Philosophy of Literary Form, and A Rhetoric of
Motives; Walter Benjamin’s Selected Writings; Robert Hariman’s
Political Styles; and Peter Sloterdjik’s Critique of Cynical Reason.
These readings will be supplemented primarily by journal articles
from the mainstream journals in contemporary American rhetorical
studies that model and/or complicate our understanding of productive
Assignments: In addition to participating actively in weekly class
discussions of assigned readings, each student will write several
short critical reviews of assigned readings designed to animate
class discussion and undertake a semester project in rhetorically
engaged critique in an article-length essay targeted for scholarly
presentation at a conference or workshop.