Cultural Studies | Productive Criticism of Political Rhetoric
C701 | 29484 | Lucaites

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
Phone: 855-5411

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 rhetorical

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.